It's going to take more than a snowstorm and an LNG tanker to keep our boats off the water. Despite half a foot of snow and some limited visibility, we had sixteen boats join us for five races on a snowy day on Boston Harbor. The forecast was calling for anywhere from 1-6 inches of snow. It was hit or miss depending on where you live, but by 9am we already had three inches on the pier. The amount of snow didn't present a problem for racing, but the visibility did. From the end of the pier only the Coast Guard base was visible, the rest of Boston was hidden behind the whipping snow. Due to the lack of visibility, we decided to postpone until conditions improved.
As the morning progressed, the visibility began to improve more and more. By 1230 it was clear to sail, but we now had another problem. An LNG tanker was scheduled to depart at 12noon, but we hadn't seen or heard anything from it. We decided to head out and see if we could sneak in a race before the LNG came out. The boats left the dock and we began to set a short course just off the end of Pier 4. It was no surprise that as soon as the course was set, the State Police informed us that the LNG was coming and forced us to sail into the Charles River basin.
Luckily the LNG was closer than we had realized, and the delay was no more than 10 minutes. Once the tanker and security escort had cleared us, we headed back out to start again. This time our starting line was set with windward marks near Pier 1 East Boston, with windward marks close to the Eddy building and the red day marker. The course was a little shorter than we usually run, but because of the delay for weather, and the LNG, we decided a shorter course would help us to run some more races.
The wind was NE to ENE holding steady at around 10 kts, but there were plenty of holes and puffs out there. Our location this week was a little different from our usual spot, but time constraints and wind direction were big factors. With the East Boston shoreline a little closer than usual, it seemed like windward roundings would be messy. But a constant lift on the top right of the course helped to bail out quite a few boats.
Due to the copious amounts of precipitation, they were emptying the Charles River all day long. A very strong current was sweeping across the course from top left to bottom right. Windward legs were a little more challenging and downwind legs were significantly quicker. The strong current made for challenging starts with most boats 1-2 boat lengths from the line at the horn. Not a single boat would be OCS on the day.
Race 1 started just after 130pm. Most boats were still pretty far below the line, but Niko Kotsatos/Carolyn Marsh, Andrew Reynolds/Sam Erhard, and Greg Howard/Dan Elbaum were right on it. A few boats tacked off fairly quickly, but most opted to stay further left, most likely afraid of major wind shadows along the East Boston shore. However, it became quickly apparent that the right side offered relief from the strong current that was ripping down the course. At the leewards Kotsatos/Marsh were the first to round. They had a 20 second lead on Matt Marston/Cheney Brand, and Reynolds/Erhard were not far behind them. They all took the right gate and the current relief, and would finish the race in that order.
In Race 2 the fleet started to figure out the current a little more, and more boats were on the line this time. Zack/Mike O'Brien won the boat, but John Pratt/Bob Coyle and Peter Denham/Conant Brewer had great starts in the middle of the line. Pratt/Coyle rounded about 20 second ahead of Dan Sullivan/Claire Guerin. Both boats would take the left gate. Macaulay/Jachney rounded in 3rd and went right, but would ultimately drop a spot. Kotsatos/Marsh rounded in 5th and went right. They were able to jump up to spots and finish 3rd, with Sullivan/Guerin in 2nd and Pratt/Coyle with the bullet.
Race 3 saw pretty much the whole fleet on the line at the start. The boats that jumped out to an early lead were Pratt/Coyle, Kotsatos/Marsh and Howard/Elbaum. At the leewards there were 2 boats that had separated themselves from the rest of the fleet. Pratt/Coyle and Sullivan/Guerin had a 30 second lead on the rest of the fleet. They would not be caught and finished in that order. Manlio Lopez/Kris Kretsch came in 3rd.
Most boats were off the line at the start of race 4, with a big line sag in the middle. Pratt/Coyle had a good start in the middle of the line. Manlio Lopez/Kris Kretsch won the boat end and the O'Briens won the pin. Also with a solid start was Reynolds/Erhard. The leeward rounding saw the familiar sight of Pratt/Coyle with a big lead over the rest of the fleet. Macaulay/Jachney were the closest to them after rounding, but would fail to catch them. Kotsatos/Marsh rounded in 6th and again jumped up a few places into 3rd.
Race 5 was a clear pin favored start, with most of the fleet fighting it out on the left side. Macaulay/Jachney appeared to be the winners of that end and quickly jumped out. Also Pratt/Coyle executed a well-timed dip start closer towards the middle of the line. The leeward rounding had 3 boats bunched together. Howard/Elbaum was slightly ahead of the other two, Macaulay/Jachney and the O'Briens. It was very close the second time around with Howard/Elbaum maintaining their lead for the bullet. Macaulay/Jachney would pass the O'Briens, who came in 3rd.
Even without the weather, the wind and the current would have made for a formidable day. But the stinging snow and cold temperatures made this one of our more arduous days. Anyone who came out and sailed in this should be commended. You can use the photos the photographers took as evidence of your dauntlessness.
It was an extremely close day with the top three boats separated by 1 point each. Congrats to our top 5 finishers...
- John Pratt and Bob Coyle - 18 points
- Angus Macaulay and Kyle Jachney - 19 points
- Niko Kotsatos and Carolyn Marsh - 20 points
- Greg Howard and Dan Elbaum - 31 points
- Dan Sullivan and Claire Guirein - 32 points