Our first race of the year on a new (used) J35. We arrived early at 1700 for a 1900 race.
Pre-race readiness check. As the crew arrived at the boat “Lickety-Split”, TJ was already busy sewing in battons on the #3 jib.
Crew for this week,
TJ Captain A – Mainsheet
Jeff Captain B – Helm
Kathi – Eyes and Ears
Mike P, BeastMaster
Stevo, Spin Master
Dave, Boomvang, cunningham, Spin#2
Stormy, Jib and Spin Sheet
Mike 2, Spin Down-Top Haul Sheet
Drifter (me) Railmeat and Pit (spinnaker sail stuffer)
As we departed from dock and headed out on Lake Macatawa, we needed to remove the genoa roller furling jib sail. All of us a bit rusty from Winter, and new to the boat, struggled, fought, fumbled, and a whopping 5+ minutes later, the sail was down, and the #3 was ready.
We picked up Mike 2 from the channel gas stop in a strong cross wind. This spot is used when a crew member misses the first departure at the marina. The reverse on the engine was not as powerful as hoped, but we managed fine. We hoisted the mainsail in the channel. She is a sharkskin brand and looks like it. We all commented that there is only one reef setup and no reef grommets, except the tack, and clew.
We exited the channel and hoisted the jib. The flag was full and estimated the winds at 20 knots. Lickety-Split felt fast. The wind speed gage read 17 knots??? and we headed off to test a few tacks. On a J35, there are adjustable back stay cables (preventers ?), and one was yanked out. As we headed down wind to the starting line, Stevo instantly had his bolson straps on and was being hoisted up the mast to re-attach the back stay cable.
As we readied the boat for the start, we did pretty well for estimating the 19:10 start for our division, and were about 15 seconds below the line at the start. Not bad. Windward mark is usually set directly into the wind, and at SW 170 degrees(?)
On our start, we were crowded on a starboard tack with a leeward boat 10 ft away and 5 ft ahead, unable to tack without risking a collision with the windward sailboat two boat links behind. Once our windward boat tacked, so did we. We all discussed strategy as our current course on port tack was 248, and we expected a lift on our starboard tack, as the wind had a forecast to change from SW to West. We tacked to starboard with Rumors ahead of us, and it worked out great and we stole wind from our leeward sailboat “Capricious”.
Rounding windward mark #1, jibing, and raising the spinnaker, is an adrenaline rush. Our timing was not horrible, as we raised the spinnaker, only to find we hoisted the clew, and pulled her up sideways. Hmmm. As we were all surprised, there was a humm of laughter and chuckles, and Stevo had it corrected before the chuckling stopped. Enough said. During the jibe, I reminded Captain TJ about safe jibing on the mainsheet, and he nodded, he was ready, but I was nervous. It reminded me of a hockey stick hitting the entire bench of a team. Not a pretty image. Regardless, TJ was way ahead of me. As we changed course for Mark #2 on a port tack, dropping the spinnaker was in process, and as I was in the galley waiting for a clew of the spinnaker to start my work of pulling the spinnaker in, as it seemed like minutes went by waiting for the spinnaker to arrive. I could hear yelling and sheets being pulled, and squeaking tackle. I think the new wider boat is a farther reach for the crew pulling the spinnaker in from the deck to reach the pit. Next time I want to step up out above the pit and grab a clew line, so the deck crew does not have to over reach when handing off the spinnaker into the pit (galley).
Onward to leeward mark. Rounding leeward mark#2, and exactly as planned, our port tack was now 255 degrees, so we kept this tack short as possible, and the starboard tack would continue to give us lift.
Rounding windward mark #3, jibing, hoisting the spinnaker went up strait, but we struggled with getting it untwisted. Rumors beat us to the finish line. It was said that the older Lickety-Split would have passed Rumors. So let it be known, we need to optimize this newer boat and pass Rumors on downwind runs.
Opportunities for Improvement:
1) I am going to time myself on stuffing the spinnaker (with rubberbands) into the turtle (bag) and return to deck as fast as possible.
2) Pit guy grabs spinnaker clew line to assist getting clew of spinnaker in pit faster.
What did I miss guys?