Islander Season's championship Race
Saturday May 17, 2008

The Saga of Luna Sea

Here's a great tale from dan Knox:

May 20, 2008

Well the new season has started and we here we are in last place again! I figured our days in last were behind us but this a good lesson for any sailor. Just when you think you know what you are doing sailing has a way of humbling you.

A couple of weeks ago we had a wonderful Vallejo Race. Congratulation to Lou and Steve for setting the pace both up and back on Diana. And to John on Freedom Won and Tom and David Newton on Captain Hooke for their second places. We were third going up and fourth coming back which had smiles all around on Luna Sea. The Vallejo Race is the best race of the year and I encourage everyone to go. I canít think of a nicer way to spend an afternoon than having a drink with Harry and his great crew on Pacific High after a long spinnaker run to Vallejo.

However as everyone knows that race didnít really count and the first real race was this past Saturday. We had a beer can race at SBYC on Friday before the race and that is when things started going downhill and put us back in our regular position a the rear of the fleet. Here is how it went down:

Cindy came over to pick me up at work about 3:00 and we drove down to Pier 39 to get Luna Sea ready. (By the way Cindy is a terrific sailor. We are so lucky to have her as Lou tells me every time he sees me!) This past week Kit had helped put in a new Autopilot so Cindy and I had a lot to do to get Luna Sea ready to sail. We had no headsail on but the main was on and we were going to pick up our crew at 5:30 at Pier 40 so we had plenty of time to stow items and of course get some ice to keep the beer cold. Those guys could help us bend on the headsail over there and we could have a bit more time to pick the sail we wanted to use. We left Pier 39 around 4:45 and motored over to Pier 40 to pick up John Lewis (John is the Tactician on Freedom One) and Debbie Fehr (and of course Glenda is foredeck on Pacific High and currently I36 crew of the year). About 1000 yards for Pier 40 the engine dies. Cindy and I put up the main without a problem and we sail around of a bit while I work on the engine. There is air in the fuel lines and I can fix that I tell Cindy as she gives me the ďI know you hope you can fix it lookĒ. Cindy is always right about things like this, actually Cindy is just always right period. I get out the tools and work on the engine for about 30 minutes before we decide to sail in and work on it at the dock.

These days I am getting pretty good about sailing into the dock as I have had a more practice than I like to admit. Anyway I had a very disappointed crew as I could not get the engine fixed in time to make the race and I was just to wimpy to sail away from a dock with a broken engine. We went up to the club house, ordered a couple of pitchers of beer with dinner and watched everyone else sail on a beautiful evening at South Beach while we got a DNC for a score of last plus two! Great not even last but last plus two. All of a sudden last is not looking so bad.

Anyway I did finally get the engine fixed at 1 AM thank to a lot of help from Cindy. Cindy probably could have fixed it a lot faster without my help. So then I motor back to Pier 39 and put I to sleep. After all, The Big Race was on Saturday. This was just a Beer Can race after all.

I got back to Pier 39 about 9 in the morning after stopping to pickup lunch for the crew. This was going to be a big day for us as Cindy was not going to be on board today. (She was racing on a J-105 . . . we need Harry to sing her give J-song!) But we had Christian, Albie, Bryan, Laura, Eric and I so with six we would be OK. Plus this is a non spinnaker race so 6 should be fine. We went right to the fuel dock and filled up with gas, which is probably not the best idea but who wants to run out of fuel. $125 later . . . I donít even want to talk about the price of fuel . . . I didnít know we could hold that much fuel . . . we were out to the course to have lunch and wait for the start.

There was plenty of wind. It was 20 plus. We went with our 135 and a full main. We saw Freedom Won, Captain Hooke, Pacific High, and Tenacious; All were looking good. A few boats were missing namely our currently champion Windwalker, Amante and Blue Streak (we miss you Don). Also a new boat Vitesse that raced in Vallejo was not at the line. Christian blew kisses to Glenda as we prepared for the start. We figured that Captain Hooke was the boat to beat so our plan was to try to stay with them and then be happy to just follow them around.

Our start was only fair has we had some problems hardening up at the start and got to the line about 10 seconds late but we were windward of everyone else. I think Harry was first. Soon the fleet broke into two groups. Harry, Kris and John when to one side with Captain Hooke and us going to the other. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves sailing a similar line to ĎHooke as we were even able to cover them a couple of times. Frankly this was probably not a good idea as it was going to be a long race (about 12 miles) and covering someone at the start is just kind of nutty as it just slows both boats down. Better to worry about stuff like that on the last leg.

Anyway as we were about to get to the windward mark, we were on a port tack and Captain Hooke was on Starboard. We had passed our lay line before we tacked to get some extra room to duck Captain Hooke and still make the mark. And then I thought we were going to die . . . as we tried to bear off we harden our sheets instead of letting them out and I could not bear off with the boat trimmed like that. We are now on a collision course with Hooke and we were both doing 7 knots with 15 tons of sailboats about to run into each other. I canít believe I was so stupid to put us in that position. We were totally in the wrong and we were all going to die. Right then I understood why some people donít go racing. The long and the short of it was that only though the good seamanship of Tom and David and the rest of the crew of Captain Hooke are we here today to tell this story. They somehow managed to duck us as we headed up. How they did that I will never know.

So we rounded the mark and did a penalty turn but it really didnít seem like enough of a penalty. Iím sure we cost them a ton of time. Anyway now I have religion so we sailed off on almost a beam reach to give them a bit of distance and well really just get the hell out of their way and try to calm down a bit.

We pole out the 135 and are sailing on a run with everyone way ahead of us. We sail past our lay line again and well we are taking down the pole to gybe the boat someone turns on the autopilot. The new autopilot with the hydraulic arm! So the boat begins to head up again! Great. It takes about the longest five seconds in the history of the world to figure out what is going on and get it shut off. We then gybe the main with a bit more force than we do in practice and we are in good shape to make the mark with an easy broad reach. This little trick costs us maybe 20 boat lengths.

About this time a group of Ultimate 20ís come flying and I do mean flying down on us. There are times when they are totally out of the water. (These boats are rated 144, the same as us.) I figured that we should give them plenty of room at the mark so we do that and harden up for the beat back to Blackaller. All is well until we catch up with the Ultimate 20ís. After a while we pass a couple and as we are coming up on the last one when boom their mast just folds in half and the rig goes down! We are about 50 yards from them so we drop all our sails and turn around to offer assistance. We circle around them a few times as they try to get the rig on top of the boat. As we prepare to take them in tow a group of boats sails pass but for the most part they are giving us plenty of room. Once we take the Ultimate 20 in tow we have to turn and go downwind to take them to GGYC and that is when we learn than an Ultimate 20 without any sails sometimes goes faster downwind than an I36 under motor. We have to speed up a bit to keep her behind us!!! With only a bit excitement we get her to the dock at GGYC (thanks for your help at the dock RC) and then we head back to Pier 39.

Later in the day we talk to John and he says the Kris passed him on the last leg for the win. We also heard that a least one boat dropped out due to very heavy fog.

We decide that we will not file a protest asking for redress because based on our performance today it would not be fair to finish ahead of any boat that may have dropped out. So in two days we get a DNC and a DNF.

Again thank you to Tom and David and the crew of Captain Hooke for coming to our recue today.

--Dan

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