Race Recap: Sandusky Islands Race 2005
Date: June 30, 2006
Brian Thorpe sent me this account of the 2005 Sandusky Islands Race from the perspective of his Native Newick 38 Trimaran, Alacrity. Jim and I were weathered in on our F-28, Big Storm at Mentor Harbor Yacht Club along with Patrick Quinn and David White on their C-31 Ultimate Cruiser, Try Again, so we missed the race entirely.
Before you read this account, I want you to contemplate this definition which I found in Webster's New World Dictionary circa 1953.
a.lac.ri.ty 1. quick willingness; eager readiness. 2. quick, lively action; briskness
Brian Thorpe Competes in the Sandusky Islands Race with Great Alacrity - Saturday, July 2, 2005
We only had three starters: Alacrity, Battle Cat and Eric and Tina’s F27 (don’t know their boat name). The wind was out of the Northeast at 10 to 20 with a forecast of 5 to 15 from the East as the day wore on. Perfect conditions for almost any sailor but particularly for Alacrity with the possibility of plenty of upwind legs on the figure of eight course.
Alacrity, with a full complement of Thorpe’s for crew, left the dock at about 8:30 and only had time for one tack before our 9:15 start. Eric and Tina, with two additional crew, left the dock before us but they seemed to be having trouble once their sails were up and we reached the start line before them. Battle Cat appeared to be quite relaxed at the Boat Club before the start and left the dock late. Consequently, they crossed the start about 5 minute late. I learned later that it was a deliberate ploy to make us overconfident and cause us to mess up on the spinnaker run (no need to worry about that, it happens anyway!).
The ride out to the start was very rough as about 30 large powerboats went off at full speed through the channel to their weekend destination. I really hope they had a good time. That was the only time we took water over the cabin all day.
With Emily on the stopwatch and Alison watching the Race Committee boat flags, we reached way past the start and tacked onto starboard with about 3 minutes to go. Our timing was good and we crossed the line about 10 to 15 seconds after the start gun. Not to worry because the F27 was far back and Battle Cat was still emptying their coffee mugs. We were sheeted in and heading for the first mark right of Kelley’s Island when the gun went off again. I must learn why they do all this shooting from the start boat because I assumed it was a false start. I radioed the RC boat and they sounded puzzled that I asked if we had started early. No, we were OK so full speed ahead.
Eric and Tina appeared to have problems soon after the start as they made a couple of tacks. We later learned that they could not get their F27(Tri Tri Again) to point. The as they neared Kelley's, one of their crew became sick after watching too much of the Cedar Point roller coasters on the way to the start. So, unfortunately they retired.
Ahead of us were the three classes of PHRF boats also on the long course. We made two tacks to make the Kelley's mark, carefully watching for collisions with the upwind monohulls. Thankfully there were no close calls although my crew thinks I cut it too fine sometimes. We had a discussion about how many pieces are left when a trimaran slices through a monohull. Initial reaction is to say three but actually it is four!
We rounded the mark with great anticipation and hope that the leg to Starve Reef would be a beam reach and that it would be impossible to fly the symmetrical chute. Alas, with the wind dropping and Battle Cat gaining ground, and pressure from my crew, we were forced to try to raise the chute. Needless to say it did not come out of the bag as it should. Alison and I struggled to untaffle it while mono after mono overtook us with smug grins on their faces. After about a third of the leg was over, when I was beginning to hope we could abandon the effort, it filled perfectly as if to say “Now try to get me down”. My crew heard applause from the smug monohulls, but I was too panic stricken worrying about the upcoming chute drop to hear it.
The wind dropped to 5 to 10 and everyone was struggling to keep the chutes filled. Battle Cat was catching and almost drew level with us at one point but they found a hole and fell back a little.
We rounded the Starve Reef mark and prepared to drop the chute. However the course change was only about 30 degrees so we tried to continue on a beam reach with the chute up. (Actually I was too scared to take it down!). We had to bear away from the next mark (southern tip of South Bass Island) by only about 5 degrees and we picked up speed to about 8 knots. It was not before time because a mutiny was about to unfold if we had to endure any more of that 3 knot stuff.
The downing of the chute was a three crew affair with me on the sock and Emily and Alison gathering the sail. Di stayed at the helm to steer clear of any laughing monohulls. Needless to say, the sock stuck about a third of the way down so we had to let the halyard go. The spinnaker fell over the port ama which threatened to punch a hole in it as Alison pulled as hard as she could to get it on board. “But you said pull hard!” “Yes, but it has to come over the top of the ama, not under it”.
With great relief, we started upwind again as we made our way to Sugar Island. At last we began to outpace the monohulls. However, Battle Cat was still in view but a comfortable distance behind.
After rounding Sugar Island it was clear that a few tacks would be needed to get between North and Middle Bass Islands. We traded tack crossings with Piranha a few times, both of us giving up right of way in the interests of good sportsmanship and least hassle.
The final leg was a close haul past the west side of Kelley's to the R2 Rock Pile. Once again this was the best point of sail for Alacrity with the wind at about 10 to 15 on port tack. We hit our top speed of the day of 11.2 knots as the wind gusted near the finish. This time we had no problem finding the finish because the Race Committee had described it three different ways in the Race Instructions. We finished in 6 hours and 59 minutes, about 15 minutes ahead of Battle Cat. The best prize of all is a bottle of Captain Morgan which goes to the boat which guesses closest to its actual elapsed time. We all try hard to win that one. We guessed 6 hours 18 minutes so were not even close. The winner was about 7 minutes off.
So, back to the clubhouse to relax and prepare for hamburgers and brats, and to make sure that the Bud Truck went home empty.
We collected First to Finish and First on corrected time in the Multihull class. With such a small turnout, I think the extra flags and plaque should go to second place for showing up. Let’s hope we get more multihulls next year.
1. One look at this and Eric's crew became sick.
2. Thorpe family crew before the storm!
3. Best part of the whole weekend!
4. Approaching the start.
5. Most monohulls to windward.
6. Alacrity's best side.
7. Hairflow is better than telltales for wind direction.
9. Crew at work in 4th of July pants.
10. Downwind is always a pretty sight.
11. Another pretty picture but they are catching as we struggle to raise the chute.
12. How do we ever get this thing down?
13. First in class and first to finish.
14. Seems unfair to collect all that booty with only three multihulls in the race.
15. Relaxing on the powered trip home. No wind on Sunday.