Saturday was distance race day at the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge Regatta. The regatta has a new format for this year where we buoy race on Friday and Sunday with a distance race in the middle. The conditions were good for racing – about 8 knots with mostly overcast skies – a little atypical for this regatta this time of year when we’re used to sunny skies, scorching temperatures and no wind.
In this race we were a pinch late at the pin end of the line and watched a few of the faster boats in the water drive to windward of us. For the most part we were low enough to keep a clear lane, but they put some distance between us. After the first mostly upwind leg, the course took us on a couple of close reaches down the bay. Some of the boats with sails that were close reachers or windseekers were able stretch out in front of us a bit. We put up our spinnaker late in the leg once the angles were right.
Once we made the turn back in to the Patuxent River the wind started to get lighter allowing us to catch up to the boats already in the river. We rode the wind down the right side of the course as we converged with the smaller boats that had been sailing various courses. There were plenty of crossing situations and boats to be on the lookout for, and it probably made for some great pictures from the helicopter taking pictures of all of the spinnakers in the river.
One thing that worked really well for us was having me sitting on the rail with an iPad around my neck doing the charter plotting. We had the boat instruments working as well, but having real time information where we were without having to go below helped keep us on track and out of trouble.
When the leaders in our fleet were about a mile ahead of us at the last turn to the finish, we saw something unusual happen. Bad Cat – a local boat with a little over a 7′ draft had run aground in the channel. A minute later VooDoo 2 was rafted up next to them hard aground. A third boat from another fleet wound up next to them as well. We just sailed right on by and were pretty happy with a 6th place finish.
Following racing we had a great cookout with the crews from Persuit, Horizon, GOIN’, Cheeky Monkey hosted by VooDoo 2.
Here’s what we sailed today. The blue line is the course and the red dotted line mostly right along side the blue line is our plot.