Sailors woke Thursday morning to what seemed like perfect Bay conditions: 11-13 knots of breeze with little to no chop, leading many (myself included) to assume that this would be a day where we saw Bay boats excel in the face of the competition.
Like she does so often, Mother Nature had plenty of tricks up her sleeve, and turned up the breeze, elevated the chop, and ultimately made things much more difficult for anyone on the water. By the time sailors were at rendezvous, wind had picked up to 15 knots and the chop was building.
This is not to say that Bay sailors didn't do well. They just didn't do as well as initially anticipated.
The J/80 fleet was not without its drama, though. At the gate, one of the RC boats was admittedly too close and got caught up in the fleet, first being hit by another boat and then hitting Bert Carp's USA 11, with Quantum Sails' Dave Gross, Salley Collins, and others as crew. The USA 11 crew made a fashionable statement at the tent later that night, still in their long underwear and foulies, but the boat was eventually granted redress.
In the PHRF class, Team Fireball is hanging in at second place, with the Robin Team of Teamwork nipping at their heels. The PHRF 1 fleet is very close, and Fireball is only 1.5 points out of first place. We're pulling for them!
In the J/70 fleet, Local Superstar James Allsopp struggled a bit on Thursday with some mid-fleet finishes. Currently, about 85 points separate first place Tim Healy from Allsopp. And while this would normally seem insurmountable, with a 62-boat fleet there's actually a chance that the crew can climb back into the pack. When it happens, we just ask that you don't call it a comeback. That crew never went anywhere.
Kathy Parks had a collision during the seventh race and retired without injury on either boat. She's currently in sixth place for the Corinthian Division; a fifth place would send her to Worlds. Today is the day to watch Team Sundog.
Apologies for the shaky video, but you can get the idea of just how big the swells were. One of our smaller crewmembers was sick four times. We were actually able to call when she'd be losing it...
One point away from Sundog is Catharine Evans' Mojito, who had all of us armchair experts screaming our heads off with a 16th place finish during the seventh race. This is a boat who could find its groove today and really turn heads. Watch for USA 199 on the course, and if you haven't read the article in the Capital on her, do so now.
Bill Sweetser is once again walking away with the regatta, 14 points ahead of his next competitor, the J/109 Heat Wave. But John and Linda Edwards are right up there in third place, and if we know anything it's to expect everything from this fleet.
Alright! So there's more action than the Justin Bieber arrest in South Florida this week. Trust us. One more day of racing. Last night there was some discussion when the shrimp boats parked themselves on the ocean side of Key West, anticipating some honkin' winds from the north. It's calling for a steady 20-25 out of the Northwest, dropping a bit this afternoon to 15.
Sounds like a great day to be out sailing!