Boom, Boom, Boom

Thursday July 28, 2011 - Late June saw a flurry of racing aboard Krikkit, wrapping up just in time for us to load up all the cruising gear and take off to the San Juan islands and Gulf Islands for the first two weeks of July.

The FCYC series continued much as it started, with Krikkit alternating between really good, close 2nd place finishes and slightly off-the-pace 3rd and 4th place finishes.

Race 3 was a close one, with Krikkit once again getting line honours, crossing nearly a minute ahead ofJasmina but correcting 25 seconds behind. We picked up a 3rd and a 4th in the next two races, and then for Race 6 Olympic sailor Ross MacDonald came along to help us dial in the new headsail, coaching us to line honours once again and ... a corrected finish 22 seconds behind the pesky Jasmina. So going into the final race (Race 7) we had a pretty good lock on 3rd overall, which we secured with a another 4th place finish. Well done, crew!

June 11 saw Krikkit travel to Bowen Island for the Round Bowen Race with a full crew of Hill family, and Marek Baker as foredeck and crew boss.

(Photo: Round Bowen 2011 - Hill family members Chris and Caroline in the foreground, David holding the boom, Simon on helm and Marek Baker flying the chute)

With light winds in the morning, the start and first hour or so of the race were a mix of entertaining -- chatting with nearby boats in close quarters -- and frustrating. With a clockwise course there was a large transition zone east of Cowan Point, and Krikkit took a middle course, which paid off okay. The boats outside of us weren't able to make up the distance, and the boats very close to the island got becalmed -- but the boats a few hundred yards further in from us seemed to get the best combination and got through the transition zone well ahead.

We then had a great spinnaker run up the west side of the island, staying ahead of the Peterson 35 Windyfeat (much to their frustration, apparently) and reeling in and passing the Contessa 35 Monnickendammer. We ghosted steadily through the Hood Point wind hole, passing several boats that went further in than us, and then popped out for a beat to the finish which was a brilliantly close affair with two of the other boats in our Division finishing within a minute. The C&C 35 Takaya crossed first, with Krikkit hot on its heels and Windyfeat not far back. But after 6-1/2 hours of racing, the 1 second rating difference between Takaya and Krikkit was enough to put Krikkit ahead on corrected time, and Windyfeat's four seconds gave them victory over both of us. What a finish!

The TCYC Summer Solstice Race ran a week later on June 18, and also featured a spectacular finish. This is a double-handed race and Kevin White joined Simon for the adventure. With RVYC's new Sangster Island Race cannibalizing many of the potential competitors the fleet was much thinner than in past years, so we turned the race into the first of the Denny's Breakfast Series races.

The double-handed crews from Krikkit and Aqua Perla met at Denny's on Broadway at 8:30 a.m., where we were joined by Ron Martin from Tooth 'n' Nail who was there to enjoy the breakfast and "keep the competition honest."

The crews hashed out the intended race course, settling on a race of approximately 12 hours duration, starting at noon, with Entrance Island off Nanaimo as the intended rounding mark, and the race to be shortened at 6:00 p.m. to a virtual GPS mark if there was not enough wind to make Entrance.

(Photo: Simon at the helm in the TCYC Summer Solstice Race)

Luck was with us as the Dragon fleet had set up a gate mark near RVYC that formed a perfect two-boat start line. The competitors synched their start timers and had a nice downwind start in a light offshore breeze at 12:20:00 p.m.

Aqua Perla quickly launched their kite and made some distance on Krikkit, as we struggled to get our kite up (ever see the scene with Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom trying to steal the Dauntless? ;-) Then just as we got the chute sorted out and started to make good downwind progress the wind switched from an offshore to an onshore breeze, and both boats switched to white sails to beat out of English Bay in an increasingly light westerly breeze.

The weather remained very pleasant but the wind very light, and the two boats struggled to make headway in the light wind, slowly beating up the mainland coast to trying and get a good bead on Entrance Island. Aqua Perla used their light-air drifter to good advantage, using the passing zephyrs to gain a solid lead on Krikkit, which had no drifter, just our regular headsail.

Shortly before 7:00 p.m., with the agreed turn-around hour already past, the boats radioed each other and settled on Wolcombe Island as the new turn-around mark.Aqua Perla had a good bead on the island and was able to raise their chute and make the island in about 20 minutes. We then raised our chute and rounded the island a full 25 minutes later. But we weren't to be counted out just yet...

On the return leg the wind was slowly picking up, and in a windward beat into current Krikkit was able to slowly narrow the distance. Then night fell as the boats approached Cowan Point and we lost track ofAqua Perla, continuing in the dark past Point Atkinson, now doing 6.75 knots in the dark in the still-building breeze. We were steering and trimming by feel, and using the chartplotter to determine the layline to the finish line at RVYC. At the layline we tacked toward RVYC, flying in across the bay on port tack and looking unsuccessfully for Aqua Perla.Then, as we neared the finish line at 23:15 hrs we finally spotted Aqua Perla -- on starboard and almost dead ahead, apparently coming in from the Pt. Grey Bell Buoy. It was going to be a close finish!

In the end, Aqua Perla was able to cross the finish line ahead at 23:18:22, but after 11 hours of racing they were only about two minutes ahead us. It was good enough for the slightly slower-rated Aqua Perlato claim victory, but the close finish, the great weather and the beautiful sunset on the water made for some really fun racing.

(Photo: Krikkit beating homeward from Wolcombe Island in the sunset. Photo courtesy of Miguel Garcia from Aqua Perla.)