If you did not start the MKL race, you know the limit of your boat, and the short comings of your boat. In my/this case a redesigned up and down rudder system will be changed, and no more water boarding.
When I read the NOAA weather report it predicted winds from 20 to near gale. Hum, what exactly is a Near gale? Wikipedia says 'gale' has a few more names: Moderate Gale (32-38 miles per hour), Fresh Gale (39-46 mph), Strong Gale (47-54 mph) and Whole Gale (55-63 mph) Ahh, Near gale is another name for Moderate Gale. OK, Iíve been caught racing going upwind and downwind in that kind of wind racing. But knowingly starting on a beam reach in that kind of wind, is a little crazy, and would be a go challenge to see how the F16 catamaran performs. We started on GPS time about 2 minutes late, and the GPS said we sailed five miles about 25 minutes when Mother Nature thankfully gave us a reason to retire.
The F16 handled the winds beautifully; at NO time up until our demise did I think the boat could not handle it. We were in full control in winds up to 33mph according to Fowley Rock NOAA buoy. The F16 was steady as a rock in feather mode, or at will romp like a ballyhoo and surf the waves coming from our stage right. I'd bear off down some waves and catch the next one about 15 to 19mph, and then a minute or two later come back up into the wind and feather the boat into the wind, go 12mph, and let off some adrenaline, get my sanity back, and quiet that dam flag.
If things were not bad enough that MYC regatta flag on the starboard sidestay did not help, it was so loud it made it hard to think clearly, it was so noise at 30 knots of wind and 15 knots of boat speed, it made it impossible to hear the gusts come and go, or hear anything else but the flag, and increased the drama of the situation more than need be, (add the music intro: dat ta dat ta daaa)
We had the main traveler all the way out, and I was very happy with my extended jib traveler all the way out. We straighten mast rotation as much as possible and that helped. I played the mainsail according to our heading with the wind, and Katie adjusted the jib trim to fine tune the power or depower the rig depending on how extreme the wind got. The jib trim would backwind the main, and I looked up once and saw more than half the sail inverted the wrong way, wow, and we were doing 15+. I probably sheeted in more or luffed up after seeing that, but we were sailing fast and safe so who cares about sail shape at this point.
So we got into the rhythm of things, sailing fast for a while, and then take a break and feather the boat into the wind when the wind and waves got to crazy. Oh and don't forget the insanity song from the drama flag.
We were sailing in control with no reason turn around except for I was the recipient of Poseidonís water boarding torture with the waves hitting us from abeam. Just imagine someone hitting you with a 5 to 20 gallon bucket of salt water every three to five seconds. After twenty minutes of this I was wondering how much of this torture can I take, could I handle it for another two or three hours?
Occasionally I wondered how Katie was doing. I could not see her, as she was trapeezing behind me, and must have been tea bagged by the waves hammering us to port. On the way out I had Katie adjust the trapeze height as high as possible, but would get hit half the time I did, and would be tea bagged into a crest of a wave if I did not get the hull high enough and/or had the boat feather/safe mode. I knew sheís hardcore, and would not say anything, perhaps she enjoyed seeing me get water boarded, LOL. I would bear off for some a dose of insanity and fly the weather hull over the waves to stop the water boarding. It was a choice between us water boarding versus insane speed and risk, and the flag did not care how I steered.
Be careful what you wish for, Mother Nature gave us a patch of seaweed on the low hull. This caused the boat to suddenly steer away from the wind, if a gust came I may not be able to steer into the wind and flip. I did not want to send Katie down to the low side and clear the rudders and risk capsize. Luffing into the wind with traveler out and maintaining headway was still to fast to clear the rudders, and I did not want to go any slower and risk going over backwards.
Insanity Plan B to clear the rudders of whatever took control of the boat, I bore off with the waves and performed a perfect dual hull pitchpole which sent me went through the bottom of the mainsail, and Katie broke the jib compression post. We sat on the boat for a while waited for the mast to turn into the wind and the boat righted itself. We pulled the damaged mainsail down, sailed on the jib for a while and I threw a tow line to Katie's dad on his power boat and got towed back to MYC.
It was a hell of a race for us. I was aboard a Corsair Dash 750. We started the race with a reefed main and full jib. We were a few seconds late on the start and were right there with the leaders in our fleet. Quickly after the start we realized that we were seriously overpowered as the skipper was steering towards Stilltsville instead of Featherbed Channel. We quickly sailed past Key Biscayne and were out in the open fetch of the Safety Valve, that named proved quite ironic for a few boats. It was at this point that my father, aboard a Sprint 750, snapped his rudder in 2. We quickly sailed by them and made sure they were okay. Less than a minute later we passed a Nacra 5.70 as it was capsizing. My father later told me the story of helping them right the boat and towing them into Dinner Key. We got caught by the first storm in the Safety Valve and decided to get the jib down. We sailed for quite some time on just a reefed main and after Featherbed Channel we decided to put the jib back up, but the lowest hank got caught on the forestay turnbuckle and caused the jib luff line and the bottom hank to rip off the sail so we decided to keep the jib down for the rest of the race. On approach to the Cutter Bank Channel we decided that the wind had gone far enough north that we could fly the screecher. We unfurled it and instantly dug the bows in. But we pressed on and quickly made up over a mile towards the Sprints/Dashes that were now ahead of us. We then shook our reef out downwind while in Little Card Sound and then started gaining more ground. Unfortunately the wind clocked back south again and we had to roll the screecher back up. We then passed under Card Sound Bridge where a few smart sailors were high and dry taking pictures of those crazy enough to still be racing. We pressed on through Barnes Sound and finished at 1055, which is the fastest time that I have ever done this race.
It was amazing to take part in this race and I cannot wait till next year.
After all, its not easy, banging your head against some mad buggers wall.