The 4th of July Long Race and Dinghy Daze
Because of the drama of Tadpole’s automotive adventure, I never got around to telling about the new crew member we had on the boat two weeks ago. I’ll call him
Two weeks ago, the New Mexico Sailing Club’s second summer series regatta was supposed to happen. Except it wasn’t really the second regatta weekend, since the first regatta weekend hadn’t happened when Black Magic was the only boat that showed up to race. As it turns out, she was the only boat to turn out for the “second” regatta weekend as well, so that regatta didn’t happen either.
But we did go out sailing both Saturday and Sunday with
So this past Saturday was the 4th of July Long Race, and again we had
The race start/finish line was in the marina cove between the southwest corner of A dock and a prominent rock outcropping to the southwest of it. The course for the A fleet went up the Narrows (not shown on the map), passing to the right of the island in the middle of the lake that has a wind-warning beacon (which seems not to be working), around a white buoy near the westernmost boat ramp on the lake, around a green buoy near the dam, around the island once again, and back through the narrows to the line. For the B fleet, the course was out the
Wind conditions to start with were “light and variable” – VERY variable. We would get a few minutes when it was very light, and then a few minutes when it was blowing nicely, and then we’d get a few minutes of dead calm. The direction of the wind was also variable; sometimes we’d get a lift that took us straight toward the next mark, and sometimes we’d get a header that put us way off. I was milking every lift for what it was worth, but the headers were tougher to deal with – I wouldn’t want to tack if the header was extremely temporary. For the most part, though, I think I did all right. A couple of the calls that I made on those headers really worked out well.
As we tacked out the
One of the side effects of the wind shifts was that for Black Magic, every leg of the race was upwind. We were close-hauled up the
So we got to the island, tacked around the north side of it, and got ready to fall off and launch the spinnaker – finally, we thought, we would be able to get that chute up and take advantage of Black Magic’s blistering downwind speed.
No such luck. The wind died almost completely. Eventually we did get the chute up, but not for long – the wind shifted forward. We were on a close reach, and we ended up taking the spinnaker down. However, we saw that, once again, Flash was enjoying a great spinnaker run, behind us. The wind shifted aft again, and we once again tried to fly the chute, but again, the wind shifted forward and we had to douse. The next time the wind went aft, I decided we shouldn’t waste time trying to fly the chute – we were losing a lot of time and velocity in those hoists and takedowns. We just kept the jib going as well as we could. The crew was upset with that decision – they saw Flash catching up to us with the spinnaker flying. But we weren’t in the same wind that Flash was in, so there was no way we could get that chute to work for us.
Then a small thunderstorm moved in. It didn’t produce much rain, but it did produce lots of wind, including big gusts. Cougar got knocked flat, and Flash had control problems as well. Both of then ended up dropping their headsails. Meanwhile, on Black Magic, we kept our jib up and depowered the main, but with four people on the rail, we didn’t need to depower as much as we could have.
Coming up the
Still, we finished about 12 minutes ahead of Flash, and 14 ahead of Cougar. On corrected time, Black Magic was first, Cougar was second, and Flash was third. I was glad to see Cougar do well – she was a high-school graduation gift from Weatherman to his son, Robinson. Robinson’s going to be attending
Sunday was a little more light-hearted – we had “Dinghy Daze,” which we hope to build into an annual event. (BTW, the slogan on the flag above is "COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE") We had a sail division, open to Sunfish, Lasers, and any other small sailing vessel, and we had a paddle division for kayaks, canoes, rowboats, or whatever. We didn’t get a lot of participants (two in each division), but the folks who showed up had a lot of fun. As more people realize the club is still here and there is water in the lake, we hope to get more participation next year.
As we were putting sails away and otherwise preparing Black Magic to sit idle for a week, we found a strange hat on board – one that neither Pat nor Tadpole nor I recognized. We thought it was