June 11, 2012-This is what we do
wingssail images-suzanne daniel
We motored around the point from Chaguaramas to find a solid wind blowing. It was dark blue water and whitecaps and my pulse quickened a bit more when I glanced at the instruments; sixteen knots and building. That was Number-Three weather and if it built much more the spinnaker was going to be a question mark. Judy had already noticed it and I know she was thinking the same thing. I called for the Three and I started having butterflies in my stomach.
Maybe it was the fully crewed race boats circling around us or maybe it was just the clock ticking down to the start in this stiff breeze that was making me nervous but it’s been a few years since I felt butterflies like this. I shook it off and turned my attention to getting sails up and the crew focused on the start. At ten minutes to go I felt a calmness come over me and the nervousness went away. We went through the pre-start without a problem; I jibed away from the line then back at it then tacked below the committee boat and nobody else was near. We were at speed and on time and we sheeted in and settled in for the long beat.
Now this was great sailing: tacking upwind in 17 knots of wind in flat water with the sails sheeted hard and all the crew on the rail. A nice lift got us to the top mark top mark first while the competition fell away to leeward. A jibe set, the chute filling with a bang and we had over eight knots of boat speed. It was great, there was water and mountains around and our class was all behind us. It went this way for the next three legs. It was our race. We saved our time and won the class.
Not that we didn’t have some problems. The spinnaker work was still a little sloppy, we need to improve that and we will, but keeping a good crew is going to be hard with most of the people we know here in Trinidad being cruisers who leave town as soon as they get their own boats put away for the season, so we will be training new people every week. However Andrew says he and Susan will be here for the rest of the season, Liam too, and I’ve got a couple of local guys who aren’t going anywhere. So we are building.
Then there is the competition.
We’ve been in Racer/Cruiser class but I guess we’ll go into Racing class next week. Last night Norman, the owner of CMOS, the good looking and fast Soverel 43, shook my hand to congratulate us for our win and asked when we were coming into his class. I looked at the scoring sheet. His time was better than ours but I told him we’d be there on the 17th. How we’ll beat him, I don’t know, but we’ll try. That will push up the pressure.
Next Sunday the jib blew up.
I was steering when it happened; on the last beat. Everyone else was on the high side.
There was some kind of sound, then the jib leech was fluttering.
Didn’t sound right.
“Take a look at that jib, will you Judy? See if it tore.”
She jumped down to the low side and looked up.
“Yes, it’s torn!”
“From luff to leech!”
We sailed a few more minutes. The leech line was holding it. Then it got slack. The fluttering sail was shaking the rig. I could see a bit of sky at the luff where there should be sail, high aloft, and all the way to the head-stay.
“Take it down Andrew. Susan, please drop that halyard. Judy, steer for a minute, will you?”
They all got to work.
I leapt below and grabbed the #4 and threw it out the hatch. We had it up immediately and finished under that sail.
Now I have a job to get done.
But this is what we are doing now and we’ve been here before. We do boat projects during the week and go racing on the weekend. We get lots of sun and wind and a little exercise and we get home almost too tired to put the boat away, but we do it, and we’ll just have to keep on getting those projects done before the next weekend, and we’ll just have to keep fighting off the butterflies on the start line.
And we love it.
Click here for a few more photos.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Trinidad