Blown Away

Monday Dec 19, 2011 - Following the TCYC Summer Solstice Krikkit took off for a month of cruising in July, first with Simon, Jen and the kids to the San Juan Islands, then with Shelagh and David to the Gulf Islands. After this pleasant cruising interlude we wrapped up the racing season with three breezy VARC races, a fun but ultimately mid-pack FCYC Fall Series and a couple of cool October wrap-up races.

The first of the breezy VARC races was the Squamish Open Annual Regatta on August 5-7. The delivery to Squamish saw Simon, Kevin and Kate on board. We left False Creek at 11:00am in a 9-knot offshore wind, broad reaching at 6 knots all the way out of English Bay and past Point Atkinson, catching an inflow wind in Howe Sound to arrive at Porteau Cove at 2:45pm in what was now 24kts of wind. We tied up to the park float to await the 4:00 pm inflow race start, which we subsequently missed because we thought the photo boat was a committee boat, and with the wind we never heard any of the horns. Instead we milled around until Simon yelled "Hey, why's everyone starting all of a sudden? ... Oh, committee is on the shore!" We hit the line a good minute-and-thirty-seconds after the horn, and despite having only three crew raised the bug chute to try to redeem some honour. Our first gybe near Watts Point was a near disaster in the wind, so we doused the chute and finished under 135 in very shifty and gusty conditions, with two boats ahead of us wiping out big time. The finish line is off a pier with very little run-out room before you then hit the lee shore and yacht club channel, and with 34 knots of wind now blowing it was ... pucker inducing. Simon called for an early furl of the headsail (photo-ops be damned) and we finished under main alone, then did a quick round-up-and-drop before making our way down the narrow, shallow channel to the yacht club where we were met with beer and hot dogs, and then Simon joined the Opti races, placing second in his heat.

(Photo: Krikkit, at left, beating upwind in the Squamish Open Annual Regatta race)

The main race ran the next day with Simon, Kevin, Kate, David L. and Mike S., who was on a sailboat (any sailboat) his first time ever. It was a lesson in heavy-air sailing. With only about 15 knots of wind blowing at 10:40am, and the problem of the fixed battens preventing the blade from being easily used on the furler, we decided to run the 135. This worked fine at the start, but within 30 minutes the wind picked up to about 23 knots and we were quite overpowered, sliding sideways and losing speed in the puffs, but with insufficient depth of crew to do a changeover in the breezy conditions. We did manage to almost stick with the M242 Jalepeno, and we reeled in and passed the Hunter 35.5 Alida, but were steadily falling behind our principal competitors. After rounding the upwind mark we did a slightly delayed spinnaker hoist, then had a great spinnaker run doing 8-10 knots boat speed, although the first few jibes were rather hairy, with the chute trying to go through the foretriangle and getting partial wraps on the headstay. The kite boarders made the leeward mark rather interesting, as did the massive wake coming off a Farr 40 at speed (who knew sailboats could dig such big holes?). Wind was now 25-28 knots and we were too far behind the boats ahead to catch up, so we decided to play it conservative to avoid joining the list of boats retired due to damage, and after the second short upwind leg we didn't fly the chute for the last short downwind leg, but instead watched Nunnehi carry theirs into a good wipeout, but still a corrected finish over us (sadly, the same could be said of all the boats that actually finished, but we decided we'd take "finished intact" as some sort of victory, even if our corrected time was DFL). Wind at the finish: 30 knots.

Following an excellent fun Squamish-style party and breakfast on the boat with Jason Vandergaag, the short-handed delivery crew of Kevin, Kate and Simon put to good use the lessons from the day before and swapped on the blade for the outflow race. What a difference! With 23 knots of wind and only three crew, we got pushed over early at the start by Natural High, but after turning around and restarting we then managed to reel in and pass several boats that we'd been unable to catch the day before including the Alerion 33 Velica and the J/30 J. With "only" 18 knots of wind at the finish we still had decent power, but were comfortable enough to prepare mojitos for the run in to False Creek. Wow!

The English Bay Scramble was the next big race on Aug 13 and it was another windy one. We had Jen, Simon, Chris Hill, Rob, Kevin, Mike and Kate onboard, and about 15 knots of offshore breeze. We made a spinnaker start using the bug chute, ran the bell buoy first, then Passage Island, beat back through the start/finish, spinnaker run to the West Van mark, beat to the Kits Barge Buoy then spinnaker run back to the start/finish to cross the line after only 3 hours and 25 minutes, at 14:25:09. The entire time we were in company with the Olsen 30 Ultraman and the Martin 242 No Worries, who both ran the same course. But with Aqua Perla making all the right calls for 1st place, Brigadoon and Arashi using their usual consistent speed to pick up 2nd and 3rd, and the hotshot Ross 930 Dillgaff pipping us by about a minute for 4th, we were kept off the the podium this year and had to settle for 5th.

Then it was the Deep Cove Regatta on Sept 10-11, which featured a longish delivery under power, perfect weather, 12-16 knots of racing breeze, a great party and a lot of windward-leeward races over the course of two days. With Simon, Kate, Kevin, Priyesh, Mike, Cora, and Denice onboard we had great fun battling with Aqua Perla at the back of a very tight Div 3 fleet, with never more than a minute between boats at the finish. Simon also won all the rum in the Opti "races" (which were actually more like derbies, but there you go). What turned out to be a clogged fuel filter created a little bit of excitement on the first day of actual racing, as we motored away from the dock and died, necessitating a tow until Simon got things temporarily sorted out and restarted the engine. A repeat performance the second day got sorted out much more quickly.

Chris and Mike then joined Simon on Oct 1 for the Fraser Lightship, which started with no wind, then filled in to what appeared was going to be an awesome day, and even perhaps some redemption for Krikkit: After losing our GPS signal and rounding the T10 mark near the back of the fleet, we then chose a favourable line for the reach/run home and reeled in more than half the fleet and rounding the Bell Buoy in fine shape under the big tutti frutti chute before ... parking ... in ... the ... calm ... air. Oh, frustration! In the end it was a battle of patience and wits, and Krikkit hung in long enough to catch the new offshore breeze 1-3/4 hours later, beating in to the finish with everyone else who hadn't retired.

(Photo: Krikkit approaching the leeward mark and dousing the chute at the Deep Cove Regatta)

Finally it was the TCYC Last Chance Regatta, which was the last chance for Viggo on Aqua Perla to snatch away 1st overall from Krikkit or the Sailor of the Yearfrom Simon. But it transpired that Viggo was out of the country, and Aqua Perla never showed, so Kevin, Kate, Denice, Mike, Tristan and Simon got to race Reacher,Rhumbline, Windyfeat, Senza and Presto without any pressure. With sun and 8kts of breeze we had some great racing, getting three races off with some excellent on-time, at-speed starts, and practicing windward takedowns under Tristan's tutelage.

We wrapped up the season 5th in Div 3 in the VARC Distance Series, 1st overall in TCYC Division 1, and with the TCYC Sailor of the Year Award. Thanks crew!