Thursday, June 04, 2009

GNS Series A, Race 2: Ketchup gives a lesson to the Shark School

Today, I want to focus on a highlight story from Tuesday's race.

Very good sailing conditions: fairly light winds, but remaining of consistent strength through the race, coming from the west - southwest. Most teams chose the left side of the course.

Another headline option: Stormin' George and the team on Ketchup humiliate the fleet. Okay, I know that sounds pretty strong, but holy moly! I really can't think of any other way to describe it. This Shark showed everyone it is still a Top Dawg contender. Forget everything I said about last Tuesday’s race. I'm eating my words, and having some indigestion.

The start had the usual pack flying in behind the committee boat to cross on starboard tack. Kaos pulled a move I like to do, but they executed much better. They approached the starboard tack pack sailing on port. Then they flipped on to starboard a little ahead of the pack and sailed for a spot a little further down the line. They appeared to get a pretty good start this way, clean air, going fast and on the line when the gun fired.

George and Ketchup appeared further back in the pack to me, but I must have been wrong, judging from a short bit later. George thought his crew called an awesome start. I did appreciate one significant advantage they had. After crossing the start line, his boat, Ketchup was well to windward of the tight pack of Sharks, though still back a ways from the lead boats. Several boats were ahead to leeward. Well here's my question: how the heck does George get that speed while maintaining that height over the Shark pack? Cuz that boat just powered along, and by the halfway point to the windward mark, they had smoked the fleet leaving it far behind. The Professors had spoken. RACE OVER!

Not for the other positions behind Ketchup of course. Back in the Shark school, Kaos was starting to fall back in the leeward position, and that green boat I've called the darkhorse running for Top Dawg sprang forth: Eclipse. Well behind George, but well ahead of the other Sharkies in the pack. Peter was sailing with his daughter, but short his son, and they did a great job.

As they closed in on the mark, some interesting tid bits. George was catching the whites and pushing his way around the mark and through that fleet. Chute was launched and full in 19 seconds. Further back, Eclipse had tacked onto the port layline, and was barrelling for the mark, still an easy second, or so I thought. Outta nowhere came VO2 Max, crossing very close. I missed the cross, and don't know whether it was ahead or behind, but after crossing paths the Max also tacked roughly onto the port layline. However, coming out of the tack they had little boat speed and Eclipse looked like they would still easily make the mark rounding in 2nd place. I don't know how they did it, but VO2 Max rounded a boat length ahead of Eclipse and hoisted and filled their chute in 16 seconds. Brilliant. Eclipse right behind, despite being short-handed also had a fast launch.

With no Sharks in the midst to toy with, Ketchup caught the Etchells fleet and even passed some as he made his way to the second windward mark rounding. They took a long time launching and filling the chute for the final run, 34 seconds, but were so far ahead it was of no consequence. The Etchells very politely passed by on the leeward side for the final run. VO2 Max also took longer to launch for the final run, 34 seconds, and crossed the finish line about a minute after Ketchup, asserting itself over Nuisance (I think) in 3rd. They crossed about 180 seconds after the gun. George Stedman had buddies Rob Levy and Peter Kelly on board for this race. Ahh, 3 all-stars! Well, perhaps George got a bruising last week inflicted by a Nuisance, amongst others, but today... well, ‘nuff said.

Ralph, Montreal Sailing

PS, I see quite a Shark feeding frenzy coming this week end as the battle for top Montreal team takes place within the Shark Class' Coupe Du Quebec. If Ketchup is sailed by the same three, hoo-boy, watch for ‘em! Hopefully, I'll be sort of ready, but even if DFL (likely), we'll be out on Mainsail for our first sailing of the season, having fun and supporting the fleet. Should be a great week end.