|Our boat and team from earlier regatta.|
Our Shark, #901 is being christened with a new name as of this World Championship. Having gone through an evolution of changes in sails, rigging and hardware, it shall now be called "Ambitious", the name of our previous boat. Essentially, our first ambition is a very tough challenge in the past, to not be DFL! Then, we shall see what pinnacles we climb from there.
The practice race was helpful in clarifying some critical areas in order to reach our ambitious goal. First of all, getting out to the racecourse in plenty of time. Yesterday, we were still the last boat out of harbour. Next, is be more fearless on the start line, and stake a claim up front alongside the bad boys. With more than 50 keelboats jostling for position, it is a daunting task. I was happy to get three starting attempts.
We chose the left side of the course, closer to shore, believing more wind to be found. That search for stronger air meant banging the corner, then coming in to the windward mark on the port layline. With a fleet of 50 plus Sharks, that inevitably means serious traffic, and tense mark roundings. We lost a number of boats, slamming into the layline parade, getting blanketed below them, and pinching to squeeze above the mark. We made it, got our better wind earlier, but toughed it out in the mark rounding. As the racing gets intense, we won't always get away with that king of strategy.
Launching the chute, displayed our most embarrassing goof, no halyard attached... nuff said.
On runs, we are doing well enough, but I am having difficulty figuring out how to fend off attacks. Boats trying to sneak up from behind to windward, are fought off, but having to deflect from the preferred course to the mark is frustrating. Then, caught in a sandwich, sailing too high a course, I decided to slow the boat a bit by snaking, then jibing away. I felt we had good boat speed after, and a better course, but we still lost the boat most to windward in the sandwich, so without the finishing results, I am uncertain how we did vis-a vis other boats sailing around us, and whether it was worth it.
While tough in a large fleet, the best possible route is the one sailed alone with undisturbed wind and course.
The most dramatic moment came when we were closing in on boats at the leeward mark. One boat, a rival of ours from CNDM, named Tiger Shark, hidden from my view behind our sail, dropped its chute early, and practically stopped the boat in the water. Seeing them at the last second, it was too late to jibe, and we veered right, behind their stern and also Toy-Yacht. Right at the mark, Bill on Toy-Yacht generously advised me there was no room to sneak between them and the mark. Shouting, and with Tavish furiously stowing pole, while David pulled the chute down, I spun the boat in a 360, and desperately looked for another hole to squeak into. We found it without a collision, the most important thing, but of course lost boats in the process,
Back on shore, we enjoyed drinks and dinners included in the registration fee, and a blues band. All in all, it was an exciting day. The boat has weighed in competitively, the sails are not half-bad, and the team is hyped for a week of intensity on the water.
Here we go!