Monday, August 23, 1999

1999, Grosse Pointe Summer Series

This weekend was the highlight of the season. TIME MACHINE participated in the GPYC Summer Regatta. There were 4 windward/leeward races. We finished every one of the them and took 9th place overall (out of 10 boats).

This was the first time that TIME MACHINE raced on a WW course with the other Level 35 boats. We got blown away. These guys are really good and we have a lot to learn. The fleet is very agressive at the starts and once on the course, they can really make the boats go fast.

The day did not start well. The SPARCRAFT shackle on genoa halyard would not stay closed and we had to send a man to the top of the mast 4 times before starting the first race. After some lubrication it was much better.

For the Saturday races, we picked up 3 crew members from PDQ EXPRESS. All were very young, but quite experienced and came highly recommended by other skippers. The first race, we started poorly. I needed to get a feel for the fleet and hung back. On the first beat it became clear that TIME MACHINE was slow. However we kept working and when we got to the mark we struggled to set the chute. After getting the chute clear of the life-lines, we sailed hard for the layline and jibed. As we approached the leeward mark, we started to hoist the #1 Heavy and disaster struck. The luff of the sail folded into the pre-feeder and the ball of the feeder punched through the sail. So here we are, chute up, past the mark, genoa 7/8th up and stuck. I cut the pre-feeder off the fore-stay, we took the #1 Heavy down and set the #3. This allowed us to sail to the windward mark. We re-set the chute (it went well this time) and with one jibe sailed to the finish of a shortened course.

The next race started right after we finished. Jim Schlee had used bolt cutters to free the feeder from the sail and applied patches. We were ready to use it in the next race. But there was another problem, the spinnaker halyard had been let run out of the mast. We could not set the chute. So with 15 minutes to go, Paul went up the mast for the 4th time that day. we ran the spinnaker halyard externally and we were ready to go.

For the second race, I took a chance. I turned the helm over to Dave (one of the guys from PDQ). He proved to be overly agressive and put TIME MACHINE into a couple of protestable situations. At the start, he tacked right on top of port tacker without leaving room and on the beat he tacked under a starboard tacker and then pushed up into them until the stanchions touched. The good news was that neither situation caused a foul to be called. Working with Bill on the foredeck, we had better chute sets and jibes. Things started to feel better. We finished last in our fleet, tired but happy to be competing.

That night we restrung the spinnaker halyard and made ready for the next day. Jim and both fell asleep at 1900 and slept like logs.

Sunday morning broke with NO WIND. The lake was like glass. We waited for the PDQ folks, but they did not show up. With a short crew, we departed for the start. After a 2 hour postponement and moving the start once, the RC got a race started. TIME MACHINE reached off to the left side of the line and with 2 minutes to go, we worked across the back of the fleet on port tack. With 30 seconds to go we tacked across the transom of SNIPE and powered up to the line. We hit the line at full speed in clear air. It was our best start of the year! MAJOR DETAIL then walked right over top of us....WOW can they make that boat move. We tacked away and kept working to the mark. At the windward mark, I turned the helm over to Paul and Bill and I set the chute. PERFECT. But the wind had shifted and we had reach to the mark..... this meant a jibing tack-down....we have not done this before. Instead of making a mess, we took down the chute, jibed the boat and hoisted the #1 light. As we approached the mark, SNIPE came charging in on Starboard tack. I saw a chance to get inside, between them and the mark. They left us 6" to spare. Another beat to windward and another good set of the chute and a decent jibe and we crossed the line ahead of JEAGER. Our first good race.

Paul broke out the sandwiches and soon we heard the gun for the next race. This time I approached the line from the right. Again, we were able to hit the line with good speed and again, we got rolled from behind. DAMN these guys are fast.... We worked to the right side of the course and made a clean windward rounding in a pack of boats. Made a clean jibe and headed for the mark. The leeward rounding was almost boring, and we headed back to windward. This time we had some traffic and we decided to split with the fleet and found wind on the right side. We even overstood the layline. As we roared to the windward mark, SNIPE was behind. Another goo spinnaker set and this time we jibed right away to get back to the right side. One more jibe and we finished, ahead of SNIPE.

What an adventure!!!!! Everyone agreed that this was the racing we were looking for. TIME MACHINE will be back next year.