Team Windchaser is enjoying the beautiful northern New York countryside at the quaint lake shore village of Sodus Point. The town is a small fishing town and we are staying in the rustic Sodus Point Lodge complete with deer trophies lining the ceiling, encased antique fly rods and lures, stuffed ducks, geese, trout, pike. lynx’s and fox adorning the walls. The proprietor and staff treat you like family and we gather around the pool table and overstuffed couches in the evening discussing the races, ice fishing and the other small town interests. No talk of politics or worries here just the simple things in life that seem much more important than like good friends, fair weather and the pleasures that only nature has to offer. A drink at the local watering hole called Capt Jacks with a live band seemed to be the happening place but the need for some rest meant heading to the sack early.
The lake affect weather and colliding fronts have made the first two days of racing challenging for both the race committee and sailors.
The first day, Sunday, of qualifiers seemed start off promising with 15 mph winds with some storms around the area. We sail from the Sodus Point clubhouse out around a peninsula through the jetties and past the small iron lighthouse that guards the entrance to the bay. Once outside the bay past the fishing boats and land lubbers fishing along the jetties we sail straight out into the clear cool lake past the forest of vegetation growing off the bottom. Need to remember to clear the center board on occasion as we sail past floating grass and weeds that line the shore. The wind on the first day were around 10-12 mph and storms were building to the Northwest and the winds came across the land from the Southwest with the windward mark tucked up close to the shore. The winds were more shifted than oscillating so the strategy was to protect the right side but not to go to the edges. Our first start could have been better but after a second row start on a short line we tack out to the right side and search for clear air. Windchaser seemed slow but we were experimenting with a Fisher jib and an M-5 main in hopes to power through the chop and waves. Our boat speed was an issue as we tried desperately to stay with the fleet and be conservative with our tacks. We would lose boats upwind but managed to pick them up again going downwind. We finish 15th out of 23 boats in the first race before a severe line of storms with 60 mph winds heading our way from across the lake to the North encouraged the RC to canceling racing and get us ashore. The first day of qualifiers was over with one race so there was hope that Monday would bring better weather and a chance to improve our performance. The storms rolled in dumping inches of rain and flooding the parking lot where the boats were staged.
The second day of qualifiers found Windchaser seemingly floating around in about six inches of water in the parking lot. A “No Wake” zone sign was quickly posted to ensure it was safe for rigging the boat for the new day of racing. The winds were light and a window was opening between storms for some racing so the fleet launched and headed eagerly out the bay to race course – some hoping the improve, some hoping to maintain and some just enjoying a the beautiful scenery of this quite oasis. The first race was set for a NNW wind that was light and shifted. We had a decent start but once again boat speed was frustratingly slow so we focused on sticking to a strategy of minimizing tacks and keeping in phase with the winds. We sailed well the first up wind leg keeping the leaders close and catching some boats downwind for the first two legs. The second upwind leg proved more difficult with the wind dying and we lost several more boats. We did a gibe set at the windward rounding hoping to catch up but we were not able to capitalize on the last downwind leg to the finish as the wind died. The second race brought lighter winds and dashed our hope that the RC could get in three races. It was your typical floater looking for wind and struggling to keep the boat moving. We staying close to the lead boats for the first two legs but the last upwind leg proved difficult. By the time we round the windward mark we had fallen way back. We managed to work our way back capturing several boats near the finish but the disappointment was evident in all of us trying to review where we could improve. A nice cold beer on the way back to the dock helped past the time as we were towed back. Another storm passing through with heavy rain and lightning seemed to be the beginning and ending of the days here so far. The results placed us firmly in the “Green Fleet”? Seemed unbelievable but alas there was only a Blue and Green fleet with 65 boats competing. Today is a new day and a new start so we are looking forward to only improvement. What is the saying, “The true character of a man is not in how they win but how they lose” I don’t know about you but I think the true character in a man/woman is that they never give up. We cannot control the wind but we can trim our sails. Later.