1999 Commodore Perry Race
The old Commodore would have been proud. NCYC turned out a small but very competative fleet for the annual race. Conditions were ideal, with a moderate East wind that built throughout the day.
TIME MACHINE started the day early, with Paul and JIM W. helping Robert to bring her from TYC to NCYC. We departed TYC and 0620 and motored up the channel. At the last lighted marker before the light-house, we hoisted the mainsail, completed the run up the channel and turned left towards NCYC. As we approached NCYC we attempted to contact RED CLOUD or the club by VHF, with no success. The start was scheduled for 0900 and at 0830 we could see JUBALENTE DEO coming out the mouth of the channel. Something was very wrong, as she quickly ran aground and swung broadside to the swell. Soon RED CLOUD approached, threw a tow rope, and pulled the distressed J/35 to saftey. DEO made another try to get out, and succeeded. We would have competition this day. But where was the crew?????
As RED CLOUD approached, we could see Chuck, Rick and Jim S. on her deck. What a relief. We brought the mainsail down and matched course with RED CLOUD. The crew scrambled aboard and we were ready for the rest of the day.
The sails for the day were the #1 Heavy and a full main. This would be our first long distance sail with the new main, where we could see what we were doing. The starting sequence was fairly calm, even though the committee boat was running everything 5 minutes late. As we made the last turn towards the line, TIME MACHINE found herself in a bad spot. We were outside the committee boat with WIZARD and DEO pinching up to cut off all room. NATURAL HIGH tried to squeeze between WIZARD and the CB and fouled. They had to re-round and restart. TIME MACHINE charged into the fray, and turned down, dipping the whole mess at the last moment. We then hardened up and started to work to windward. The next mark was Niagra Reef light (the first mark in the Mills Race). After a couple of tacks to get into clear air, we set off on port-tack towards the South. WIZARD and DEO decided to go North and to the left side of the course, we took the South side, hoping for a southerly shift. Our decision was bolstered by seeing RED CLOUD charging along to the same side of the course.
For several hours NATURAL HIGH stayed with us and even worked up to windward a bit. But determined trimming and a better feel for the helm got TIME MACHINE working well and we started to pull away and to windward of NATURAL HIGH. The wind however was not cooperating. There was no evidence of the shift, in fact we were getting lifted, which meant the boats that went left (North) were getting an advantage. But we were commited, so we sailed on. As we approached the Ohio shore, in the area of the Davis-Bessie power plant, we tacked to starboard to avoid several shallows. To our surprise, we crossed in front of DEO, but behind WIZARD. They were not on the layline to the Niagra Reef Light. DEO tacked to cover us and we sailed equally for quite some time. As we approached the layline, DEO tacked early (still don't know why) and we tacked right on the layline at a distance of 4 miles. Jim S. had hit it just right! We charged through a fishing fleet and rounded the mark 1st overall, ahead of DEO and way ahead of WIZARD.
The next leg was to Middle Sister Island. The course was a close reach. The wind had picked up to about 14-16 Kts and with #1H sheeted to the rail and the main liberally eased, we roared towards the Island. DEO kept creeping up, Paul would tweak the main and Rick would tweak the Genoa and we would pull back out in front. It was a real duel!!! As we approached the Island Robert prepared the foredeck for the spinnaker set. At the last moment he looked at the water and remembered John Greiner's words, "if you see white caps, it's over 14 and use the heavy chute". The .75Oz went back below and the 1.5 Oz came up on deck.
We rounded the Island with lots of room to spare, (no sense running aground when in the lead) and had a good set of the chute. The course back to NCYC was a dead run. We sailed a bit high, thinking that we would get some speed, and for saftey (avoiding a crash-jibe). This tactic it turns out was a mistake. The wind was now 20-22 and TIME MACHINE was running at hull speed. DEO turned the Island very close and sailed a more direct course. He started to creep up on us. About 10 miles out we setup to jibe and got it done, although not as well as when Bill is with us. It was now time to run to NCYC. The waves were building and we were really starting to surf. At one point we saw 10.93 Kts on the NKE readout. WOW!!!!! Dispite our best trimming, DEO passed in front of us and finished 0:0:45 in front. We were the second boat over the line. It was 18:05, almost nine hours after the start and we were that close.
We struggled to get the chute down and then watched as NATURAL HIGH surfed across the line within the 14 minutes that we owed them on the PHRF rating. We then were shocked to see KALEIDOSCOPE (a PHRF B boat) cross the line. They had sailed a great race and used their superior surfing ability to take the overall position. WIZARD was well back, but as it turned out they took 3rd on corrected time. This was a bit hard to take. We had sailed a nearly perfect race, and were getting killed by the PHRF rating system. The final result was 1)NATURAL HIGH, 2)DEO, 3)WIZARD and 4) TIME MACHINE. Overall, we were 12th out of 15, mostly due to our excursion to the southern side of the first leg.
After dinner and getting the results, we sailed back to TYC under #1 Heavy alone in lumpy conditions. Tired, by satisfied, the crew departed for boat and home and Robert stayed the night on TIME MACHINE to clean up in the morning, but also because he was too tired to drive saftely.
It was a great day.