Saturday, June 26, 2021

Palm Beach Regatta 2021 - the Race

The 2021 Palm Beach Regatta Race

The headline: We Won our Class! WooHoo!

Friday evening we arrived at Lake Boca and secured the boat at anchor then both of us took a shower - hot water as we motored from just outside the Hillsboro Inlet, into the ICW and then North to Lake Boca, about two hours altogether. Hot water tank was hot! :)

Around 6pm, Larry Geller picked us up in his gorgeous boat to ferry us to the dock where the Pre-race party was being held. We were quickly joined by others that either Larry ferried from their boats or arrived by car. Bob Odell had arrived with the party goods and guests brought plenty of food - as always - nobody would go hungry. 

I asked Michael Duvall to give the racing introduction and he, along with a couple of others, answered the several questions about the start and the finish. Too soon is was time to hitch a ride back to our boats. I say 'Too soon' because we always have such a good time talking to other boat owners and their crews.

After a good night asleep at anchor, we woke to catch the 7:40am Camino Real Bridge so that we could head down to the Hillsboro Inlet, several other boats that could not negotiate the Boca Raton Inlet (too shallow) were in line as we headed South. Our recent bottom paint job and the PropSpeed finish on the Prop and shaft is still showing it's worth. 

Once out of the Inlet, we turned North towards the Start Line - we could see the Beach Committee location, they had setup their big Orange Rectangular Mark on the beach, easy to see from 1/3mile off shore. Lady Gray was the outer mark and we were close to them when they dropped anchor and tried to set, but they were not having a lot of luck and ended up keeping their engines running to hold station.

Prior to the start, I had rolled down the Sail Bag and secured it with the straps that were sewn into the inside of the bag. This did mean that we would have the advantage of the lower 3' of mainsail area working to our advantage rather than just a big bag of canvas that would more likely hinder our progress than improve it. Once the Mainsail was raised, I eased off the Lazy jacks so that they would not misshape the sail. 

There were 5 starts and we were in the 2nd: Gunkhole Class. Jim Wallace on Contrails was working his way up and down the start line during the 1st start and he called over to us advising that this was his start box and we should keep out of his way, we did. However our past races have seen us passing the start line as much as 20 minutes after our start! We learned from those rare events and today we kept close to the start box and kept within it when it was our start. We crossed the start line within 2 minutes of the start time, and we were headed in the right direction. We were stoked at doing so well at the start, can we do better, of course, but compared to previous efforts, this was amazing! Thank Jim for hinting on the best start maneuver.

Just in case you're interested, here's some info on Sailboat Racing starts that I found very useful: https://www.sailingworld.com/how-to/how-rules-work-start/


The JAM (Jib and Main) class were 5 minutes ahead of us so we could see where they were headed and that would have been our normal plan - follow everyone in front of us, however we had sailed the route just a week ago for the Memorial Day Cruise and we knew that the Gulf Stream had been apparent in less than 2/3mile offshore. So our plan was to head NE (which happened to be the course that the JAM fleet were headed) until we felt the push North from the Stream and then turn to a more Northerly direction.


 As we were still heading NE, we could see Imagine hoisting their beautiful spinnaker off of our Starboard Quarter. We knew that they would soon overtake us, but they were in the Corinthians class.  

It was a beautiful day to be out on the water and I must admit, I experienced a bit of Sail Envy as Imagine passed us chasing the JAM fleet.

Imagine had a full crew. Eximius was just Peggy & I, but it was an easy sail.


As soon as we saw a consistent increase in our GPS speed over our Through the Water Speed, we started our turn towards the North. Monitoring the speed difference helped us take the maximum advantage of the Gulf Stream's push north. If we saw the difference drop down, we would ease Eastwards a touch. With the wind over the Starboard Quarter, we kept adjusting our sails intent upon using the knowledge we had recently gained from studying sail plans.

One thing really bugged me. The Mainsail had a crease in it, imagine a pleat running from just above the 2nd reef cringle at the luff (close to the mast) and diagonally down to the clew. From our studies, that meant that we would not have laminar flow of air on either side of the sail and that would reduce our speed. I tried easing everything: Halyard, Mainsheet, Reefing lines (which were not being used) Outhaul and the Lazy Jacks, nothing! I could not remove the pleat. But we did improve our speed by adjusting the sails, with the light winds, we needed a bit of twist in the Main and easily accomplished that. 

As expected, it was about a 5 hour ride up to Lake Worth and we had plenty of time to fiddle with the sails - I worked at balancing the sails. The method I used was to put the wheel amidships and see which way the boat steered, it should have a slight tendency to turn upwind (weather helm) but not so much that it required more and a degree or two of helm to correct. I adjusted the Genoa so that it looked full. As were on a very broad reach the tell tales were not too much help to me in identifying when it was correctly trimmed. But we were able to adjust it so that the outer tails were flying straight. Then I adjusted the Mainsheet and Traveller so that the leech tell tails were streaming aft and then adjusted the MainSheet until the wheel was able to keep us on course with the minimum amount of drag from the Rudder.

As we neared the Northern end of the course, we had to turn to the East where the finish line was located. A quick note about the Finish Line.

At the 2021 Palm Beach Regatta, the Finish line was based on the location of the Green #3 Marker just to the south of the Lake Worth Inlet, the virtual line extended from the Mark East for 100 Yards. This meant that we had to leave the Mark on our Port Side and that the mark be less than 100 Yards away from the boat as we passed the mark.

We expected the wind to Veer (move in a clockwise direction) to the West and as we felt it moving further South as the day passed, we started our turn East and eventually the wind did shift not as much as expected but we were South and East of the finish line when we Gybed the sails over to the Port. Very quickly, as the wind veered beyond Southerly, we were on a Beam Reach and sailing hard. The Green Mark was now easily seen and we turned further towards the north, aiming to pass within feet of the mark rather than risk being too far from it. There was a fishing boat hanging around just to the North of the mark so we steered to put us between the mark and the fishing boat. 


As we got near the mark, Peggy brought my cell phone up to the helm. Now it was getting exciting, sailing hard, Wind had increased and we were doing over 6knots through the water, the Mark off our Port Bow, fishing boat ahead, all the while trying to take a picture of our Chartplotter as we crossed the virtual mark.

Seems we did good! We had a corrected time of 3 hours 17 minutes and 43 seconds over a calculated course distance of 25 miles. Our average speed was 5.5 knots (velocity made good over the course) 

What a great race. Hectic at the start and exciting at the finish with a few hours between them. Time for lunch sandwiches. 

Once across the finish line, we left the sails up until we had stabilized our course into the Lake Worth Inlet, then we started to stow them. Before we had the chance to secure the main down into it's sail bag (Cradle) we were at the Eastern end of the inlet channel and could see another boat having a tough time getting their Spinnaker down, it looked like a figure of eight and was flying hard off of their port side. Despite needing to get our own sails down and secured, my primary goal was to stay away from the other boat so as to give them the best chance of getting their sail down and not worry about keeping out of our way.

The wind was picking up as we turned onto the Western side of the ICW and headed South intent on Anchoring on the East side of the ICW but opposite from the Palm Beach Sailing Club. As we held station just to the East of the Palm Beach Sailing Club house, the wind really picked up and it was difficult to hold station, we had to shift up the engine revs to over 1500 in order to be able to steer against the wind. 

On VHF #68, we heard another club member, Jim Wallace (the same guy that we heard from at the start) called us and advised that he was anchored on the East side opposite the PBSC. So we turned across the mooring field of boats and headed over to the otherside of the ICW. We found the anchoring area and dropped anchor letting out plenty of scope to avoid dragging in that heavy wind.

Peace returned to the cockpit and we took a break. A few radio calls and we scheduled a launch ride from Eximius to the PBSC via their very helpful sailing instructor that was acting as ferryman for the evening. We had time for a shower and change into dry clothes before the ferry arrived and were soon safely on the jetty of the sailing club.

I quickly made an introduction to Quincy, Commodore of the PBSC, and we sorted out the schedule of the evening - Drinks, Dinner, Awards, Socialize, head back to the boats.

We had a great time meeting with our own club members and those of the PBSC. Their Bartender barely kept us waiting despite the small crowd surrounding the bar, there were some tall ship stories going around about conditions on the course.

The Bartender served our drinks of choice - Pinot Grigio for Peggy and Jack & Ginger for myself. She served my drink is a short glass (no plastic 👍  ) with Ice and two very thin straws. Speaking with a couple that I knew standing next to me I asked "You realize that I'm English, right?" "Yes, they responded" " Then you understand that to put a straw in my drink is odd and normally I inform the bartender, in the nicest way " I'm a big boy now, I don't need a straw with my drink." to which my neighbor replied, " It's just a stirrer" and I replied "But you do realize that I'm English?" "So what they commented, realizing that I was going somewhere with this. "Well, being English, I take my drinks Shaken - Not Stirred!"  Yep, got a laugh out of that one. 😎


Here's a picture showing our route during the weekend, if you click on it, you'll see our route on our Garmin Inreach Explorer chart online.



See you out there on the Water.

2021 Palm Beach Regatta Gunkhole - 1st Place



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