Autumn is definitely here, with the days growing ever shorter. Wednesday was almost the autumn equinox, and with sunset drawing the day to a close at around 7.15 we were in for a short race or a dark finish!
This race was the final of the season, and the final of the women’s series, with results only counting for boats with a helmswoman. I found myself in charge of a boat full of crewmen – I couldn’t convince any other women to join us for the race.
With a third place in the first race (the second was cancelled) I needed a good place tonight to finish on the podium for the series. I was feeling more confident at the helm after the previous two races without Derek on board, so the pre-race nerves were less of a distraction this time. With Derek back on board, however, I was in for more coaching, and a lot of keen encouragement. I tried to get him busy on the main sheets, but he handed this role to Tim so he could keep close to my ear. The only thing I could distract him with was the role of photographer, which he needed reminding of, and only conceded once the sun was well on its way to bed.
Our course was Q (for Quebec – appropriate as Derek had just returned from Montreal in the province of Quebec!) – one large triangle travelling first to mark G (off Sandy Bay point), then to H (Howrah) and back to the finish at Bellerive. We made a pretty good start on starboard, then tacked and headed into the middle of the river. We were flying with a good strong breeze, and as we tacked down the river we were making ground and passing most of the other boats in our division. It all came undone, however, as we approached the first mark. The wind began to drop, and then I had to tack to give way to Wildfire, who sped past us as we tried to keep enough height to make it around the mark. With boats to the starboard side we were unable to tack again to ensure a quick and efficient mark rounding and as we slowed painfully, then finally swung around the mark we were at the back of the fleet of seven in our division. B***- bother!
It didn’t get any better from there. Though we kept in touch on the downwind leg to H we didn’t catch up, and we feared losing the breeze altogether as the sun steadily sunk behind the mountain. The breeze dropped down to six or seven knots, but stayed steady long enough for us to make it home – seventh across the line, and about the same on handicap (the results are not clear). That means no podium finish for the series either. Oh well – I promise to do better the next time!