As the title suggest, the double-o -7 New Year Race is not going to be mentioned much in our logbook. We ended up being a hardly decent 24th. However, we where the first of our competitors racing with the same handicap. We could have done better. We had problems with flying the spinnaker, we had two, possible five bad tacks and all in all we never really got Salt into the fast track.
At the bright side of life the above photo (Salt at right) made the local newspapers-website (Aftenbladet.no) look good. And to our defence – the wind was more or less down to zero when we started. We moved hardly forward the first 20 minutes, and very slowly the last 10 minutes.
The New Year Regatta is sporting a hunting start where the handicap is taken out at the time of start. Each individual boat is given a starting time according to handicap. The yachts with the largest handicap starts first. In theory all boats will then be at the finish-line at the same time. Besides it is more fun for the smaller and slower boats to be overrun by the big and fast ones, compared to loose sight of them few minutes after the start. At least it gives you time to admire them.
Lame ducks. However, when there is no or very little wind – the small and slow yachts, can not gain distance during the handicap-time as long as noone are moving. Just to make the race more interesting – the wind came back to give the fastest yachts and latest starters a little breeze to move. And the wind gave its last little puff as soon as the largest and fastest competitors had crossed the finish line.
Anyway – the race gave us a wonderful excuse to be out on the fjord. There was even moments of brilliant sunshine – followed by torrents of rain and rainbows. And we hade a nice fight going with Loffen – I think we passed each other four times.
So what did we do wrong?
– First – we could have hoisted the spinnaker in good time before start and just left it flapping in the next to non-existing wind. This way we could have ensured that we would get no problems when we finally started.
– Second – we could have stuck to the original plan of reaching starboard of Tjuvholmen – thus getting a better spinnaker reach, possible a little more wind, and we would have been out of the incoming flow. However, we had Loffen fighting us in lee pressing us above Tjuvholmen.
– Third – we had some really awful tacks. I guess we are plain rusty and out of touch. But still – we have to learn to give Salt a wide tack, filling her big Genoa and let her pick up new speed before we adjust to the new tack and wind angle.
– Fourth – we where to slow getting the spinnaker down and setting the Genoa twice. First I guess I hoped to keep the spinnaker flying the complete first leg, and that the 6-meter-a-second wind (12 knots) from the weather forecast would finally show up. When we finally got the spinnaker down it was during a squall, not out of control, but less elegantly than we normally do and without the Genoa working properly. The second time around was a little improvement, but far from the best we can do.
I guess the proverb – winning a yacht race is not a question of getting everything right, but to do less faults – is true.
Well – next year we will be back and even more ready! The party was nice thanks to sponsor Subsea 7. Besides hot shot sailor and TV commentator, Christen With, had some nice videoshots of Salt and remarked positively about our spinnaker handling. (Admittingly – he also commented that we were to consentrated on the spinnaker and forgott the main…)