Race 3, SYSCO Spring Series, May 17, 2012
There was some excitement before the race. I hit a boat dead on just 3 inches from its stern. We were both at fault. I was being a typical racer and cutting a line just behind a boat crossing in front of me. I was on starboard tack and using every bit of my right-of-way. The other boat was motoring and had his main up on port tack. I was going to clear nicely if, he had maintained his speed. But he stopped right in front of me. Just then a gust came and we started to round up, which was just the wrong thing to do. Bonk. Aventura received a small scratch on the bow and the Catalina 22 received a dent on her stern. We came around to check on the Catalina. The captain was just as chagrined as I was for the encounter. Talking with him later, I asked him why he stopped right in front of me. He said he was picking up a hat he had lost and was looking down and not paying attention to where he was. (Sounds familair, last week with the traveller event.)
The start of the race was also exciting. The race course was S-2-RS-2-RS-F. The "RS" means to leave the "R" mark to starboard. We had not caught that subtlety until we say the leading boats round the mark to starboard in the race. We also remembered seeing La Dolce Vita round the mark before the race leaving it to starboard and did not think anything of it, then. As I was saying, we wanted to start the race on a starboard tack near the mark end of the start line. This end was near the channel and since the wind was coming out of the northwest, this would give us the most favored start. We lined up on the mark close hauled starboard tack. Then two boats lined upwind of us for the mark. Since I was leeward boat and I was just making the mark I did not give them room to make the mark. They had to go-around to start. I did not make any friends on that move, but we did get a good start. We rounded the first windward mark first in our fleet, again. But had edged the mark too close to the wind that we ended in irons, which took all our lead away trying to get back steerage and start downwind again. We got the whisker pole up in nice fashion on this leg.
We watched the lead boats take the first downwind mark to starboard. That's when the light dawned on us that we should, too. As mentioned previously, we had not noticed the "S"s on the course board. We stayed in the channel and made the second upwind mark in good order, only to have problems with the whisker pool. Ojibwe and Estrella del Mar were getting ahead of us. We rounded the last downwind mark third and maintained that standing at the finish.
One tactic I used this race was watch what Upstart did. She stayed up close to the Washington shore after round 2, the windward mark. This allowed her to use the slackened current to give her better speed downwind over the ground. We played that game, too and it did help us a bit. I am going to watch Bill S. more often. He has been racing on the river for 40 years.