Much to Lose and Much to Gain

Baltimore's In-port race was Movistar's moment to make a move, and move they did.

The Pirates of the Caribbean wanted a big win in the VOR's Baltimore in-port race. They simply needed it to keep momentum, plus they're the home team. Sort of. Brasil 1 wanted to rack up a few points to climb out of the bottom half of the overall fleet standings. Movistar wanted a win because the day's forecast conditions were its sweet spot, and they wanted the No. 2 spot on the leaderboard, and to defend it for the remainder of the race. ABN AMRO 2 needed a win, or at least a top finish to prevent any kind of tumble down the board. Ericsson Racing, with Steve Hayles making his final guest appearance before stepping down as the team's unlucky navigator, was simply looking for something positive to happen so it could stop its emotional tailspin before going transatlantic with a entirely new "speed team" (Ken Read and Mark Rudiger). ABN One, which, based on the light forecast, knew it would have a hard time getting away from the fleet like it has so many times thus far in this race, was only wanting a respectable top finish, and not to cause any havoc with its stable mates. Then there was Brunel, described by one reputable, but opinionated Australian sailor as "an embarrassment to Australia." They were hoping for a miracle. The race got off promptly at 1 p.m. under a 5 to 10-knot northerly, a perfect wind direction given the narrow confines of the bay in which the racecourse was set. In the final 30 seconds, Ericsson was burning off speed near the pin, appearing as though they were contemplating a port-tack start. As it looked less likely to happen, they opted to take an entire row of sterns before turning upwind and heading for the right corner. Movistar, with clean front row start was the first to tack right, and was off toward the favored side with the early lead. While the others mixed and crossed tacks, trying to find clear wind, the twosome quickly gained. Pirates, playing safe in the middle of the course, kept in touch. Movistar was first back from the right, reconnected with Pirates in the middle, and Ericsson continued on for several minutes more. When they met at the weather mark, Ericsson had the lead and set, holding on its starboard jibe. Movistar jibed immediately after setting, accelerating away in it's own private puff. This proved to be the race winning move, as Movistar extended away unthreatened. Sayonara. Then the fun started. As Pirates and Ericsson toyed with each other in the bottom third of the run, trading jibes and setting up for a port-jibe approach to the mark. Brasil 1 lucked into its own the passing lane and carried its own breeze the entire way into the mark, snuck inside with rights at the mark, and dropped its spinnaker with sheer perfection, rounding high and tight against the leeward mark. Pirates and Ericsson could only watch, wide-eyed and shocked. Even ABN Two went in for a piece of the road kill, rounding on Pirates transom, and leaving Ericsson in its wake. There was the race, over in on little incident. It was procession from there on out. The parade across the finish after the shortened race several hours later was telling. Movistar got its wish, as did Brasil 1. There were some unhappy Pirates on the black boat, and Ericsson was dead silent after dropping its sails for the day. ABN Two is trouble. ABN One, well…not quite what they wanted, but they did at least beat Brunel.