Saturday, March 08, 2008

Last Day with Bacardi

Here is Alain's last installment chronicling his experience racing in the Star class at this year's Bacardi Cup in Florida. - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

By Alain Vranderick – Quebec Star Fleet

DAY 6 – Forecast 15-20 knots S, 2 races are planned.

Course 1, at 160 heading

This was going to be an early start to the day. It’s our check out day at the condo, plus race one is scheduled to start at 10. This means an 8:30 harbor start. On our way to the Coral Reef Yacht club, we noticed that the forecast might be right this time. The palm trees were swaying, and the flags were flying straight.

We had already decided that we were not going to sail both races. Willy has 33 hours of road ahead of him, and 5 hours on the water in 20 knots of wind might not be the best way to send him off. We headed off for the racecourse on schedule. Once there, while retrieving the bow bumper, I knocked off the electronic compass bracket. So this race will have to be sans boussole. The RC called for course 1, which is a triangle, windward, and finish to leeward. This is going to be interesting. When the wind blows over 18, the RC at Bacardi will sometimes call for reaching legs. The reaching part is always a blast, but the gibe mark can sometimes become a little sketchy. Unlike a regular downwind gibe, the reach to reach gibe will sometimes throw the boom over your head at sonic speed. It’s a little intimidating to say the least. Before the gun went off, there were already 2 boats sailing with the short mast. This was getting more and more interesting. To add some spice to this mix, a big dark cloud started developing over the course a few minutes before the start. This would be enough for our newbie’s. They turned around and headed back to the club.

We manage to start in relatively clean air, but with not a clear picture of where to go. Without a compass, and sailing open waters, it’s pretty hard to get a sense of the wind shifts. We rounded the top mark in the cheap seats, and proceeded on a planning reach. At the gibe mark the wind and waves convinced us (or me at least) that we should go for the chicken gibe (tacking…). The rest of the race was more a sail, than a race for us. On the last upwind we took notice of the leaders of the race who were now coming back downwind towards the finish. The team of Scheidt/Prada had a huge lead on the closest boat. Probably something like 20-25 boat lengths. In this fleet this is HUGE. They were basically putting on a clinic out there. Turns out that in the second race Scheidt was leading again at the top mark but got sent back because he was BFD. Too bad, he had a real shot at winning this regatta.

Once finished we headed to the club to demast and pack. This was it for us for the 2008 Bacardi Cup. Even though we lost two days of sailing, this was, as always a great event. It’s always fun to come here and learn the new tricks that people are up too in terms of tuning and gear. I’m back on a plane tomorrow morning heading back to Montreal with two connecting flights. Wish me luck!! Hopefully I’ll rejoin my family tomorrow evening. Otherwise, stay tuned, I might be writing my flight delay chronicles.

Juliette, Louis, Big Daddy is coming home. See you tomorrow.