Day 4 of 2011 Key West Race Week broke with no wind and heavy fog pushing back the harbor start an hour. Good news for lots of teams that took advantage of the happy hour that started quite early the day before.
Forecast looked promising in the early afternoon, and out to the race course we went aboard the Farr 30 Barking Mad. I couldn’t believe how thick the fog was. We finally found the starting line when the race committee broadcast its coordinates, adding, “Since we can see the pin end of the line, we’re going to start the starting sequence on time.”
Wait a minute. I couldn’t even see a hundred yards. How was I going to try to call tactics? There was no way to see the wind. All I thought was, “Get a good start and tack when you get headed.”
What else can you do? We were the fifth start, and we watched each fleet in front of us vanish off into the fog like Mike Teavee sucked into the Wonkavision in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” You know they’re out there, you’re just not sure where.
Started a little late at the boat end of the line, but with good speed. We kept going straight and were able to tack over on a little header. Fog was starting to clear now, and we could make out the windward mark. I felt much better knowing that we knew where the marks were, and now I could see the wind on the water. My focus could now change to making sure we beat the second-place boat, Turbo Duck, and try to increase our overall lead. We hipped up on the leaders, one of which was Turbo Duck, and followed them out to the left. Right shift filled, giving us the pass on one of the boats, but not Turbo Duck. We rounded the windward mark behind them and followed them all the way to the finish.
We had just finished the first race when the first class started its second. We had to quickly get ready for our start. Hydrate and grab a snack. Have to keep the concentration up for the race. It felt like the breeze was going to lighten and become very shifty. Our plan for the start was to protect the left. Instead, I delivered another late start at the pin with nowhere to tack. We were stuck on the left during a big right shift. Now, do you wait for the header, or tack and take your medicine, crossing behind everyone to get to the right shift? Today, taking the sterns and going right was right call. Ducking most of the fleet, we got to the right and picked up the next shift, pulling ourselves back into third. Not much changed on the next two legs, but we pulled a nice move at the final windward mark, jibing right around and passing the two boats ahead of us. We took the gun.
Tomorrow, the last day, there’s a good possibility of three races. I’ll have to pick up my game at the start and find the right formula.