Monday, December 05, 2005

Rio Grande Sailing Club Kris Kringle Race, Dec. 3 - 4, 2005

Race start showing a row of transoms; Etchells "Constellation" to port, then J-24 "Kachina" in center and S2-34 "Cultural Infidel to starboard; just a bit of the sail of J-24 "DOB" is visible beyond Cultural Infidel.

A couple of days before the regatta, the weather forecasters couldn't agree on a wind prediction for Saturday, with guesses of 8, 15, or 22 knots of wind. Saturday morning at the skippers meeting things were also a bit uncertain because a couple of the boats and crews that were supposed to show up for match racing didn't show. Some may have chickened out for the wind; one skipper had forgotten that he was supposed to play in a concert, and we never heard what happened to the J-22s. One of the water-ballast skippers decided prudently not to launch with strong winds forecast, but some of our bigger boats decided the strong winds were just the ticket, so the Ranger 32 "Shonto" and Hunter 34 "Windependent" went out. Also, the crew of the S2-34 "Cultural Infidel" joined us later, though too late to scare up enough crew to race.

We took our MacGregor 26 (swing centerboard, water ballast) out with a passenger who though it would be more fun to help with race committee than to race. The marina was somewhat protected; steady winds were 18 knots in the marina but stronger out on the lake. As we went out, and motored around looking for a good place to set the pin and wait for the other boat crews to join us and have a chat, conditions were rough enough that our passenger wasn't at all happy to be on the water. We also had concerns about whether our anchor would hold and weren't able to raise any boats on VHF, though the marina could hear us. Larry, our race committee chair was crewing on "Windependent" so we motored up as they sailed so we could talk - or at least, try to shout and hear.

Both boats, but mostly our light boat, were bouncing around and Larry and Marty and the folks on Windependent were really nervous as we pulled within five yards of Windependent. Maintaining position was a bit of a challenge in the waves. Also, our Mac's 9.9 hp Tohatsu is mounted to port and the lower unit tended to pop out of the water when the wind was on the port beam or quarter, making it even harder to maintain position. Larry didn't think this was a good place for us to be. So, with conditions deteriorating as the winds kept building, we canned Saturday's races, though some of the bigger boats sailed for fun and a couple of smaller boats (Greg Simon and the boat owners of Cochiti gang) that weren't racing stayed out most of the day. Still, this was more of a day for heavy boats.

Because our outbooard's lower unit and prop kept popping out of the water (and our passenger didn't want the boat to heel), we wound up motor-tacking to calmer waters near shore and then making for the marina. We later learned that winds had been steady at 32 mph at one point and gusting to 47. So, we were happy enough to go ashore and get a couple of mineral bath soaks at our motel in Truth or Consequences, which is also a spa. Later that evening, we went to the club Christmas/holiday party, which had good attendance with about 45 adults (counting Gerald with the adults) and 4 kids, who kept things lively. The food was good (the Damsite had specially re-opened their restaurant out-of-season to accommodate us) and the selection, unwrapping, and thieving of the white elephant gifts were also fun.

Sunday, though a bit chilly, had beautiful steady winds in the 8 - 12 knot range with gusts limited to about 15 knots or less. Unusually for our lake, the winds were also quite steady in direction, staying within a 30 degree arc the whole time. (This is the lake where I once did a 720 without changing trim!)

Although some winter weekends are bitter with wind or chill, others can be a complete delight and clear, sunny days are the rule rather than the exception. The crowds of summer are long gone, replaced by grebes and other waterfowl and wildlife. This past weekend had a little bit of everything; roaring winds and lovely, steady breezes, wildlife, drama and excitement and ripped sails, good racing duels, a great party, and something for just about everyone. All the folks who chickened out or had other commitments missed out on a great time. Remember, the weather forecasters are lucky if they nail the prediction for the lake, so the best thing to do is to just show up and see what happens. Whatever happens, it probably won't bore you.

J-24 "Kachina" with Julie Boyce at the helm, Sue Strasia, Marilyn Bush, Jo Ann Underwood crewing. RGSC women have started training for a potential area womens championship regatta.

Cultural Infidel (with Russ Jellison, Maria Gallegos, Dale, Richard Dittmar, Gerald Byrnes) (photo 120).

Sunday, December 4, 2005 Cool, bright day with steady, fairly strong, steady breezes of 8 to 15 kts., some moderate gusts 15 to 18 kts (about Force 4/3/4 for races 1/2/3), wave heights 1 foot with some breaking wavelets but no whitecapping. Wind direction steady with about 30 degrees throughout the race.

Horn needs a new canister; it conked out so we tried our boat's internal horn, then Russ's mouth horn, then one of our air horns. We made a copy of the uncorrected raw times, so here goes...

Race 1, "5 Gulf" (full sausage starting to the north)
Winds 12 kts approx. from NE/NNE, temp. 45 deg. F, sunny
Start Time 10:50:30 AM MST
Larry Jessee 38:29
Russ Jellison 44:18
Sue Strasia 44:52
Rich Strasia 45:12

Race 2, "5 Gulf" (full sausage starting to the north)
Winds 10 kts approx., from NNE, 46 deg. F temp., sunny Start Time 11:47:30 AM MST
Larry Jessee 37:27
Russ Jellison 45:21
Sue Strasia 46:02
Rich Strasia 43:58

Race 3, "5 Gulf" (full sausage starting to the north)
Winds 12 kts approx., from NNE, 48 deg. F temp., sunny, lighter wind at first that got strong on the downwind
Start Time 12:40:00 PM MST
Larry Jessee 32:01
Russ Jellison 41:01
Sue Strasia 37:23
Rich Strasia 38:06


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