Monday, May 31, 1999

First Race on the new boat

Episode 1: Boy rescues vessel from the clutches of an evil syndicate and brings her home to NCYC
Episode 2: Boy teams up with the CREW and they battle the evil Preventative Maintenance warriors, conquering the mad Marine Supply manager in the process
Episode 3: The Crew continues the war with the elements and deals with the Dredge (Darth) Validation (Vadar) problems in the TBM channel
Episode 4: The TBM channel is vanquished and the crew settles into TYC. The wind (Force) becomes our friend. We learn to levitate sails, change their shape, control the lines, go faster and manouver at will. Several pro's (yoda's) visit to help.
Episode 5: ****The Phantom Menace*****. TIME MACHINE enters the battle, loses the first skirmish, but returns to defeat both the arch-rival J/35s and places high in the overall fleet.

Who says you have to shell out $8.50 to sit in an overcrowded, too loud theater to
experience the power of the FORCE.

What a super start to our season!!!!!!! The weekend conditions were perfect, if not a bit on the hot side. Each day saw a calm morning with light Westerly zephyrs that were quickly over-run by a strong on-shore breeze starting at about 1300. Heading out the Toledo Channel on Saturday morning, Bill and Paul worked through the manual and menus of the NKE to get the speedometer to read correctly.
We did a timed run to confirm the setting and Jim S. ran the hand calculations to confirm that we were OK. We continued to motor past the Toledo Harbor light towards NCYC as lunch was served. Now that was a lunch! Thanks to Bill and Heather for arranging it. Just as we packed up the food, the on-shore breeze started to build. We set the sails and headed for the West mark. Crew assignment were made and we practiced some tacks, a spinaker set, a jibe or two and a windward side drop to the hatch.

As we got warmed up, the fleet assembled at the startline and we joined them. It was a special feeling to see all the boats again. By now the excitement was really high. The course was set and the first gun fired. We lowered the headsail to give better visibility and reached back a forth through the fleet. The second gun fired, then the start for the PHRF C fleet, we re-hoisted the genoa, the start for the PHRF
B fleet fired, we positioned for the start and started our run to the line. WHOOPS, we were totally covered by a line of starboard tackers who were running over top of us. No choice, tack to port and thread the needle. We dipped under DEO and sailed into clear air. Once we had boat speed, we tacked to starboard to cover the fleet. The fleet tacked to cross us, but under-estimated our raw boat speed and we were actually fouled, requiring us to dip DEO and a Hobie 33. The crew had seen
their first taste of close quarters racing. I think the eyes on the Hobie were wider than on TIME MACHINE. Once clear we tacked to cover the fleet and worked on boat speed.

The next leg was a down-wind leg, the foredeck got ready to set the chute, and the classic first race problem occured. We hoisted the clew!!!! We got the chute back down, got another chute out and made a clean hoist. We flew down to the West mark, doused and reset the #1light and started to work towards the South mark. Looking around, we were still in the hunt. We had caught many of the slower boats and were staying with the two J/35s. The windward leg was fast. We close reached to the Center mark, rounded it and set our last chute. The set was quicker and cleaner than before. A jibe later and we were approaching the finish line. But wait, the comittee boat was on the wrong side of the mark. The skipper lost his head and crossed the finish line from the wrong side, and instead of "un-lacing the string" we simply recrossed from the right side. The result of breaking rule #28 is a Did Not Finish. Boy do we have a lot to learn!!!

Sunday brought a whole new attitude. There was a lot less tension in the air. We already knew that the boat was fast. We also knew that we are our own worst enemy. We motored out to the starting area and milled around with the fleet. As the 10 minute gun sounded, the shackle holding the genoa up opened at the top of the mast. Paul sprang into action and was hoisted to the top to retrieve the halyard. During his time aloft, the boat was tacked. The halyard was reset and the headsail rehoisted. Total time for the rescue, 3.5 minutes. So much for calm!!!

We worked back to the fleet and lined up for the start. This time we had clear air and charged across the line. DEO attempted to cross us on port again, but this time recognized our superior boat speed and dipped behind us. We had the lead! At the first mark we rounded quitely and very deliberatly set the chute. All went well. We worked downwind and doused the chute at the leward mark with precision. We had lost some time but not much. We continued to battle with HABENERO and worked our way through the slower fleets. One more down wind leg, where we caught HABENERO and stole their wind and we started the final windward leg. They made a better mark rounding and out sailed us on the last leg. The finish was HABENERO first, TIME MACHINE second. On corrected time it was HABENERO first, TIME MACHINE second!!!!! We had proven that we could sail fast enough to compete with the ALL the rest of the fleet.

Between races, we feasted on hand made pizza and lots of liquid refreshments. The start area was moved to the center mark and as the time for the start approached the wind died completely. Un-phased, we stayed close to the line started with a full head of speed. Working to the first mark was hard. We knew that the on-shore was coming, but not when. The sun was blistering hot. Suddenly,
the on-shore started and we found ourselves on the layline. We sprinted to the mark and rounded in the lead. The spinnaker set was good and we tried to work up over the top of the fleet. Several boats were already higher and that hurt our boat speed. At the mark there was a moment of in-decision as we watched the lead boats try to fly the chute back; we settled for the genoa. The #1 Light flew back up the tuff-luff and the chute down. We rounded and settled into a close reach back to the mark. At the last leward mark, we rounded and popped the chute for the run home. Being very careful about the course, we crossed the line in front of HABENERO and DEO. Although we had been beaten by other PHRF A boats, we had shown to other J/35's our transom. What a great feeling.

We left the boat at MBC and headed for NCYC for dinner and the awards. Many of the skippers commented that they would need to watch out for us, once we were better at the manouvers. All were aware that we could beat them at any time.

After dinner, John Griener, his crew-man Kenny (the mainsheet wizard) and Rick's wife Keri joined us a rip roaring sprint back to TYC. John pronounced the dacron main sail "blown" and wondered out-loud about how we did so well with the sail. Paul had indeed gotten every bit of speed from the main that we could. John took the helm and we flew to the Toledo harbor light at 8 knots. Once in the channel we set the 1.5 ounce chute and accelerated to 9 knots. Considering the extra crew, we were flying. Kenny and Paul worked the mainsheet while John beamed from the helm. Bill worked the spinnaker sheet and Jim S. ran the guy. We passed RED WITCH (an old time schooner) and were much photographed. Approaching TYC, we blew the spinnaker off the pole and doused it. The engine came back to life and we brought down the main for the last time. Once back in our slip, we spread out sails to dry and toasted our weekend with the bottle of champagne we had recieved for participating in the series.

TIME MACHINE is for real!!!!! The crew did really well. When I think about how far we have come in such a short time, it's really something that we can all be proud of. Yes, we have a long way to go. But we have a great foundation to build from. We got into trouble, we quickly identified a solution, we executed the solution, and we got back in the race. The result was a top ten finish against crews
that have sailed together for many years.

The next race is the Mills. We will have practice on two Wednesdays and the weekend in between. There is no racing on June 5th or 6th, so that boats can go to the NOODs in Detroit.