November 30, 2013-Racing in Cartagena (v.4)
Having a Good Time
(About version 4 of this story: Sorry for those of you who are followers, and keep getting notifications about a new posting, only to find the same posting each time. I swear, this is the last one. I just have been trying to get a good story, tight, interesting, which still describes how the day really went. Maybe this is it.)
Some days you can't seem to get out of your own way and other days you sail like you're on fire.
Yesterday we were on fire and there is nothing like a win to erase that string of defeats we had in Antigua. Yesterday we won.
But to do it we had to rely on our gut instincts because at the start we had nothing else to go on: no sailing instructions, no official clock, no flags, just a rough idea of the course and a bunch of chatter on the radio in Spanish.
Hannes asked me if I had a stop watch but I had no time for that, I was in a zone, living on my wits. I told him to forget it, I was just going to stay close to the line and watch the other boats. I'd use my judgment.
He shrugged and said "OK". At least he'd tried to get us to be serious
Then there came one more hail of chatter on the radio which ended in, "Five minutes, five minutes!". This time it seemed real and the fleet was starting to line up so I started a timed run away from the line.
At 3:30 I turned to go back.
It was a downwind start. We ran the line on starboard. Some boats were approaching on port and I yelled "Starboard". They didn't budge. I yelled again and they turned to take our stern. We had a clear shot. Hannes asked, “How long to go?” I reckoned five seconds and held up five fingers. He said, "Go, GO!" I turned down and we crossed the line first, with speed on. I looked around. We were in front.
I wondered if we were early, Kenny said, "Well if we were there were about four other boats that were early too." Nobody was going back.
I said to get the spinnaker up. It filled.
Nobody else had kites yet, we were ahead of them all, and then we were gone; a horizon job. But we still needed some luck. We needed to turn left more to get to the first mark but we were already way by the lee. I took a chance and called for a jibe and we talked it through as we went and surprisingly, it worked. Now we had a good angle to the mark. Kenny said to stay away from the next point, "Lots of shallow water there, you can go inside of those bouys, but not by much." I stayed high. Nobody behind was going there either and nobody was gaining except LOL, one of the new Jeanneau Sun Odysseys.
Fifteen minutes later we did another jibe and it was perfect. This crew was good.
But I was running on adrenalin, the crew needed direction and I was giving it. Stuff was coming fast, as fast as I could handle, just see it and get it done, and then see the next thing and get that done.
Hannes worked like a horse on the foredeck, Kenny kept up a stream of invaluable local knowledge, Sheila trimmed the kite and she had good eyes, she saw every mark before anyone else. Gert was strong and fast on the3 winches and he never stopped smiling. Judy, as usual, was a rock. She saw everything on the boat and kept it all together for us.
As we passed Santa Cruz Bank we spotted the bottom mark and it was coming up quickly. The jib needed to go up and I called for it. Hannes yanked on the halyard and Judy tailed while the rest of us trimmed in for a hard spinnaker reach. The pole went to the headstay and somebody sheeted in the kite and it pulled like a train. The Jeanneau didn’t gain any more.
On the takedown the kite got tangled in the jib sheet but Hannes yelled, "Sheet in man, sheet in, we'll keep it clear", and they did.
wingssail images-Fredrick roswold
The beat upwind in 14kts of wind and flat water, with the big genoa sheeted tight and flat as a board and carrying a bubble in the main, was glorious. In puffs I had to feather it, but we twisted off the jib and dropped the main traveler all the way down and Wings climbed to weather. We outpointed the Jeanneau and had speed on them. When I looked back they were farther to leeward and farther behind.
And that's the way it finished: first by enough to get the jib down and the beers out before the Jeanneau came in and they gave us a big cheer. We stuck around long enough to see the next two boats come into view then we headed back to Club Nautico. Even getting fouled on our neighbor's anchor during docking wasn't a problem; Kenny said, "I'm a fish", and he jumped in a cleared it. Good man.
That's the way we like it.
Click here for more photos.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Cartagena