Ottawa River Race 2003 Single Handled on and Olson 30
The 100 Mile race went great. Because of the hurricane the winds were strong and from the south. Winds were mainly in the low teens, with gusts up to 28 knots. (Just an hour earlier the gusts reached 48) The river runs mainly east-west, so other than at the turning marks I did not have to do a single tack. I was singlehanding, racing against 8 fully crewed boats. In the end, I won based on elapsed time. (I don't know my position on PHRF time, but I assume it was in the middle somewhere.)
The race started at 8:00pm Friday and I finished at 1:57pm Saturday, with the second and third placers just 5 and 10 minutes behind. It was very dark during the night so I really did not have much idea of my placement in the pack. And I had to change sails a couple of times so I knew that a couple of boats had passed me. But once daylight came, I found that I was sitting in third place with about 40 miles to go. With my boats superior speed, I was able to slip past the C&C 27 which usually wins this race (and will no doubt win on corrected time.) The real challenge came in catching up to the Laser 28, which is rated only slightly slower than my O30, but with a full crew should be pretty even. With only about 8 miles left in the race, they tried to raise their chute and I knew I had them. The winds were very gusty on a beam reach or a close reach. They broached several times in a row and I was able to slip past as they attempted to straighten themselves out and get their #1 back up. After that it was a simple beam or broad reach to the finish line.
In the confusion and darkness at the starting line, and with the high winds, I only had my main up. The amazing thing was that with just the main I was able to keep up with the pack leaders for the first hour. As the wind dropped a bit and when the pack spread out, I was able to raise my #3 and eventually my #1 at about 2am. In the river part this was OK, but in the wider lake portion I was significantly overpowered. But I just could not take the time to change sails every time we came back down to the lake. So it was a struggle. My new self tailing winches were fantastic! I set them up to so I could sheet from the windward side. So I was able to make constant adjustments to the genoa to keep the telltails flying perfectly. I think adding these winches was the best decision I could have made.
Needless to say, I am thrilled. This was exactly the goal I had set for myself at the starting line.
The Fall 50 is in 2 weeks. Hope the wind stays from the south.