So Bob, our mast guy, says do you ever do downwind starts. I say I haven’t in the three years I’ve been racing. And so after a douse where the spinnaker ended up in the lake, and I’m madly re-running the sheets, and we are going to be late to the start, I look up and the entire fleet has spinnaker set, charging to the line. Too funny. Sort of.
We were caught off guard, didn’t get the spinnaker set before we had to reach to the leeward gate under genoa. That is sort of our night. Many highs and lows, wrapped spinnakers, a torn leach cord, a crash gybe that nearly dumped the crew.
On the high side we were dialed into the puffs and made nice work of the beats. It makes it a bit more painful to see the spinnaker in a un-recoverable figure eight when you actually have a fighting chance in a race. But the breeze was up and mistakes get magnified. A character and experience building exercise for sure.
One lesson was learned on the downwind start. When we made it to the windward mark all boats were leaving it to starboard, which we have never done before. Here is the relevant section of the Lake Washington GSIs:
9.3 Start between the starting buoy and the orange flag on the race committee boat. Pass each rounding mark in the order displayed and on the same side as the starting mark. Finish between the finishing buoy and the orange flag on the race committee boat. When a number, such as “2″ or “3″, follows the course letters, it signals a multiple-lap course. Sail the course as many times as is indicated by that number, crossing the finishing line at the completion of each lap.
Since we started downwind with the pin to starboard, all other marks must now be left to starboard. The leeward mark was a gate so this rule didn’t change anything there. Lesson learned.
When we got back to the dock we did some practicing with the spinnaker pole to sort out some of the issues we are having with douses. I wish we had more time for practicing, I know it would make all of the difference. But it’s hard enough to field a crew one night a week as it is. This is really the biggest challenge for us right now.
All in all, it was a great night on the lake, our crew is getting deeper, and everybody lived to sail another day.