As mentioned in the previous post, I did race committee for the J-24 East Coast Champs run by Severn Sailing Association. It was supposedly a race committee by invitation only which meant it was mostly greybeards and it seemed that we all brought our own wind-sticks and handbearing compasses. Many a lively discussion cackled over the radios about what the wind was doing and should we move the marks or not - credit Mike Waters, PRO, with taking all this cacophonous feedback and making command decisions that turned out to be correct.
I was on the pin boat - the leeward end of the starting line was to be the anchored SSA RIB - the idea being we could control the unruly J-24's with another set of stationary eyes at the leeward pin. I've never done this before; usually when I've been tasked to call the leeward end of the line I've done it from a moving motorboat that we are trying to hold on station - never an ideal situation. Friday we had very clean starts but Saturday the class got more aggressive, we had around 4 to 5 general recalls - still not bad by class standards; which worked out as we were trying to bang out 4 good races that day to conclude the regatta in front of approaching Hurricane Sandy.
From the vantage point of the pin boat, I got to watch the antics of good old bow number 16 who was trying the very risky starting tactic (in this caliber fleet and with a keelboat to boot) of coming in on port and tacking to leeward of the fleet with about 30 seconds to go. The first start on Saturday he made a complete hash of it and ended up slightly below and squeezing up mightily to avoid hitting the pin boat - which he ultimately failed to do. Bumpity bump he went along our inflatable bow and then his rudder fetched up on the anchor rode. In a superb feat of athleticism, one of the crew, lickety-split, leaped over the aft stanchion, straddled the rudder with one foot on top and used his extended leg to push the anchor rode down off the rudder. Quite remarkably, this was successfully accomplished in a couple of seconds and #16 was off to the races. Dutifully we radioed the main committee boat that J-24 #16 had hit the pin boat. We expected that he would take a penalty when he finished, as was written into the race instructions.
Number 16 hadn't learned his lesson for he tried the same maneuver on the next two starts. He didn't hit the pin boat this time but he did create a nice cluster of J-24's, clotted together, all downspeed at the start and straining to get around the leeward pin boat.
It was a grueling day getting four longish races (not only were we the pin boat but we traipsed up and down the course, filling in where needed especially in changing some marks). I got out of the club around 5 o'clock, went to the beer store to get some storm stock and back to the house to get some food. Somewhere after 6 o'clock, Mike Waters called on my cell phone and wanted me to confirm that #16 had indeed hit the pin boat as the skipper was now claiming that he didn't, only that he had snagged the anchor rode which is not a foul. I confirmed and volunteered to come back to the club but he could tell in my fatigue and I could tell in his fatigue that this was not a battle we wanted to fight. Plus, everyone was hustling to de-rig their J's and leave that night as everyone had places to go and things to do to prepare for Hurricane Sandy. So I didn't drive back to the club and #16 gambled again and got away with a bald-faced lie. I've seen this happen before in sailboat racing, mostly in the protest room, but it doesn't get any easier.
Tip Of the Hat to Number 16 (I have a Filipino friend who maintains that karma always returns the favor) - The Bonzo Dog Band, "I Love to Bumpity Bump".