After a windless two-hour postponement ashore, Dorade headed up Narragansett Bay into a building northeasterly breeze that promised an afternoon of good competition in intermittent downpours. Crewmember John Burnham describes the view from onboard.
This was a new racing area for us, about a mile west of the north end of Conanicut Island, with a strong ebb tide early. Two four–legged windward-leeward races were held, and adding to the usual challenges, we had the fleet of Classic 12-Metres starting five minutes behind and gradually overtaking us. These beautiful yachts from the ‘30s and the ‘50s ran some interference for us on the first run, slowing down our rival, Santana. That helped us stay in front for three legs and finish a mere boatlength behind—close enough to win the race by 13 seconds on corrected time.
The 12s returned the favor in the second race after we led early again but let Santana by on the run. On the second beat, both of us approached on the port-tack layline, and Santana was able to flip around ahead of the starboard-tack pack while we had to duck about 250 feet worth of former America’s Cuppers.
Our final results were 1-3 for the day, Santana finished 2-2, and the fastest boat in our class, Spartan, scored a 3-1. Through three days of racing, we hold a 1-point lead over Santana, with Spartan 2 points further back in third.
A key to our continued success today was Ali, a last-minute sub for Malcolm, who tailed a whole lot of jib sheet and learned several of the other jobs us mid-deck scramblers do. She admitted it was a steep learning curve, coming off Swan 42s and IC37s, but the Team Dorade consensus was that she fit in well.
One of Dorade’s secret weapons was unveiled during the long interlude between races when Mike fired up the coffeemaker. I was so absorbed in the warmth of a full cup of strong black coffee during a particularly heavy downpour that only as I finished it did I realize Greg, who was steering, and I were the only ones left on deck. Everyone else was relaxing below in the Dorade Café.
Racing ended late and we flew the spinnaker on the long downwind leg back to Newport (Dorade sails faster than she motors in most conditions). As the rain continued to fall, Matt unveiled another feature of the café, breaking into the Dorade wine locker to warm up the crew.
Usually once tied to the dock, Dorade is carefully hosed down and her varnish is shammied to a shine, but with rain still falling, there was no need for a washdown today.
Tomorrow is Friday, the penultimate day of the regatta, and it will likely be dryer, hotter and just as tight boat for boat on the racecourse. Here is the link to the results to date.