Everyone needs a decent nemesis, and I like to think of the Tall Oaks Yacht Club as the Windjammers’ Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern. I still harbor resentments from losing last year’s Tall Oaks Challenge after our half-decade dynasty, despite (or perhaps due to) being on the boat that took line honors. But the reality is that they’re a pretty normal group of folks and aren’t really the cat-stroking SPECTRE that I’d like them to be.
Val knows some of the racers over there and got Providence II into a race. He went to the captains’ meeting crazy early and Richard and I met him at Cedar Creek. The race was to be a six leg windward/leeward affair somewhere in front of the Forked River (for non-locals…this is disyllabic: FORK-id) so we set out under diesel to search for the committee boat.
I got to take the helm for most of the way down, which was pretty exciting for me. I only nearly steered us into a marsh once before remembering that a wheel works the opposite way of a tiller. I also got to use a chartplotter, which I believe has a bigger display than my first two TVs. Fun stuff. Val set the November and we got the main up, so I even got to sail it a little bit, and tacked once before giving up the wheel.
Last week’s Father Goose Race marked my first personal use of a whisker pole and we did really well, but really Bobby did most of the work and I just handled the far less active mast end. Still, I wanted to practice it once with Richard before the race started so that we’d be ready. On the first set, we attempted to pull the cord that retracts the mast-side clip and it came right off. That meant that for the duration of the race, instead of being able to disconnect the pole, move it aft, and get the lazy sheet in the sheet clip, we’d have to instead raise the pole using the topping lift (the sheets weren’t long enough to reach in place.) If this all sounds confusing, I didn’t exactly get my mind around this on our practice set either.
We eventually found the committee boat, and started the elaborate dance of the race start with five other boats. We were in danger of crossing the line before the start and opted to tack around, which put us pretty well behind the bulk of the other boats. Most everyone left on port tack though, and went on starboard. That side of the course must have been favored because we more than made up for the start in the first leg and actually reached the windward mark many boat lengths ahead of the next closest boat.
As we rounded the mark and started to head downwind, the problems with the pole started. Having only practiced connecting the pole to the lazy sheet, I rotely did the same, even though we were only moving the main over to go wing and wing. So that looked pretty dumb. On the next windward leg, I somehow got the lazy sheet under the pole, which caused all sorts of problems. On the last leg, we got the jib caught up in the forestay, directly in front of the committee boat. It was not the crisp racing clinic that we’d put on last week.
But unlike last week, WE WON. Not only first over the line, but first on corrected time as well. It was pretty remarkable that we overcame all of the problems.