Two words: Big. Breeze. That's what our fleet was faced with last Saturday. The wind was indeed honking with 20 knots sustained out of the NW. The gusts were consistently hitting 32 and 33, putting us right on the edge of a go/no go situation. The decision was made all the harder due to there being no other sailboats on the harbor from which to gain insight.
At 1130 we had a safety meeting and decided that we would give it a shot. The decision was made to run short courses, right between our Pier 4 and the Eddy building in East Boston. If it ended up being that the wind was too much to race, it would be a short trip back to the dock.
While the fleet was rigging, we set the course with windwards off Pier 4, and leewards between Pier 1 East Boston and the Eddy. The wind was blowing straight from the USS Constitution, with left shifts as far as the USCG base, and the right edge at Pier 6 Charlestown.
For the start of Race 1, the breeze was up right near 30 kts. It was on! The start was clean with most boats playing it safe and staying a little farther back off the line. Closest to the line at the start was Jen Bodde/Dylan Callahan. They started right in the middle with good speed and no one around them. Matt Marston/Cheney Brand were a second or two behind them at the boat end. The boats were hit with whitecaps and a fair amount of spray on their first trip up the course. The breeze was down a little bit for the leeward roundings, but not much. Most of the fleet opted to take the right gate, and the first four boats to round the leewards were the first four boats to finish. Reade Everett/Dana Robinson took the bullet, and Manlio Lopez/Cole Constantineau came in 2nd, with Bodde/Callahan coming in 3rd.
At the end of Race 1 a few boats decided to head in. We checked with the rest of the fleet and everyone else felt comfortable, and no one appeared to be out of control at any point. In fact everyone seemed to be loving it! So we started Race 2. Same as before, the breeze picked up right back to 30 kts at the start. Again everyone started cleanly, again with Marston/Brand winning the boat end. John Pratt/Bob Coyle were in the next lane over, also very close to the line. A left shift forced most of the fleet to tack very quickly on to port. As the boats were approaching the windwards, we saw a loaded tug and barge coming from the Mystic and headed our way. The decision was made to shorten, and the "S" flag was flown. When we shorten the course, remember that the finish line is downwind between the two leeward gates, NOT the boat and the pin. It ended up being a quick race, but it still counted just the same with the bullet going to Marston/Brand, Jim Watson/Butch Roth came in 2nd and Everett/Robinson came in 3rd.
While we waited for the tug and barge to pass the wind had settled down a bit. It wasn't too unpleasant as we circled around in a fairly small area, waiting for him to pass. Once the barge was clear and we started the sequence for Race 3, the wind increased to the highest it had been all day. Still everyone seemed in control and with reefed mains, the boats weren't significantly overpowered. Most of the fleet was off the line for the start, but Chip Terry/Ned Bicks were definitely closest to the line. They sailed off to an early lead, followed by Lopez/Constantineau and Everett/Robinson. Terry/Bicks were still in the lead when they reached the leewards. Lopez/Constantineau opted to follow them, while Bodde/Callahan tried the left gate to see if it could give them a boost. It did not. But Lopez/Constantineau managed to pass into 1st and get the bullet at the finish. They were followed by Terry/Bicks in 2nd and Marston/Brand in 3rd.
The conditions looked a little calmer for the start of Race 4. The breeze had softened a bit during the previous race, and we no longer had white caps in our part of the harbor. We did see a bit of an increase in velocity at the start, but not as strong as our previous race. Terry/Bicks had an excellent start at the boat end again, with Marston/Brand right behind them. At the leewards it appeared that Terry/Bicks were ahead of everyone else, but Marston/Brand were able to sneak inside in time and rounded first around the right gate. Everett/Robinson and Bodde/Callahan took the left gate and would finish in 2nd and 3rd respectively, with Marston/Brand taking the bullet.
At 1:35pm we started Race number 5. The breeze was a bit lighter at this point and boats could be a little more aggressive at the start. Most boats were right on the line, but still no one was OCS. Marston/Brand, Terry/Bicks, and Everett/Robinson all started next to each other right at the boat. As the boats were heading upwind our only breakage of the day occurred. While approaching the windwards, one of our boats lost its forestay. Thinking quickly, they quickly dropped their mainsail, and a safety boat was on scene in less than a minute. Nobody was hurt and they were able to be towed back to the dock without any further incident. The remaining boats sailed down towards the leewards with Everett/Robinson and Terry/Bicks ahead of everyone else. They split at the gates with Terry/Bicks going right and Everett/Robinson going left. The left side was the winning side, and Everett/Robinson finished a strong day with bookend bullets.
Last week also marked the end of Series 2. It was a challenging series weather-wise, but we did have some really good races. Highlights include a day where we got in 7 races on the biggest course we've had this season, and also cancelling on a day with no wind that featured a little early day drinking.
Congrats to our top 5 finishers of last week...
Reade Everett and Dana Robinson - 11 points
Matt Marston and Cheney Brand - 13 points
Manlio Lopez and Cole Constantineau - 17 points
Chip Terry and Ned Bicks - 19 points
Jen Bodde and Dylan Callahan - 24 points
and a special congrats to our Series II winners!
1st place team - Dana Rules (Michael McAllister, Reade Everett, Dana Robinson)
2nd place team - MB (Matt Marston, Cheney Brand)
3rd place team - MikJenDyl (Mikael Petit, Jen Bodde, Dylan Callahan)
Thanks everyone for another great week!
Nate and the Courageous Frostbiting Staff