After on 2 races in 5 weeks, Diamond in the Rough is still tied for first place in the Wednesday Night Race series for PHRF 3!
The first two weeks of the Annapolis Yacht Club's Wednesday night races were great. Good winds and clear skies made for pleasant and very competitive racing. Then two weeks in a row resulted in no races due to weather, one too rough, the other flat calm with no wind.
That brings us to week 5 on Wednesday 5/26/2010. The race committee was anxious to get another race in after the lost opportunities the last two weeks. But again the wind was very light, almost none at all.
They sent us off anyway and did everything they could to get another night of racing in to the series. They set very short courses. Our fleet was assigned the shortest course in the book, A1, about 3.5 miles. We started in a very light Southeast breeze, 3 - 5 knots at best. Capt Jim maneuvered Diamond to a conservative start, maybe 3 or 4 boat lengths from the line. Ideally the boat is at full speed just a few feet from the line, but if you cross early, you have to turn around and restart. That would be the kiss of death on a short course in light winds. So hanging back slightly was the conservative approach.
We drifted ever so slowly towards the first turning mark and prepared to take the jib down and set the spinnaker after gybing around the mark. Unfortunately we got pinned outside of several other boats and rounded on the outside of a big pinwheel as all the boats between us and the turning buoy navigated the turn. This put us in a very unfavorable position to get our spinnaker up and flying and took several precious minutes to sort itself out in these slow conditions.
Finally we had the spinnaker up and could begin making some way back to the next turning mark at Red Nun 8 outside of Annapolis Harbor. But progress was slow and we began to worry we wouldn't make it to the finish before the time limit of 20:40 hours.
The race committee announced they would shorten the course even further and finish us at the Nun 8 turning mark. If only we could get there. The light breeze faded even further and now we were trying to go downwind, running away from what little breeze we still had. We put a strip of toilet tissue up on the back stay just to give a visual reference for a breeze that was now so light we couldn't feel it on our skin.
The race committee put in a good effort to conduct a complete race and some classes will be scored for racing, as they finished on time. As it turned out even with the very short course, no one in our class, PHRF 3, finished before the time limit. For Diamond, this was probably for the best. If one or more boats in our class finished and we didn't, the finishing boat(s) would gain a significant advantage in the overall standings. But with no finishers in our class, we are still tied for first place based only on the first two weeks. Clear as mud?
So the short version is very light wind, we tried to have a race anyway, but the time expired and no one in our class finished. We're still tied for first place! We enjoyed great company, a beautiful sunset, a spectacular moon rise, and we got to spend the evening sailing, even if we did it a bit slowly.