by Matt Dalton, TSS Commodore
For those that sat around the week before hoping for breeze, they got their wish. Mother Nature showed up in force! As with any event with strong breeze, there is always a safety concern and a discussion about whether we should be out sailing or not. Everyone knows that I don't get too worked up about wind predictions too far ahead of an event (these guys are rarely perfectly right!). I like to make the call from the end of the dock on race day.
Turns out....while the predictions were not quite spot on (we did not see any 30 knot gusts), there was consistent, very strong wind the whole day. The prediction was that it would start out in the 15-17 range and build stronger as the afternoon went on, eventually building beyond our some class limits. I did not see that out there. It started at 17 (puffs to 19) and then faded a bit at times down to 15 (puffs to 17), then got stronger again later. The RC did record some 20 knot puffs. There was never any wind that these classes, with a practiced crew, would not be capable of sailing in. However, it WAS at the top of the wind range that the boat is controllable in. It was a very good day to have a heavier crew on board. While my crew (Wesley) did a great job pulling the strings (it was only his second time in the boat!) we consistently paid the price for being light on the rail.
We also paid the price for putting the chute up (only Mutineer to do so!). Honestly, I don't pull the chute in those conditions for any level of bragging rights. I do it because I feel if I don't push myself in those conditions, I will not ever be able to develop that level of skill. I want to be comfortable pulling the chute in heavy air and the only way to get there is to go do it. I was asking a lot of my crew! We never crashed the boat under chute! We had one near miss right after a jibe where we struggled getting the pole back on and the chute got out of control and rolled us over. Both of us throwing ourselves over the rail got us right back up. Herb got an excellent view of this save.
Honestly, there were some good decisions made by everyone that signed up for this race! Dave's crew (daughter Ava) decided this was not a race for a light air crew and Dave moved to a Sunfish. Karissa had only practiced helm work one time and wisely made the call that she should wait for another day. Britney, Ed and Bob all either had their boats in the water to sail or sailed out to the course to look around and evaluate. I could not be prouder of this group for doing exactly that.......check the conditions and evaluate whether you feel comfortable. There was some sound decision making going on.
We got off 4 challenging races! Congrats to the winners and nice job to everyone with how they handled their boats (including those wise enough to hit the pause button, knowing we will sail another day).