Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nantucket Race Week

Shortly after crossing the finish line (last, again) wednesday August 14th, we were greeted by Michael Moore aboard The Boss who volunteered to shuttle most of the crew ashore from the vicinity of bird island. Three of us remained onboard to deliver wampum to woods hole that night under a full moon. The A1 was still rigged from that night's race, so we put it right back up and went surfing at 12kt downwind, across buzzards bay in a warm steady thermal Sou'wester. We doused it in outer Hadley's Harbor and sailed the main alone and favorable current straight down the main channel of Woods Hole.

Wampum spent the night in a slip at the WHOI dock for the night and on Thursday morning we continued another 32 miles to Nantucket on one loooooong starboard tack. My mom was onboard and it was her birthday. She enjoyed driving the boat, drinking a bud light before noon, and napping in the sun.

Once on Nantucket we dined on some fine fungus and picked up the skippers bag at the Nantucket Yacht Club. Panerai watches was a big sponsor, and had a pop up euro lounge out on the dock with Peroni, Prosseco and  everything else Italian. From there we hopped on the Cisco shuttle and had ourselves some F'yeahs and Blueberry lemonades at the 888 Distillery.

Friday began the racing with Windward/Leeward courses, twice around with 2-3 mile legs. We had a stellar crew with 5 catamounts and one secret Stork weapon. Steve Widdis trimming headsails, Laura Einchorn in the pit, Trudy on bow, Will Streloh trimming the main, and Ian Stork calling tactics/squirreling. The location of the race circle was about half way between the entrance of Nantucket harbor and Great Point. This meant for relatively flat seas both days, and since we were racing in the lee of Coatue there were several interesting persistent shifts around the course. We took two bullets on Day 1, which was virtually unheard of for Wampum. Prima, a J105 crewed by Nantucket Community Sailing kids and instructors was close behind with two 2's.

Saturday's wind was a little lighter and we were happy to be fully powered up with the 155% genoa on the upwind legs. We botched the first leeward mark rounding of the day, and a late douse turned into a big mess. It caused us to sail several boat lengths downwind unnecessarily before we could start going back upwind. Clio, another J105 crewed by NCS kids was able to pass us and defend their lead for the rest of race 3. On race 4 we had the opposite problem, when (against Ian's advice) I called for an early douse and we wallowed slow and deep for several boat lengths before rounding the leeward mark. Luckily the wind was getting even lighter and the J105s were not able to keep up.

At the last windward mark rounding of the day we were neck and neck with two 12 meter yachts and Wild Horses (a W76 that Trudy and I have both crewed on). We rounded ahead of them but I could feel them breathing down my back on the offset leg. Since they were not using spinnakers, they rounded the mark and went dead down-wind while we were able to reach away to the right. Despite the massive boats on the same course, we sailed the leg in mostly clean air and were able to extend away from them. We nailed our last gybe perfectly and came back at them on port but quite a few boat lengths to leeward as we approached the finish line. We also managed to converge with the Dorade, the famous 52 foot S&S yawl from 1929. Since we were several minutes ahead of our competition I considered taking the spinnaker down and finishing behind these legends, but Ian insisted "We got it!".

And so we crossed the finish line just two boat lengths ahead of Weatherly, Colombia, Wild Horses and Dorade all of whom were overlapped crossing the line. As we sailed into their MASSIVE collective wind shadow we basically stopped dead in our tracks, and took the kite down. The mega beasts behind us were having a shouting match over a right-of-way issue which resulted in colombia being DSQ. As they all sailed past us wing-on-wing (and Dorade with a spinnaker still flying) their booms and whisker poles sitting perpendicular to their long skinny hulls the boats making them each effectively 70 feet long, and 70 feet wide. I was stunned! This was the highlight of the season. Winning the final race, winning the regatta, and being among some true classics. In the photo at the above link (taken from Weatherly?) you can see our red kite and the other boats around us.

We were also given 2nd place in the Dick Gifford memorial trophy for best performance at the regatta. Second only to the W46 Mustang who put up a straight picket fence score line and a fully pro crew. This award has extra significance for me, since Dick Gifford was my brother in law's grandfather.

On Sunday was the Opera House Cup which is only for wooden boats. It is an impressive parade of boats like The Blue Peter, Santana, Merilee, Tilley XV and too many others to list. Since the party that night was sold out, we opted to deliver home to Woods Hole that day, sailing downwind to tuckernuck shoals as the entire 100+ boat fleet was close reaching back to their finish. We even managed to get a photo of W76 Wild Horses, W46 Mustang, and W37 race horse all sailing side by side. It was a jaw dropping parade of bright work and status symbols.

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