From the Signal Boat
The MRA 2011 season has begun! And for those of us who have been out since early April with the Lasers, Saturday's weather was just a continuation of the 'gloomiest spring season in the history of weather recording'. While there was wind (and not from the forecasted direction), there was also fog. Sometimes one could see land, the course, and Halfway Rock, at other times one couldn't see much of anything. Another day of wearing all the winter gear and still shivering.
Those that showed up were a mixed bag of fleets but a very heavy list of talent. There were 5 Etchells, Herbie Motley's IOD that did one race by itself and then decided that a cameo appearance was enough and sailed home, some Vipers that eventually came to the starting area, a strong handful of Sonars and lots of Rhodes 19's with talent abounding.
The first race started right on time, with everyone going doing a 'C' course to green marks. It should be mentioned that the BYC was also out, running a PHRF race, but in a slightly different breeze so there was some overlap of real estate. We had moved back from our original position to give the big boats more room, so the signal boat ended up closer to the Marblehead Bell, which turned out to be fortuitous later in the day.
As the Rhodes came downwind on their first time around the course, the fog came with them. The course was shortened for them and they finished at the bottom of their first rotation. The fog was really thick, but the rest of the racers were able to find the signal boat with the help of our foghorn, although some arrived with the spinnaker pole tight on the headstay...;
After a short wait and a slight course change the fog lifted and we tried again. Once more, as the Rhodes came down the hill they brought the fog with them and their race was shortened. Everyone else was able to do the complete 'C' course - perhaps the Rhodes just attracts a foggy culture? This time the fog really settled in, and everyone was sent home, hoping for a better day on Sunday.
Sunday made it all worthwhile. A strong steady breeze, sunshine; everything we think Marblehead has to offer. Those that had attended the first day returned, along with a couple of new participants. We set up both a short (0.8 miles) course and a long (1.4 miles) course for the different fleets and got started right at noon. The wind held steady for most of the time - we did have to do a course change when it went right 15 degrees, but otherwise it was a really great day of racing. We started fleets as soon as the last boat finished if there was enough of a gap until the next class arrived at the finish line, and altogether did 14 races. The Etchells did 2 'C' courses and then a final 'A', the Vipers did 4 complete 'C' courses on the shorter course, the Sonars did 3 'C' courses and a final 'A' course, and the Rhodes did 3 'C' courses - and we still were docked at 4 pm. The RC would really like to thank the wind gods for making that happen.
Racing was very competitive, even for the beginning of the season, with many close finishes. While the first 1 or 2 starts were easy for us to call, as skippers began to get back in the groove, the racers got closer to the line and our job became more complex. There was one General Recall for the Sonars, in the 3rd race, as they all crowded the line too early. We made a slight adjustment to the line (this is where the wind began to go right) and then were able to get off a clean start. Once we had fixed the line, and then shifted the course, racing went back to its former intensity.
Overall it was really a terrific day of racing and a wonderful way to start the season. Hopefully we will have a few more days like Sunday before the season draws to a close again!
Scores are available on the MRA website.
- The Race Committee -