May 19, 2021 Pursuit Race #1
Eighteen boats started the first Pursuit Race of the season. As the hour continued the breeze didn’t. Here are the results for those who kept going. Following is the story of how the race was won, written by the winner, Bob McNitt.
1 Thistle 3891 Bob McNitt
2 Thistle 3893 Steve Lavender
3 Thistle 3990 Stuart Fisher
4 Interlake 1383 Mark White
5 Interlake 1370 Jeff Clark
By Bob McNitt
The first Pursuit Race of the year was May 19, was a beautiful evening, with a southerly breeze initially of about 8 mph. The MC’s were race committee, eliminating some of the competition from the get go. With the southerly breeze they were able to set a long port triangle course.
The short version is that the conditions favored the Thistles and it showed in the results: Bob McNitt and Jaimie Chicoine finished first, Steve and Rachel Lavender second and Stu and Matt Fisher third, all Thistles. Starting with reasonable wind, the Thistles caught most of the fleet by the second reaching leg of the course. Then the breeze steadily decreased to barely a breath. Both conditions favored the Thistles. The details, from my perspective (first person), are as follows.
After the Thistle start, Stu and Steve stayed left and I went right. There was wind on the left and on the right, but it was light in the middle of the course. The left paid off for Stu and Steve both crossing well ahead coming into the first mark.
The first reach was tight but appeared free enough for a spinnaker. Stu and I flew chutes and Steve did not. By the end of the leg, the wind was so far forward that the spinnaker was more of a hinderance than a benefit, but we made it around the gybe mark without dousing, positions unchanged.
After rounding the gybe mark, Stu and Steve, both flying their spinnakers now, cut west into the middle of the course to avoid the congestion of boats running the rhumb line. We followed although not so aggressively high (I was hoping they would get into a luffing match, but they are too smart for that). About a quarter of the way down the leg, a shift came in and Steve and I gybed, risking getting tangled up in the congestion of the fleet. Stu thought better of it. Steve cut east to the outside of the group and I tried to maintain an inside position. The shift was short lived, and everybody was back on port quickly. Stu rounded the leeward mark with a several boat-length lead. We managed to round ahead of Steve who was dealing with the congestion of the fleet.
From the leeward mark, Stu headed up the reservoir on port tack and we initially followed. We tacked on a small header soon after, but in less than 30 seconds we were back on the port tack. Retrospect identifies what then followed as the determining factor for our victory. We thought there was wind on the left side way up the course and also noticed a line of wind about a third of the way up the leg (showing on the water as only about 10 yards north and south by about 150 yards east and west) that we could use to get to the left. It would not take us toward the mark, but it would take us to where we thought there would be more wind. We tacked when we got into the wind line and rode it until we were slightly headed, near the middle of course. The boats that had stayed on the port tack must have been abandoned by what little breeze there was as we sailed a course almost making the mark. We passed what had been the leading boat with a third of the leg remaining.
A short tack on starboard took us around the top mark with a significant lead. Between the decreased wind velocity and the easterly shift, what had been a tight reach the previous time around the course became a very tight reach and then a beat. We had to tack to round what had been the gybe mark. We felt the last breath of moving air as we left the gybe mark. From there our momentum slowly carried us, pretty much drifting, down to and through the finish line. We paddled to the dock in still air.
Sailing with Jaimie was great fun. I caught up on her years of service and her plans for medical school. There were several occasions of open laughter throughout the race, regardless of whether we were ahead or behind. Race management did everything they could with the conditions. The first pursuit race of the year and the clubhouse “apres sail” (the warm camaraderie and Great Lakes beer at the tap) provided a great opening for Wednesday night sailing in 2021. I look forward to seeing you at the events to come!
Weekly Race Results Posted on our Website
Staring this year, we are adding the Fleet Racing Results and posting the Pursuit Race Results on the website. We’re not including names only boat numbers and finishes. The results are only the scores for the individual days. We’re not tabulating an accumulated score. I’m not sure how each fleet scores this. Hopefully, this can keep people in the loop if they missed a day? Also, maybe this would increase interest in participating in the racing. You might be surprised with how many boats raced on a given day or how few!
You can find the 2021 Race Results here: http://hooversailingclub.com/members/