Only in Texas does a regatta end with an oil spill and a thunderstorm, said Steve Hammerman, who skippered his J-80 Hammertime to victory in the 2001 Sailing World Texas NOOD regatta, hosted by Houston Yacht Club, also the J-80 NAs. Due to dangerous water conditions resulting from the oil spill that occurred yesterday afternoon, todays racing was cancelled. Thunderstorms struck this morning, accompanied by heavy rain, which continued until early this afternoon.
Luckily for Hammertime, the J-80 fleet had squeezed in six races, enough for her otherwise detrimental eleventh to be dropped from her overall score. Hammertime had been over early at the start of that race, and no one aboard heard the race committee hail. After they had sailed approximately one quarter of the first beat, nearby competitors let them know that they had been over early.
That was very kind of them, said Hammerman, of Houston, TX. We turned around and flew the chute all the way back to the line. The drop changed the stakes for the J-80 fleet: Bodacious, who had the lead on Friday, dropped to fifth place, and Wild Thang finished third overall. Kicks, skippered by David Balfour, of Austin, TX, moved up to second place. Her finishes improved steadily as her crew grew familiar with the venue. Hammerman says the race committee set a challenging course in a remote area of Galveston Bay where few Galveston-based sailors would have a home-water advantage. When the winds light with lots of holes, said Hammerman, its always unpredictable. But when it blew steadily, we felt really fast.
Just one month ago, Hammertime hit a rock while sailing offshore. Hammerman worked hard to prepare her for the Sailing World NOOD regatta and the J-80 NAs. We had to refigure the keel, he said. But it was a good opportunity to have the boat out of the water and check everything out. Hammerman and his crew didnt get much chance to practice before the event, and were left to rely on their two years of experience sailing together.