Once again despite a none-too-promising forecast we were able to find a little respite from the tough conditions and enjoy six bracing races on our windiest day so far. On Friday, multiples sources were expecting wind gusts of up to 40 knots during the day, and they were not too far off. At 11:35when the fleet left the dock, the wind was still pleasant, gusting no more than 20, which meant that we weren't reefed. The course was set up in the usual location by Piers Park and the Nantucket. But by the time the last boats were reaching the race course the wind picked up severely, gusting somewhere around 35-40 knots.
Before the first race even started we made the call to reef. Of course it would have been much easier had we done this on the dock, but the wind decided to wait to kick up until about 10 minutes after leaving the dock. Despite having the reefs in, our fleet was still overpowered. Boats were heeled way over while having both sails luffed. It was hard to keep the boat under control on every point of sail, and racing in these conditions seemed unwise, to say the least.
Instead of cancelling completely, we decided to move closer to Courageous and Pier 4. There was a steady breeze blowing down the Mystic, coming from the Coast Guard base. The Boston skyline offered enough protection from the breeze. And although the average wind speed was only 10-15 knots, the gusts regularly hit 30, and maybe slightly above that. Thankfully the temperatures were up in the low 50's and the sun was out all day. As you all know, the physical and mental acumen required to sail in 30 knots is significantly more difficult when you are cold.
The course was set with a starting line near the far end of Charlestown Marina, and windward marks near the Coast Guard and Pier 6. There are a great many opinions about sailing in the Mystic. Some people find great success, as where others are certain that the waters there are cursed. Whether you love it or hate it, sailing in that part of the harbor creates many challenges we are not often accustomed to. The tide was coming in, but the current played less of a factor this week than in previous weeks. We did get regular wind shifts of about 30-40 degrees, with a strong righty that showed up with some regularity.
Race 1 started with winds at about 18 knots with a strong right side favor. Some boats appeared to be fetching the mark on the first leg, but the wind soon came around left, balancing out the course and the fleet. From the committee boat, there seemed to be more pressure on the left hand side, but the right side still provided some lifts along the shoreline. Cole Constantineau, sailing with Thomas Berard for the first time, had no problem finding their groove and won the first race handily.
Cole and Thomas won the start of race 2 along with Angus Macauley and Kyle Jachney. Conant Brewer and Luke Leafgreen found themselves in bad air, and tacked out towards the right side. This appeared to pay off for them as Conant and Luke were in first place rounding the leewards by about 10 boat lengths. They took the right gate, and again headed up towards the right side. This time however, it would not pay off. Matt Marston and Cheney Brand, who were in 4th place at the time of rounding, took the left gate. By the time they were headed back down, Matt and Cheney had taken the lead, narrowly edging out John Pratt and Bob Coyle. Wind gusts during this race were above 30, but the fleet appeared to be handling the conditions, and no one seemed particularly overpowered. The key was in recognizing puffs ahead of time, which was made easier because of the huge disparity between the lulls and gusts. As long as boats seemed in control and not completely overpowered, we would keep sailing.
Race 3 featured a great start by Pratt/Coyle, but it was Reade Everett and Amanda Lyall who were in first by some distance at the leeward rounding. They took the left gate, and Matt and Cheney, who were in 2nd, took the right. Mark Lindsay and Jim Watson who were in 3rd, followed Reade and Amanda, who were able to maintain their lead on the fleet the next two legs, and took the bullet. Matt and Cheney took that right side all the way to 2nd place. Mark and Jim dropped to 4th as Ken Deyett and Josh Pfosi managed to sneak in ahead of them in 3rd.
Race 4 started inauspiciously with a huge pile up at the boat end. The wind dropped suddenly with about 30 seconds to the start, and people many people found themselves in places where they did not want to be. However, despite the challenging conditions, starts were generally pretty clean, and not one boat was OCS on the day. At the leeward rounding in race 4, Mark and Jim were in first with Everett/Lyall and Deyett/Pfosi close behind. Lindsay/Watson and Everett/Lyall went left and Deyett/Pfosi went right. This time the left side payed off for Mark and Jim, as they were able to maintain their lead with a first place finish. Everett/Lyall would come in 2nd and Marston/Brand managed to sneak in ahead of Deyett/Pfosi for 3rd.
In race 5, going left on the 2nd upwind leg seemed to work again. This time it was John Pratt and Bob Coyle who rounded first, went left and kept the lead. Lindsay/Watson also went left and managed to finish ahead of Everett/Lyall, who fell slightly behind after going right. Race 6 was our last and final race of the day, this time a course 5 with a windward finish just off of Pier 6. Going into the last race Marston/Brand and Lindsay/Watson were tied with 18 points each. Mark and Jim erased any chance of someone else sneaking ahead by winning race 6, and the day overall. Matt and Cheney would finish in 2nd by 1 point, having come in 2nd in race 6. The key to staying competitive on a day like Saturday is consistency. And no team was more consistent than Dan Elbaum and Gonzalo Girardo. In all 6 races they either finished in 5th, or 7th place, nothing else, well done! Congrats to everyone for going out and conquering a wild day on the race course. Our top 5 finishers on the day were....
- Mark Lindsay and Jim Watson - 19 points
- Matt Marston and Cheney Brand - 20 points
- Reade Everett and Amanda Lyall - 23 points
- Cole Constantineau and Thomas Berard - 29 points
- Dan Elbaum and Gonzalo Girardo - 36 points
Be sure to check out all the scores here or here. Next Saturday is already looking a little chilly, but with more manageable winds. Have a great week everyone, and we'll check back in for our week 10 preview on Friday.
Nate and the Courageous Frostbite Team