Seattle Thistles - Racing report for May 11
After a sunny, sort of lazing-around race last Wednesday, we were back to torrential rain, big breeze, and cold temps this week. Ah, spring in Seattle. Peeling off wet neoprene in the parking lot after racing, I could see my breath — not a good sign. But the racing was excellent — close mark roundings, hard-fought battles on every leg. Breeze was south 14-18 knots with an occasional gust up to 20. Wind was looking shifted west of south a bit as we sailed out to the course (race committee boat was pointing more towards the Seattle end of the I90 bridge), but it shifted left again through the evening, and in general I think the left side upwind was a little better. This was the final night of the spring series, and Kevin sent us on three long courses.
What appeared at 3 minutes before the start to be a boat-end favor turned into a pin-end favor with a left shift at the start. Boats were bow down immediately after the start, and those that peeled away as soon as possible did well, with nearly a one-tack beat to the ww mark. Top boats at the first windward mark were Balsiger 3664, Freeland 1160, Carr 3806 (being sailed by Alex Kimball while Susannah Carr is in Edinburgh on vacation) and Stumberger 3957. The top four boats jockeyed for position on the run, never more than a few boatlengths from one another. There were solid gains were to made by reaching up in the puffs--it was marginal planing wind but with the left shift there was leverage to being more "reachy". Stumberger managed to work into second behind Balsiger at the leeward mark. Positions held at the second windward mark, Balsiger leading Stumberger and Freeland. On the second down leg, Stumberger gybed west about mid-leg to just inside the RC boat, with Balsiger leading Freeland down the east side. Stumberger got inside lane at the leeward mark. Freeland attacked immediately by tacking left after rounding the mark. Stumberger in first, with Freeland passing Balsiger in a cross just below the finish line for second.
Triangle once around. Pin-end was slightly favored at the start, but the left had worked the first race, and so left it was for most teams. Lhamon 3640 (two up with awesome crew Katy), Kimball, Stumberger, and Freeland also starting down the line, in approximately that order up from the pin. Freeland had the best speed, and banged out left on the upwind to lead at the windward mark, with Stumberger close behind with a gap on the fleet. Freeland a bit late setting their kite (which had ripped in the first race), Stumberger worked low with the kite then reached up and ahead onto Freeland's lane. At the gybe mark, the angle looked very steep after the gybe, Stumberger went jib up but Freeland held their kite. Interesting conversation after racing about this leg — we were underpowered without the kite, and the folks on 1160 gained some ground but felt the boat was stalled as it was trying to sail so high with the kite up. Lhamon, two-up, nearly on a plane the entire reach. Stumberger just barely held the inside lane at the mark. Freeland again attacked immediately to the left, Stumberger covered and led them finishing near the boat, with Kimball working up the right side of the final beat for third.
Also called "the race to never-never land" in that we thought we would never, ever make it to the windward mark. Twice! Some races are long. Some are cold. Some are wet. This one was long, cold, AND wet! Pin favored at the start, maybe as much as 3-4 boatlengths gain compared to the boat end. Lhamon and Kimball had aggressive starts at the pin, but it was Balsiger who slammed into a hole at the pin going full speed for the best start I've seen anyone do all season. Balsiger leads at the weather mark, with Freeland and Stumberger close behind. The three boats stayed in a pack on the run, with Balsiger running Stumberger down, and Freeland a boatlength to weather. Freeland well in the lead with Balsiger right behind at the leeward mark. Stumberger attacked left, and slowly made gains towards the mark-that-would-not-get-closer, crossing Balsiger and Freeland as they came left after working up the right side. Stumberger led at the second windward mark. Kimball also in the mix. All four boats worked deep on the run to the finish. There was lots of energetic discussion on Stumberger's boat about the right strategy given the spread of boats on the run, in the end they opted to protect the inside layline at the boat, being pushed hard by Freeland and narrowly avoiding either death-rolling onto the committee boat or fouling Freeland for the win. Balsiger just beating Kimball at the finish line for third. It was exciting that after what felt like the longest, hardest race of the series, four boats finished within two boatlengths of each other!
Great night for Neal, Brook, and Bob on 1160 for very solid racing last night, always in the mix, leading at several marks, pushing the boat hard.
Results are posted here: http://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=3678
After racing, there was lively discussion in BluWater over pints and 1/2 price pizzas. There was a lot of talk about playing the centerboard and vang downwind, pumping on waves, playing the shifts upwind. On to the interim series, and we'll have some new boats on the course.
Come out and join us, the racing is awesome!