OMG, sailboat racing is mayhem! Today was my first experience racing a sailboat, and it was pretty crazy! We went out after the briefing to do a timed run and two group races. It was windy, 20-30 knots, and cold! So being a cruiser and not a racer, I wanted to reef the main and sail with just our self tacking jib for a headsail. The timed run was pretty cool, well that is, it was cool until I got too close to a crab pot flag and snagged the pot line with our daggerboard, and we ended up dragging the damn pot for half a mile before we agreed it wasn’t coming off on it’s own, and we had better stop the boat and disengage it. We continued on minus our crab pot, but our timed run was a disaster.
Then the group racing began, this was pretty stressful for me, because there are so many boats going in all directions and coming so close you could reach over and touch them. I nearly had about a dozen heart attacks as we had multiple close encounters! Lucky for me, I had François Tregouet from Outremer with us, so he coached me through the boat dodging process!
We were doing pretty well in the first race, and the wind had dropped below 25 knots, so we got cocky and thought we would unfurl our Code-D gennaker on the downwind leg. The Code-D worked so well that we immediately accelerated to 17 knots boat speed and nearly ran over the boats in front of us, which required more boat dodging coaching from François! And because we went so fast, we ran out of room and started furling our Code-D too late, and then the furling line got caught up, so we had to continue our downwind leg for an extra mile while we got the Code-D in before we could get back on course and continue the race, so obviously our first race didn’t go as well as we had hoped.
On the final race of the day, we were waiting for the start, and it wasn’t until all the boats began charging for the start line, that we realized we had turned our radio down and missed the starting call. Oops! So we crossed the line dead last, but François had us turn opposite tack on the beat to the windward mark, and we caught up to most of the boats as we rounded the mark. We skipped the Code-D this time and stayed with our reefed main, and jib which wasn’t super fast but at least kept us in the hunt and we crossed the finish line not too far behind the lead group.
So, after a few stiff drinks, and some time to calm down a bit, I would say that while racing is not really my thing, I did learn a lot, and I was really impressed with the other boats and crews out on the water today, these guys know their stuff. Let’s see if we can do a bit better tomorrow!
Here are some photos that Robin took today…