In which Lake Norman nearly foils us all.
The Flying Scot NACs begins with a qualifying series that's meant to sort the fleet into two halves. The entire gang of registered boats split into four groups, which race against each other in a three-race series. The top half goes on to race in the Championship Division while the second half becomes the Challenger Division.
The first day of Qualifying dawned bright and -- not so windy. Having anticipated less-than-ideal conditions, the race committee scheduled racing to start at 9:30 all week. With 68 boats on shore waiting to launch, it meant that we needed to be up, packed, and ready to push off the dock at 7:30 am.
The racing, however, didn't end up starting until after lunch. Though we sailed out and back to the racing area early in the morning, the breeze did not hold and the postponement flag never came down on shore until 3 pm or so.
While waiting, we played some half-hearted bean-bag toss matches. We made plans involving blenders, various bottled concoctions, and copious quantities of ice. We observed the local wildlife. Bluebirds flitted thorough the jack-pines. Brim and bass splashed.
The junebugs here in Lake Norman resemble chunks of emerald and gold dichroic glass. Here's a selfie with junebug.
They fly like Japanese zeros: straight out of the sun they come, buzzing like lawnmowers, kamikaze-ing people, boats, tents, making contact with a sound as loud as a cork popping from a bottle.
Once the breeze picked up -- and it seemed so unlikely that it would not fade again -- the fleet surged to the middle of the lake and raced a "course 3" -- the longest of the course options. And it seemed like the least sensible racecourse given that the breeze was going to die. So much for doubting: the breeze stayed up around 4 knots (it seemed like a gale!), with the odd puff to maybe 8 knots (full-on hiking on the Speckled Butterbean).
We had a good start toward the pin-end. Alas, while we had a good compass heading, the boat-end had a lot more wind pressure, which made the first upwind leg a battle. A couple of dozen boats were sailing between us and the front of the pack. As the skipper says, "It was looking pretty hurtful there for a while." But we made like honey badgers and kept the Bean rolling. We connected a few puffs, did not take transoms, and fought our way to the top ten.
Downwind, we caught Larry Taggert, and then were the first boat to tack to the right side of the course. After ten minutes or so, we looked around to find that yes, the right paid big dividends.
We led at the third mark. Downwind, after rounding the right gate, we probably should have gone immediately to the right side of the course, because Texans Heidi and Kelly Gough went up the right side and got the cross on us. We threw a handful of tacks in -- more for practice than ambition -- and finished second. We got back to shore, hoisted the boat, helped our friends get their boats out of the water, and lo -- it was 7 pm. A full 12-hour shift of sailing. Or a 12-hour shift of something.
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