30 January 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

As we charged away from San Francisco at a blistering 7 knots, Treasure Island (TI) loomed heavily in our path. We had some company on our charge there and a ton of Moore 24s ahead. But we had a secret weapon, Blackaller was in our pocket, an extra mark we wouldn't have to round later with the ebb flowing.

As we got closer to TI, we knew we'd have to tack a few times to get around. I say a few times rather than twice because every time we'd go charging over on port, we were greeted with a stifling line of boats on starboard. I'm not one of those racers that's willing to try to squeeze through a tiny crack in a line, so I relegated myself to a few extra tacks.

On what was supposed to be my last one, Kathy got ready to tack, I yelled "hardly" (my daughter's term for hard-a-lee), and turned the helm over. Suddenly, a J105 turned off their cloaking device and appeared directly in our path. Not just any J105, a J105 on starboard that I was attempting to ram. J105s are supposed to hit things, not be hit. So we luffed for a moment, tried to look contrite, and finished our tack. No harm no foul.

All was well as we went around TI with a big cluster of boats. We eased off downwind and watched every one else set their spinnakers. Got to love the Jib & Main fleet. We were holding our own as the wind started to die, diving down for speed, then going wing and wing for a while, then rinsing and repeating.

With little wind we had plenty of time to look around and had front row seats for a seemingly endless crash. Flying Tiger #50 must have had something jammed and just couldn't recover, floundering on her side for what seemed like an eternity, though probably about a minute.

They recovered and we headed on our way downwind. If you can call a now windless leg downwind. This was when Kathy first asked at what point we'd call it a day. I lied and said that all I wanted to do was make it around Red Rock.

So we drifted and drifted, keeping up with the fast boats because fast boats don't necessarily drift better than slow boats. Three times we got a breath of wind as a storm cloud passed to the north of us and three times it died again. Kathy had a sick kid at home and would give me that look at each becalming. I would point to Red Rock with a pleading smile. And we drifted on.

Right before Red Rock, we got a welcome blast of NE wind, we beat into it, rounded the Rock and had it die right as we were supposed to begin a glorious downwind ride to the finish line, laughing at all the saps who still had to deal with Blackaller. It was 3:00, we still had 2 knots of boatspeed, 4 hours of race left, and only 5 miles to go. We were going to make it.

Until the wind died AGAIN at 3:30. I value Kathy as my most loyal and consistent crew and she was done. That meant I was done, I called the SSS voicemail, sadly proclaimed that we were calling it a day.

Then I reflected on the day. I'd started the race well, I'd met Zen, we'd had fun, we enjoyed the Invisible Bubble of Starboard Righteousness, and we HAD rounded all three marks. Even without the finish line, this was a successful race.


Tillerman said...

Starboard tack boats are allowed to have "cloaking devices"? That explains a lot of my own near-collisions too.

Anonymous said...

Love the "invisible bubble of starboard righteousness." Also the cloaking device of the J one-oh- stupid... Sorry the wind putzed out on you. Still sounds like a damn fine day on the water... Peace out. -Batten

EVK4 said...

These cloaking devices are nefarious. It's bad enough that they sail in your blind spot but then to have some sort of Klingon cloaking device is just beyond the pale. I swear, next time I'm going to look around before tacking.

Tillerman said...

Oh, I never look around before tacking. Are you supposed to?

I always rely on my infallible mental computer to keep subconscious track of the exact position of every boat on the racecourse using its super-telepathic powers. That combined with using the hairs on the back of my neck to sense any boat within 30 yards to windward usually works.

Anyway. Got to go and do some gelcoat repairs to all those dings in my starboard bow.

Zen said...

You should post a little map so the folks in the netherlands know where of you speak.

EVK4 said...

I'm still trying to download the GPS track from my boss' GPS. Then we'll worry about the Dutch.

Tillerman said...

I;m not Dutch but I'd also like to see a map.