Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A peak experience with Team Zorro (part 2)

Was it a miracle, or was it a really good crew?

All the new hardware in which Twinkle Toes had invested began to prove itself, especially the lovely, shiny, extra-large winches. Some of the other innovations, such as movable jib cars, also helped the boat to handle well. There were still some rough spots, such as the old mainsheet and traveler line, both of which tended to jam, but with much else on the boat working smoothly, those were less of a problem than they used to be. Zorro reported that the helm continued to be much easier to handle than it had been in the past, and the boat was staying flatter, pointing higher, and maintaining speed much better than the Windependent of yore.

Better yet, the crew began to really come together and get the hang of both the boat and our positions – Windependent is a much larger boat than most of us usually sail, especially the Scow guys. Twinkle Toes worked the traveler, and, to a lesser extent, the mainsheet, to keep the boat steady in the gusts. Seymour and Deli Man on jib trim figured out how to cross the boat behind the helm in the tacks to help each other sheet. Space Invader on the bow proved to be a superb lookout. Santa Claus at first had some trouble getting from one side of the boat to the other during tacks, but then he figured out how to slide, if not gracefully, at least efficiently, under the boom without getting tangled up in the vang. I floated, helping where extra help was needed, primarily helping Twinkle Toes with the main and traveler, but also helping on the halyards, genoa furler, and jib trim as needed, and going below to fetch things, especially beverages.

One by one, we began passing boats. Erebus was holding her own about as well as a Hunter 28 could in those conditions, with a captain experienced in ocean sailing and a novice crew who nevertheless were having a great time – confidence in a skipper goes a long way toward preventing crew panic when the boat heels over – but we had more waterline and therefore better boat speed. Next, Cultural Infidel, in spite of having a lot of rail meat on the crew, still was having trouble with the conditions and dropped her headsail to reduce power.

Soon we were catching up to the J/24s and the J/22. Sirocco’s Song was sailing under full sail but took a tack off toward the west side of the lake – not the favored tack. Kachina and Oso had been sailing under jib alone but raised their mains as we passed. Still, we continued to pull ahead of them. When Sirocco’s Song came back, she was behind all three of us, but Oso took off to the west anyway, and again, Windependent was ahead when we came back together. Kachina stayed to the east, but continued to fall behind.

We rounded the windward mark ahead of the J’s and continued to pull out our lead. We took first one, and then the other, reef out of the mainsail, and we unrolled the genoa completely. Now we were really flying, in spite of the Hunter’s swept-back spreaders that kept the mainsail from going fully forward. We passed Cultural Infidel and Erebus, still on the upwind leg, while behind us, Kachina and Oso got into a luffing duel, allowing Sirocco’s Song to pull out ahead and open up a lead on them. About halfway to the finish line, Sirocco’s Song made a daring move, considering the conditions – she launched a spinnaker. Now she was flying along, but Windependent was too far ahead for her to catch.

As the finish line was at the entrance to the harbor, we rolled up the genoa before we got there and finished under main alone; we also had Santa Claus below on the string so we could start and run the engine the moment the finishing horn went off. We got the mainsail down, and with Twinkle Toes on the helm giving instructions to Santa Claus on the throttle, we pulled into the slip in triumph.

Sirocco’s Song finished second, a couple of minutes behind Windependent, followed by Kachina and Oso a couple of minutes after that. Eventually Cultural Infidel finished, with Erebus last over the line – although Erebus finished ahead of Cultural Infidel on corrected time.

To be continued …

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Blogger bonnie said...

Fantastic race writeup! What a blast!

Mon Jun 09, 05:41:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

Did you mention Seymour's good call near the end of the race? -- he knew the wind tends to bend around the northeast corner of jet boat cove, so the boat wouldn't have to gybe right away.

Tue Jun 10, 10:11:00 PM MDT  

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