Race 2 – 12 May 2010 Knockdown

Race two of the year was a hairied ride with gusty East wind.  Crew arrived early around 1700 to perform pre-race fixes to halyards and other minor items.

Crew for this week:
TJ Captain A – Helm
Jeff Captain B – Helm
Kathi – Eyes and Ears
Mike P, CrewMaster
StevO, Spin Master
DavO, Jib and Cunningham
Bert, Jib and Cunningham
Stormy, Jib sheets
Mike 2 (absent), Spin Down-Top Haul Sheet
Drifter (me) Pit (spinnaker top & down haul and sail stuffer)

Our departure was a hint that tonight would be a windy challenge, as the wind was in command of our boat and kept forcing our bow and boat downwind, preventing us heading into the wind and out of the marina.  We traveled awkwardly sideways down the slips heading towards dockwall on the shoreside.  Finally we pushed the bow downwind enough for us to power in reverse heading into the wind in reverse.

We are down one crew member tonight.  Note to crew – the gas station has  signs all over that discourage boat pickups. Need to find alternate late pickup location, maybe MBYC.

Upon exit of the channel with main sail up, we flew the spinnaker.  TJ was noticing the pull on the boat from the spinnaker sail and we all were preparing to practice several spinnaker jibes.  This is a challenge because the bow-man Stevo has to detach the spinnaker pole from the mast, attach to clew sheet, jibe-ho, and re-attach opposite end of spinnaker pole to mast, with sail in between wind loads.  I was a bit behind on the top and down haul lines, and with the East wind pushing us farther away from shore, we all seemed to notice the wind gusts getting bigger, stronger, and we could all smell danger in the air.  In short order we were a mile off shore and passing the committee boat, and the wind-gusts were now exceeding 30 knots.  TJ cancelled the jibe practices (great call) and yelled pop-the-spinnaker,  and we did.

I hit the pit and we all began to pull in the spinnaker.  I was timing myself on stuffing the spinnaker.  I tried a new approach with the head and clews all on the port side and after it was 90% stuffed in the turtle with rubber-bands, the red clew still had 20 ft to go and the blue clew was 0 ft.  Dam.  I had to redo it again, and now at 8+ minutes.

Not sure who called it, but someone yelled “knock-down“.  Sure enough – an S2 7.9 “Second Wind” had a knock-down.  It seemed like a very long time as we watched and hoped they were not injured and pinned.  I am pretty sure the sails were wet, and about 15 seconds seemed to drag-on, but the crew pulled themselves on board and released the sheets, and the mast slowly raised. Hopefully they only have a few bruises.

Time was 8 minutes to the start and one less boat. We noticed SwiftSure with only jib, as we later found out, they blew there main out minutes earlier.

Our Spin class started at 1910 and off we went, blocked by Rumors ahead giving us bad wind, and Swiftsure behind us, passing to leeward.  We noticed the gusts sometimes up to 38 knots.  “Lake Effect” and “Hot for Teacher” had wind gusts that forced them to round-up.

Upon rounding the East windard mark (nearest the shore), we saw ahead of us “Capricious” and “Sufficient Reason” launched their spinnakers.  Then we saw “Sufficient Reason” blow their halyard or top of their spinnaker, and the crew quickly pulling it in as they sailed over the sail.  We all commented how smart it was for us not to launch our spinnaker.

As we rounded the windward mark, the wind gusts,  pushed us hard, as we released our sails to a broad reach, we sailed along with more than 7 knots.   We finished.  Check out RumorsSailing.com for their photos.

Opportunities for Improvement:1) Replace cunningham line.

2) BoomVang connection is ready to pull out and we will need new screws to replace, and maybe pipe-clamp straps around entire boom and connection.

3) Need a mainsail preventer line readied before the race.

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About John Weller

Brought up sailing on Lake Macatawa (Holland, MI). Raced Sprites (12 ft main and jib) at the local yacht club as a youth. Raced on LicktySplit J35, BlackBeard S2 7.9, and Lake Effect T30 on Wednesday nights with the Bay Shore Yacht Club racing organization. Enjoy teaching, sailing, and skiing to those who want an adventure.

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