Course: French Creek to Comox
Distance: 28.55 nautical miles
Dawn came early
for the Cheekee Monkee, the Skipper woke up early again, (that's
"mee"), affectionately know as the Cheekee Monkee (50
something) by some and by other unmentioned epitaphs by others.
We the crew were riding high on the success of Leg 1, we were second
boat in, first in class and first overall. Could we do it again?
Could we hang on to the coveted Yellow "Tour de Van Isle"
Flag? Could we improve our performance with a line honors finish?
I looked out
the motel room window to gaze upon flat water, no wind and bright
sunshine. What a change from yesterday. From rip snorting wind and
tumbling seas to a glassy flat calm. Well, we like it both ways;
in fact we like it any way we can get it.
Let me take
a moment to introduce the crew of the Cheekee Monkee for the inside
legs. In alphabetical order, Jason Arnold, my son-in-law, Colin
Haigh, an Aussie Mate currently is residing in Canada and Joe Rome,
my sailing friend from Marathon, Florida in the Florida Keys.
Jason (30 something)
was introduced to the Cheekee Monkee on his honeymoon, Tracy and
Jason elected to spend their honeymoon in 1996 cruising the Florida
Keys with Lynda and I on the Cheekee Monkee. Jason grew up in Manitoba
and his boating experience was limited to runabouts and jet skis.
Shortly after hoisting sail the first day and screaming down the
channel in 3 - 4 feet of water at 13 - n14 knots, Jason was hooked.
He has been a regular on the Cheekee Monkee ever since his first
Swiftsure in 1996.
Colin (50 something)
met the Cheekee Monkee at Cowichan Bay in 1999 at the Cow Bay Regatta.
Colin and Lois own the F-9AXT "Mango" (a virtually identical
boat to the Cheekee Monkee). Seeing Colin at the dock, I immediately
started offering unsolicited advice as I am wont to do. As Colin
proudly showed about his boat, I suggested that if he was here to
race then he should take the refrigerator off the boat and leave
it on the dock for starters. Amazingly enough he took my suggestions
in the light that they were offered and started off loading equipment
onto the dock. Colin has been campaigning on the Cheekee Monkee
since I seemed to have spirited him away from Bad Kitty. In fact,
he skippered the Cheekee Monkee in the 2001 Swiftsure while I was
recovering from surgery.
Joe Rome (50
something) met the Cheekee Monkee in the parking lot of the Lauderdale
Yacht Club just before the start of the Ft Lauderdale to Key West
Race in 2000. I had taken the boat down for the winter race season
and the next thing I know Joe has given me the keys to his house
and moorage out front for as long as I wanted. A great guy, very
generous and a pretty fair sailor himself. Joe and Cynthia own the
Lucky Star, an F-31 like the Cheekee Monkee and more recently, an
F-28R known as Porn Star. Joe is no stranger to speed, having actively
competed as a professional Indy Car driver in the 70's and 80's.
back to the IF ONLYs. The race started on time at 0900, winds very
light with flat calm seas. We lined up at the pin end for a starboard
tack start and slowly sailed away from the line. The fleet faced
with large patches of flat water and small patches of wind eventually
split into two groups. One group headed to the right side towards
Sisters Islets chasing zephyrs and the other group headed left further
into the dead zone. We found ourselves headed towards the right
moving from wind patch to wind patch. Soon, it was just Redshift
and the Cheekee Monkee slowly moving out into the lead.
These two boats
are fairly evenly matched and with flat water and light winds, Redshift
was fast. We sailed side by side, each of trying to gain and advantage
on the other. In fact we got into a couple of luffing matches and
ending up trading gybes several times. Sometime the Monkee came
out with the advantage at other times, Redshift was dominant. By
the time we came together again at Flora Light on the SE end of
Hornby Island, we were side by side again. As we worked our way
towards Comox we favored shore towards Hornby and Denman Islands.
The two of us were clearly leading the entire fleet. The wind was
freshening slightly and we were continuing to pull away from the
rest of the fleet. If only we could break away from Redshift
We were sailing hot angles trying to get past Redshift when the
gybed away, looked like a small break for us. We kept going, hotter
and faster, 14 knots, 15 knots, trying to establish a breakaway
lead. It looked like it was working; we were ahead of everyone,
in sole possession of the lead. If only, we could have finished
the race then and there.
One of the problems
of being out in front is that everyone behind you gets to see how
effective you are at picking the fast wind lanes and when you manage
to find a hole. If only the wind had held for us all the way to
the finish line. But it didn't, Bad Kitty and Dragon Fly had finally
broken free from the doldrums and were hot footing it our way. Redshift
was coming on strong too. Well there we were, right up front and
a very big NO WIND ZONE between us and the finish line. We could
see wind at the finish line and we could see wind behind us, Redshift
was bringing it with them.
all meet up, the four us together, with in a few hundred yards of
each other and only a couple of miles to go. We try to break away
again, if only we had found a wind lane to the finish. The break
away seemed to work, then petered out. Bad Kitty had gone to the
far right, Dragon Fly in the middle, Redshift between us and them,
we went left. We looked very good for a while, by the finish line
was just too far away to sustain our final breakaway. In the final
few minutes, Bad Kitty beats us to the line, hotly followed by Dragon
Fly, Redshift is coming on fast right behind us. We need to beat
them by 7.14 minutes on this leg and they are only 2 minutes behind
us. Can we at least beat them across the line? If only we had been
faster, we might have had line honors, if only we had been quicker,
we might have had 2nd place, as it turned out, we crossed the line
in 3rd spot and finished 3rd in class.
- First in Division, First Overall - French Creek to Comox
We had a great
race, it was challenging, the crew performed admirably, the boat
was fast, our tactics reasonably sound. Forget the If Only, we are
happy to take a 3rd place in such a competitive fleet.
Sail Fast, Sail Flat!