Monday, March 09, 2009

Big Boat Regatta Weekend

On Saturday, we’d set a start line and tried to kick off the Big Boat Race, but conditions wound up being excessive even for our heavier boats. After we got out on the water, the winds came up to about 10 mph stronger than forecasts, with some fairly wicked gusts in the 40- to 55-mph range, fully beyond any of the weather predictions we’d studied. Syzygy was bouncing and plunging like a wild bronco; standing on deck was impossible without hand holds. Windependent suffered problems with traveler rigging, an escaped topping lift, and broken sail slugs. LunaC suffered a broken vang (the hydraulic boom support part), and Erebus had a couple of broken sail slugs. Cultural Infidel and Salud wisely stayed in port. Only Shonto, with only a jib up, escaped damage, though she also had the distraction of engine trouble. Syzygy, which was our committee boat, also had trouble with a dragging anchor (in spite of a 300-foot anchor rode with a good chunk of chain), so we put discretion ahead of folly and gave up on racing for the day.

Sunday dawned much milder. The winds didn't come up until mid-afternoon, just before the finish of the Big Boat Race that had been postponed until 1100 on Sunday. We got to Rock Canyon just as a light breeze started to reach the lake surface. Carol Anne didn’t get a ride on a race boat but was able to help me on the committee boat and get in some reading.

As the starting horn went off at 11:10 (only five minutes behind schedule), winds were about 3 knots (4 mph); but after the first half hour the breeze faded to very little. Constellation started in "exhibition" mode (Windpendent couldn't race because of the previous day's busted sail slugs) with the fleet of Shonto, LunaC, and Erebus, with Cultural Infidel eventually coming to the start and Salud ("Magnum PI") joining the fleet in mid-race. With the winds fading away, we even took the committee boat south to government mark 5A (most of the way to the Elephant) because a few of the racers were worried about too little wind. On the committee boat we thought there was a chance we'd have to shorten the race.

When we hauled up the anchor there was just about no wind near Rock Canyon (say half a knot), but as we caught up with the fleet between Rattlesnake and Horse Islands we saw that most of the boats had enough breeze to keep their chutes well inflated on a spinnaker reach. By around 1:15 a 4-knot breeze came up from the ENE and around 30 minutes later built up to about 6 knots from the E.

Then, just as Shonto approached the finish line we saw darker water and waves to the south; Shonto finished in about 10 knots from the south. LunaC finished five minutes later followed by Erebus in another five minutes; by the time Erebus finished around 2:35 winds were about 14 knots from the SSW with limited whitecaps. It appears that Erebus corrected into first place above the first two finishers in her fleet. Some bigger gusts came around 4:00 p.m. but by then all the boats were long secure; I felt a lot of wind while unloading race committee and personal gear from Syzygy in the parking lot near the Rock Canyon boat ramp. Some of the gusts kicked up clouds of sand.

After Carol Anne and I put away Syzygy around 5:00 p.m., we joined “Dumbledore”, “Ribbons“, Erebus”, and crew Conrad to take possession of the “new” club motorboat at Ace Marine on Warm Springs Blvd., going through all the motor controls. Then, we had dinner at Big Food Express.

Photography wasn't possible in Saturday's conditions, but we did get a few snaps today. Some of those should show up here soon.

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At 11:27 PM, March 14, 2009, Blogger Felipe said...

I was wondering if you'd like to exchange links with me?
If yes, please leave your blog url as a comment at: or e-mail me on webmaster at
Thanks, Felipe

At 12:57 AM, March 18, 2009, Blogger Carol Anne said...

So you and Tillerman have been selected for a special honor, the commentspam invitation from Felipe.

This must be a particularly high accomplishment, as I have not been selected, nor has anyone else (or at least anyone else among the blogs that I frequent, Captain JP, EVK4, Adam Turinas ...)


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