There were a number of challenges our fleet was faced with on Saturday. The first and foremost being the temperature. It was cold. It was very very cold. Predictions on the day were for temperatures to be at or above freezing, but it was never warmer than 20 degrees. A pretty solid cloud cover meant that we couldn't see the sun making it feel just that much colder.
Another problem was the wind, there wasn't any. We were forced to cancel Week 7 due to an excess of wind, and it looked like we might not be sailing in Week 8 due to a complete lack of wind. The wind had been NW to start the morning, but completely died by about 10am. It was forecast to shift to SE later in the day, but it didn't look like it would happen before 4pm.
The third problem was the current. It was pumping hard from the Charles and would most likely continue all day. So with low temperatures, no wind in the forecast and a ton of current we decided to postpone. We stood on the pier at watched a lone J24 drift with the current from it's home down to the Seaport over the course of about 45 minutes.
We've noticed a trend happening here on Saturdays recently where the weather likes to change significantly sometime between 1130 and 12noon. And this day was no exception. Sure enough, right about 10 minutes before we were going to pull the plug the wind picked up. A light breeze from the SE began to creep its way down the harbor. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough and we quickly rigged the boats and headed out to the water.
With light winds we decided to set a smaller course then usual. We headed away from Courageous to hopefully avoid some of the current. Our starting line was set in the middle of the harbor between Long Wharf and Pier 1 East Boston. The windward marks were set in line with the Hyatt along the East Boston shore. The current was very strong and ran from the bottom left to top right of our race course.
At the start of Race 1 the current pushed a few boats OCS with about 30 seconds to go, but everyone was able to clear themselves before the final horn. A left shift at the start caused most of the fleet to start near the pin end. Michael McAllister/Adrian Mott had the best start of the group that was down there. John Pratt/Bob Coyle started close in the middle and quickly tacked on to port. They were able to get out ahead of a few boats still on starboard. Matt Marston/Cheney Brand hit the boat end of the line with a lot of speed as well. With light wind it was helpful to have the current to push the fleet up the windward legs. Had the current been opposite, it would have been a tough go of it. On the downwind leg most of the fleet stayed towards the left side (from the view of the RC boat) and sailed higher than usual to fight the current. However most boats were wing on wing as they reached the leeward gates. Jen Bodde/John Karakashian were the first to round the leewards. They decided to go left and were closely followed by Niko Kotsatos/Carolyn Marsh and Jim Watson/Butch Roth. Marston/Brand and McCallister/Mott were a few lengths behind them and opted to go right. That would apparently be the right move this race as Marston/Brand took 1st and McAllister/Mott took 2nd, followed by Kotsatos/Marsh in 3rd.
Race 2 had one boat OCS at the start. We weren't using the one minute rule at this point, so they were able to quickly clear themselves and resume sailing without doing too much damage. Pratt/Coyle again started in the middle of the line with great speed and very quickly made their way ahead of the fleet. Right up there with them was Bodde/Karakashian and David Chudzicki/Robin Weatherill. As the boats were reaching the windwards the wind shifted about 60 degrees to the right, coming from the Seaport. It didn't stay that way for very long, but it was certainly a sign of things to come. The wind had mostly come back by the time the fleet reached the leewards. Bodde/Karakashian were just able to sneak inside of Pratt/Coyle who were busy holding off Marston/Brand behind them at the right gate. But the current was still ripping and it pushed Bodde/Karashian into the mark, incurring a penalty. They would have to circle while Pratt/Coyle sailed past them and out into first place. They would not be caught and finished with a bullet. McAllister/Mott came in 2nd, and Bodde/Karakashian came in 3rd.
The breeze from the right eventually settled in and we were forced to move the course before the start of Race 3. In order to avoid the course of BSC, we moved our starting line down wind further towards Lewis Wharf, with windward marks in line with the Fish Pier in the Seaport. Without too much delay on such a cold day, we were able to get Race 3 started. Moving closer to the Charles must have increased the current a bit, and most of the fleet was OCS at the start. A general recall was issued and the "I" flag was flown, meaning the one minute rule was in effect. The races was restarted cleanly with Marston/Brand out ahead on the pin end and Manlio Lopez/Kris Kretsch at the boat end. The new wind direction also brought a slight increase in velocity making it a little easier to get around the course. As the boats were reaching the windward marks, the current eased up. All of a sudden the downwind legs were a little less painful. At the leewards McAllister/Mott had a decent sized lead and went for the left gate. About 10 seconds behind them was Bodde/Karakashian who went right. A big right shift helped them on their way up the course and they zoomed way ahead of everybody. When they were approaching the finish most of the fleet was still up at the windwards. Pratt/Coyle would come in 2nd, with McAllister/Mott in 3rd.
Race 4 had two boats OCS at the start. McAllister/Mott started in the middle and were able to get out ahead of everyone. They tacked onto port and were able to cross about 5 or 6 boats on starboard. Also with a very good start was Greg Howard/Dorothy Liftig. The wind was mostly steady as boats made their way up. A few big right shifts kept popping up coming from the Courthouse. Most of the fleet was back to wing on wing as they made they came down. Greg Howard/Dorothy Liftig had managed to work their way into the lead as they rounded the leeward marks and went right followed by McAllister/Mott. Kotsatos/Marsh were a few boat lengths behind them but chose the left gate instead. They were able to pass the two boats ahead of them on the next two legs and finished in 1st, with Howard/Liftig in 2nd and McAllister/Mott in 3rd.
At the start of Race 5 we had one boat OCS. While they were shutting the door on the rest of the fleet at the boat end, they managed to drift about 3 inches over the line. There was still a big pile up behind them at the boat end, but Marston/Brand and Pratt/Coyle seemed to avoid it the best and sailed out to early leads. The wind was fairly shifts for all legs of this race. The right edge had breeze coming from the ICA, and the left edge had breeze from the Hyatt. It was certainly challenging to stay in phase with the shifts, but Marston/Brand was able to keep their lead throughout the entire race and finish in first. The only ones close to them that race were Watson/Roth who were hot on their tail the entire time. They came in 2nd and Bodde/Karakashian came in 3rd.
The big winner on the day was McAllister/Mott. Despite never winning a race, they were a model of consistency with finishes of 2,2,3,3 and 4. They were the clear winner on the day with 14 points. It was extremely close after that with the next 5 boats all within 5 points of each other. Congrats to the top 5 on the day...
Michael McAllister and Adrian Mott - 14 points
Jen Bodde and John Karakashian - 19 points
Matt Marston and Cheney Brand - 20 points
John Pratt and Bob Coyle - 23 points
Jim Watson and Butch Roth - 23 points
It was certainly a challenging day on the water. But it was definitely rewarding to get some races in, followed by a much needed beverage at Pier 6. Thanks to everyone who came out and let's hope for a warmer day next week!
Nate and the Courageous Frostbiting Staff