It was all doom and gloom on the forecast all week ahead of the Crab Claw Regatta at Severn Sailing Association and we were pleasantly surprised with the 3 races were were able to get in. We headed out to the race course and got the first race off on time in a 6-8 easterly breeze just off Bembe Beach. I had remembered sailing in this exact location and with this exact wind direction and I remember the strategy was to go right or to go left – I just didn’t remember which way.
At the start I wanted to be at the boat and to go right where there appeared to be more wind. I took a second row start just behind Luke Shingledecker and tacked to the right as soon as I cleared the boat. About a minute and a half later I realized it was the left that I wanted to be on because of the left-to-right current, so I tacked and continued, taking a few sterns, until I was left-most boat on nearly the lay line. Once on the layline the current carried me to the mark in the lead. I led the rest of the race favoring the right on the downwind and just doing my best to stay between myself and the pack of Jonathan Phillips, Luke and Bill just behind me.
After the first race was completed – the wind completely shut off – just as was expected. We sat around in power boat chop for over 2 hours before the wind started to fill. This wasn’t the 6-8 that we had earlier in the day but it was a solid 6 – enough to call it racing – and not punishment.
By the time we started the current was supposed to have changed so I again took a second row start behind Luke and worked the right. Once there I realized it hadn’t changed yet and again worked my way out to the left. This time Luke came in ahead of me and I followed him downwind. At the gate I saw some nice pressure on the lower right of the course so I stayed right while Luke went all the way to the left. I came back to the left lay line and was 5-8 lengths ahead of him when we reached the top mark. On the final downwind he closed the gap, but I was able to finish just ahead of him.
For the 3rd race the pin was a little favored so I planned to start down by the pin with Carlos and Luke below me. I got there a little too quick and was OCS and so was Luke so we both tucked around the mark and restarted. I ended up with a nice lane and crossed behind most of the fleet on port until I got to clear air. Once in clear wind I worked my way back across to left-most boat and rounded only behind one other boat who was ultimately tossed for OCS.
On the 2nd upwind of the 3rd race the course was moved to the left and this time I played a conservative middle-left to stay ahead of the guys behind to finish 1st.
Despite the light wind and washing machine seas due to the power boat chop – it ended up being some fun racing. I appreciate that the RC stuck it out and we were able to race. I had the upwind boat speed thing figured out and while there were some things I could have done better – I didn’t make any mistakes and that got me to the front and let me stay there. It was a nice accomplishment putting a whole race day together after the mistakes I made last time I was racing at the Laser District 11 Championship in August.
The forecast for Sunday is even more dismal than today’s, but we do start an hour earlier so I’m hoping we get some more racing in and I can keep the streak going.
Photos courtesy of Carlos Linares