VSS October 2017 Racing Report

This month marked the beginning of the Venice Sailing Squadron’s 2017-18 racing season. There was a SBYA Boat of the year at Bradenton YC on September 30th and October 1st, but no boat from Venice participated so I’ll just refer you to the results at the SBYA web site, http://www.sarasotabayyachting.org/.

Our first scheduled race day was Saturday, October 7th. It wasn’t a very auspicious start to the season but we had some fun anyway. There had been forecasts of strong winds and possible rain, but the rain did not materialize and it turned out to be a nice, but bumpy, sailing day with a SSW breeze around 20 knots. I think that at least some of this wind was associated with hurricane Nate, which had recently entered the mouth of the Mississippi. Only four boats were represented at the skippers’ meeting, Opalina, Raegan-e, Stinger and Spray. That wasn’t much of a surprise to me as we have been having a very low turnout recently because so many people have been away or, in some cases, ill. Lou Salhany of Opalina was there, which was nice because he’s been away since late July and it’s good to have him back. Steve Broadstock and Mark Stewart, normally members of my crew on Spray, had planned to race Stinger, which belongs to the absent Gene Miller, but decided to join us on Spray, which we welcomed as we only had a crew of three. I was a bit late getting the course ready and by the time we were supposed to start the race Opalina had gone back in and, shortly after 1 PM, Raegan-e announced that they also felt that it was too lumpy and so they went in, leaving us alone. We sailed a round a bit and found it pretty pleasant, so we decided to sail the course. From our perspective it was a good sail. We didn’t cross the starting line correctly, so there was no race.

 

On October 21st we made our second attempt at getting the VSS racing season under way and this time we succeeded. The 21st was also fairly windy but the breeze was from the east making the water much smoother than on the 7th. Initially it looked as if we might have five boats but Lou Salhany didn’t have any crew so he sailed on Fruition (with the enemy!). Stinger was also short on crew with just Steve Broadstock and Mark Stewart on board, but they toughed it out and seemed to enjoy the day. I called for sailing once around the triangle counterclockwise (leaving marks to port) and suggested that we might have a second race. All the boats elected to sail without spinnakers, which may have been a good thing given the conditions. We (Spray) started behind Stinger and in front of Fruition and Raegan-e. We were carrying a full mainsail and a #3 jib while Fruition had a reef in the main and what I think was a #2 Genoa. On the way down the first leg, which was a very broad reach from “Jose” to “Irma”, we passed Stinger and held our lead on Fruition pretty well, though she also passed Stinger. The second leg from “Irma” to “Maria” was a beam to close reach and I was quite glad we weren’t flying our chute! Raegan-e moved up quite nicely on that leg but did not pass either Fruition or us. We rounded “Maria” first and started upwind on port with Fruition following. Raegan-e tacked early to starboard, probably to get away from Fruition’s backwind. We just stayed on port until we were close to laying the finish line and tacked while Fruition sailed on a bit further before tacking, and followed us in to the finish. Raegan-e had not looked like a threat since they tacked and both Fruition and Spray moved out some on her. We didn’t get Stinger’s finish time but the results were:

 

The fleet agreed to sail another race using the same format as before. The wind had dropped some so Fruition shook out her reef but we made no adjustment (maybe a mistake). The race started out as for the first one but this time Fruition gained considerably and got an inside overlap at the first mark, “Irma”, and led us around. We all proceeded down the second leg to “Maria” with Fruition rounding in front, Spray following, then Raegan-e and Stinger. As soon as we started going up wind we began to slowly gain on Fruition and sail slight higher, but not enough to have much hope of catching her. Fruition won by ~90 s. I think that the sail choices on that race made the difference. In race #1 Fruition was under-powered downwind because of the reefed main and in the second we were under-powered downwind because of the small jib. It’s interesting that we could stick with Fruition upwind, and maybe even gain some. I think the result might have been different had we flown our chute in that race, but the #2 might have been too much on the upwind leg.

 

After the race the crew of Stinger and some of those of us from Spray had some drinks and food at The Dockside at Marker 4.