The sargasso weed-covered beaches of East Texas were one again bombarded with drama on Thursday in the Great Texas 300. For the start of this 100 mile leg, seven of the nine teams departed the beach before the start gun. First off the beach early was John Tomko and Ian Billings of the race leading Ruff Rider team. They realized they were a minute early and stopped but were committed to the surf. As they watched, the second and third place teams, Velocitek and Team TCDYC, also pushed off the beach early. All three sheeted in and took off on a single trap jib reach to the two mile offshore jetty of Mustang Island. All of the boats over early were assessed a 10 minute penalty to be assessed on their cumulative time, plus the amount of time they were over early. It doesn’t really have any bearing on the top positions though because ALL three were OCS for the leg.
According to Tomko, the first team to the jetty would win the race. Over six hours later in Matagorda, Tx, Tomko and billings hit the beach victorious. They were the first ones around the Mustang jetty, but there were six lead changes in the 15 knot onshore pressure and small seas. Team Velocitek, Aaron McCulley and Clay Cassard, pushed Tomko/Billings all day by shifting gears constantly in the changing conditions, but Ruff Rider was just too focused in the last section of the course and pulled out a lead of over seven minutes, a virtual repeat of yesterday’s performance. Team Rudderless, with GT-300 founder Steve Piche, actually finished a leg without losing a rudder and powered into the podium third position today. Team TCDYC slipped back more today while they are figuring out the Wildcat platform, now 1 hr 18 min behind the leaders. Yost Auto, the fastest Nacra 20 in the fleet so far, finished in fifth place and is two and a half hours behind the race leader overall.
Teams tried different configurations of crew weight and sail area to maintain the best VMG to the finish in Matagorda. In the end, the team who worked their changing gears the best in the changing conditions won the day. The art of the single trap jib reach came into play, a lost art in the cat world with the races normally sailed on the upwind/downwind course.
While our internet situation has been – challenging, we’re pretty stunned at how many people have taken the time to check out our broadcast. The Justin.TV channel alone has pulled in more than 50,000 views in three days on more than 5,000 unique views (a quarter of them via the iPhone app), and that’s with stuttering signals and long periods of dead air. The next leg to Surfside is not only shorter, but a world more civilized, so we can expect some serious non-stop action, both on the water and on our broadcast, with a backlog of two dozen interviews that are simply awaiting bandwidth. And today’s finish should provide that in spades – well, that and a whole new pile of babes in bikinis. Forecast is 10-15+, hotter n’ hell, and good times ahead. Watch the past broadcasts here, the highlights here, and keep posted on the thread right here. Big props to AHPC and Red Gear Racing for their support, and to Yost Automotive for theirs. Be sure to check out our live coverage today and tomorrow, and remember that we’ve got more On-The-Water Anarchy coming to you next week from the Melges 24 Nationals/Melges 32 NE Champs and next month from the 40-boat Melges 20 Gold Cup.