Date: June 14, 2003
Course: Nanaimo to French Creek
Distance: 22.10 nautical miles
It all started at 6:58, my wake up call was 7am, Kim said to me “Jason, it’s 7am, I’ve been up since 5:30am everything here is going on the boat, Rhonda will be here at 8am,…(he added some other items I don’t recall) I’ll see you there. I couldn’t believe it, I am not a morning person, I said, “k, just give me two seconds”, the count down began, 1, 2 ok and Kim was off to the Cheekee Monkee.I looked out from our hotel room and there was hardly any wind but I could feel the breeze beginning. I packed up and met Joe and Colin downstairs and our support crew arrived on schedule at 8am.
We had a very good breakfast listening to the jazz band playing next to the food wagon, you could feel the excitement in the air, and everyone was rushing around with missions. We packed up the Monkee and headed out at 9:45 for the starting line.
We decided to take the Starboard end of the line (it was the end of the Pier) with a Starboard tack upwind to the mark where we would round, unfurl the screecher and then change sails to our spinnaker.
We slid inside behind the pier and began to luff our sails for position to be the highest of the starboard boats. The wind was 15 to 18 knots from the southeast (on the nose) at the start. 20 seconds, “ok let’s GO!” Kim yells. Off we set on our starboard tack; little did we know that in the last 15 minutes the wind had shifted about 15 degrees in favor of the other end of the start line. We were getting headed while the pin end boats were getting a very favorable lift.
Two tacks later and we were rounding Protection Island the wind steadily building to 20+ knots. We unfurled the screecher (we were leeward to all the boats that had gotten the lift) and we immediately shot off like a rocket. We were passing the fleet to leeward (shooting past below them) and we were triple slotted with our screecher, jib and main cranked on a reach and we were flying!
We were looking over to Redshift when it looked to be that they were almost going over! The boat was standing on their port side ama and it looked like they may go over (Wayne latter showed me his bow sprit, it was in the shape of an L in stead of a |). Bam, the gust hit us, we were taken by surprise however we maintained our control and off we went screaming past the remaining competitors. There was Dragon Fly in our sites off in the distance.
“Time for the spinnaker” Kim stated, all of us went to our posts and we hoisted the shoot, we took off gaining speed with every passing minute. 17.2 knots Kim yells!
Looking back we saw Flip Flop and Fly chasing our every move, ahead we could see Dragon Fly. We were definitely on a Dragon hunt this morning. The winds steadily built to 20 knots and the seas built to 3 feet. Kim yells “let’s do some surfing!” We were riding the waves then plow, Kim would drive the Monkee right through the wave ahead sending a tidal wave over our cabin!
We were sailing very flat but from my position (I was posted on the Spinnaker sheet on leeward) I could only see the ama completely submersed. “This is called, Jet Ski style sailing!” Kim says as we have yet another wave comes from the bow to the stern in 1.3 seconds flat. I had water coming strait down my back and my water proof socks began to fill with water.
We could see that Dragon Fly was getting bigger! We were making progress on them. The seas were building and so was the excitement. Kim was fantastic at the helm; he was driving down the waves picking up an extra knot to 2 knots!
I only blew the shoot off twice because I thought we were going under. Colin on the other hand had a completely different perspective from the stern of the Monkee, Kim from Windward and Joe and I kept looking at each other to ensure we both were on the same page. Joe was on the main sheet ready to blow it off in case we stood the Monkee on its nose.
Joe says “we’ve been sailing for 1.5 hours, how much further? It turned out that 15 minutes later we were the second boat to finish! I think we were about 12 – 15 minutes behind Dragon fly.
It was rough going entering the Harbour as the mouth was very tight and there was a power boat flogging in the entrance and never once did they indicate that they were in trouble. It turns out that their steering went just as they were about to enter the marina. The rescue boat arrived and removed them from blocking our entrance to the marina.
When all competitors finished, the festivities began. The Skippers meeting was at 5:45, it turned out that there were 5 boats in total that broke the existing finish time record, Dragon fly took the honour for finishing first and shattering the speed record to French Creek!
We finished 1st on corrected time, Flip Flop and Fly finished about 4 min behind us. We thought that they may have had us, they sailed a terrific race. Redshift finished 3rd with a broken bowsprit with Sauterelle, Dragon Fly and Bad Kitty rounding out our division.
The first place winners also got a 6 pack of beer, Joe didn’t mind as none of us drink!
Joe had heard the night before at dinner with a certain Bad Kitty that “the inside was ok and it was too bad that he was missing the best part, the outside legs!” After today I can guarantee that nobody will be saying this wasn’t the most exciting kick off they have ever seen. Bad Kitty!
Today yielded us an overall position of first place but tomorrow is another race. We hope for great winds again tomorrow and we will keep you posted.
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