Block Island Race Week
June 25, 2015
Greetings from Block Island-
God's country here- the "last great place" as they say- and I am lucky to be here staying at our little cottage on Dunn's Cartway- psyched to be participating in Block Island Race Week for the first time in 10 years. The last time I was here was with my Aerodyne 38, sailing with my Dad and a bunch of friends, so very fun to come back to our home island and race in my Class 40 GryphonSolo2.
Racing began Monday with a breezy day and my sailing partner Dobbs Davis and I not fully settled in and in synch with the boat. We were a bit overly aggressive on the starting line and were over early and had to turn back and re-cross the line. Bummer- but as someone once said ,"if you ain't over early once in a while, you ain't tryin'- but it did set us back in the pack for sure! We then sailed up to the windward mark- over to a reach mark- and then rounded a buoy and headed back to the starting area (somewhat following another boat)- which we thought was the finish line- but the finish line was in another location (details buried in the Sailing Instructions), so we lost a good 10 minutes on that caper. Overall not a banner day and we took third place in a class of five boats. Ugh.
Day Two dawned sunny and breezy and the race committee announced the "Around the Island Race", which everyone loves. This time we were late to the start line on port tack and had a mediocre start, but soon got powered up in the building breeze. We turned left at the buoy at the Southwest corner of the island and went screaming off on a power reach towards the Southeast Light at about 11 knots. As the boats ahead of us turned left and popped spinnakers, we debated the wisdom of that in a 25 knot building breeze and decided to stick with the jib. Turned out to be a good decision as the wind built to over 30 knots and boats were rounding up and wiping out left and right. We hit a top speed of 19 knots coming down the east side of BI towards the North end in wild surfing conditions with solid water coming over the deck and back into the cockpit. Just before we got to the leeward mark we had to drop the Solent jib and change to the smaller Staysail to go back upwind, and this proved difficult. We sailed a bit past the mark getting the sail change completed and getting back into upwind mode and then began pounding back upwind in the 25-32 knot winds and big rollers. Feeling pummeled and thoroughly drenched, we crossed the finish line, dropped the sails and collapsed. Turned out we got second place- behind the first place boat by 45 seconds- which sucked because we really should have won that race as our boat is suited to those conditions. A missed opportunity for sure.
After a major thunder and lightning storm Tuesday night, Wednesday dawned clear and bright, with a good sea breeze building. The start line was chaotic- with most of the boats gathered at the committee boat end on starboard- and it turned into a major cluster F&$% and a bunch of boats were over early- so they did a general recall. In the second start, we were positioned well mid-line and won the start, launched off to the windward mark in clear air and truckin'. We turned downwind and mucked up the spinnaker set but luckily the downwind leg was only a mile so we just stayed in the jib and led the class off on a reaching leg to the north. Lots to do on a busy race course for us double-handers! We put the A3 hard luff kite up in a 15 knot breeze at a 120 true wind angle and took off at 12 knots. We rounded the "1BI" buoy at the north end of the island and came screaming back to the finish on a close reach and finally won a race! Good stuff.
So now two more days of racing- Thursday and Friday- and we stand in second place in our class, only one point behind the first place boat, so Dobbs and I are ready to rumble today.
Break- more to follow-