Crescent City Regatta 2012

Crescent City Regatta 2012

“Don’t remember the last time my body hurt so much on the Monday after a Regatta” said the voice on the phone. “Thank you, thank you” says I. “It makes me feel better that you are hurting too, since my low back is so tight I can hardly walk.”  This is a fitting summary for the 4th Annual Crescent City Yacht Club Spring Regatta. In spite of, or possibly because of the five boat turn out, this was the best competition that I have sailed in many months. Like the three weather systems coming together to create the perfect storm, this weekend gathered up a pile of circumstance, and generated a winner.

On Saturday, there were three races. Winds were consistently between ten and fifteen knots with a few higher gusts. A notorious San Juan named Just Us, a nefarious Hunter 23 named Point Blank, and a heavily laden cruiser named Show Me, got caught up in a three boat match race that rivaled the most spectacular competitions.

The start of the first race had Just Us showing off their starting skills, while Show Me focused on showing the Hunter the transom of the committee boat at Point Blank range. Up the windward leg, Show Me split tacks with the other two only to find a persistent header of lesser velocity which required additional creativity on the downwind to get back into the competition. The second lap was a little closer and gains were made. Just Us succumbed to a knot in a spinnaker sheet at the second leeward mark and returned their practice spinnaker to raw materials. At the finish, Point Blank got the horn, Show Me found second, and Just Us recovered enough for a close third.

The second start allowed for a little more room early on but quickly evolved into a pinch out contest with Just Us trying to peel the registration numbers off of Show Me’s lee bow while Show Me was trying to do the same to Point Blank. Just Us managed to gain a few inches while Show Me was working on Point Blank and tacked onto port crossing both the bigger boats, smiling and waving, while counting the scratches on the Precision and Hunter bow pulpits. Show Me continued to work Point Blank until they tacked on the port lay line and then tacked to cover just a few microseconds later than what would have been ideal. Point Blank broke the overlap prior to the zone, but Just Us was coming in hot on starboard at the mark. The timing was perfect for Show Me. Point Blank had to duck Just US and opened up just the tiniest little (Show Me sized) hole right at the mark, roundings were completed, no contact was made, and no flags were flown. On the downwind, Show Me was a little slow until the helmsman moved forward enough to make the trimmer uncomfortable, as he moved to the other side to preserve his macho image, the boat leveled out and accelerated nicely allowing Show Me to get inside of Just Us and stay in front of Point Blank.  At the leeward mark Point Blank had an issue with the whisker pole take down which allowed Show Me to increase the lead and be awarded the horn. Point Blank finished second and Just Us finished again just barely in third place.

The third race was only slightly less exciting than the second, but similar circumstances at the leeward mark for Point Blank allowed for the same finish order as race two. Threatening clouds and substantial rainfall off in the distance convinced the RC that three races were enough for Saturday so we gathered on shore in the back yard of Three Bananas for burgers, dogs, several extra special casseroles provided by the members of the Crescent City Yacht Club, and abundant beverages.  As the sun neared the horizon it became obvious to the writer that rest would be critical for the following day’s racing and the tone of those gathered nearby indicated that the party was just beginning. The writer chose the drive home and, upon returning to tales of the midnight marine-style hand-clapping push-up contest, combined with sleeping arrangements of pull out couches and recliners, was grateful for the modicum of wisdom he has gleaned from similar opportunities at regattas in the past. Sunday’s races were single lap races, with stronger and more confused wind. A mediocre start for Show Me in the first race, gave the edge to Point Blank, and while Just Us had been consistently taking third place, there was not a moment in either day that any of these three boats could be dismissed. In the second race, a bad round- up for Show Me pushed us back enough for Point Blank to get another bullet. Thinking that the races were over, the mood was somewhat dark on Show Me. We were pleased when the RC said “one more race”.  The do-or-die pressure encouraged us to make a very timely start. The wind had backed from the persistent right shift it had displayed all morning. Tacking early paid off for Show Me and we rounded well ahead of the both of the other contenders. The downwind leg was really shifty and Just Us had gained significantly. Point Blank had trouble getting set downwind so we were in good shape at the leeward rounding as far as they were concerned. We went to the right again after the leeward mark and Just Us went left. Half way to the finish on starboard we started getting headed but were too far right to go back. At the first crossing Just Us dipped our stern and started getting lifted. At the second crossing we had to dip their stern and continued to the lay line for the committee boat end while they went for the pin end. We tacked almost simultaneously and sprinted for the line on opposite tacks at opposite ends.

A narrow miss at the RC transom, a head to wind punch up, and Show Me took first by less than half a boat length. Just Us corrected to second which caused Point Blank to get third. Show Me wins the regatta. Excellent racing, tight racing to the last second, I would love to race like this every single time but I am not sure I can deal with the adrenaline.