Sunday, September 18, 2005

CORA Ocean Race #3 (Hoodoo)

Fall Ocean Race #3 September 17th
Hoodoo J109
Crew:
Rando, Jay Bowen Dan Perrin, Katy Durant, Jim Kempert, Randy Draftz, Ric Campeau
Conditions:
Started in light conditions of 4-6 knots out of the east south east building to 11 knots and shifting south southeast. Tide was full ebb at the start.

Rig settings were left at base; we could have eased rig two turns for the light conditions. I also think that a softer rig for these longer ocean racing courses is beneficial making us faster in the fetching and reaching conditions you often encounter.

The start:
With the light air and strong down course current we opted to hang close to the line staying headed into the current on broad starboard tack reach, with about 45 seconds to go we spun and jibed leading Temptress (to leeward ) back to line. We both were about ten seconds early and had to kill our speed as the current flushed us toward the line. The pin was the place to be at the start and both of us ended up several boat lengths down from pin allowing Emocean to take pin. Temptress accelerated quickly off the line created a leebow effect on Hoodoo. We pinched slightly at the start and were now behind Temptress and Emocean, we had no choice but to foot off to leeward to clear and get the boat rolling. We were all going to fetch BP due to the current and Temptress reached BP first the Emocean and Hoodoo a boat length later. Everyone went hard on the wind on port after rounding BP and being third to round we were dead behind Emocean and had to tack away to clear our air. Temptress and Emocean continued in towards James Island. We seemed to have a little better pressure and gained slightly on Emocean while Temptress had tacked back left to cover. We had a small header and tacked back to port to get back right while Emocean had now tacked onto to starboard we had a couple of sections D boats to sail through and Emocean just crossed on starboard. Our strategy was to the favor the right hand side with expectation that the wind would shift more out of south as well as more favorable current. The breeze still was slightly lighter to right and we tacked back on port as did Temptress. Temptress was now in a comfortable lead to weather of us and we were now to weather of Emocean due to a nice right hander. It did not take long for things to change as we headed across the channel. We appeared to sail out of the current while Emocean ahead and to leeward reached the north channel and started sailing twenty degrees higher due to the current, sailed right up in front of us. Once we got Hoodoo into the new current we were again sailing equal to slightly higher than Emocean but now the breeze was building to eight knots and the breeze and gone far enough south that we were all fetching the turning mark just outside the jetties. Temptress rounded the buoy first 2 ½ minutes ahead of us with Emocean rounding second about minute in front of Hoodoo. With the new wind direction our strategy coming back into the harbor was to hug the south jetties as close as we dared hoping to have some relief from the current. We jibed around the buoy and set our large asymmetrical spinnaker and started reaching back sliding along the jetties. Temptress was doing the same while Emocean was sailing lower towards the north side of the channel. It didn’t appear we were getting much relief, as our boatspeed through the water was about 8 knots while our speed over ground was averaging about 5.5 knots. Dauntless, the Beneteau 47.7 had rounded behind us and was starting to catch us due to her waterline length but as we got closer to the jetties, Dauntless stayed about 50 yards further out into the channel and we quickly pulled away again so we did indeed have some relief staying along the jetties. We were gradually reeling in Temptress with our slightly longer waterline and our masthead A-sail and our rig pulled forward for reaching against their smaller fractional rigged spinnaker. Meanwhile Emocean was going faster than both Temptress and us but were still down on the north side of the channel and would have to cross the current. As we approached Fort Sumter Emocean came reaching up from the north channel like gangbusters, while Temptress and Hoodoo were having to sail down slightly to keep from running out of water. Emocean now had put about 5 minutes on both us and they were now tight reaching with their big A-Sail towards R4. We saw Emocean radically change her course once which we expected was due to shallow water and then reach back up to her original heading. Emocean then ran aground not far from where a Fearless a 1d35 had run hard aground a year ago. Emocean kept her spinnaker up and unfurled their genoa to get as much heal as possible and appeared to be getting free at one point but the sails were rotating the boat the wrong way. Emocean was never able to sail free and had to withdraw. Now the race was between Hoodoo and Temptress and we were now only a couple of boat lengths apart. The wind backed as we sailed back in from Fort Sumter to R4 and continued our gains on Temptress. It appeared Temptress had flatter reaching spinnaker up which slowed Temptress as they had to pull their pole off the headstay. It was now going to be a run from R4 to the finish and with the current still flowing out Temptress and Hoodoo continued on port jibe heading for the current relief off the Battery. There was a large high school regatta going on that we needed to avoid making both of us jibe simultaneously to starboard with Temptress ahead and to leeward. This is where it gets crazy, the pin end of finish line was not down yet, we were now less than a boat length behind but could not figure out the finish line. First it appeared there was boat and pin but that was the high school course. We then saw the pin end of our finish line and Temptress jibed and as did we but now we were to leeward. We stayed to leeward thinking we could break through to the pin but the other end of line was on the yacht club dock and was the favored end. We were now committed and had to follow Temptress across line 11 seconds behind. What a good close race after sailing 15.5 miles. Our missed opportunity to win was a couple of things the confusion of not knowing what the finish line was and in lighter air you are not going to blast through to leeward. On that final jibe we needed to take Temptress’s transom, and attack by reaching over the top, and leveraging the reaching ability of our A-sail. Temptress would have responded by taking us up, which might have kept us from the finish line but also might have given us the speed to pass. Once again the boat first to BP wins, Emocean would have certainly won if they hadn’t run aground.
Emocean’s tactics coming back in through the jetties were race winning but not having enough water to sail in was costly.

Randy Draftz
www.charlestonyachting.com

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