|Written by Barry Canton|
|Monday, 01 November 2010 12:20|
After a season racing in the gentle waters off Marblehead, Viper 92 traveled south to take on the assembled fleet of 37 Vipers! Lured by the promise of speed machines, great racing, camaraderie, and a wonderful setting, our expectations were high for a weekend that very much delivered.
Following a late night rigging session in near total darkness, we arrived at the club early on Saturday to be greeted by clear skies and the makings of a solid breeze. After reassuring ourselves that we had the mast facing the right way following our late night rigging we were soon on the waters of Long Island sound (nice work on the hoists AYC - 37 Vipers, zero stress). While heading to the race area, we experienced something unusual for Vipers - boats whizzing by us from all directions. We reflected on the fact that regardless of where Batman keeps his boat, it is almost certainly a foiling moth. Peter and I took the time to get acquainted with our new crew member, Bill, who stepped in at the last moment and was a great addition (if there is one thing two mechanical engineers need in a third crew member, it's that they be a mechanical engineer!) .
Battle was soon joined with the breeze frequently jumping around (but almost always blowing a near perfect 12-16kts). The Viper fleet was so excited to get racing that we frequently decided to start a good 10 seconds ahead of the race committee, who were, for some reason, unimpressed by our eagerness. The beats towards the windward shore were always challenging with a lighter and flukier wind as we approached the top mark. A safe position in the top five could easily become a deadly battle to avoid last place if you weren't careful (and often even if you were). But while the wind and our placing bounced back and forth, the same few boats seemed able to edge clear each time. After four short and very fun races we returned to the dock to examine the weird and wonderful collection of assembled dinghies - from the uniques moths to the dizzyingly complex 505s to the pretty lines of the K6s. The day was capped by a lovely after dinner talk about the evolution of wing sails by X (oh boy, did we mechanical engineers love that!).
Day 2 dawned cold, reminding us to make the most of this weekend with winter fast approaching. By the time racing started, we were once again experiencing ideal conditions - lots of warm sun and an offshore breeze similar to the day before. Racing proceeded very much as before too, the Vipers would blaze across the line, the race would start, then we'd come back and do it all again. The short courses kept everyone close together and put a premium on getting around the course cleanly. Thanks to the always wise advice of my crew we were sometimes close enough to the front of the fleet to see the battle being waged for the podium. Quite the close battle it was too with just 5 points separating the first three boats. Congratulations to Brad Lee and the crew of Jackpot for coming out on top. Congratulations also Justin Scott and his fellow Mambo Kings (2nd) and to Barry Parkin and the Pink Storm (3rd) for pushing them so hard. Most impressively, Jackpot never finished outside the top five, quite a performance given the changeable conditions and the depth of the fleet.
Sitting on the grass in front of the American Yacht Club with the sun casting growing shadows, we had an opportunity to thank and congratulate the race committee, the HPDO organizers, the AYC, our fleet officers, and all our fellow sailors for great racing and a very memorable weekend. Here's to more of that in 2011!