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Racing Tales

Wednesday, Spetember 17th, 2008 -- No wind, race abandoned!
 
Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13th & 14th, 2008 -- Poppy took 3rd in the A2 fleet during this weekend's fall series (Hospice Cup).  The winds were very light both days, with 2+ hour postponements each morning.  Light winds really challenge everyone on the boat to be absolutely at their best, because light winds = short courses = little margin for error.  We sailed the boat pretty well, but the same problem from Sept. 10th with the leech of the main catching on the backstay  made my job difficult.  We came up with a better system on Sunday, where Kelly dropped the backstay through the tack, but it is cumbersome at best because it takes his concentration off of the helm.  Did it cost us a position in the race? Possibly, but whether it did or not it definitely didn't help.  We had good starts on Saturday, but got hurt by Galatea at the start on Sunday.  We recovered from that, but there was a J92 in the race that killed us at the weather mark.  They were having trouble jibing, and we got pinned outside of them--it cost us a lot of time.  We took a 2nd and a 3rd on Saturday, and a 5th on Sunday.  I think as a crew we sailed better than our final position, but the dying wind at the finish made it impossible to make up our time on the faster boats.  It was a tough day, but overall an enjoyable weekend.      
 
Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 -- Compared to last weeks craziness, tonight was a walk in the park.  Poppy got off to a pretty good start in relatively clean air.  It was light which actually makes main trim more complicated.  The leech of the main doesn't get enough snap through the tacks to pass over the backstay as we go upwind.  So a couple of times we were hung up which can't be fast.  We sailed a pretty decent race, but didn't really have much luck in terms of the shifts.  We finished fifth, but it was still a lot of fun.
 
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 --  What a crazy night! I raced in my usual spot as main trimmer on the Olson 911, Poppy.  It was blowing about 15 knots and the course was as usual, a bunch of upwind/downwind legs around two mobile marks.  The start was all conf%$&ulated.  Project Mayhem, riding a good start to the pin end of the line took the entire fleet up and caused . . . well, mayhem.  We were pretty much blown out of the start pushed up behind the committee boat.  We were essentially in irons, looking for a hole to sneak through the mess of other boats to leeward.  It never happened.  Then out of nowhere, Mad Cow was on our nose on a port tack, and Kelly, our skipper had to basically rip the tiller out of the shaft to avoid the collision.  I think I heard the same noise in my head that I heard a month ago when I was aboard Belle Faster when we collided with Project Mayhem; fiberglass scraping on fiberglass, carbon fiber poles snapping, stainless steel stanchions bending over like noodles . . . you get the point.  
 
Fortunately, Kelly drove us out of that mess before any of that took place, but then Blue Jay, the J-24 appeared dead ahead of us poised for a Poppy T-Bone.  Again, Kelly got us out of it, while yelling "too many people screaming at me." To which I could only think, "which of us do you want to shut up?  The one telling you that you are going to hit Mad Cow, or the one telling you you are going to hit Blue Jay!"  It was a cluster#$%*.  Actually, it was incredible helmsmanship on Kelly's part, and that is one of the reasons I like racing on Poppy--I learn a ton every week.  
 
After our start which from a racing standpoint was horrendous, but from an insurance perspective fantastic, we got going and sailed very well.  The crew work has really come together and outside of a few weak tacks, and problems at one spinnaker take down we did well. On the second downwind leg, I was busy watching my main, leaned against the lifeline, when out of nowhere I saw red and white Nylon above my head.  We don't have a white and red spinnaker so I was confused.  Apparently, Project Mayhem had a miscue and launched their spinnaker without their skipper's say so.  The chute came out of the cabin right into our backstay.  Whatever boat I am on seems to tangle with Doug on Mayhem every other week!  
 
Sadly, Anemone, a J-29 lost its rig during the race.  I don't know the whole story, but I think Anemone sailed by another boat (one boat upwind, the other downwind) and the suction between the two straightened one boat into the other.  When rigs collide, bad things happen.  I will have to show Jerry the secret handshake for the lost mast's club.  I feel bad for him; I am still not over Nightswimmer's dismasting in 2007.     
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