The opening day of PRSA’s 2015 Spring Series arrived clear, blue and still: the river was glass smooth and only faint wisps of breeze out of the north were all that remained of the frontal winds from the day before. Race Committee PRO Jim Graham pulled everyone together for the skippers’ meeting at ten and announced a one hour delay, noting that we all had to be off the water for the PRSA BBQ scheduled to begin at 3PM. Four Lightnings were present– Frank Gallagher, Nabeel Alsalam, Bob Astrove, and Lindsay Bach– along with groups of three or four each of Albacores, Buccaneers and Interlake Scows. So everyone milled about for an hour or so when Jim came walking through the clusters of sailors blowing his whistle, announcing another one hour delay. About halfway through the second hour, Jim decided we should all splash and the RC would tow the boats up to the course. This took about about three quarters of an hour during which time the the scows dropped out. The wind was still mostly absent though the forecast was calling for the breeze to come up out of the South sometime around one o’clock. So the fleet drifted and bobbed for about another three-quarters of an hour in the luxurious sunshine until a faint southerly breeze of about 3 mph began to fill in, right on schedule, a little after 1:00 PM.
The race committee started the first race on a W2 course with the windward buoy set about 300 yards down river, just off the new runway extension at the airport. It was slow going but at least we were going. Frank, Nabeel and Bob crossed the starting line followed by Lindsay. Rounding the weather mark, Lindsay managed to slip ahead of Bob on the downwind leg. Given that the southerly wind was only about 2-3 mph — barely enough to overcome the push of the incoming tide– the RC decided to shorten the course and finish after one lap. The positions established after the first weather mark held for the rest of the race with Frank in the lead followed by Nabeel, Lindsay and Bob. Frank crossed first about three boat lengths ahead of Nabeel, and as a measure of how light it was, Nabeel crossed about 2 minutes later.
After the first race, the Lightnings drifted around for another half an hour or so as the wind continued to slacken and the rest of the fleet struggled to finish. It was not exactly certain that the RC would hold another race as it was nearly 2 PM. However, fresh wind began to appear down by the Wilson Bridge and soon made its way up river, coming in finally at about 6-8 mph. The RC repositioned the weather mark a little further east out in the river and started the second race on the W2 course. The pin end was strongly favored but positions among the four boats were spread along the short line at the start. The fleet tacked away soon after the start towards the airport and Frank got out in front with Nabeel in second, followed by Bob and Lindsay — positions that remained unchanged throughout the race. After the finish, the fleet had a fine sail back to the marina followed by the PRSA BBQ