Thursday, September 8, 2016

Distance Series closes out 2016 season with close Bi-state racing.

The Asylum scored two impressive 1st place finishes in the Bi-state this weekend, cementing their lead atop the 2016 distance series.  They finished with 7 points overall, including a first place finish to Waukegan and a 4th place in the Queens Cup.
Meanwhile, Sealark was able to overtake Esprit d'Ecosse in the overall standings this weekend with its two second place finishes and a total of 14 points.  Judith and Ross McLean--overall winners of last week's Leukemia Cup--finished third overall with a total of 20 points.

The weekend got off to a fast start, although the J/105 Fleet was the last scheduled group to leave the line for St. Joseph.  Sealark outdueled The Asylum for the pin and held high to force Vytis underneath--with the rest of the fleet scattered along the line. The drag race began as boats fought to gain leverage before the expected right shift arrived.  The Asylum and Vytis held the port board into the early morning hours throughout the right shift, banging the right corner as much as 8 miles off rhumb, even as the winds eased closer to shore.  Sealark elected to tack about 4 miles south of rhumb and fought their way back on starboard to the rhumb line through punishing waves, but with a solid 13-15 kts pushing the boat.  Several others had already tacked, with one or two boats carrying north of rhumb.  Once back at rhumb, Sealark's call was to tack back onto port as the boards were nearly split ... and make for smoother waters eastward.  The pay-off began around 2 a.m. when a further right shift allowed Sealark to flop back onto starboard and sail on "layline" for the finish for 90+ minutes--until Defiance reported 1 mile out from the finish line.  Sealark was just over 6 miles from the finish coordinates, traveling at a 5.5 kt pace, but the winds swung and the finish line was now a "true" beat upwind.  Progress slowed to an agonizing upwind crawl for all the boats as winds kept easing towards dawn.  With the tactics shifting to VMG mode, and the winds briefing swinging unpredictably some 30-40 degrees, it was a series of tacks toward the shoreline.  

Sealark reported within a mile of the finish--just seconds ahead of The Asylum--but being southwest of the finish area, Sealark had a longer way to go.  The Ayslum crossed at 5:26:04, with Sealark following at 5:28:58 and Vytis taking third at 5:35:10.

After winning the party, the boats prepared for Sunday's return.  Solid winds pushed things along nicely.  Once again, Sealark nosed out The Asylum at the start line, but a "hang-over" chute misfire proved costly, and The Asylum launched into the forefront along with the rest of the fleet.  Solid sailing, along with a predicted easterly shift to the wind direction arriving in a timely fashion, allowed the Sealark crew to recover for a second place finish.  The Asylum clinched first at 15:17:44 with Sealark 20 seconds behind, and Caught in Traffic crossing a minute and 44 seconds later to round out the podium.  Flying Pig was 4th at 15:25:21 followed by Y-Not, Esprit d'Ecosse, Global Nomads and Phantom.  The average speeds were close range:  between 6.79 and 6.09 over the distance--making it yet another tight race by an incredibly competitive fleet.

Complete series results are compiled below.  (Please notify Mike Sheppard of any discrepancies.)

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