Article by Tom Price

GIYS Miller Series

District 2 Blue Star Championships 2012

Some regattas are just what you make of them. Neither competitors nor race organizers have any control over the conditions but management of the competition can make the best of whatever conditions are thrown at you. This year’s Miller Series / Districts had extremely challenging conditions of extreme heat, light winds affected by thermal, geographical and gradient wind conditions and a strong field of Star competitors. Good management of course selection and timing by the Terry May and his race committee team, proper water intake, tactics and determination by the competitors made 4 challenging races possible.

It was not simply hot on Saturday but oppressively, even dangerously so. The wind on shore was light and hot off the land in the morning but shifted towards a hopeful Southerly thermal direction during the tow out. With the breeze hovering just below race conditions, 13 competitors shaked and baked in the heat, waiting, some reaching around with a bow wave encouraging a start while others simply drifted, clearly demonstrating how miserable a race would be. The RC, ignoring these “soccer foul” theatrics, wisely sat on their hands until well after noon when the 4 knot breeze settled in at about 170 degrees.

After a general recall, the fleet got off to a clean start. Shortly thereafter the breeze strengthened to meager hiking strength and veered to the west. Those boats at the Committee boat end who were forced to tack away found themselves the beneficiaries of being on the inside of a persistent shift. Those expecting a backing thermal breeze were hung out to dry, going, going, waiting (praying) for the “next header” to tack on. It never came (I know). Young Laura Beigel, sailing with her father Read, got it right and rounded first and led the rest of the race. In fact, on the last leg when the wind dried up and reversed itself turning the run to a beat, she finished in the last of the breeze and for a while looked like she might be the only finisher!

Race 2 was started shortly after the wind settled in to an untrustworthy but tempting NE direction at about 5 knots. The leaders all rounded the weather mark closely and headed downwind. Tom Price, who had uniquely snagged his rudder on the RC boats anchor (it was facing into the tide, “backwards” to the start line) after cutting the boat end start too fine, was last to the weather mark. Trailing the pack he had a significant veer coming into the weather mark and took the port gybe and rode the strengthened veer down the run, staying to the right of the leeward mark to make up for the strong tide running from right to left. Bert Collins followed over to the right and with a better angle now over the rest of the fleet running up tide dead downwind, they went from last and next to last to first and second in one downwind leg!

Upwind, in a light breeze, Price, Hecky and a fast John MacCausland sailed through the lee of a large Northbound ship. MacCausland handled the wake and shifts best and gained the lead followed by Mike Hecky and Tom Price. Not done yet with the racers, on the last beat, the wind suddenly veered all the way to the West, turning the final run into a close reach! After some shuffling, Mike Hecky challenged John Mac and finished close behind him, followed by Price and Collins neck and neck down the reach.

Of course the wind then strengthened for a nice sail in to the harbor and a beautiful evening. Dinner was lively with a companionable buzz and many Gibson Islanders joined the hungry Star sailors for a hearty meal. A very enjoyable talk by esteemed Gary Jobson followed, making for a complete day. I’m sure everyone slept well that night!

A small front went through during the night and Sunday dawned a bit cooler with a light breeze from the North. Race three was a desultory struggle against a strong tide and a slight but fairly steady breeze won by the always fast John MacCausland followed by last year’s Miller Series winner, John Vanderhoff.

The final race was in the same North breeze – light but initially steady. With the wind slowly shifting to the right, Tom Price banging hard right after the start, led at the weather mark. John Mac passed him by staying a little more right on the second beat. Price finished second followed by a fast sailing Will Murdoch from the strong Miles River fleet.

Once again the wind increased for the sail home, which was pleasant. After unrigging, trophies were awarded at the boathouse with a small feeding of hungry sailors. John MacCausland once again took the Blue Star followed by a steady Bert Collins. Laura and Read Beigel sailing well took 3rd. Showing the strength of the fleet, there was a 3 way tie for 4th.

It seems that only the Star could make a full race weekend of such challenging conditions. District 2 Star sailors did just that and made the best of what the July heat threw at us. An equal measure of credit must go to the GIYS Race Management team who gave us fair and the best racing possible in challenging conditions.