August 2012

Rum Race 08/29/12 Hunter 23.5

The wind was very light, widely dispersed cat’s paws enticed each of the baker’ dozen toward some promise of boat speed. Hurricane Isaac had added a nearly a foot of water to the St. Johns River for this week’s Rum Race. Staying in the channel was my strategy. The additional eight hundred cubic feet per second of flow had to be the right choice. Arch rival Show Me had nailed the start (again) and stayed left for the deep water too.  Our start was slightly less than stellar; consequently our view of the Precision 23 and Patrick’s Viper was familiar and unpleasant.

By the time Show Me completed her first tack, XLR8 (the Viper) was out in front. Two of the three San Juans, Black Jack Tom and Black Jack Pete had gained ground toward the mark as had a few of the others. Unwilling to follow Show Me into the shallows we tacked earlier and managed to point a good bit higher than Andy and his boatload of the young women with Fisk. Show Me continued out toward the middle of the lake, but I saw a wind line coming from the southwest so we tacked again. This kept us right in the channel so I felt good about maintaining my strategy. Patrick was near the turning mark by now but the wind was gone. Our strategy had worked well, we were ahead of Show Me and the San Juans, but everyone was spread out. The wind came and went, mostly went, and then began to fill in. At first it was from the south and we were reaching to the mark! Shortly that bubble burst and the wind shifted to west northwest, or directly from the mark, right on our bow. Show Me, all three San Juans, and seemingly every other vessel in the universe eased their sails and reached into the mark at hull speed. By the time we made the port layline, Andy, Tom, and Pete had rounded the mark. DJ and Byron tacked in front of us and rounded five or six lengths ahead. On the return leg Kraken (DJ and Byron) struggled with their spinnaker a long time. We passed them and were making good time, unfortunately deep reaching with a jib leaves a lot to be desired. It did allow us to watch the DJ and Byron show as they sailed perpendicular to the course with both clews of the spinnaker tied to the port hand rail. Eventually DJ made Byron sit on the foredeck while she got the chute flying WITH the wind, and they sailed on by.

Our average speed to the mark was easy to calculate, 1 hour to go 1.5 miles is 1.5 miles per hour. After the turn it was better. Don’s Catalina 27, Free Spirit, nearly stalled in the light air, was all powered up driving to windward. Right behind him, Bob’s Catalina 25, Mon Cheri, was sporting a new genoa and putting it to good use. Orion and Rachel got the asymmetrical up on the S2 5.5 and made great time off the wind. Greg Devries got focused on adding telltales to the P18 main in the light and sailed a longer course than he might have otherwise. The Carters 29erXX stayed upright but had a little trouble at the start pin. The Viper hampered somewhat by a lack of spinnaker was slower than usual.  This is fun sailing, and we like it.