Grand Prix Regatta Day 2 (CB)

Day two of the three day regatta started off windier and rainier than the first one. The wind was blowing at least 25knots and gusting even higher. The race organizers had moved the start line about 3 miles north of the marina and set up for short courses. Which means there would be about 3 races today instead of one long one like yesterday.

The first race got off to a good start and we ended up taking 2nd place again, despite taking 2 knock downs and blowing out a spinnaker on the down wind run. Knockdowns on a sailboat in 25 knots of wind is pretty crazy. Things get a little nuts with the whole crew scrambling to get the boat back up and the sails flying again. The whole time your doing this is on the slippery wet fiberglass top of the boat that is almost at a 90 degree angle to the water. Which by the way is a balmy 50 degrees. Not a place you want to be in July, let alone November.

There was a bit of a postponement between the 1st and 2nd race while the race committee reset the race course to adjust for the wind shifting a little. The wind actually picked up even higher. I don’t know for sure just how high, but I’d guess it had to be close to 28 knots or so, gusting even higher.

We got a pretty good start and were the third boat around the windward mark. We got the spinnaker up and were flying downwind, catching up to the 1st and 2nd place boats. We needed to change direction to make it to the leeward mark, this means we needed to jibe the spinnaker. In light winds, this is not a big deal. In moderate winds it gets a little tricky but we pull it off without much trouble and can correct any mistakes easy enough. But in big winds like today jibing the spinnaker is a bitch. But it has to be done and done right other wise you end up rounding the boat up violently and taking a knockdown.

If your not a sailor, It is pretty hard to describe a knockdown. Anyone that sails knows what a knockdown is and also knows it’s not a good thing. Taking a knockdown is one step from capsizing which is VERY bad.

From my point of view during this particular knockdown it goes a little like this: We are sailing downwind with the spinnaker up. When the call is made to jibe, which means we change course and swing the mainsail/boom from one side of the boat to another and at the same time disconnect the spinnaker pole which is holding the spinnaker out on the opposite side from the boom, when the boom and main swing over me and another guy have to then connect the spinnaker pole to the other spinnaker sheet (rope) and then push it out so we can connect the inboard end of the pole to the mast. It may sound simple enough, but remember, we are standing on the deck of a small boat which is soaking wet and rolling from side to side with the wind and waves.

My job during a spinnaker jibe is to stand at the mast and grab the spinnaker pole when Simon releases it from the mast and spinnaker sheet. At this point the spinnaker is flying free for a few seconds as Simon attaches the end of the spinnaker pole that was attached to the mast to the sheet. As soon as he does this I start pushing the pole out so I can reattach the pole to the mast. It gets tricky cause right as I’m trying to do this, is when the boom and main swing over and the boat heels WAY over as well. But with me pushing and Simon pulling we usually get it done. Today however, this did not happen. Today just as I started pushing, the main came over as usual but instead of heeling like it normally does, it kept going. So far in fact that I had to let go of the pole and grab ahold of the mast to keep from falling overboard into the water. I was just hanging on for dear life while the rest of the crew was working on getting the boat upright.

I was finally able to get my feet back under me and on something firm to stand on. I crawled to the high side of the boat and started helping drag the Spinnaker back into the boat and stowed down below. It was just then that I looked up at the boom and noticed that it was in two pieces. The boom is a hollow aluminum pole about 20 feet long and about 8 inches thick. It is designed to be very strong, it has to be. But here this one was broken in two. I did’nt even realize it. That was the end of our racing for this weekend and for the rest of the year. Luckily no one got hurt or tossed overboard.

We spent a few hectic minutes getting things straighted up and tied down so we did not lose anything overboard and headed back to the marina and to the bar.

It’s after races or incidents like this while sailing that I always laugh at my own mental picture of how I thought sailing was BEFORE I actually ever went sailing. I had it pictured as a bunch of stuff shirts wearing blue blazers and captains hat with the “scrambled eggs” on the brim. With names like Biff or Skip and talking like Mister Howell. That, I can tell you, is not the case at all.

I love sailing!!!

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4 Responses to Grand Prix Regatta Day 2 (CB)

  1. Carolyn says:

    Oh my gosh, you are going to wreck your home.

  2. CB says:

    No worries, this race was on a friends boat. Not ours. His boat is setup as a race boat.

  3. Pingback: The Adventures of Palarran and her Crew » Blog Archive » Race to Blakley Rock and back. (CB)

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