The weather report said ten mph through eight pm. Clear skies. The water was ruffled when I arrived but the ten mph was nearer five and falling off quickly. All the classes made the start but after two hours on a simple windward-leeward course some boats still did not finish the race. A late start put the fleet making the third mark at sunset and finishing in the dark. It was a slow, quiet sail and voices could be heard in conversation across the water as we laughed and joked with each other.
Some excitement was generated with close quarters sailing between Teak-keel-ah and Lifeline. At the start, with the wind around six mph, Koinania was in the mix as well. She cut off both Teak-keel-ah and Lifeline to cross the start… second! While the three of us were jockeying for position on the starboard tack, 2nd Wind port tacked over the line. We all lost sight of her transom as she rounded the mark on the first leg. Koinania slipped up wind and Teak-keel-ah went down wind. I put Lifeline between them. Teak-keel-ah outpaced us and Koinania fell back. Penguin II was coming on. Teak-keel-ah rounded the mark as the wind was dying and Lifeline was a boat length behind.
On what was supposed to be a downwind leg we were both on a broad reach and I took Lifeline down -wind by the beam. I wasn’t in a position or speed to move upwind and pass. It was obvious when I was in the dirty wind of Teak-keel-ah’s sails. My tell-tales, flying perfectly straight even in the light wind, began to flutter. As expected, Lifeline would slow, Teak-keel-ah surge ahead, and Lifeline would pick up speed again. We did this twice as I studied the air flow off his sails and into mine. As we felt the wind pick up a bit, I decided to try to go upwind of him.
The boats were sailing rail-to-rail with Teak-keel-ah still up on Lifeline. On the second or third surge, I pointed Lifeline up and crossed his transom with about two feet clearance. Predictably he forced me further upwind. There was some surge to Lifeline so I pursued the course. He kept forcing me up. I tried a ‘faint’ of sorts. “Bruce, you’re going to have to make the mark still.” He didn’t even flinch. “I know,” he said and kept on pushing me away from the mark and upwind.
I dove down below him. I didn’t clear his motor by more than two inches. He turned back downwind. I waited for him to commit, then surged back behind him with a bit more clearance this time. The wind was picking up and he didn’t react quickly enough. I was able to get along side him and take his wind. Lifeline surged ahead and Teak-keel-ah fell back. The mark was only a dozen yards off. He was downwind and toward the mark.
Passing Teak-keel-ah wasn’t to last. He knew that as well as I. By going upwind I gave him the inside turn on the second mark. Pivoting about he was around and ahead of me. The wind was more steady, though lighter than it had been. Bruce and Joe took Teak-keel-ah toward the next mark.
I rounded Lifeline about. Penguin II was coming to the second mark and crossing our bows. She cleared and we were ‘racing’ upwind again. But the wind wasn’t being as good to me as to him. I couldn’t seem to make Lifeline point in the lighter wind. Teak-keel-ah made straight for the third mark and our courses diverged. I thought I might catch him again on the forth leg but he was riding the tail end of a wind line and I couldn’t get to it. The gap opened and second place would be his tonight. 2nd Wind took first, as usual.
Third and fourth place wouldn’t be decided until the last minutes of the race. In the dark with the wind shifting and swirling, Penguin II and her three-lady crew closed the gap and was upwind of Lifeline. Only the luck of where and when the breeze steadied out made any difference and Lifeline caught it first. Trimming the sails, listening for the clicking of the tell-tails on the jib, the wind carried Lifeline forward and across the line first. The ladies were only a half-boat length behind. And both of us only two minutes from not making the completion time.
Peeling off and dropping the main sail I let Lifeline run down the lake under the stars. The sun had set and a night breeze came up. The power boats were gone and the fishermen not yet out. The stars twinkled and brightened as we glided across the water. It is good to be back ‘home’.
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