We Saw 25kts of Wind for the First Time in Eleven Months - Noble Sails
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
Every Sunday I race with my home team, Blue Flash Racing out of Fort Worth Boat Club in Fort Worth, Texas. We sort of consider it training for our J105 Championships and offshore races.
We begin every race with a practice, warming up to the conditions and watching the wind shifts. This week we started the same way, however concluded with an additional practice to get in a ten more jibes or so of the spinnaker - good medium air practice.
Each race begins with a 5-minute countdown sequence where a horn and flag signal initiates both the start of the sequence and the start of the race. The 5-minute countdown gives all teams the ability to be in the best position to cross the starting line at exactly T - 0:00.00. Standard windward-leeward buoy races generally place the start line between a floating pin (or mark) anchored in the water and the committee boat.
What happens if you cross the starting line before T - 0:00.00?
Any vessel over early is required to go back below the starting line, complete a full turn, and then recross the starting line. This was the scenario for Blue Flash Racing this past Sunday. We were in a great position at the pin end on a starboard tack - giving us right-of-way. We came up towards the wind hard to avoid hitting the pin (which would have been a foul) as the clock just barely reached zero. Then the Race Committee called us over early, hoisting the 'X' flag and shouting, "Blue Flash over early!"
VIDEO: Clip from Sunday's Practice Pt. 1/2 - Going head-to-wind trying to get out of irons.
We dipped below the line, losing our prime starting position at the front of the fleet, completed our "over-early" maneuver, and proceeded back across the start line, now in third of four boats, and on a port tack - heading for the right side of the course. We hadn't raced in medium winds like this in about eleven months!
With the wind sustaining 12-16kts and gusting as high as 25kts, we hauled the mail on our 7-leg course to close the gap between us and the two boats ahead of us. We had some good upwind beats, decent downwind runs with the spinnaker (kite or chute), and some messy jibes from being out of practice in medium winds - mostly my fault here from not pulling in the clew fast enough.
We finished 3 of 4 this week. Not our finest practice, but I'm proud of us for closing the gap from what was initially about a half mile at the start to about 30s at the finish.
VIDEO: Sunday's Debrief After the Race and Before our Second Practice Pt. 2/2