Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rio Grande Marina Cup news

Chi (left) and White Lightnin' approach the middle of the course on the run as a paddleboat kayaker enjoys a pleasant day on the water at Elephant Butte Lake.

White Lightnin' passes Chi on the spinnaker run.
White Lightnin' approaches the pin on the downwind run to mark 8 near Rattlesnake Island, Saturday, February 17, 2007.

White Lightnin' passes by the pin on the way south.

Etchells USA 574, White Lightnin', with Turtleback mountain behind.

The Rio Grande Marina Cup Team Challenge was a success in spite of light winds that challenged and sometimes frustrated skippers and crews. Six boats started on Saturday, February 17, 2007 in about three to four knots of wind from the north-northwest. Despite one weather service prediction for stronger winds, conditions remained light and variable, with almost windless patches on the beat and significant wind shifts near the windward mark.

Light and variable winds made the start a challenge for many boats, but "Sutherland" and crew White Lightnin’ got a very good start in clear air and led the way upwind and continued to find good areas of wind, only to finally be caught a little ways before the windward mark by her rival, Black Magic. The smaller Victory 21, Chi, was one of the leaders all the way up and continued downwind in hot pursuit of the two Etchells.

First to finish was Black Magic, followed about twelve minutes and 45 seconds by White Lightnin’ and then, after a similar interval, by the modified Victory 21, Chi. Chi kept the pressure on the leaders throughout the race and was well ahead of her rival when she finished. Subsequently Wind Rush retired from the regatta, as did Kachina. However, the new skipper at the helm of La Soñadora kept plugging away in the J-24 pairing of the race, building a lead over Lisa Carlson and a crew of student sailors on Kachina, and crossing the line to earn the third and final point for the Rock Canyon team.

Watching the proceedings were sailors on Kilo Whiskey and Stan's Newport 30 Mark II.

While waiting for other boats to finish, the two Etchells started a second race, with Chi joining in the light-air challenge. However, the winds became even flakier and lighter upwind, particularly in the upwind part of the course, so the race committee eventually had to signal abandonment, weight anchor, pull the pin, and motor up to take Black Magic and White Lightnin’ in tow. As the returning boats entered the pass west of Rattlesnake Island a breeze sprang up; it lasted just long enough to allow the two Etchells to cast off their towlines and sail to their marinas.

The (slow-moving) on-the-water action was followed by dinner at the Casa Taco, where J.R. and crew welcomed the sailors and kept the place open late for their enjoyment.


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