Fall Series #8: Breezy

After being away and missing most of the Fall Series I was glad to be back racing the Lightning on the river with the fleet. I left the house early and was ready to start rigging the boat by a little after nine. It was definitely breezier blowing in the mid teens down at the marina than further inland and despite being in the 50s it was cool when the sun hid behind the clouds as we started to get the boats ready. Right after the skipper’s meeting we went on and splashed14376 and had left the dock by 10:30 in our eagerness to start sailing.

It proved to be a bit of a challenge making our way up to the course with the board striking bottom due to the tide running out and the northwest winds pushing the water down the river. Fortunately, it is a little bit deeper further up so we didn’t have any issues once we reached the course area.

Barney Harris as PRO and the RC were ready to start races promptly at noon with the Z flag flying to wear life jackets.In total we had five lightnings (Shadowfax Sinistra, String Theory, Anger Management, and 14376), two buccaneers, and three albacores come up for the first race and later in the day had a group of lasers come up to get some practice in advance of the upcoming frost biting series starting in a few weeks.

The first race was a triangle three and when it started the winds were blowing in the upper teens with some occasional gusts to the mid twenties. I could tell it had been a while since I had to hike right away. Nabeel stayed to the airport side of the course on at least one of the upwinds which seemed to work well for him since later in the race I looked up to see him leading by close to leg.

The second race was again a triangle three but the winds had died down some to the lower teens. We had some tight racing with Chris Kozael and Bob G trying to cover the leader on the downwind while winging the jib. It was a great finish with Bob G trying to force us to luff up before we reached the last few boat lengths from the finish.  We ended up taking him by a nose as we put the nose over the finish before stalling out and having to fall back off.

Barney took pity on us for race three making it a triangle two. Again it made for some good racing with Chris and Bob G as we approached the leeward mark three wide on the first downwind before diverging after the rounding. The lack of practice this fall caught up to me with my spinnaker handling on the second downwind and took us out of contention.

After finishing the last race it was time to head in for the day. By this time the tide had almost reached its lowest point while the wind continued to shove all the water down the river. It proved to be a challenge trying to avoid getting stuck in the mud as we made our way up the channel back into the marina beating back and forth. I’ve never seen it that low before.

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