Today was another tough day for us on Ironbound. Yesterday, our problems, along with many others here in Key West, were seaweed-related. Today, our problems were unfortunately more of our own making, although lady luck certainly had her part to play. A judgement error on the start line saw us over in Race 1, and although we stayed close to the fleet, when there are very few shifts and only five boats, it’s very difficult to make any great inroads.
Unbelievably, Race 2 started even worse for us. We lined up at about one minute to go underneath the fleet on a right hand shift in a strong position. And then we spotted a crab pot about six lengths ahead and to leeward. No problem, I thought. It’s only a small obstruction, and we’ll be able to go to windward of it at this angle. But that pot had our name on it. After a few seconds, we realized we needed to start building speed a little earlier than expected, and that was going to take us straight at the pot. So we decided to put the bow right down and build speed quicker, passing the pot to leeward. Bad call. With the outgoing current, the anchor line was stretching out to the leeward side of the pot, and with a bit of heel on our boat, our keel was reaching out to windward to grab it. Despite our hull passing some distance to leeward of the pot, we still hooked it. You see the pot starting to drag towards the keel, and all you can do is watch in horror as it gets sucked under the boat. And then there’s a moment of quiet as you cling to the vain hope that, by some miracle, the thing will just pop out the back. It didn’t. So we tacked the boat over and sailed back where we’d come from, which did release us. But by then we were a long way back, and the second race was the same story as the first.
The most frustrating thing was that, having made some set-up adjustments, we did not get much opportunity to test out the changes to find out if they have benefitted us. Having said that, I do feel that every hour we spend in the boat sees a measurable improvement in our technique and understanding of what the boat can do, so we’ll keep plugging away at it, and hopefully by the end of the week we can live with the top teams. We’re going to be leaving the dock an hour earlier tomorrow, as we want to make some more adjustments to the rig. Hopefully, we’ll have completed those adjustments in time to line up with the other boats when they get out to the start line. The forecast is for very light winds, so fingers crossed we’re not all getting out of bed an hour early to just drift around the ocean. Still, there are worse ways to spend a morning.