Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I'm almost recovered from the long weekend. It's about a 7 hour drive from Norfolk, VA to Rye, NY not counting the needed stops for gas, food, stretch the legs, and the always present traffic on I-95 around the NYC area's George Washington bridge and Cross-Bronx expressway. Leaving after work on Friday resulted in an 11:30 p.m. arrival at Peter Becker's house, just a mile or so from the American Yacht Club. Susan and I crashed in a soft bed then woke early Saturday morning to the smell of coffee and eggs whipped up by our excellent hosts Peter and Adrianne.
Saturday consisted of finishing the registration process, picking up the nice polo shirt and freebie packet, confirming the dinner buffet reservations then rigging up for the planned 10:00 a.m. gun. Besides Peter and me, there was Chris Williams (the eventual winner,) Matt Knowles, Jamie Gilman, and Ethan Brown. We had a nice floating dock to rig on and launch from, so no need to wade out and get wet (yeah, right.) The forecast called for about 10-12 knots with slightly overcast skies. I hit the water first and sailed out. Not more than 5 minutes from the club my wand plate popped off the hull and I had to return to the dock. Obviously I was out of commission until the afternoon races. Peter provided me with the his basement workshop and necessary repair materials and I got to work gluing and screwing. So I had no first-hand knowledge of the first couple of races, but the score sheet shows Chris, Matt, and Peter finishing 1-2-3 respectively in both races.
I arrived back to the club with my repair completed (but not fully cured) around 11:30 to see Jamie sailing in. The breeze had built to around 15 knts and he was having problems controlling the boat. He offered me the chance to sail his boat (a new BR RX and so I jumped at the opportunity.) When I headed out for the third race, I passed Ethan who was heading in, also with control problems. I managed a flyby of the Photoboat in Jamie's RX.
This was the first time I had ever sailed a production foiler and I quickly was impressed with the firm steering (I love the aluminum gantry) but found my height control to be problematic. I quickly discovered why Jamie was having problems. His set-up was less than optimum: even with full lift on the rudder and me sitting on the front wing bar, in some of the bigger waves I couldn't keep the mainfoil in the water off the wind, resulting in some spectacular crashes. His gearing was not providing sufficient down lift to prevent ventilation. I managed to start the third race with Peter but couldn't finish due to handling problems off the wind. After the start of the fourth race the sky cleared with the frontal passage and the breeze really started to pick up.
I decided then and there to head in, basically upwind about a couple of miles. So I bailed out at the weather mark and struggled to make it in. The breeze had some monster gusts and also some pretty violent shifts. I chatted with a J-109 sailor later in the day who was sailing on an adjacent course. He claimed one monster puff showed 39 on their wind gauge and caused four J-109s to broach simultaneously. I can't say I ever saw that much, but I'm pretty sure there were some gusts to 30. With the added waves, the sail in was interesting to say the least. The best picture of the day is Chris sailing ealier. Believe me, the wind was much higher than this around 2:00 p.m.
Saturday dinner featured a buffet and a talk by Mark Lindsay. I left with a full draughtkeg of Heineken to take home (a 5 liter mini-keg,) and some nice memories of 5o5 sailing back in the day. Back at Peter's house Susan and I hit the pillow around 10:00 p.m and slept the sleep of the dead.
Sunday had three more races, sailed in breezes of about 5-15. I heard the infamous phrase "the race committee has established your position," a couple of times but did enjoy some close racing at times. My speed was impressive in spurts, but I still need to work on boat-handling. Being tired from the day before didn't help.
All-in-all it was a great experience. The venue, the hospitality of Peter and Adrianne, the take home goodies, and the opportunity to get some professionial on-the-water pictures all will encourage me to come back next year. Even with the loooooooooong drive home.
Sailing photos by Allen and Daniela Clark from The Photoboat.com