Over the weekend I entered, and was the race director, for the Pigs in the Water Regatta. If you are at all curious with the actual event you can visit facebook dot com/happyislandyachtclub. I've won the PITWR a few times in the past with my previous boat that had a GIANT PHRF handicap. This year I finished 3rd with my 39' Express. Since I was the race director I may have set up a course that accentuated the downwind and minimized the upwind. This is the first time I've raced this boat despite sailing it for a couple of years. The race started close reaching about 4 miles with 18kts TW and seas of 4-6'. There were 10 boats and I was third to cross the start a few seconds late. An IC24 (modified J24) was on the line at speed and had an excellent start building a quick lead. Next was my friend on his newer Beneteau 40 loaded with a crew of very good racers. My wife and I were on his tail gaining and I realized I was going to have to head up another 10 degrees or risk being set from the sea and current. Once the course was corrected I lost about a half knot and away the two leaders went. I got passed by a couple of 45' sloops. Once around the mark it was a very deep reach and the tables were turned over the next 5 miles to the next mark. The IC24 popped his spinnaker and regained the lead. We surged towards the fleet ahead quickly gobbling up the gap while never going below 8kts and frequently surfing waves in the mid 10s. The next turn was a DDW run for another 5 miles. I jibed the mizzen setting us wing and wing and really noticed that we had an advantage. It was if most of the fleet were trailing a drogue. We passed a few boats and were gaining on the IC24 with his spinnaker up. We ended up finishing 3rd at 7 minutes behind the IC24 and a minute behind a Bene 45'. Another two miles DDW and we would have been first. After the handicap we finished 2nd on that leg.
The next day's race was an 8 mile beat to weather, seas and current. The standard practice is to tack close to the south side of St Thomas to stay out of the seas and current as much as possible. Doing that means you are tacking maybe 30 times. No sweat on the Express. My competitors who followed the same strategy were all complaining about all the tacks upwind. Not me. Loving my Freedom. There has got to be something I'm doing wrong getting this cat ketch upwind. I tried pointing high, footing for speed and finally settled on something in the middle. My main sail is tired. Mizzen is new. A few boats fell out that would have probably changed the results had they raced on Sunday.
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