East West Dash: The Javelins


Race: East West Dash
Date: Sat, 22 March 2014
Start: ~13:15hrs

The race started very slowly, the wind in Days bay was in the lee of what little wind there was.  I’d been holding on to BlunderBus for a while waiting for the start and for Alastair to appear. During my waiting I had to several times perform a quick little dance as the wind lead me around and around.  At times coming from completely the opposite direction in a snap.

Alastair I took our time to get in the boat, I managed to give us a pretty good nudge off and perform the classic head first seal dive into the boat, so graceful.

We could see Havoc and The Unknown while trying the combination of paddling and unintentionally rafting up together. We were just trying to figure out which way the wind was going, which was kinda helpful as we made use of the need to flick the battens over to help power the boat along.  We also were forced to use the classic light wind displacement mode of getting your weight right forward to lift the wide surface area of the back of The Bus out of the water giving her both a slimmer profile and far less wetted surface area and thus reducing drag.  Although we won’t tell you the real reason is that our flaps in the transome don’t seal very well at all and we fill up at the rate that you can use a garden hose to full a paddling pool.  Despite having this extra 10 litres or so in the boat we managed to get away from Havoc and The Unknown buy quite a bit.

 Out next challenge was to avoid all of the keelers very large wind shadows.  This was a mixture of footing it (easing off a bit for speed) and pinching (sheeting in to climb up wind).  Our aim was to try and pass each keeler just to windward to maximize our distance downwind from any keelers above us.

We were leading out of the Javelins. “This is a rare thing!” and it was feeling quite good.  Our light air sailing technique was working out for us.  When there was just a little breeze we would out running the keelers but just a smig.

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We now had Illusions, a keeler, on our hip (to windward but just behind us), they had a Code 0 up (a big light wind genenoa/gennacker) and were threating to put us in their dirty air.  We pinched up a bit while still in front to suggest to them that gonig below us was a smarter option that getting called “Up!” on.  After some words from them “We are coming to get you Hamish, We’re coming to get you!”, and my surprisingly polite exchange “Can you please go below us, it might be better for you”.  And luckily they did go below us, otherwise we’d have stopped us in our tracks by casting their huge wind-shadow on us.  As it turned out the wind dropped a little more, and Illusionswith with all her weight just keep going. Now we were side by side and I could hear the words “We’ve got you Hamish, we’ve go you now”.  This whole time our view of The Unknown had been blocked, they came back into sight and I could see they had there gennacker up and had really footed it to take the speed they could with it.  My heart dropped, our lead was gone, I’d been so preocupied with what was going on with Illusions that I hadn’t thought about the gennacker as an option.  We were pretty close, just above Illiusions so it was going to be tight to launch the gennaker and have it fly.  But we had too, just had too, or we’d end up smoked.  After a quick lanuch the gennaker popped full and we surged forward, it provided just enough pressure to get us up on a bit of a plane and we pulled away from Illisions like we had popped open a bottle of NOS in slow motion as it lifted my level of excitement as much as it could be for a slow day.

 Now looking out to the left (the south) my heart sunk again, I could see the wind coming in and Havoc was in it.  Despite their very slow start and a capsize (yes a capsize in no wind), they were now in the wind and smoking along from a higher place (further south/upwind, not in the clouds).  They had very smartly headed up towards where the wind was going to come from when the wind was light so that if/when the wind did come in they’d be in it first and thus going fast first, and from that more windward position they were also able to carry their gennacker for longer on a more direct route to entrance of Evan’s Bay.  We on the other hand were purposely footing it to keep the gennaker flying and our speed up, our heading was for a point about 30 degrees from where we wanted to go. At some point we were going to have to drop the gennaker and 2 sail reach across to get into Evan’s Bay.  We were now going to be 3rd very soon as Havoc carried their gennaker right to Evan’s Bay.  The Unknown made it into the Bay first followed fairly closely by Havoc, we were quite a way back now.  Not much fun, we’d missed to opportunities.  They say sailing is won by the person who makes the less mistakes, it was proving true today.

Both The Unknown and Havoc had headed over to the right (west) side of Evan’s Bay, This seemed to be the smart move as the tide on the eastern side where we had to entry the Bay from was obviously going out.  Given we were behind we had to look for an opportunity, take a gamble.  So I decided to stay heading up the eastern side of the bay and work the out crops of land to gain lift by sailing into them as far as we were comfortable to risk without hitting the bottom, and then sailing away in the lift. As the flow of the air bends around the out crops of land between each bay it means we can sail a shorter distance than if we were sailing in the middle of the bay.  We did this twice and it seem to bring us closer to Havoc.  Now if we pinched a bit we could also make it past Greta point (NIWA) and make it all they way to the ramp with out another tack.

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At this point my very unfit legs were screaming from all of the hiking out.  It was a bit touch and go but we made it past NIWA with only a few feet to spare, and we made it into the ramp without having to put in another board (tack).  Yay, and Havoc was still on the ramp when we pulled in.  Now Alastair just had to do the dash up to the club, skull his drink and get our finish recorded.