Rum Race 03/28/12

Rum Race 3/28/12

I considered taking the Loose Cannon out for the Rum Race but the low water, shallow slip, concrete seawall proximity factors, required more experienced assistance than I could gather up on short notice. I accepted an invitation to sail on Gilravage, one of the more comfortable boats. Strange that comfort has become a criteria for sailboat racing, when the hell did that happen?

Mike Loughlin and I headed out to the start area and started getting set up. We were early so we sailed on the mains’l till the rest of the competition began to filter out of the marina. Wind direction and water depth made being towed the preferred method of marina exit for those unwilling to suffer the burden of carrying artificial propulsion. As the field of competitors began to fill in I observed that Show Me presents itself differently when looked upon from another boat than it does from being on it.

Show Me was setting up to start at the very beginning of the thirty minute start window which was our plan also as the weather report had predicted the wind to drop off right at six o’clock. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to camp on Show Me’s air. Since it was a downwind start we headed for their transom. Alas, we were late, too late to cover and too late to keep the notorious Ol’ Yeller from getting between us. Our strategy was to sail deep reaches and jibe as needed because we did not have a whisker pole. Before describing the rest of the race I feel it necessary to release my plethora of excuses.

The Precision 27 like all Precisions that I am familiar with is extremely tender WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. There is a narrow range of heel angle between sailing fast and having excessive weather helm WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. The Precision 27 is very sensitive to puffs and waves WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. The wheel is a lot more sensitive than a tiller and provides different feedback WHEN COMPARED TO THE BOATS THAT I AM MORE FAMILIAR WITH. Had I additional wherewithal, I might be persuaded to make a few minor modifications to Gil Ravage, except of course that I am not an owner of Gil Ravage. I might add a longer genoa track or additional block to allow the top of the genoa to twist off, I might reset the luff of the mainsail because it looks as though the luff rope has shrunk with age and the hoist might be able to be extended. The outhaul might be able to be increased by removing a track slide in the boom and connecting the outhaul cable directly to the mains’l. I also have trouble picking the optimum angle versus boat speed solution and that doesn’t seem to matter WHAT BOAT I SAIL ON.

On the first starboard reach we were about to cross behind Ol’ Yeller and the bottom grabbed his keel. Now it is not really my nature to go out of my way to be rude on the race course but if sailing my best race includes a little rudeness I might be persuaded to carry on. In this instance Ol’ Yeller requested a little slack so he could go below, which I mistakenly thought he meant go below us and get out of the way. Naturally I headed up to go over him. Before Mike let me know that Fisk was going below to raise his keel I saw a facial expression on Ol’ Yeller that indicated going above him was not the plan he had in mind for us. We jibed to port and avoided additional facial expressions. We sailed the port reach down to the channel before jibing back. Ol’ Yeller cleared us, but the constant bearing of and decreasing range to Free Spirit indicated additional rudeness was soon to be involved. As leeward boat and still a good distance from our next jibe angle it was necessary to maintain our course and remind Free Spirit that we were in fact leeward. Free Spirit was kind enough to demonstrate that the reason an upwind boat is required to stay clear of a downwind boat is because the upwind boat has the wind and is under no obligation whatsoever to share. While I am sure it was only a couple of minutes it felt like hours before Free Spirit had room to go behind us, by then we were near our jibe angle. Back to port, this time crossing behind Free Spirit and on to the final jibe before the rounding. Show Me and Ol’ Yeller were around the mark and headed toward the North Side of the lake. We followed Free spirit around the mark but managed to take a slightly higher angle and eventually got well to windward. I thought we made some time on Ol’ Yeller but I was kidding myself. Show Me was well ahead and staying much further to the left than what was common on Wednesday night, when she tacked to starboard we could see that what should have been a straight line to the finish veered dramatically and additional tacking was soon to be involved.  As we sailed the final port tack toward the mark, the wind backed and lifted us above the perpetually anchored houseboat in the middle of the lake, and its 50 to 1 anchor rode. A short tack near the line allowed us to finish ahead of Free Spirit and Mon Cheri which had made up a lot of time. After finishing, there was (as usual) some more relaxed sailing, combined with some shouted conversations, and an almost universally glorious sunset. Near dark the contestants gathered at Wolfy’s for scoring and refreshments. Show Me, the winner by several minutes, was helmed by Diane Forrest, with Jeff Laydon as mains’l trimmer, and Andy Forrest as jib trimmer and everything else. The Rum went to Patrick Daniel by virtue of the weighted drawing, who in turn donated it to Zach Gloer for his towing kindness, whom in turn caused it to be shared by those in attendance. wb

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