We have always said that racing is best done on other people’s boats – there is a lot of cost involved in racing – better sails, entry fees, broken bits – why do that yourself when you know other people crazy enough to subject themselves and their boat to that!?
This past weekend was the Schooner Cove Regatta – an approximately 42 mile race around Lasqueti Island – and what a race it was. Snakes and Ladders is the only way to describe it! I raced on Runaway Girl and Owen was out with Dilligaf – always fun to compete against each other and this race actually put us in the same division!
The day started with fluky winds that had us barely moving one moment and then flying along the next – only to be standing upright and running right out of the wind the next. By the time we got to the bottom of Lasqueti, we were getting the feeling that this was going to be a challenging day. Every other time we have done this race the wind has been from the Northwest – this year it was mostly from the Southeast – when it could make up its mind as to where it was actually coming from!
Rule number one in this race has always been to avoid the south end of Lasqueti like the plague unless you fancied driving straight into a windless hole – so we stayed well south of the Island, and then watched a fantastic band of wind fill in right along the shore. As we wallowed our way between two bands of wind, we watched the “big boats”, who had started an hour later than us, race along the south shore – followed by the boats that had been lucky enough to not drive themselves so far from the wind that they couldn’t get back to it. One by one boats passed us – leaving us frustrated and looking for wind.
We finally picked up a band of wind that had been filling in from the South and took off downwind on nice long jibes – we were about 3/4 of the way up the Island when we realised that all those boats that had passed us earlier were now parked in a big hole near the top of the Island. Phew! Pretty much the entire pack rounded the top of the island (and passed the halfway mark) at the same time. And just like that the wind piped up and we were shooting upwind in 15 knots of wind – and then 12 – and then 10 – and then 8 – oh boy – here we go!
The pack split, the wind died and built, boats took weird flyers that weirdly worked and we inched our way south. The day stretched out, our idea that dinner would be had at the docks was abandoned and the lasagna went into the oven. The sun set, the day got cooler – still we plodded our way South.
The last 6 miles was the convergence point – the boats that had gone over to the Vancouver Island side started to meet up with the boats that had stayed on the Lasqueti side – we had hoped that all those Vancouver Island side boats were stuck in no wind but suddenly they were popping out on a track that would put them in front of us! In a last desperate effort, and in the black of night, with about 3 miles to go, we threw up the Spinnaker – and passed one boat, and then another. We watched one of the boats in our fleet take a strange flyer that drove then right out of the wind, and another boat decide they had had enough and fire up the engine. We were getting excited. The boat we couldn’t find was Dilligaf – we were all hoping they were well behind us. Our skipper said “wouldn’t it make us crazy if they suddenly call in that they are five minutes out?” when not two minutes later, they made a call to race committee to announce that they were five minutes out – how had they gotten ahead of us!? There was some less than ladylike language going at that point!
We finally wound our way past a reef and narrowly missed a rock right at the finish and crossed the finish line. And then the math started – how long ago had Dilligaf finished? Did we beat them on correction? Who else had crossed the line already? Were the boats behind us far enough behind? We were pretty sure that, after a day of starts and stops, we were first in our division and that was thankfully confirmed the next day! Dilligaf took third in our division so we got them again!
It was a long day (14 hours racing) but so much fun and so challenging!