Team TAP Sails Again!
August 17 – 20, 2017
Eastern Yacht Club – Rhodes 19 Fleet 5
Marblehead, MA, USA
2017 Rhodes 19 National Championship
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We wanted to start off our annual blog ahead of Nationals next week from August 16-20. We have one more practice session back home at Landings Harbor Marina this coming weekend then we’re off next Wednesday (8/16) for Boston and then on to Marblehead. While our bags are partially packed, we plan on taking up the usual set of club sails and sheets for one main, one jib and two spinnakers. We had the opportunity to purchase new sails from Doyle but made the last minute decision to go with a recently purchased set in the Club’s “Million Dollar” storage room at Landings Harbor. Hardware, knives and the usual sailing gear will be packed away soon.
One issue we always deal with chartering boats is the unknown. That is, what is this boat gonna’ be like. This year’s charter is not unknown and is Cool Breeze which is being loaned to us by our good friends, Ken & Barbara Wilson. The Wilson’s are actually going to trailer Cool Breeze up from their home base in Hingham to Marblehead, a 2 hour trip. Our plan is to meet them to rig the boat on Wednesday (8/16) and measure in that day or Thursday (8/17) morning before the practice tune-up race. With our registration, the list of current entries is now 31 sailboats.
In regards to accommodations, we’re staying with a host family this year. Special thanks to Elise and Mike Nash for opening up their home to us for a long weekend.
As expected, we’re super excited about participating in our fourth Rhodes 19 Nationals and representing Savannah’s Fleet 49 once again.
More to follow after we arrive and settle up north next week. Say a prayer for some good weather. We know we won’t be short on good company.
Day 1: Wednesday 17 August
Okay, here we go again with the latest TAP adventure to the Rhodes 19 Nationals, this year in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Marblehead is the kind of place where sailors go after they die – a sailor’s paradise.
Paul was already in Massachusetts ending a vacation, and the day began with him picking up Todd and Amar at the airport. Paul had rented an SUV to carry all our gear. This SUV was a little overkill. It was a GMC Yukon XL. This thing is bigger than an aircraft carrier. Maybe they call it a Yukon because you get in the passenger side in Mass and go out the driver’s side in Anchorage! Anyway, we traded it in on a smaller Jeep SUV. An antique. It cranks up with a key!
After loading our stuff (sails and foul weather gear mostly), we drove up to Marblehead to meet up with Ken and Barbara Wilson from Hingham MA. We met them at our first Nationals 4 years ago, and they have become fast friends. They were good enough to loan us their boat, Cool Breeze, and even to trailer it to Marblehead, a 2 hour drive.
We got there around 1:00, got the boat measured (for race specifications), and splashed, moored, and ready for the next day. Then off for the evening’s leisure. Paul and Amar to Fenway Park for a great Red Sox game, and Todd to the Italian North End for dinner at a fabulous Italian restaurant with a friend. Then to our hotel to rest up for tomorrow.
Day 2: Thursday 18 August
Today dawned sunny and Summery. The Eastern Yacht Club launch got us to the boat and after rigging it up we were off into the Atlantic for the Practice Race. It took some getting used to as the boat is new to us but we did respectably, finishing well up in the top ten out of a 20+ boat fleet.
Our hosts, Rhodes 19 Fleet 5 hosted a nice mixer after the races, and we met up with our Marblehead hostess, Elise Nash, who has a spacious attic converted into a private bedroom suite which is our home for the next 3 days. First though it was a sail with Paul’s longtime friend Rob Jevon, who took us out for a sail on his beautiful Beneteau 39, followed by dinner on the porch of the Eastern Yacht Club.
Day 3: Friday 19 August
The weather had changed dramatically when we got up this morning. Blowing around 15-20 knots with seas rolling in at 5+ feet.
There were 3 races today. We got very good starts in all 3 of them, but it went downhill from there. The problem was the chop. We couldn’t keep the boat moving. We would hit a wave which would slow the boat. Before we could reaccelerate, there’d be another wave. At the end of the day we were a disappointing 22nd out of 30 or so boats.
Tonight the local fleet sponsored dinner at a historic restaurant in town. We asked the #1 sailor in today’s standings to give us a little lecture on sailing in chop. It turned out to be a very informative description of the techniques critical to sailing in heavy seas. He stressed the importance of keeping the boat moving by ‘easing’ the jib – footing instead of ‘pinching’. He covered the sail control settings necessary to keeping the rig loose and the boat powered up. We hope we’ll have a chance to test out these lessons while we’re here. In any case here’s a rundown on what happened.
Parking Is Slow – In the final race we tacked from port to starboard on the “lay line” a dozen or so boat lengths from the windward mark, forced to tack early a few boat lengths before we wanted. We pinched our way to the mark hoping to squeeze around towards the offset mark. It didn’t work. We were parked head to wind still on starboard, in irons, with the mark off our port side. We did have right of way, leeward boat on starboard having entered outside the three boat length zone. However, parking is slow, very slow, when other boats are passing you. We waited for a gap to tack and tack back again and rounded the mark without fouling a boat or hitting the mark. However, we lost 5-6 boats and leaned a valuable lesson! We should have ducked the starboard boat and sailed another boat length or two before tacking. Ouch!
More racing tomorrow.
Day 4: Saturday 19 August
FOG!! We arrived this morning and rigged up the boat. Also bailed out last night’s rain. You know how if you’re taking a flight and they announce a delay and promise an announcement in half an hour. Then they announce that there’ll be another announcement until they finally cancel.
That was what today was like. We sailed out to the ocean but the RC sent us back to the moorings and to the porch at EYC where we ended up spending the afternoon waiting for the next announcement and ultimately the cancellation. The upside was it gave us a chance to visit with old friends and meet some new ones. And to hear that next year’s race is in New Orleans. YES!!
Probably a wise decision on the part of the RC despite everything. By late this afternoon the fog was creeping into the harbor itself. Picture tomorrow’s news reports about 30 R19s flailing around in the fog along the rocky New England coast. “Where’s the mark?”
Now we’re off to dinner back at the club and hoping for better conditions tomorrow.
Last Day: Sunday 20 August
Today was the last day of the Nationals. A little bit of breeze when we got up. On the water winds were 8 to 12, seas 2 feet.
We arrived at EYC early because the start had been moved up to 10.00 after yesterday’s cancellations. They wanted to squeeze in as many races as possible. We ended up getting in 4 races, with the last one being a shortened course.
It was an uneven day for us. Our best race of the long weekend was the last one. We were 13 out of a fleet of 30. We felt we had a good race and executed well. We were less happy with the 3rd race, where for reasons we couldn’t understand we just could not get the boat moving fast, though we weren’t really doing anything different. Wind was very puffy and spotty so it’s possible most of the fleet was seeing better breeze than us and the locals knew where to find it.
When all was said and done we finished 22 out of 30, way off our goal of being in the top ten.
On the positive side, we learned a lot about sailing when seas are up, met some great new friends, and had some time with old friends. It was also a great experience being in Marblehead again. It is such a beautiful spot, and the sailors there are blazingly fast. “If you wanna get better you gotta get down off the porch and run with the big dogs!!”
We reluctantly made our way to Logan after the Awards Ceremony. And we had a funny coincidence. We were waiting at a light to get on the main drag out of Marblehead when Ken and Barbara Wilson drove by hauling Cool Breeze followed by Mike Hebert and Fandango. We caught up to them and they led us out of town. Great people, and we really enjoyed sailing Cool Breeze.
So another year goes in the books. We’d like to have our traditional post Nationals pizza party but it will probably have to wait awhile. Amar leaves tomorrow for an extended work trip followed by a sailing cruise in Croatia. Paul leaves Wednesday am for Scandinavia for 3 weeks, Todd is in Chicago and will be on his usual busy travel schedule. But we will do it.
Thanks to everybody for your interest and support. Click the following link for all the regatta pictures. They turned out great!