Today we finished the 2016 edition of the Windjammer to Venice regatta, an annual race from Sarasota Big Pass to Venice on Saturday and from Venice to Sarasota on Sunday. Flash had a special treat this weekend in that Saturday two of the Venice Youth Boating Association kids who sailed with us last summer, Hoyt Corns and Alex Torres, came along, and Alex brought his uncle Julian. Today they came again and we were joined by another kid from the summer, John Light, and Alex brought his dad rather then his uncle. Hoyt steered the for almost the entirety of both races and Alex trimmed the spinnaker. These are the roles they perform in the VYBA 420s.
There were 20 boats registered, but Saturday had a forecast of very light winds and that may be the reason the two of those boats didn’t show upon the starting lineSaturday, so the total number of participants was only 18. Unfortunately the forecast was right, and it was a slow and painful sail for most of us. The SSS race committee postponed the schedule 11:30 Saturday start until 12:30 in hope that the wind would increase, but that didn’t materialize, so we started the 11.4 NM pursuit race sequence at12:30 in no more than 5 knots. The first leg was an 8 NM reach to the VSS mark “Tom” and the second leg was 3.4 NM run into a finish line near the South Jetty. The wind direction was such that we flew our 1/2 oz. spinnaker for almost the entire race. Perhaps a better description would be that we draped our spinnaker rather than flew it. The second leg was especially frustrating because it was nearly a run and there was a southward setting current pushing us toward Sharky’s. As you can see from the attached result sheets, there was a 50% attrition rate with only nine finishers. The only boats sailing the course in a reasonable time were the Stiletto catamarans Mirage and Iguana. Mirage started at 1:25 PM and finished 2 h 15 m later at 3:40 for an average speed of~ 5.1 knots and Iguana was about 30 s behind, while Raegan-e the first mono hull to finish took 3 h, 31 m for an average speed of ~3.1 knots. Every time Flash passed a boat it seemed like they dropped out, so by the time we finished we though we were going to be the last finisher. It took us until 5:31 to finish giving us an average speed of ~2.7 knots. In reality, we didn’t see Passing Wind behind us and they held on to finish in the dark at 6:46. Certainly Debbie and Tim Haskett deserve the perseverance award for the race, and probably the Pocket Cruiser class winner's trophy as well.
Today was a very nice sailing day, possibly JAPSDIP, though it was mostly cloudy. The winds recorded by the NOAA instrument at the Venice Pier were between 5 and 12 knots for the race, mostly around 8 or 9 knots out on the course. The course was the reverse of yesterday’s. The sequence began at 11:00. The first leg was a 3.4 NM run to VSS “Tom” and then a fairly tight spinnaker reach to Sarasota Big Pass. Flash took a contrarian approach to the first leg by being the only boat to start on port gybe. We sailed a mile or so to a position a bit south of the rhumb line and then Gybed to starboard for a good fast angle to the first mark. We passed Fruition which had started about 3 m in front of us, a visibly caught up some on the rest of the fleet. The other boats had to run almost straight down wind to get to the mark and some had to gybe twice to get around it. On 8 NM reach to the finish Hoyt and Alex worked hard and began passing boats pretty quickly. By the time we were about a mile from the finish mark we could see only two boats in front of us, Solitude and Spars & Stripes, and behind we could see Raegan-e, which had sailed high of the rhumb line, reaching down toward us. Within a few hundred yards of the mark, Iguana sailed over us and then Raegan-e also passed us. At the line, Solitude and Iguana finished so close together that I don’t know who won, Raegan-e was maybe 3 boat lengths in front of us and Spars & Stripes was fifth across. It was a fun race (with the wrong result for us) and for the top few boats almost produced the perfect pursuit race – everyone finishes at once. There was no RC boat at the finish and the instruction said that in that case each skipper was supposed to call SSS PRO Peter Robinson and report our finish times. I did that quite soon after the finish and our results have been posted on the Regatta Network. I don’t know whether the other skippers forgot to call or what, but I do hope the finishes can be recovered soon.