2009 PDRacer World Championships - Buoy Race

I flew in for the weekend with the sail from BucketEars. Bill Giles had been taking care of hull number #2, originally built by Ken Abrahams, and the very boat I had been chasing all of my ducking career. I was only able to beat her once - and that was because Ken accidentally capsized. Bill was going to make sure I didn't loose to this boat again, he brought the boat for me to use !!

For the bouy racing, here is what happened from my boat: 1st race -- I had a decent start and looks like about half the fleet had a good start, but the other half kinda got stuck a little too far down wind of the line. The winds were light but still had just enough to make headway. I climbed up hill to the first mark pretty well and was only a few boats behind. Rounding the mark I had difficulty on the first deployment of my spinnaker, it wasn't setup right. Passing the leeward bouy and heading through the gate for my 2nd lap, suddenly my rig just wasn't pulling like it was and I couldn't make progress up wind very well. The rest of the fleet was catching up and passing. I still had some wind, but just couldn't get her up there. I blew 3 lay line attempts at the windward mark and finally got high enough to pass, and then just drifted into it. I took my 360 and continued. I had adjusted my spinnaker lines on the way up and so now could deploy it properly, and was making better time heading down wind, but most of the fleet had passed me already so this race was a lost cause.

At the beach I noticed my luff was a lot slacker than I started with, and there was the culprit. The snotter had loosened, and my luff tensioner line had slipped so just about everything that should be tight was loose. I re-rigged my lines and tightened her back up again, those adjustments held throught the next 2 races.

2nd race -- I think everyone woke up to how important it is to stay close to the gate for the start, and the gate area was more congested just before the start. I couldn't fit in and had to turn away just at the wrong time, the starting gun went and the wind suddenly slackened. From my turn I had stalled out, and had a great view of the rest of the fleet heading across the line up wind. The winds were very light for the rest of the race and I just couldn't make up to catch everyone. The compromise of my sail rig is that it is small, but very well cut so the rig climbs to windward very well in good winds and is easy to manage in high winds, but in light air it just doesn't work so well, that combined with my weight and I never do good in light airs. I wasn't the last one in but very near it.

3rd race -- Some dark clouds which had been in the distance finally were coming close, and suddenly the wind picked up. Not much, probably only about 8 mph, but that was enough to give me hope. The sea scouts have strict rules that they aren't allowed on the water during thunder or lighning, and upon hearing the first boom, they have to immediately call off any race and head for shore. With the impending weather, they were reluctant to hold another race. I saw Scott with a radio, went up to him and stared begging to run another race. He called it in and the commodore came back ".... crackle crackle.... OK one more race, but only one lap and they have to start in 5 minutes". YEA! I yelled "lets go !!" and pushed off in Ugly Duckling.

Others got aboard and suddenly we were at the line waiting for the final starting horn. I reached back and forth looking the fleet over, they were all in perfect trim and position, so having nothing to loose, I thought I would gamble a bit, I repositioned so I would start on a port tack without the right of way, and would try to squeeze through the fleet. If I didn't do it just right, I would either have to tack or might collide causing me to do a 360 and loose all hope of any sort of placement.

Watching my timer I knew the horn was in about 15 seconds, I pulled in the main sheet and brought her up to speed, heading for the line. Shawn Payment was doing the same on the other side, he on starboard tack with the right of way. Getting closer.... getting closer, where is that horn !?!? Am I going to go over early !?!? Where is it..... BBBBBRRRRRRRRRR there it is! Shawn was dead ahead and I was heading for him, I looked and the rest of the fleet was right behind but just enough of a gap that if I held course, I would squeeze right through. Getting closer, getting closer.... the bow transoms of the fleet are heading right for me, and CLEAR! HA! I made it throught!

Now lets get this old girl up wind and make this gamble pay off. I looked left and there was Shawn out in front of the rest of the fleet, and I was the only one on the right side of the course. I was getting close to the tree line and starting to head into a dead spot. I wanted to do the least amount of tacks, and was just about to turn when the wind shifted just a bit, and gave me some more room on that heading, and let me point a bit higher. I turned up wind till my main back-curled and then fell off to that perfect heading. Few more seconds then comes the tack.

On my new heading, I could see this new wind direction was in my favor and Shawn hadn't made his first tack yet. Still doing good pulling to windward but heading wasn't going to yield a lay line. Then I saw Shawn take his tack and the rest of the fleet starting to do the same. I couldn't tell how good his heading was, in my mind I was trying to calculate how many tacks he was going to take and if I had made the mistake of starting on the wrong tack. He looked good as we were heading towards each other on a collision course, but I was still atleast 2 tacks away from a lay line, and he might be only 1 tack away.

He passed to windward of me and I thought that was it, I wanted to tack so badly, but kept going on port because the wind was helping me so well. Then suddenly I could feel the pulling lighten up, Oh no! what is happening. Shawn has a full sail and a bone in her teeth, and I am loosing speed. Feeling around with the tiller and there it was, the wind shifted a few degrees the other way! I tossed the tiller over hard and did my backwards twirl around to get on the other gunnel, and landed on a great heading. My sail filled perfectly and was pulling well. Shawn looked back at me, then I saw him toss his tiller over for his tack. Was this it, did he make the lay line? At this point I was on port and he was on starboard.

Watching Shawn.... looking at his heading trying to see if he did it..... Hmmmm...... it looks close..... HA! HE BLEW IT! He tacked too early and wasn't going to make it!!! So I am holding my course with a port wind. I can see the buoy on the left, and I am trying to figure my lay line. My mind rushes to calculate exactly what is 90 degrees off my side, and when that big inflatable bouy is passing that imaginary line. Little bit further, little bit more...... I think that is it, but if I turn early I could blow it. Telling myself just a little more to make sure..... Right then I notice Shawn is back on port tack and heading up wind, almost to my lay line but a lot close to the bouy. DO IT NOW!!!

I throw the tiller over hard and spin around to the other gunnel. The wind seems to have picked up just a bit and I am leaning out to keep the hull sailing flat on the water. She is really going now but I don't have a window in my sail and can't see the windward mark. Leaning back and forth, lifting the foot of the sail I am trying to judge if I am going to hit or not. Getting closer...... There it is! The hull is going to pass but my boom is going to hit. I grab the foot of the sail and yank it over, the boom misses the bouy by 6 inches. I hear the observer in the committee boat say "there you go, barely clear".

Cleared the buoy, let out the main and look down for my spinnaker halyard. Oh no! I forgot to straighten it, and can't tell which side of the halyard to grab! There are 2 pink lines side by side hanging from the mast. One line goes from the head of the spinnaker up to the block on the mast, and the other is from the block back down, but I can't tell which one is which. I am loosing time, so I just guess and grab it, yanking as fast as I can. Flaca Vero helped me out a bit, because I had the right line and suddenly FFFFFPPPOOOOOOP, my spinnaker was up, full and making me run fast.

Looked over my shoulder and there is Shawn rounding the mark. He then started weaving back and forth looking to steal my wind. I adjusted a bit, but he had found it was was stealing from me.

Little jink this way, and his huge lug would turn to cover and he kept gaining. By the time we were at the mark, he was on me but outside.

We both turned the mark at the same time and headed for the gate.

On a broad reach, his lug was on it's best course, and he just pulled a little bit ahead.

He crossed the gate taking first place

I followed for second.

So far I have yet to win a world chapionship, but it doesn't matter because racing with my friends is so much fun, doesn't matter what place I come in.

One of our traditions is that we all make homemade trophies, and put them in a pile. The first place person picks out their trophy, then the 2nd place etc, etc so everyone ends up taking home a trophy.

Shawn won overall, and picked out this magnificent trophy which was made by Marc Blazer. The girl at the top is Flaca Vero, our patron saint of puddle ducking, and she is holding a minature of BucketEars. The next boat down below is Marc's boat "Bloody Splinter" which is an awsome looking pirate ship!

This is the one I picked out, which was made by Kenny and Bill Giles.

Here are all of the competitors that participated in the event. For more info, see PDRacer.com and click on world championship race for 2009.

It was a great time !!!