CYCT Harbor Series #3 – Zenith Harbor Race Report

This time it was going to be different.

This time we had a strategy in place that would guarantee an optimal start and secure our place amongst the top of the fleet! But as we crept ever so slowly toward the (wrong side of) the starting mark only to hear the horn blow from the race committee boat…well, we knew than that our hunt for the perfect start strategy would continue.

Once skipper Brian brought us around the mark for a proper start, however, we were in our element. Up the spinnaker, down the no.1 Genoa. The mild 4-6kts breeze from the SSE was just enough to keep us running up the Sound.

We could even make out some of the other racers in our class…a good 2NM ahead. Conference was held and strategies were discussed (between some stowaway Nutter Butters and cheese crackers).

The majority of the fleet was sailing closer the shore, moving relatively direct towards the “I” buoy as the next mark. Team Stay Gold opted to exploit the stiffer winds in the middle of the Sound. The move presented the risk to extend total distance and overshoot the mark,  but after making a few calculations for current and course we made the final turn towards the east (the winds by now coming from WSW) and lo!

What’s this? The fleet!

Byron & Brent Owning the Foredeck

Somehow (although less modest sailors would attribute it to skill and fortitude) we managed to catch up with a good part of the racers…Team Stay Gold was back in the game. Our navigation piloting was dead on and we landed right at the mark, just in time to raise the Genoa and douse the spinnaker for the beat down south. At this point the teamwork of our foredeck crew (Byron and Brent) was not only well-tuned, but a fine source of one-liner entertainment for the rest of us in the cockpit (unfortunately not entirely family-friendly and thus unprintable).

Despite Chris’s initial observation that “that damn lighthouse is not moving anywhere”, progress was made towards the south.

We passed a competitor or two and caught up with a few more, enjoying some of Joe Scott’s tasty smoked meat selection on the way…but alas, as the wind died down to a few subtle knots the SV Stay Gold (a heavy lass) struggled once again. The wind now briefly from the north, we hoisted the spinnaker once again and trudged towards the final marker at Brown’s Point before rounding into the home stretch.

Once again we opted for the middle of the Sound to provide some power, but like perhaps some others out there that day more tacks were needed than planned to make it into Dumas Bay. The wind now back from the SSW (why would consistency ever grace our sails?), we put up the spinnaker in a broad reach. As we neared the final hundred meters, we were surprised by some sudden gusts. Although the gusts mildly overpowered the spinnaker, the boat handled the extra speed nicely and heeling was tolerable. In the cockpit there was excitement to finish the race so swiftly, when suddenly we heard a shout from the foredeck:

“Let the spinnaker fly…it’s not worth losing your boat, Brian!!”

Byron was apparently experiencing the newfound acceleration differently up front. And perhaps the battle cry would have had more effect if we wouldn’t have slowed down to 2-3kts just a few seconds later. The gusts were gone and we struggled to get the Genoa up to carry us the last meters over the finish line. Blue Jay, who we had so proudly passed earlier on, flew on by us at the line…well done Team Blue Jay! In slow motion (seemingly) we crossed the mark ourselves…finishing almost as “quickly” as we had started. But we were happy and proud. What a fine race.

And even though you won’t believe me if you weren’t there, we saw the sun that day!