Melges 24 U.S. Nationals 2012, Seattle-Corinthian YC:
After working our way through Seattle’s rush hour traffic, numerous construction detours and after arriving at the wrong yacht club (note to self: read NOR before driving 18 hours to a random YC) we finally arrived at Seattle-Corinthian YC late Wednesday night. We immediately got to work stepping our rig, unpacking our boat and making a few upgrades/ repairs before getting on the water for some practice on Thursday. Puget Sound is a beautiful location to sail but with the typical overcast weather I wasn’t able to see just how spectacular it could really be. We met up with our fifth man and Seattle native, Collin Dunphy and got some practice in on Thursday evening.
Day 1: Friday
Awaking on Friday morning, I was greeted by sunny, blue skies and warm weather. Across the bay, I could now see the snow capped Olympic mountain range and as we sailed out to the racecourse, mount Rainier appeared over our shoulders. What a great way to kick off racing! Unfortunately however, the sunny and warm weather left us without any breeze and Friday didn’t see a single race finished and only one was ever started. Team Nor*Cal (bow # 31, sail # 812) had a great boat end start and along with just a few other boats, was able to tack out and drift to right side of the course where the only bits of breeze were lazily making there way down the course. The course was to be four beats, each at 1.5 miles in length and at roughly 2-3 knots of boat speed and the current pushing much of the fleet that got stuck on the left back wards, the race committee quickly abandoned the race. The rest of the day was spent bobbing while the race committee tried valiantly to get us racing; unfortunately however, the breeze never filled and after a long day of drifting, we returned to the dock.
Day 2: Saturday
Saturday kicked off with over cast skies and an early morning breeze from the south. After missing all of Friday to sun tanning the race committee was quick to begin racing and did an excellent job getting five races off by the end of the day. Needless to say, I was beat. The first race saw Nor*Cal off to an excellent pin end start and helmsman Johnny Goldsberry did an awesome job shaking off Harry Melges to round the first weather mark in first. The breeze built through the afternoon with puffs to the high 20’s and sustained pressure around 20 knots. Top speed on the day read 118 knots on the Velocitek… must have been a real stinger. The next few races blurred together as the race committee quickly rattled off starting sequences but a mix of a top five, top tens and top third finishes put us in 9th place overall. Hoping to move up in the standings on Sunday, we planned to focus on improving our starts and first beat’s as well as having quicker sets.
Day 3: Sunday
I awoke on Sunday to the sound of a mild Seattle drizzle and immediately went back to sleep. By the time we were headed down to the club, the drizzle was no more and all the boats had received a fresh rinse. The weather continued to improve up to the start of Sundays first race and although off to a great start and another top five mark rounding, our luck ran out and the jib halyard snapped on our last upwind beat. We quickly used the spin halyard to secure the rig and then set about replacing the failed lashing. Although a relatively quick and painless fix, this breakdown cost us our throw out for the regatta. Such is sailboat racing though and we quickly refocused on improving in the next race. After a stellar race-two start a general recall sent us back into sequence. We knew it was going to be a close call with a leeward boat pushing us just over the line. Bow # 31 was called over and we rounded the boat as the fleet took off towards the weather mark. Sails cracked off and bow down, we began reeling in boat after boat until a lousy gybe set cost us at the first weather mark rounding. Solid down wind tactics and a cleaner second set kept us in contention and we finished in 7th. Fist pounds and sandwich’s all around kept the crew happy and after a course change due to a 180-degree wind shift, we were onto our last race. Smooth sailing in the last race, no break down, no over early, no worries. Wind astern, we kept the kite up all the way into the harbor, packed the boats up and headed back to San Fran.
Thanks to everyone who made this event possible, and to everyone who came out to race. Collin “Veggie” Dunphy, was a perfect fit; thanks for coming out on such short notice. PRO Brian Watkins and the entire race committee did a great job on the water and a big thanks to the rest of Seattle and Seattle-Corinthian YC for the great food and beer in the evenings. Last but certainly not least, huge thanks to Matt Pistay and his family for housing and feeding our team throughout the entire weekend; you guys are awesome!
Over and out,