Tues 19 Feb
Morning of Day 3 of the Laser Masters Worlds brings weather reminiscent of Day 1: light to non-existent wind and showers. But the Radials launch at 1 pm and our AP flag comes down at 1:40 pm so at least the Race Committee thinks the wind is good enough for racing.
Once we arrive in the start area it is apparent that one Radial race has been started and then abandoned. (More memories of Day 1.) So we old farts in the Grandmaster Full Rig fleet have to wait for three Radial fleets and three Full Rig fleets to start before we get under way.
The wind is a very light south-easterly. Most of the fleet go right. So do I but I am buried deep at the first mark. On the second beat I am gaining for a while in a left shift but then the boats on the right get more pressure and I am way down the fleet at the windward mark the second time.
Then the fun begins...
On the reach a couple of sailors behind me start heading high to take my wind so I luff up to protect my air and then stay high all the way down the reach. It is probably the smartest decision I make all week because the wind continues to go left turning the reach into a closer and closer fetch. After what seems like a couple of geological eons I reach the end of the leg and many of the boats that have gone low are having to tack and beat back up to the mark.
Similar story on the run. The wind goes even lighter and continues to shift left. It seems to me that the tide is also pushing us to the left (looking downwind), so once again I elect to stay high on starboard tack, way to the right of the rhumbline. By now we are moving excruciatingly slowly but, hey, after my long apprenticeship sailing Sunday mornings on a certain New Jersey lake in next to no wind I do know something about keeping a boat moving in this stuff.
The wind goes further left. The run becomes a close reach. What little pressure exists is coming in from the right side of the course (looking downwind). I see the group of boats ahead being swept below the mark, trying to luff round it, having to tack to lay it, colliding with each other and the mark. Oh joy!
I stay high to avoid the mayhem. Wait. What's this? There's a committee boat at the gate signalling a shortened course for our fleet. Even more joy!
I drift through the gate (now the finish line) well away from the mess of boats jammed up round the left-hand mark. Once the chaos is sorted out and they've all done their various penalty turns and re-crossed the line, I realise that I'm the first boat with USA on its sail across the line. Triple joy!
I glance at my watch (which counts up after the start). It says 39 minutes. Hmmm. The race took 1 hour and 39 minutes? No, wait. That can't be right. It's past 6 o'clock by the time we make the beach. So that means we must have been racing for 2 hours and 39 minutes. (The target for the RC was for races to finish in an hour.)
So I seem to have achieved the dubious distinction of being the first American in what must have been the longest Laser World Championship race in the history of the planet. (Or I would be if I were actually an American, which I'm not in spite of what my sail says. Oh well.) But I did gain 15 places in two legs on That Guy who was right next to me at the windward mark.
It's Tuesday night so off with Tillerwoman to the mid-week regatta barbecue at the rugby club for free booze and steak and sausages and bread-and-butter pudding. Life is good.