Saturday…..January 24, 2015 @ 11:00 hrs start time for the Iceberg regatta on Puget Sound. Weather at the start is 17 to 20 knots from the SE, 2 foot chop, 45 degrees air temperature. Beneath leaden skies rain is possible.
The distance is approximately 14.5 nautical miles with 40 boats starting at five minute intervals in five classes from 24 foot crafts to over 35 foot boats. We are in the class 5 start at 11:25 hours on “Avalanche” a J105 in the FS (spinnaker) class. We have a crew of five. Paul is at the helm, Sarab is doing mainsail trim, Erica and Brian are doing jib sheet trimming. Raising, dowsing, and jibing the kite is a synchronized dance by the entire crew. My role is managing the spinnaker halyard and tack lines.
After rigging the kite lines for hoisting on the starboard side we motored out of the Shilshole marina and raised the mainsail.
The start will be south, up wind, between the committee boat and the burger buoy (#1). The five minute horn sounds and I start the stopwatch running. Our start will be in 30 minutes. With the jib furled and the mainsail up we cycle between east west on the north side of the start line waiting for our start. We plan on a westerly beam reach approaching the line from the east. When the horn sounds we will swing the boat from a port beam reach to close hauled and bring out the jib.
Our start horn sounds and we cross the line within 10 seconds of the horn on a port tack for West Point buoy (#2). At 1.9 nautical miles we round the West Point buoy and with the wind on port stern quarter, port broad reach, we hoist the kite & furl the jib. With Skiff Point buoy (#3) 2.8 nautical miles to west, we accelerate and get into position to round the buoy and jibe the kite for a starboard beam to broad run to Spring Beach some 6 miles to our north east across the sound. The wind pipes up…….to much power….so its time to douse the kite. A massive effort by the crew to get the spinnaker into the cockpit of the boat and not in the water. With the kite down things settle on the boat as we continue to the Spring Beach buoy (#4). Rounding the buoy inshore its a port beam reach towards the finish line 3.5 miles into the wind.
Some boats stay inshore and some go out toward the center of the sound. The wind looks good for both! We choose offshore and initially have a great ride until, upon further assessment ,we realize it will take us two far out. When we tack in toward the finish line, our line will bring us in but too far behind the finish line because of the wind angle. The end result will not only be two tacks instead of one but the necessity of going in close to the beach before the final tack. With a boat speed of 9 knots and the crew ready to turn the boat quickly we head for the beach as observers on the beach stare on with disbelief. Finally, we tack and head for the line. There is a great release of tension mixed with satisfaction as we finish what we started two hours earlier.