After a few days of heavy rains and the remnants of a front still blowing through, the conditions were tricky on the river for the third Spring Series. The gusty westerly was in the teens for most of the day, and most boats opted to run wing-and-wing downwind in the heavier stuff, waiting for the breeze to ease or for better angles away from the airport shore before popping the kite. A good start was paramount, and then keeping the boat on its feet and shifting gears became the key to success. The river level and flow were both extraordinarily high and the tide was also running out, which made for a fierce combination of current, tide flow, and near flood-stage discharge flow to combat as we sailed E-W across the river. The RC had trouble getting the windward mark to stay put, and once you did make it around, it seemed that no matter how far north you pointed the boat, you still ended up well south of the leeward mark near the channel, having to jib-reach back up to it before going upwind (and across the current once again).
The day showed the importance of having a fully staffed race committee, with 2 individuals on the mark and crash boat as well as enough hands on the Bayliner for flags, horns, writing, and scoring. Two Buccaneers did flip in the gusty conditions, and though each boat was quickly righted and continued sailing, having a crash boat at the ready to provide assistance was critical for everybody’s safety and peace of mind. As PRO Bobby Astrove noted: “I was quite nervous with today’s weather forecast. When I got to the marina at 7:45 a.m. it was hooting, high teens for wind and gusts to 30. It settled down by 9:30, we had what I think was a windy but nice day. Very strong current. Obviously had a hard time getting the windward mark to stick without a Danforth anchor. We eventually added a second anchor and that did the trick. Special thanks to all my RC helpers: Brian Bishop, Michael Brown, Rose Gentile, Catherine Calvin, Bill Buck, and Joe Warren. I thought we were going to be way short and in the end people stepped up and I thought it went well.” Great job to Bobby and the RC crew for getting us 4 races in these conditions and keeping us all safe!
In the racing, Frank (sailing with Farley and Mladin) had the hot hand, winning 3 of the 4 races (nice work Frank!). Nabeel (sailing with Craig and Stefano) followed Frank around for most of the day, but took the fourth race after a great start. Rick (sailing with Lisbet and Aaron) was also competing, as were Will, Alex, and Brian on #14395. Chris Kozell was out for the first race, but struggled with a cranky Cunningham and ended up retiring. Mark Ewing, sailing with his young son George and a friend, also joined us on the racecourse for their introduction to the Potomac’s “wacky west wind” as Jeff calls it. And speaking of Jeff, it was great to see him along with Bruce and Becky down at the Marina getting Ariel ready for future Sunday Series racing and (we hope) the Potomac Cup. Glad to see you!
After the racing we gathered in the picnic area for some food, drink and good cheer. A few folks who hadn’t made it out for the racing (as well as a few family members who had strolled down to the marina) joined us around the grill. The wind gusted up far beyond anything we had seen on the racecourse as we traded stories, but with some warm sunshine (finally!) we all enjoyed a great end to the afternoon.
There is no racing next weekend due to Easter, but we’ll look for you all in two weeks for the next Spring Series–the final chance to tune up before the Doc Gilbert Potomac Cup on May 7-8. Make sure you’ve signed up!