During another pair of drop-mark races on Rhode Island Sound, the duel between Dorade and Santana intensified. But for a moment at the start of the second race, we wondered if either boat would survive to sail at all. John Burnham reports.
Things happened pretty quickly in the last minute before we started the second race of the day on Friday. Dorade had sailed a solid opening race and our rival, Santana, had finished third behind the New York 50, Spartan.
Now Spartan had set up high to run the line as we tacked to starboard in front of Santana and began working up toward the windward end of the line. Big Ticonderoga, the 85-foot Herreshoff ketch, was also reaching along the line to windward of both us. As the countdown continued, we looked back and saw Spartan gathering speed to windward of Santana and bearing off to sail to leeward of Ticonderoga, right at us.
Suddenly, things looked very bad—the bigger Spartan was going twice as fast as us and it didn’t matter that they were without rights; the tonnage rule was what would count most if the two boats made contact.
I still don’t know how they missed hitting us, but they bore off at the last minute and just cleared our mizzen. I’m also not sure where Santana went, but they must have borne off hard to avoid collision. Needless to say, none of us had a good start and it took a while to settle down our heart rates.
The impressive thing was how Santana tacked after the start, took everyone’s sterns, and at our first cross had passed us. We gained on them down the first run and nearly had an overlap at the leeward mark, but we couldn’t quite make it stick. As a result, we had to take a clearing tack on the next upwind leg. With the breeze building to 14 knots on that leg, the gap between us continued to open up.
The final run was about eight miles long as the committee chose to finish us off Fort Adams outside of Newport Harbor. Sailing against a strong ebb tide, Santana stretched her lead on us to four minutes, easily beating us on handicap, and the 68-foot S&S yawl Black Watch also beat us.
With both boats scoring 1-3 on the day, the series results remained unchanged, with Dorade at 13 points and Santana at 14 points. The final day of racing is today, and with record temperatures ashore and a close battle on the water, it’s going to be a hot out there in every way. Except hopefully we’ll all spread out a bit on the starting line…