March 17, 2016-Season Finisher: Banderas Bay Regatta
Working the Beach in BBR
The racing season is over in Banderas Bay and we’ve done very well. We sailed in three regattas and won two of them and got second in the third which was Banderas Bay Regatta, last weekend. There were also several Wednesday night beer can races this season of which we won several.
Even though we didn’t win that last race we are thrilled with the season. Since last year we’ve made gains in several areas including crew work, tactics, starts, sail shape, and even our efforts to improve the rating situation has helped.
The Banderas Bay Regatta was interesting. We sailed hard but the competition was tough and the courses didn’t suit us. However, after two days the fleet was totally scrambled. There were five boats which were tied for first place, all with 7 points. Wings was one of them.
It came down to the last day. Whoever won that final race would take the regatta. A friend was talking to us before the race and he said, “Well, when you are up against really good competition it makes you better, you have to up your game.”
I despaired. I wondered what I could do to “up our game”. Our starts had been perfect, our tactics had been flawless, and our boat speed was already the best it had ever been. What else could we do? We had no more rabbits to pull out of the hat.
There was one chance. Maybe the race committee would set Course 7. Part of Course 7 went up the La Cruz shoreline, which is a tricky little place, and we were masters of it. If they set Course 7, and if we could stay close until we got there, maybe we could pull out the win.
Well, they set course 7. We had a chance.
But things don’t always go as planned. After getting the course I wanted we blew the start of the race. We blew it bad. Worst start all year. Then the radio got switched off and we missed the announcement of the bearing to the first mark, consequently went the wrong way and wound up over-standing. When we got to the La Cruz coast we were in fifth place.
But there was still that beat up the coast. It’s only 1.7 miles but we knew how to make the most of it and we did. The four boats ahead were clueless; when they tacked out in search of better breeze I just thought, “YES!” Outside there was a lovely wind, and the four boats ahead found that wind and heeled over and accelerated. They didn’t notice that the tide was strongly against them.
They didn’t notice the lifted breeze in on the shore. They didn’t realize that even though they were going fast they were falling back.
We stayed inside, close to the shore, and worked our magic. Our wind was lighter and came in fits and puffs. There were nerve wracking lulls. Sometimes we just barely coasted ahead to the next little puff. Often we seemed just yards off the rocks and the surf, but we moved. We knew when we had to tack and when we could hold on a little longer. We worked the beach. The other four boats romped outside in the nice breeze which had lured them there, and they got screwed. When they finally tacked back towards the mark they had a bad course, well below the mark. We got one last puff which took us speeding in on a big lift. We rounded the mark in second, close behind the first boat. We had passed three boats and closed up with the fourth boat in that short 1.7 mile leg. Fantastic, what a comeback!
Now we just had a spinnaker run to the finish and it was a drag race. The crew was excellent and we closed in more on the first boat. The wind shifted on that run and we changed spinnakers, a tricky move, but we did it and it helped even more.
Racing to the Finish
At the finish we checked our time and saw that we had corrected out over the first boat. That was good, but one boat behind us had maintained their position and they, in turn, corrected out over us. The difference was a little over a minute. They won. Winning the race also won them the first place in the regatta. We got a second place in the race and second for the regatta.
So that was the way we ended up, a good race and a great season. We drank three bottles of Champagne on the way home.
Click here for more photos.
You can also see more photos of the Banderas Bay Regatta on John Pounder's web site.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle.