After surviving the pre-race party at CPYC Saturday night; your author somehow made it in time, just barely, to sail aboard Sweet Grapes on Sunday morning. We left the dock to defend CPYC’s honor against those dastardly villains sailing out of the Sequoia Yacht Club in the Redwood Cup Winter Series. Prior to this weekend Sweet Grapes was tied for 3rd in the series, with Melilani, trailing Frequent Flyer and Yellow brick Road . Race 4 in the series had been cancelled last month, so Sunday featured a two race afternoon, Races 4 & 5. Both races were a pursuit style race. Pursuit races start the slower boats first with start times determined by a handicap which varies with the length of the course. Are you still with me? Now for the fun stuff.
The skipper’s meeting was at noon for a 1:30 start time. Due to light winds and a flood tide it was determined that the start line would be in the Bay not in front of the Sequoia Yacht Club. We were a little bummed since the last time we had to do a million tacks to leave Redwood City we kicked butt, but alas, no one else wanted to tack up to 50 times to make it to the bay.
Race 4 was a short “square” course. The start was delayed by 15 minutes due to light wind.
13 boats started the race. Sweet Pea was first off and kept the lead through the first windward mark. Sweet Grapes was flying our big jib ( 150 for you sailing geeks ) and we were smoking going to weather to the first mark and reaching to the second and third marks. We had four boats in front of of us at the second mark but most of the fleet underestimated the current on the way to “12” the third mark and were forced to make an extra tack to make the mark. We were right on line hearing comments from our tactician like “we’re going to make it.” followed by “I think we’re going to make it” and finally “oh shit, TACK”. Well the army has some pretty creative language for these situations but I’ll refrain. We did an emergency tack, not too pretty as that big headsail took too long to come across. We normally have someone walk it across but our foredeck crew was preparing to fly the chute, so the tack was botched. The boat turned, and now was heading to t-bone Melilani our series competitor, but we slowed since the jib wasn’t trimmed in and Melilani slid on by. We turned back broadside to the mark with a 2 knot current sweeping us into it. At the last moment our helmsman, Alan Orr saved our bacon by pivoting the boat around the mark. No harm, no foul, except for the required change of underwear. The rig cleared the mark by no more than a couple of feet. My memory is a little fuzzy since we tend to try to forget near death experiences.
Surprisingly, while all this was happening the foredeck crew completed their work and we raised the chute up in bristol fashion. For this race, we listened to the racing gods, Chuck, Robert and Keith all of whom said “get rid of that sock”. It certainly made things easier. Melilani was long gone having executed thier spinnaker hoist well with no loss of momentum. Series leader Flexible Flyer, a Farr 30, and smoking fast boat was to windward of us and for some reason decided to attempt to pass on our leeward after we passed the third mark. The final leg was really short and we were forced to douse our spinnaker on the final leg while Flexible Flyer still had their assymetric flying, giving them a huge advantage. They closed to within three boat lengths and called out for us to give them room at the finish, as was their right. With six boat lengths to go they were even with out transom. At three they were amidship. We crossed the line beating them by no more than 1 yard! 2nd place, unbelieveable!
Race 5 was not nearly as dramatic. The start was an unusual downwind start so if we had done it right we would have been flying our chute before the line. Not our best start, then the wind dropped to 0 – 3 knots. The light boats in the fleet walked away from everyone. We managed a sixth place. The less said about race 5 the better. We actually sailed well but winds under 5 knots leave us uncompetitive. Sigh.
The most memorable part of the day was sitting at the bar at CPYC with Mark and Leslie. Leslie had a friend Frequent Flyer so we called him. We wanted to know why they tried to duck under us rather than going on top on the final leg of Race 4. “Not my call” said her friend, “grumble, grumble”. “Well, have you heard the results?” Leslie asked. “Melilani won. We were 2nd.” Frequent Flyer had started the day in first place. Seems they lost the series by ONE point. Or truth be known, about three feet. If you can’t win playing the spoiler is OK.
The official results have not yet been posted but Melilani won the series, followed by Frequent Flyer and third was the sole Coyote Point Yacht Club entry: Sweet Grapes.
Sweet Grapes Crew for this weekend:
Jim Manishin – Regatta Chair