Moose checks in from the J/24 Worlds.
OY! Today hurt, more so for us than most though even some people behind us got the worse end of the deal. Today was everything that I have come to fear in Annapolis, light air (never over 5 knots), big shifts (over 80 degrees by the end) and tons of current. It won’t do any good to tell you that we stunk, a quick glance at the scores will suffice. Our game plan was perfect, start at the midline boat (with a big following current) where there seemed to be breeze and head straight left for the big outgoing current. Two boats that were side by side with us, Tony Parker (the new overall leader while averaging almost 10th) and Al Constants did just that and rounded top 5. Wish we could have followed through on our plan but we gybed out, started on port and went right. When the inevitable current and breeze advantage to the left came through, we were looking mighty stupid (I’ll take credit for that, somebody has to). That said, when everyone got to the weather mark the breeze died and there was a 40 boat overlap trying to bear off into the oncoming current. We were just inside of everyone after drifting up to the mark from the low road, now we were looking at the top ten. Which lasted for about 3 minutes as the breeze filled in above us and we were run over like a deer on the train tracks. With a less than stellar set and gybe after the offset to look for clear air, we took a quick glance behind to see………nobody. Last. WTF!!!! Annapolis at it’s best. Over the next 4 legs (when we were actually starting to get lapped, the leaders started their 2nd downwind leg while were were still on our first downwind), we gained, we lost, we laughed, we cried, but somehow got back to midfleet. I’d like to blame this on anything other than ourselves but there’s a mirror in all this, we can only look at ourselves for our failures. We’re praying hard for a throwout.
Up front, Charlie Enright did a good job of coming out of the left and rounded first, though he had a bit of a fight with the Rental and Tony Parker, he held on to win the race ahead of Tony (the 30 year class vet) and the Rental (don’t call the 800 number on their boat, it’s going to get charged to your phone, apparently). Jorge Murireta, the North American Champion, sailed a consistent race to finish 5th just ahead of Rossi Milev, and the two are now 2nd and 3rd respectively ahead of the Three Bond, a very quick Japanese team and Andrea Casale, the defending champion, who are tied. Leading coming into the day, Mauricio Santa Cruz had a tough race from the beginning and never recovered, coming in around 47th while 2nd placed Anthony Kotoun was over early and struggled to place 68th. Both players faced more hardship when they hit the dock, Kotoun being protested for fouling Tim Healy when he set the kite to get back to the line (he retired) and Santa Cruz taking a 20% penalty in a protest lodged by an English team over taking his rudder off to inspect a pintel (SI’s state the rudder has to remain on the boat for the duration of the regatta), a message to the fleet that the class is going to take it’s printed word to the maximum over even minor infractions (taking a look at the results, there are a ton of 20% penalties, many for hitting marks).
After the long and trying race, we waited a bit to see if the wind would come in. With a nice southerly filling, we did a bit of upwind practice, re-tuned for what we thought the wind was going to be and waited for the RC to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, they moved about a mile from the area of breeze and everything began to fizzle, we began the Newport Fade (start hedging toward the harbor with engine prepped and ready to go), the RC came on the radio to blow the day off and we slid into the motor parade around 9th, by far our best performance of the day and once again, not good enough to lead. We were psyched that the forecast for tomorrow was about 20 and slowly dying but when we checked the updated forecast, we’re now looking at 8-10 and dying quickly. Still looking for a three race day but with more rain tonight (thankfully, that last two days of rain have come after we got to the beer tent), the current should be strong again, the dying breeze will be very shifty, but there shouldn’t be much more rain (unless, of course, it rains, which is also on the docket). Several good friends of mine that live here say "This is really strange, it’s never like this here at this time of year". Another day like today and I’ll say "I never sail here at any time of year". From a very frustrating, wet, light air and chilly Annapolis, good night.