The wind today was what you might call … puffy. Up and down, side to side. As we waited for the skippers’ meeting this morning sailors fretted because the gusts seemed stronger and stronger. There were some whitecaps, but my theory is that the wind seemed strong, in part because of the lulls between them.
Ben and I set the boat up with an hour to spare so we wandered around catching up with friends, like Mark and Maria Benner and Dan Goldberg (Moraine Sail Club), Charles and Sarah Buffington (Deep Creek Lake), and Jim Diffily (Berlin Lake).
Moraine Sailing Club is surrounded by rolling hills and I bet it is even more gorgeous when the leaves turn. The lake limits power boats to 20 horsepower, which was lovely, and perhaps contributed to the large number of Hobies, windsurfers and larger cabin boats we saw out enjoying the day. The lake was really packed!
We had three back-to-back races, all windward-leeward, starting right at noon.
With winds out of the south/southwest the course was necessarily pretty short, and with 13 boats on the line, there was definitely some traffic. We did not get a great first start and were probably about fifth or sixth to the first mark. The starting line was closed, so Ben and I did a gybe set and headed to the left (facing downwind) of the committee boat, while the rest of the fleet headed right. Somehow we picked up some nice wind and rounded first at the leeward mark. That was about the last good break we caught, though!
The last windward leg, we just had to go ½ way up the beat to finish and we could not catch a break. Despite being probably 15 boats lengths ahead of the next boat (Tom Dawson and Margery), every time we tacked the wind shifted right into our teeth, plus the wind was lighter and lighter, so we were losing all our speed. We tried to cover Tom and Margery but every time we looked up they had better speed and pointed better. It was neck and neck at the finish and I think they caught us. Argh!
Never mind, it was still a good race for us, but the wind began to get flukier and flukier. We couldn’t figure out which side of the course we liked and we couldn’t see any pattern to the puffs. The second race we tried again for a good pin end start, which we got, but it just didn’t help at all. We were mid fleet at the first mark. We tried our gybe set approach again, but this time it didn’t pay off for us. Finally, on the second upwind leg, Ben decided to dig right (facing upwind) and hope that his theory, that the wind was gradually clocking right, was correct. Either that, or we had better pressure or something because we definitely caught a bunch of boats that leg and finished that race in 4th.
The third race the committee moved the marks to the right and we were sure that we should protect the right. We started at the boat with speed, though the wind by then was pretty light. Whoa! The wind clocked to the left instead! We were about fourth around the mark, but many boats that had been to the left of us were sitting pretty! Sheesh!
Dan Goldberg and Jim Diffily appeared to be the most consistent to my eye, but maybe we’ll see the results at dinner.
Tomorrow it’s a bridge-to-bridge race, which will bring new challenges!
*Late update: we did see the results at dinner. Dan was first, turns out we were second and Jim is third.
I see that I did not describe the Moraine Sailing Club's very unusual scoring system. The frame has hooks on either side and the slats can be moved up or down according to a sailor's performance. Every regatta they paint fresh slates and often, apparently, sailors take them home as a memento. I forgot ours, but I would have liked to have it. An unusual souvenir!