Windjammers Distance Race

Categories Racing Log

The Windjammers’ annual distance race was held on Saturday in typical low-key fashion.

I was supposed to crew on Providence II but we had three crew and some skippers were going to be single handing, so Val released me and I crewed on Island Breeze, an O’Day 31. The race was to be from 40 to BI, down to 39, and back to 40 and we left a little early for the 12:30 start so that we could practice a bit on the way. The wind was light but built throughout the afternoon, as is often the case on the bay.

Our radio wasn’t sending, so we had a hard time communicating with the other boats, and there was a fair amount of confusion to sort out. In the captain’s meeting, we had discussed starting between 40 and the mainland, but Val was putting out markers to the east. There was also no committee boat, so it was unclear as to how the race would officially start. We sailed over to Val to ask about the sequence, and he said that it was game-on in 50-some seconds, so we just followed him over the line for what turned out to be an excellent start.

The sail down went really well. The wind was far enough to the east that we could get almost all the way there on one tack. Providence II of course blasted off into the distance, but we stayed just ahead of Rest Less, Callisto, and Tiki. The confusion continued when Providence rounded the windward mark and set an asymmetrical spinnaker. Our club doesn’t race with spins, so we weren’t sure if they were going to call it a gennaker and try to get away with it or what. As the other boats came around the mark, they also set kites, and we wound up the only ones without, sailing a broad reach back toward 39 with our 150. We were outmatched in sail area and were eventually passed by Callisto and Rest Less.

As we approached 39, we were getting closer to dead downwind, so we switched to wing on wing and rigged a preventer. Rest Less and Callisto couldn’t go DDW with their asyms (not sure why, but after talking to Ron, this is apparently a thing) so they drifted off to the east as we continued on a shorter path to the mark, making pretty good time.

This actually made the race much more interesting (in the battle for second at least…Providence had already won by that point). We made up a lot of ground and met the remaining contending boats right at the mark. On the windward leg back to the finish line Rest Less was able to point a little higher and finished before us. We had a good duel with Callisto, and crossed just before them.

So I consider it a first place in the non-spinnaker class, and Island Breeze really held her own overall, regardless of the headsail.

After the race, I got to take the helm a little bit, which is always exciting. The wind was coming in perpendicular to the creek, so we were able to sail the entire way. I kept expecting Frank to turn the engine on, but things were going great as he managed the sails and I steered us through the markers. He finally furled up the last bit of jib as we entered the marina, and gave me instructions for ghosting into the slip without the motor. That was pretty unnerving (especially being at the helm on an unknown boat with wheel steering) but it was sailorly as hell.

Jen met me at the club later for Margarita Gras, a Mardi Gras-themed Margarita party. Or perhaps a Margarita-themed Mardi Gras party. In either case, there’s nothing wrong with a little tequila and andouille. I asked if we were eschewing hurricanes (the signature drink of New Orleans, as far as I know) out of some sort of sailors’ respect for violent storms—I’m not very superstitious, but there are are certainly things I don’t taunt. That wasn’t the case, and I was told that sometimes when people are down at the docks prepping their boats for impending tropical storms, hurricanes are in fact served. No one seemed to think that this was bad juju but me, but, oh, wait, what’s that you say weather gods?

Hurricane Irene




"Prepare to fend off the bridge abutment."