We volunteered Kindred Spirit to serve as the Race Committee boat for one of the Hope Town Sailing Club’s “big boat” races. “Big boat” meaning 18 feet or longer, as opposed to the dinghy and sunfish races. The Charles P. Manchee Trophy Race was held on Wednesday, January 20th. As a trawler, we may not be eligible for racing any longer, but she has the potential to be a really good committee boat. Always looking for a new experience!
Although the race wouldn’t officially begin until 11:00 am, the committee boat (us) went in to the dock at 8:45 am to pick up the equipment and the six race committee members.
Like most sports, sailboat races are governed by rules, lots of them. The rules are written by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and include the “right of way” rules for racing sailboats, as well as rules that concern eligibility, race organization and competitors’ rights to protest and appeal decisions. The six members of the HTSC Race Committee (Chairman David with wife, Catherine, Anne and Paul, Denise, and John) brought their notebooks, laptop, plus flags, flag poles, lines, horns……
The committee boat heads out to set up the course a good 90 minutes before the start of the race. While some of the Race Committee members recorded competitors’ information (boat names, type, length, captains, PHRF rating), others determined where to set the marks.
This race was a “Point-To-Point Race” rather than around marks set in a triangular course. Below is our iPad Garmin Bluechart record. The green squiggling line is the actual course of Kindred Spirit as she left Hope Town harbor and set the starting line. You can tell that one mark was set and then pulled up and moved for a better position. The brown straighter lines are a “recreation” of what we think the actual course was.
A start line for a running race is painted on the ground. That’s not possible for a sailing race. Instead, the start is an imaginary line between a buoy at one end and the mast of a committee boat at the opposite end of the line. At the start “gun” the competing boats want to be just behind the line and sailing at full speed. Timing this accurately can be challenging for even the most experienced racers. If a boat goes over the start line before the gun, the penalty is to go around and come through the start again before continuing to sail the first leg of the course.
Flags combined with sound signals are used to communicate to the racing boats. Technically it is the flag that signals the exact time because the sound can take several seconds to reach the far end of along start line. Not a problem for this race. To be honest, most of the time when we race, we don’t really pay attention to the hoisting of the flag. We make sure our stopwatch is accurate and pay attention to that, as well as the sound. We are usually too busy keeping an eye out for the other boats near the starting line to bother looking out for a flag as well. The starting line can be a pretty exciting place when everyone is jockeying for a good position.
I found the flag process for the start of the race very interesting to observe.
Of the 14 boats that began this race, only nine finished. Five “retired.” There just wasn’t much wind, and we sure know what that is like. Things were moving along slooowly. We learned that there is a lot of waiting on the committee boat. With a point-to-point race, we couldn’t see much of the action except for the start and the finish.
The Race Committee conferred and made the decision to shorten the course due to the very light winds. It’s fun to eat lunch during the race, but no one really wanted to have dinner out there, too.
As boats crossed the finish line, the calculating and recording of times, and place with PHRF rating figured in, begins.
The conditions and course for this race were very different from the previous race (Sailing Again!)The very light winds made it difficult for some boats to finish and five “retired” from the race. Two boats came too close to the shallows when rounding the windward mark and bumped bottom, briefly. The final results were quite different from the last race. Just goes to show that a race can be anyone’s depending on the conditions, the strategy, the captain and crew, and some good old-fashioned luck.
Official Standings for the Charles P. Manchee Trophy Race:
1st – The Abaco Rage
2nd – Sunshine
3rd – Barquita
4th – Lone Peak
5th – Grumpy Ole Men
6th – Second Wind
7th – Quest
8th – Sea Bean
9th – Bumblebee
Final thoughts — We had a great time and are happy to have participated in the race in this way. We met some really wonderful people, had a new experience, and were out on the water. What more can you want?
One more addition to this post: Two days after the race, I saw this video on the Hope Town Bulletin Facebook page. It automatically began to play and within the first second of the 6-second video, I caught a glimpse of Kindred Spirit. I can tell it was race day because of the bright orange tetrahedron on the bow! Paul Ingram posted it. I have no idea who he is or why, but it was quite a surprise to see our boat.