Thursday, April 17, 2014

Charleston Race Week 2014

Wow!! - We had a blast this year at Charleston Race Week (we had a blast last year as well). We raced in the Pursuit Non-Spinnaker Class again this year which grew from four to twelve boats. I like racing in the pursuit class because it gives us a chance to recover from small errors and it gives us an opportunity to enjoy a nice sail on the ocean and get back to the marina relatively early in the day (if the wind is good). We were wonderfully blessed this year to have great weather and wonderful people to enjoy God's creation!

In the pursuit class each boat has it's own start time based on it's rating. If everyone sails to their rating we should all finish together so you actually know where you placed when you finish (if the Race Committee doesn't shorten the course).

The wind was variable all three days. Friday was the most consistent and we sailed the long course and finished in fourth place - I was pretty happy that we finished in the top half of the fleet. We had a rough start as a result of a couple of inbound ships that made excellent wind blocks of the light winds in the first few miles. By the time we made it to the channel we were doing better and continued to catch boats as we worked our way around the rest of the course. After the race we grilled burgers and had a little party on the boat so I never even made it to the party at the marina.

On Saturday the race was changed to the short course.  We were off to a better start and we made good progress out to just past G25 where there was a calm spot that caused the whole fleet to bunch up. This hurt the slower boats and helped the faster boats since we essentially caught the fleet. Once the wind filled in we quickly passed several boats and ended up chasing Waterlily, the only faster boat in the fleet, back in the channel. We ended up finishing third behind Waterlily and Direction.

Sunday was another light day race, the fleet stalled just past the end of the jetty's in four foot swells and light wind. Two of our crew fell victim to sea sickness while we were in the swells. We worked our way North to some wind we saw in the distance and were able to get some speed and make it to the G13 and head South to the mark. We passed several boats on the way South and ended up finishing Second behind Direction when they shortened the course by half, ending at the midpoint mark. Along the way to the mark we were passed by a large leatherback sea turtle - you can tell the winds are light when you get passed by a turtle.

Thank you crew for working really hard to keep the boat moving its fastest all weekend. We all learned a couple of things.

  1. Having a clean bottom makes a huge Huge difference in boat speed. (We were pretty foul for the Frostbite Series races and it showed)
  2. We can be competitive in light wind, we had convinced ourselves that we needed heavy wind to be successful and this simply not the case.
  3. Keeping the sails well trimmed is a continuous process and requires constant attention of the trimmers and tactician.
  4. The driver needs to focus on driving the boat. Every distraction (like sea turtles or a conversation) costs time.
The weekend was a lot of fun - getting some hardware made it extra special.