The Flying Scot North American Championships -- the NACs -- truly really started on Wednesday. With measurement, Qualifying, and everything else done, the actual contest began with two solid races on Lake Norman.
The NOAA weather forecast called it: early morning breeze of 5-7 knots predicted to die at around 1 pm.
It bears repeating, if only for novelty value: the weather forecast was correct. Wow.
The flotilla of mighty sailing vessels departed the harbor at around 8:30, in sunshine, but with some haze settling in. The breeze was out of around 040 degrees, and peaked at around 5 knots. We raced a #3 course (W/L/W/L finish to windward) first.
To complete the sensory data: it was hot, and while the motorboat traffic was light, the powerboat wake chop was fierce, and some fish were belly-flopping from time to time. Discouraging words about the weather could be heard.
The individual recall flag went up at the first start. From where we were -- pretty close to the line, about 10 boat-lengths from the boat -- it looked like perhaps three boats had started prematurely, but only one, Ryan Malmgren, got the hook. He didn't go back. On the first leg, conditions got soft, but the race committee hung tough. Whichever boats went right first jumped out, hitting the right-shore lift. We got hemmed in, and had to watch helplessly as others sped (okay, crawled tortuously, but still) into the distance.
It seemed miraculous that the wind did not fade completely, but the race committee proceeded with confidence, setting up another long #3 racecourse on the lake. Again, there were chargers ready to start extra early. Two were called over early, and while Ryan Malmgren went back, the other, the pretty blue local boat sailed by Liz Elden and Don Gray got an OCS.
We started low of the main pack, a few boat-lengths up from the pin-end. In a stunning display of shear nerve, the skipper made it a one-tack beat. As less bold souls peeled off and returned to the race course, we made a bee-line for the left-hand shore.
We sailed more or less right back to the yacht club, and tacked only when we reached the shoal. Lo and behold, we'd achieved the port lay-line. The rest of the fleet was mere confetti on the horizon. We pointed the Bean across the pond, and though we sailed back in a 20-degree knock, we ended up rounding the top mark in first. Velocity trumped angle.
My nerves in shreds -- imagine the prolonged suspense of racing at these break-neck rates of, say, 1.34 knots for oh, 10 minutes in a straight line as the wind continues to play merry hell with one's hopes and dreams -- we turned the corner and promptly missed the pounce on young Greiner Hobbs. Downwind, we had to play catch-up, trying to sniff out fresh lanes of breeze to round just behind Greiner, cutting off Team Terhune and Rob Whittemore and John Wake as we headed for the right-hand shore.
Showing excellent judgement, the race committee shortened the race at the weather mark, and we finished second, retracing our way back to the club before the wind died completely. Results here.
There was time for some adult slushie bevvies (Thanks Team Terhune!) and some water-buffaloing (standing in the water, drinking) and plenty of retelling of the day's adventures before a tremendous thunderstorm rolled across the lake and sent us to our scattered vehicles, tents, houses.