Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wendesday Night Races - Race 2 for Diamond in the Rough

Team Diamond enjoyed another successful outing last night in Race 2 of the Wednesday night series. After two races, we're tied for first place in the series with Spaceman Spiff. Last night the wind was from the south, about 12 kts where it funnels in to the mouth of Severn River, a little less in the open Bay. The sky was clear, humidity was low, a very pleasant evening.

The race committee set course A3R for our fleet, a total distance of about 5.5 miles. You can see the course definitions here. This meant a conventional upwind start for the first leg of the race. As the last class in the fleet to start, we have the benefit of watching the other classes that sail ahead of us to see if they make any mistakes or make any smart choices we can learn from. We watched the J105 "Crash" (that's the name of the boat) execute a brilliant start by holding slightly behind the rest of the fleet. As the competitors bunched up a little too early at the boat end of the starting line many of them stalled. Crash zoomed in to weather of the fleet just inside the committee boat and blasted right by them. He had clear air and great speed as he crossed the line 5 - 10 seconds after the starting gun sounded.

15 minutes later Jim steered Diamond to a nearly identical maneuver in our own start, it was great. We led our class all the way up the first windward leg. This leg was also the first chance for Diamond to fly the new number 1 head sail Jim purchased over the winter. The sail looked very good. We'll have a little bit of experimenting to do as we learn how to really dial in all of the settings for lead position, halyard tension, head stay sag, and other adjustments. But we made good use of it the first time out. The good start, new sail and nice breeze meant we were first to the mark in our class.

Rounding mark E to starboard we had to tack around the mark then immediately bear off and set a spinnaker for the downwind leg. Juliette and the foredeck team had the spin ready and our set was clean. Changing from jib to spinnaker and back again are the most complex maneuvers we routinely do. Diamond enjoys a very stable crew roster. We've all sailed together now for several seasons. We've done this same maneuver many, many times and we know what to do. But this was the first time we'd actually done it for nearly 6 months. The set was clean and the jib came down on deck without incident.

The downwind leg on a night like this is quite a sight. By the mid point of the race the 100 odd boats in 5 different fleets are strung out all over the course. The colorful spinnakers stretch in a parade from one end of the race area to the other. It was quite a sight. And I forgot to bring my camera!!!! Bob D did bring his and I'll post an addendum when I receive them.

Sailing is a very social sport and once the spinnaker is set and ship is stable on it's new course, half of the crew really has nothing to do for a few minutes until the next turn or sail change. Two or three must remain attentive to the sail trim to maintain optimal speed as conditions change, but that leaves half the crew with idle hands. It's a good time to grab a refreshing beverage, then we reminisce about another race we did or share details of getting another boat ready for the season. "MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE...." Capt Jim reminded us that the two or three who should remain attentive need to get back to work. As we entered the mouth of the river the wind angle changes slightly and the sails must be adjusted accordingly. So the chatter quieted back down as we concentrated on racing again.

At the next mark, we must hang a sharp left and head in to Spa Creek. The sail change is now reversed, the jib goes up and the spinnaker comes back down. Everyone has a job to do in this one. Another successful maneuver and we're close reaching towards Eastport Yacht Club at the mouth of the creek.

Inside the creek the maneuvering room is tight and the winds tend to be shifty. We had to perform a couple of close quarters tacks with other large boats as we approached the finish, but we kept the boat speed up throughout and crossed the finish line first in our class. BUT.. that's not the end of the story. We still had to wait for the final handicap results to be applied. We crossed 85 seconds ahead of Spiff and the next boat in our class was far enough back in traffic that I couldn't see them. So I thought it was down to just us and Spiff again this week.

WRONG! - When the results were up we did beat Spiff, by 2 seconds! But we were still only in 2nd place. The Cal 25 White Cap had corrected over us by just over a minute. We've got a very competitive class, even if we can't see them behind us in the traffic, we need to be alert to squeeze every second out of the race that we can. You can see the final results for race 2 here. Two second place finishes in two weeks puts us in a tie for first place in the series. A very satisfying start to the season.

View WNR 5/5/2010 Approximate Course for Diamond in the Rough in a larger map


  1. Sounds like an exciting race. I am glad that someone was enjoying the winds from the south on Wednesday. I know I could have lived without them.

  2. It was a great time. Yeah, I thought about you pedaling home that evening. I'll need to get you out one Wed night this summer. It's a blast.