Wow, that current is incredible! Welcome to Charleston Race Week where a few things are for sure and some others are not.
-Current, Lots of current
-A variety of wind
-Bugs at the dock
Not for sure:
-Racing every day
-Quick haul out
That all said, we did get in all three days of pretty fun racing. We sailed
9 decent length races out of a possible 10. Not bad! It all came down to the last leg of the last race, more on that later…..
We were trailing by a bunch of points after day one after 2 OCS’s -AAARG.
We were fast in the E 10kt perfect breeze and minimized the damage but were still behind by a good margin.
Day 2 we fixed our OCS problems and got some acceptable but not killer starts. They were tricky because the wind was from the south and the current from the North. We would set up about 10 boatlengths below the line with a minute to go, and luff. Then around 35 seconds to go we would sheet in and hope we did not pull the trigger too soon as we ripped windward covering 9.5 of those 10 boatlengths in those last seconds. Once again we were fast and had a stellar day with a 1,1,2,2.
This put us in 2nd by 4 points going into the last day. We had cloudy and warm sailing days, but no rain -yet. But we woke up to a cool drizzle and a light Northerly. The current was building from the North just as the wind was dying from the North setting up for super tricky long windward legs. We had to decide whether to head to the West shore (the piers of downtown Charleston), or to the right were there was a tiny island. Neither side offered much current relief, but some was better than none and one thing was for sure, we had to hit one side hard and short tack it. We had a sweet start, ahead of the guys we needed to beat, so we covered them over to the Downtown Charleston shore and tacked on them whenever we could to push them back. But they sailed well and they were only one or two boats behind at the leeward gate. We rounded the right gate looking upwind and they the opposite, so we tacked to cover. At each tack we forced them the best as we could into the river where the current had to be 2.5kts, the shore was still a crazy 1.5kts, but that 1kt difference was huge!
Now we had a pile of boats between us, and we needed 5 because they would win a tie breaker. We had been much more consistent so we had a better throw, but intent not to use it, we now sailed our own race short tacking the shore to try and finish as best we could and hope they could not recover. Now we battled the current and somehow after all that match racing came back to a respectable 5th and they were 11th. Good enough to pull it off.
Now the rain and doldrums came and the RC mercilessly sent us packing up in a downpour.
What we learned (re-learned):
Tim Healy stepped on board the day before the racing started so we could talk rig setup. Every time he looked at the main, he said sheet in a little. It reminded me that in flat water we can sheet really hard. The leach comes way to windward and the top tale stalls. But it works because the genny is so big that it helps keep flow attached and because the J24 is unbalanced with the keel to far back and the rig too far forward, so sheeting hard helps balance it out and translates to point.
Thanks to the team, they did a great job gelling in tricky conditions. In the photo from left to right: Ervin Groove (mast), Mike Ingham (helm), Quinn Schwenker (trim), Bill Dexter (bow), and Justin Coplan (tactics)