January 30, 2017-Close Racing
john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Approaching the Jibe Mark
We were over early at the start and had to go back. That cost us two minutes and every other boat got away clean and they were gone. So much for a safe race, I thought.
We restarted and settled in on what seemed like it would be a slow slog back through the fleet.
Judy spotted the shift first. “The wind is now, 190” she said. She’d felt the lift and she looked at the numbers. It had been 228, now it was 190, a huge shift to the left; unexpected. It was only momentary but it was a harbinger of things to come. It swung right back to 220, but then returned to 208 and stayed.
“Then I’m staying to the left of the fleet”, I spoke to nobody in particular, “we need to protect the left side.” I looked over my shoulder to the right to see if anyone was coming our way. They weren’t.
When we tacked back to port the whole fleet was down to leeward. We were lifted up over everyone.
I felt some returning hope. After being over early at the start and losing that 2 minutes to every other boat this is what we needed to get back in the game.
As we went further up the beat I saw that Olas Lindas was still ahead but closer, and Bright Star was also nearby but the others were behind, well behind. I watched Bright Star as they came in on starboard and I saw we probably would cross them. We’ll be second to round I thought, that is great. Beautiful come back.
Olas rounded ahead of us by 2:35, still leading by a safe margin, and Bright Star was right behind us and they dogged us all the way through the jibe and down to the leeward mark. When we got there Olas was still only 2:30 ahead, so they hadn’t gained. Good. We needed a clean rounding inside of Bright Star, who was still right on our tail, and got it. We dumped bad air on them and they tacked away to the left, which was fortunate for us, it turned out.
Again Judy saw the shift. At the top mark the wind showed a big oscillation the other way. It touched 250 degrees. She mentioned it. That shift was more expected; it was what we thought would would happen as the afternoon went on. It would be permanent, and persistent.
“So this time we protect the right” and after re rounded the bottom mark we stayed on port until Olas Lindas and everyone else behind us tacked, and a little longer.
We sailed into the knock and when we tacked to starboard we were again lifted and everyone else was again to leeward of us, only on the opposite side. Sweet.
We were now into the race over an hour and the wind was building. It got to 17 true, or more, on that second beat. We had 24 knots over the deck and we plunged into the waves. The forward hands were doused as they hooked up the spinnaker. I wished I’d called for the heavy kite but there was no time now, just a few minutes to the mark. I prayed that the ¾ oz kite would take it.
“OK folks,” I called out, “we’ll go deep as soon as we round and we need to jibe ASAP, so get the jib down and prepare for the jibe.” I knew Olas Lindas would be reaching off to the right and I wanted to cut the corner on them.
“2:30” called Dick as he timed Olas’ lead. Oh, that’s great, I thought, we have a chance in this race.“They will owe us about 5 minutes at the finish, we can win this.”
The set went well and the jibe did too until the pole seemed to fail: Paul couldn’t get the jaws to work. Shit. Strong winds and the pole wasn’t on. The boat was rolling and the spinnaker was swinging around uncontrolled and everyone’s eyes were on Paul standing at the bow struggling with the afterguy. But he somehow got the pole to work and the guy in and the jibe was completed. I looked at Olas Lindas, they were barely ahead of us.
Now just hang on to the finish I kept thinking.
That last leg seemed to take forever as I watched Olas’s transom and tried to guess how much time separated us from them.
They finished and we came through 1:48 behind. No one else was close. We surely had the race and that meant we had the whole regatta. Fantastic!
So the Vallarta Cup was over and we had it. Four races, 58 miles total. We had three first places and a second place. But the racing was closer than it sounds. We traded the lead back and forth with Olas Lindas and at the end of the regatta our total corrected time difference with them, over all four races, was just one minute and seven seconds after eleven hours of racing. That is .17%. Less than a quarter of one percent of the total time.
Now we have a breather, just some Wednesday races, before Banderas Bay Regatta in late February.
We can use it.
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Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle.