Patience in St. Pete

At a shifty venue, staying patient was key to a good finish.

J/70 Catapult Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD
J/70 Catapult at the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD
Finding a groove on Catapult on the second day in St. Petephotoboat.com

As we reached a lull on the right side of the course, with most of the fleet to weather and lifted, our race looked grim. We wondered whether the left shift was persistent, whether we’d missed our chance and would be putting more points on the board than we’d have liked to.

In the 28-boat J/70 fleet at the Sperry Top-Sider St. Petersburg NOOD, consistency was paying off. Joel Ronning, Bill Hardesty, Willem van Waay, and I posted three first-places finishes on this second day of racing on Catapult. Boatspeed, good starts, and staying in phase in the shifty, puffy 10-15 knot conditions were key.

The first beat of this fourth and final race of the day was not ideal. We’d started near the boat and tacked onto port, the lifted tack, soon after. As the fleet to weather of us tacked and continued to be lifted, however, we held on to the right and continued to work to find the next shift.

As the breeze started to oscillate and head us farther up the course, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. “I wasn’t going to tack and go behind 15 boats,” says Hardesty.

It paid off to stick to our guns and stay in phase, looking upwind for the next shift.

By the top of the beat, we’d caught up to second place and held that position to the end. Even though our race was looking ugly, it paid off to stick to our guns and stay in phase, looking upwind for the next shift.