Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Edgartown Round the Buoys and Round the Island Races

Looking up at the A2 spinnaker on Day 1
Now that football season is finally over, but its still pitch dark out after work I thought it was time to catch up on the Wampum Racing blog before our transition into 2017. We left off on Wednesday July 27th when I made the delivery from Woods Hole to Edgartown for the Big Boat Buoy Racing series and the Round the Island race. Thursday we began with windward leeward racing and thanks to 4 boats registering but not showing up, Classes 4 and 5 were combined. This meant our starting line consisted of a brand new Goetz Dunning 42 "Baby Bella", a C&C 30 "Just a Friend" with Charley Enright and Mark Towhill aboard, "Next" a 36' Rodger Martin concept built by NEB, a Navy 44 and a Farr 40 sailed by naval academy cadets, and our good friends/arch enemies "Dark n Stormy" a J/105 from buzzards bay.
Wes Bright trimming the spinnaker on Day 1
It was obvious we were a little out of our league but the racing was free and our first real taste of windward/leeward courses. Plus, it was a sunny day on a beautiful flat water venue by the Cape Poge elbow, and we had a happy crew of 7 racers including Wes Bright borrowed from Hardtack. The other boats were so much faster, that the first boat typically finished 15-20 minutes ahead of us. So immediately after we finished one race and doused the spinnaker, the race committee would blow the horn signaling another starting sequence. After two of these we realized we needed to have food and water on the last leg of the race because there was simply no time between races for it. After 4 races on day 1 we were pretty toasted. A few crew members did not return for day 2, but we found a couple fresh islanders willing to join us. 
Last windward mark rounding of the Big Boat Buoy Racing
Friday, Day 2 was much of the same only with absolutely down pouring rain and very limited visibility. After a brief becalming and a postponement the wind returned and they started some races. The rain was coming down in sheets so thick you couldn't see both ends of the starting line. We got a bad start behind the two navy boats partially due to the muffled starting signals and the main sail gathering so much rain that the runoff at its foot was like a waterfall. Since it was impossible to see the weather mark, we tried to keep a timer going to remember how long we were on port vs stbd tack so we could know if we were on the right or left side of the course. A few minutes after one of our starts the TP52 who had started before us were already charging back downwind to the leeward mark. Spookie's white hull and white spinnaker came out of the gray fog first and we knew that Phoenix and Vesper must be close behind. But those sleds were so damn fast that they were around the mark and going back upwind long before there was an avoidance issue. We completed 3 races that day and by the end the weather got better. Luckily Dark n Stormy was too hungover to brave the weather that day, which meant we got 2nd place (out of 2). Later that afternoon at the edgartown yacht club, they gave us two trophies for 7 consecutive DFL's. Pretty sweet little cheese platters too.
Trudy receiving our daily awards for Thursday and Friday
Tough competition 

Saturday's GPS tracks off Cape Poge Elbow

Saturday July 30th was the big day of the annual 56 nautical mile Round the Island race. 70 boats started the basically rectangular course sailed in a clockwise direction, with marks at Cape Poge, the Hooter, Squibnoquet, Devil's Bridge, and Middle Ground. It was very light wind the entire day with an average of ~5 kt and a max of 10. The direction started NNE, but clocked to SE through the day. This should have favored us with relatively light displacement and large sail plan, but our lack of waterline on the long reaching legs was crippling.

Light air and flat seas
 Racing down Muskeget Channel
Trying not to watch the swarm of TP52's astern
A steady and favorable current through Muskeget channel kept us moving over ground, and along the south side of the island many boats made plays to head offshore in hopes of  a thermal southerly wind overpowering the dying NE which it never really happened. We were in a close battle for 4th place with a few J105s until we made a costly tactical mistake at Devils Bridge, about 30 miles into the race. From there it turned into a  broad reach with the A1 up vineyard sound. At the end of middle ground we doused the kite and used the #1 genoa to sail close hauled to the finish. 

Maybe we should have gybed sooner? Aquinnah and the rest of the fleet in the distance. 
After baking in the sun all day a fog bank moved in, and we had <100 ft of visibility coming back into the harbor. For a little extra fun, we re-launched the A1 and flew it all the way up the channel, dousing right in front of the Chappy ferry. Our elapsed time was 10:35:12, an average VMG of only 5.2 kt. We corrected out in 8th place out of 11 finishers in our class, and a whopping 01:02:22 behind the winner of our class J109 Hafa Adai. It misted all night and sunday the delivery back to woods hole was hot and humid. All in all it was a spectacular regatta. 
Our GPS track lines for 3 days of racing