We feel Moose McClintock’s pain at the J/24 Worlds….
I guess the natural thing to say is “I’m not a kid anymore”. And I’m not. I hurt. And I’m wet, again. I don’t mind getting wet from spray. I hate getting wet from rain. And it’s raining. Hard. Really hard. And the forecast for tomorrow is rain. Lots of rain. Rain, followed by showers, followed by thunderstorms. The next day, showers, followed by rain. Sense a theme here?
Today was a long, tough one. First, the long trek down to the boat in a downpour. Putting on wet shoes. Whatever. The first race was a light northerly, the shore paid huge on the first beat and the Swedish boat helmed by Anna Gunnerson ( Chris Snow from North One Design aboard) got it right, leading wire to wire to win by a mile (well not a mile, I can’t figure the metric conversions, she won by a lot). We didn’t get it right, starting clear near the wrong end and going all the way to the wrong side, I’d like to blame the tactician but I hate being responsible. Suffice it to say, I didn’t do a good job on the beat. Tony Parker did, along with Mike Ingham (keep in mind this is a North American slant), we were fortunate to get a bunch back at the weather mark by staying away from the pack and then got a couple more downwind to round about 6th at the gates, from there we pulled out the shotgun and aimed at our feet, hitting them several times, including a miscommunication at the weather mark that led to a quick 3 boat loss. The left side had paid while we were in the middle muddling along, the Argentine Periera did a great job to come back to 5th from the left side. A reach to the finish left us 9th, not so very good, Mike Ingham did a nice job passing a couple for a 4th while Parker was 7 after losing a couple and coming back.
With a quick turnaround, the RC tried to get another race off, taking into account a quick left shift. Under sequence, the breeze went 40 degrees more left so a quick AP allowed them to move to deeper water and get us into an area where the fleet could get off the shore, at least a little bit. While they were moving, the breeze did a quick build from about 8 knots to 25, sort of a surprise. Quick change to the blade and hang on Betty. We thought the pin was favored and tried to get organized there but never did get quite up to the line, a floundering tack left us sliding below the pin end pack and starting third row. In that kind of breeze, dipping someone will be fatal so we decided to hang on under everyone and let the fleet peel off. Eventually, the ten or so boats on us tacked, we went a little further to clear and tacked, not being able to see the weather mark in the fog and , can you believe it, RAIN! For whatever reason, either less current or a left shift (I never did look at the compass), we found ourselves pinning out the Swede Perrson at the weather mark to round first. Then came the true J-24 experience, downwind in 25-30m with short chop. If you want the definition of out of control, try it sometime.
We were doing an OK job off the breeze, just holding off the Swedes, when Tony Parker came ripping into the picture going Mach 2 (or whatever you do in J-24 when you’re ripping). As we approached the layline to the gates, and were trying to figure out what to do with either a gybe or getting the kite down, God intervened. In a big puff, the spinnaker halyard blew out of the cleat so we just pulled in the kite. Tony ripped over us in full control (nuts, we couldn’t even get to him to luff him) and led around the gate, we were able to get just inside him and were able to hold there, eventually rolling him in a couple big blasts (jib eased almost over the lifelines). On the long beat up we struggled a bit but managed to hold off the Swede and former World Champion Andrea Casale, just rounding ahead of them and holding them off for the gun. Sort of.
When we got in we found we’d been called on a black flag (both starts today were started that way), we were pretty stunned knowing where we were the whole time (sure, no one ever thinks they’re over), fortunately we had witnesses who had laughed at our start (plus the RC found we hadn’t been called on their tape, thank you Peter for being diligent) so we were re-instated. I’m not sure how we’re doing as I write this, I think we’re winning with Casale 2nd and Periera 3rd and Ingham 4th, Tony 5th? but I’m guessing. Back to the first line of this: I hurt. This is getting past my expiration date, I used to like heavy air but now I’m an old fart and I’m losing my sense of humor. Thankfully I didn’t get pulled thru the spinnaker ratchets but it’s coming, soon. I just want us to survive and do well. And avoid the rain. I hope we can keep it up but there are some really fast teams here and all are sailing well. It takes a bit of luck to do well in a Worlds, we may have used ours up. Mike and Tony are both very fast, and are sailing well. The Italians and South Americans are exceptional across the board, the Germans and Swedes, and Brits, are all as fast or faster. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow; right now it’s off to bed and Ibuprofen.