What a fantastic day on the water! We had 10 Lightnings show up for Spring Series #3 and the day turned out to be a fantastic one for racing. PRO Jim Antonovich and his crew got us 3 nice long races in the NNW breeze. There breeze oscillated a bit and there were plenty of puffs and holes, so looking upwind to find the next bit of pressure and the next shift became the key to success on the day. Frank, double-handing with Mladin, had the hot hand in the first two races, though Nabeel, Bob Astrove, and Rick were also in the mix for each of those races. Rick legged out on a near horizon job to take a bullet in the last race.
Keep reading for the full list of skippers and crew that were out for the day along with some more details from each race. Please feel free to add your own comments and observations as well! Results have been posted to the PRSA website.
It was great to see so many boats out for Spring Series #3. Here is my rundown of the skippers and crews that I remember. If you or your crew members are not listed here, please let us know so that we can give credit towards our fleet participation awards and recognize all of those who were sailing:
- Sinistra: Rick, Aaron, and Lisbet
- Resistance is Futile: Frank and Mladin
- Shadowfax: Nabeel, Jess, and Stefano
- Anger Management: Bob Gotthardt and Lisa-Marie Lane
- As You Wish: Jim Lane, Catherine Culver, and ??
- String Theory: Chris, Liz, and ??
- Lil’ Lightning Bug: Lindsay, Todd, and ??
- No Worries: Red, David, and Sue
- Bob Astrove, Jonathan, and Ed Lane
- Peter Lallas, Kevin, and crew
We had a nice NNW breeze of about 10 knots as we sailed up to the racecourse. It was clear that there was a bit of shiftiness in the breeze early on, and this proved to be important throughout the day as the breeze went through occasional west phases and then swung back north (at times shutting off altogether between oscillations). A lot of the puffs seemed to be localized, such that the breeze would touch down in certain areas on the race course but not others. So there was a bit of luck involved, but above all it was important to look upwind and find the next band of pressure and the next shift.
The RC sent us off on a W3 (yikes!) for the first race, and for us on Sinistra that ultimately proved to be a good thing. The wind was in a right phase as the start approached and boats bunched up at the boat end looking for a bit of an advantage. We rolled in under Shadowfax, footed off rather than force them up, and headed off the line with a bit of speed ahead of Nabeel, Bobby, and Frank. Conventional wisdom on these days is to head to the airport, as the left is generally favored and there are also lines of pressure along the shore. This seemed true as we dug in on that side, but at the top mark Bobby came in from the right nearly even with the pack that went left. Nabeel, Frank, Bobby, and Rick were all close at the leeward mark. Frank split and went back to the left while we headed up the right side of the course where we thought we saw more pressure. Frank caught pressure along the shore and launched into an unsurmountable lead at this point, so the rest of the race became an exercise as trading places in the puffs and lulls between Rick, Nabeel, and Bobby. On Sinistra we were eventually able to work our way around Nabeel and to hold off Bobby to take second. Nabeel, who had been 2nd for most of the race, ended up 4th as Bobby nipped him at the finish. What was amazing, though, was the fact that the three of us were all dueling for those spots within a boat length of each other after 3 laps as we crossed paths on the final upwind leg to the finish.
In the second race (a W2) we aimed for a mid-line start but didn’t quite get to the line in time. Chris and team String Theory got an excellent start and led the pack out to the left and then up along the airport shore. Chris was ahead at the windward mark, followed closely by Frank, Nabeel, Bobby, and Rick. We worked our way downwind and rounded in roughly the same order (as far as I can recall). The left once again paid upwind as the breeze tended to fill from there first even if the angle wasn’t always favorable. Frank managed to take the lead and was trailed by Chris, Bobby, and then Rick around the top mark on the second lap. Just after we came around the wind simply shut off and we all spent some time bobbing around, trying to find breeze and fill our spinnakers. We managed to catch a couple of little gasps of breeze on Sinistra so as to ghost past String Theory and close the gap on Bobby. The wind then did fill in, from the west (!) so we all launched off on an pole-forward reach to the leeward mark. We were right on Bobby’s stern as we came into the mark and, just as we were setting up for the rounding the wind shifted back north such that we all auto-jibed from starboard onto port. On Sinistra I found myself holding the boom back with my shoulder to prevent it from wiping everybody off the deck as we tried to ditch the pole and wrestle the ‘chute down into the boat. Thanks to some awesome crew work we got it done and were able to round right behind Bobby and even poke up inside of him to climb to weather a bit. We were able to hold them off and finish 2nd in the race behind Frank (who had once again launched out into the lead early in the race) and ahead of Nabeel, Bobby, and Chris.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I can’t relate too much detail for the third race. Rick got us a great start at the pin end in a left phase and we legged out to the left ahead of the pack, extended our lead, and never looked back. We managed to hold onto that lead as we played “connect the dots” between spots of pressure, dodging the lulls and trying to stay in phase with the breeze. It all worked out, and it felt nice to end the day with a bullet. I’d welcome any other comments and observations from other folks, though!