When the IRC East Coast Champs are discussed, my thoughts generally run to "cold, wet hate mission in Annapolis." But as usual, I can’t say no to a sailing opp, especially when it’s a hot new IRC 52 footer on her first buoy regatta. So when the phone rang two weeks ago I was auickly working out how to fit the ECCs into a 9-day period that included hauling and storing our Farr 36 ‘Meridian," a trip to Florida, and a day job. Come last Tuesday, we cinched down the last straps on the Farr and I was off to go racing.
Practice on Wednesday was in very light air, probably 6-10 knots, though instruments were on the fritz, so that’s a best guess. Got familiar with the boat, started a jobs list, just the general first day stuff. Vela Veloce is a beuaty though – I highly recommend anyone with a spare million or two laying around to look into one. A good bit of work tidying up the new ride and getting her into ’round the cans mode included several rigging items handled Wed afternoon, Code 0 twingers added, halyard tails lengthened, and so on. Second practice Thursday in more very light airs saw crew work coming together very nicely, another few hours of rigging barber haulers, new trav line (protrim has my total ire now), getting the proper number of bearings in the trav cars, adjustment of staysail sheet length, minor tweaking of vang cascades, and more of the many details that encompass sailboat racing. A new quiver of sails from Quantum for the week, and these are far and away the best product I have ever seen from the angry green doughnut. Seriously, the lamination on these things was a work of art.
Friday’s distance race provided a great warm up, but unfortunately for us, turned into a total crap shoot. At least we went to all the right marks (sorry KP kids, had to get one shot in there!). Vanquish would go on to flex her muscles later anyway, so nothing to feel bad about there. Light air is not Vela Veloce’s forte, she carries a bit more junk in the trunk than most of the other 52’s, but we did come up with a pretty good mode at the end of the day – but nine points did hurt. Saturday dawned with promise however, and some decent breeze awaited us on the course. With a bit more knowledge in our arsenal, we started to click really well, and our upwind wheels started to show a bit – surprisingly, downwind did as well. With a max of about 22 knots of breeze (we hear, still no instruments) we found a mode that was considerably faster down wind. Great communication between the helm and trimmers really started to make gains, and we started to get closer to the boat’s potential. A bullet in the first race helped our stoke out a bit too. Day three, Sunday, and the weather I envisioned was here. Cold, drizzle, and general suck pervaded the course. VV’s wheels were coming through though, and a 2, 3 for the day wasn’t a bad way to finish off. Those kids on Vanquish I was ribbing earlier were shot out of a cannon and took a string of 4 bullets – nice job, boys.
All in all a fun weekend, with an immensely fun boat that has a ton of upside left to go, and a top shelf crew. – Graham ‘doghouse’ Garrenton.