Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Neighbours Racing, Series C, Races 4 & 5

The Master, Jake Fichten, and to his left Bruce, tops on the bow, and Cathy, who makes her competitors fritter when she's on the tiller. Not pictured is Marbeth who works the cockpit, and makes their  Tanzer 22 team on Sine Wave most complete. They won the first race Sunday - Ralph, Montreal Sailing

Oh yeah, another great fall afternoon on the water with 2 more GNS races last Sunday. The forecast was for a big 20 knot wind and more. I prepared for it by going down to the club early and prepping the Shark. Re-measured rig tension, found it to be in neutral setting. Then I added two more turns of the turnbuckles to tighten up the sidestays, as per the tuning guide. Pushed stuff that would fall out of the way in the cabin, and got the #2 genoa ready for use.

Naturally, as time approached to leave the slip, the big winds had yet to materialize. Certain they would come, but heeding my own advice in the last column, we put up the #1 genoa for the winds of the moment. I left the shrouds tighter in anticipation of the higher winds. Leaving the BYC harbour with the others, I could see the neighbours, Etchells, Sharks and Tanzers of PCYC in the distance. As we converged near the race committee, clearly none of the boats were struggling with their sails up. The wind was pretty easy. I eased the backstay, left the genoa fairleads forward, and we raised the #1.

I love that short period of time just before the countdown begins up to the actual start. Everybody is testing their boats upwind, riding the start line, checking wind direction and line angle, circling behind or above the traffic, and checking out their buddies and competitors' set up. It's paradoxically exciting and relaxing if you're there in plenty of time before the start. There is anticipation of fun racing, and also time to relax once the strategy is set and the boat is moving well.

Unfortunately, we never got the boat moving well! Learning a Shark in light winds is awful! I think the cardinal rule is lay off for speed. It's tough resisting my clear tendency to pinch. The tell tales continue to seemingly lie to me about how the wind is moving. That probably is foolish blame! The outside tell tale always indicates turbulence, making me want to head up. Back at the dock after racing, I measured and found them 18" back from the luff. I stuck on a new set about 7" back, hoping that will help next time out. We also messed up or spinnaker launches, but hey, when enough pain has been endured, the repetitiveness of lousy trim and helm will give way to our turn!

The Tanzer 22s and Etchells seem to glide effortlessly through the water in the light wind. So did the Sharks sailed by the local best! That is contrary to the Shark's reputation in light wind, as I understand and experience it. Kudos just have to go to the T22 Sorceress, sailed only by Beverly and Susan, big masthead kite and all. At one point, they easily slipped by us close hauled, collapsing our sails and stalling our boat right at the windward mark!

The two races saw different results as the wind went from light to lighter. 

The Fichten's Tanzer 22, Sine Wave won the first race, followed by the Shark, Crisis, and another Tanzer 22, Evergreen. In the next race, two Sharks, Nuisance, followed by Crisis, won PHRF3. Evergreen was first Tanzer 22 in 3rd. Nuisance, the new Shark in town, is having great races, really giving the established Top Dawgs a scare, and often ahead.

In PHRF 1, it was all Etchells Sunday, and Dick Steffan's took the first bullet. The next race saw different results with Allegro leading the Etchells over the line. It was pretty neat to see the order switched up so much amongst the Etchells with 4 of them exchanging final ranking in the two races.

Moonstruck, the Niagara 26 took two bullets in white sail to show who's in charge.

Just as we entered the sheltred entrance of the harbour, the winds kicked up, and before we finished tying the boat up, big white caps were giving away to yet bigger, more forceful waves.