Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rhodes Cup/Fall Series 2 Sunday morning start

J/24s and Colgate 26 at the start of Sunday's race during the Darold Rhodes Cup/Fall Series 2 Regatta at Elephant Butte Lake.

Constellation follows the fleet across the start line

Merit 22 at left, Etchells Constellation at right moving to the right to clear her air.

Fleet between Merit 22 at left and Etchells at right, breaking off to the southeast on port tack.

Grampian 23 tries pointing into the light breeze.

Merit 22 has smooth sailing -- though not speedy in these gentle zephyrs.

Sunday got off to an interesting start. After some late-night meetings on Saturday (making up for a weekend that hadn't had enough board member folks to make a quorum the weekend before), I was expecting to have a fairly lazy Sunday with perhaps some sailing or laid-back racing. That wasn't to be, however; the person who had race committee signal boat duty for the weekend quit on Sunday morning, so the race chairman called me and "Teddy Bear" to be the emergency replacement crew. We loaded up Warm-n-Fuzzy with the race committee gear that had been left on the marina pier and set up a line the would work with relatively short courses in the light breezes that were expected.

The winds faded during and shortly after the start, but most of the boats were able to get off pretty well. Some of the slower cruisers had difficulties with setting their trim for very light wind.

After a while the wind faded to nearly nothing. Had the lack of wind persisted, I would have called the race off. Fortunately, after about twenty minutes of nothing much, the wind switched direction from the ESE to the WNW and gradually built up to a usable speed. Some of the crews were slow to realize they now had a following breeze. Constellation was first to hoist a spinnaker; keeping the chute inflated took some skill but paid off as it allowed the Etchells to pull away.

After completing the race, we waited for about twenty minutes to see if some more usable wind would fill in, but lacking a good breeze I called an end to the day's racing. Later, when we were at the marina, a bit of nice breeze came in for a while, but it didn't last very long and wound up being an on-and-off thing. Still, we'd had a bit of decent breeze with enough for a good finish to the race that was completed.


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