Sunday, June 4, 2017

Buzzards Bay Regatta

After 5 days of sailing to/at/from Edgartown, Wampum rested for a day in Woods Hole before the delivery across buzzards bay to Marion on Tuesday August 2nd. It was a beautiful sunny day and Wampum heavy man Manolo aka Greg Dik had a cousin with some friends visiting the cape who had never sailed.

The following day started the August Wednesday Twilight PHRF series at Beverly Yacht Club. We got a solid 6th out of 6 finishers (Crazy Horse retired before finish) with 10 whole minutes between us and the next boat. We even shrimped and tore the A1 a few boat lengths before the 1st windward mark. With only 2 days before the next regatta on our home turf we were lucky to have a sailmaker onboard who could fix the sail the next day. I fought the urge to freak out. By sunset the smiles on the crews faces were as if we'd just won.


Friday August 5th 2016 started the Buzzards Bay Regatta hosted by Beverly Yacht Club in Marion. On even years the event is hosted by New Bedford Yacht Club. A few years ago in an attempt to increase participation the first day of the regatta became a distance race with a 1300 start. The race counts towards the points of the regatta but also has the standalone Dick Fontaine Memorial Trophy. It was meant to seem like a less intense format than 3 straight days of windward/leewards.

We had a good crew including Sam and Oliver Moore, my dad Tom Sr., Chris Land, and Andrew Kirk. The course sent us from Bird Island upwind to quicks hole, then to G13 off Woods Hole, and back to Bird Island. We opted for the right side ducking into mattapoisett harbor and behind west island seeking flat water before taking our long starboard tack across the bay.

The next leg was spinnaker reach on a hot angle with a freshening breeze. We had a couple small trips but mostly managed to keep the boat flat by playing the vang. A fairly clean gybe at G13 had us screaming back across the bay towards bird island. Without the finish line in sight I was a little greedy and kept the boat speed up rather than soaking low. This meant we that once we could see the line it was too late to keep soaking without sacrificing too much boat speed. We were forced to do another gybe half a mile before the finish. By now the breeze had gone from fresh to frightening and I oversteered through the maneuver causing the kite to load up on the new side and round us up. I recall tremendous pressure on the helm and using both hands to push it up with my feet firmly planted on the leeward side of the cockpit. It was no use, we were stalling out, pinned on our ear. All of the tension was spontaneously and suddenly released when the old chaffed spinnaker halyard parted. With the head of the sail no longer attached, the boat began to right itself as the spinnaker laid down over the water. Sam and Oliver were immediately on the rail grabbing the sail by its foot and collecting it inside the lifelines so fast that it appeared to shimmer as it skimmed across the surface of the water. I figured we would just nurse our way downwind to the finish under mainsail alone, but the crew had other ideas. They took a quick inventory of heads, and promptly re-hoisted the spinnaker on the jib halyard! Still it wasn't enough. We got last place on corrected time by 1 minute and 5 seconds.

Saturday morning began with a hangover. We had a replacement halyard to install, so I went up the rigging and dangled a messenger line. After what seemed like an eternity hanging in the harness we were able to snake it into the right place so Sam could grab it from deck level. Time was ticking, and we missed the first start. We could only dredge up 5 crew with variable experience. The wind was already 20 knots, gusting higher. We put in a reef, sailed the 3 miles out to the course, and decided we had little to gain by racing but a lot to break. We spectated some of the inshore fleets for a bit, and went in for the day.

Sunday morning was sunny and calm in the morning. The wind was so light that all of the boats were completely adrift and several were having swim calls. After an hour or so a light SW filed in. With the flatter seas and our big 155% genoa we had a big advantage to the J105's who had ruled the day before. But the big sail means we're a lot less maneuverable and it takes much longer to do tacks. A couple of tactical errors and one stubborn cruiser from another class prevented us from walking away from the J105's on the first two legs, and the breeze started to fill in stronger which made our only advantage disappear quickly. We managed to get a 9th out of 10, beating Ed Lobo in Waterwolf. By the second race the wind seemed like it would continue to build so we switched both headsails opting for the #3 jib and the A2 spinnaker. We got around the course, but were DFL by over a minute. It was a tough regatta. This year it's  New Bedford Yacht club's turn to host and they've decided to add a kiteboarding class! More on racing kites later....

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