Monday, June 25, 2012

Destiny's first Regatta

            It was called “One More Time Regatta”, that is, of-course, assuming there has been a “time” before.  The Wooden Hull Yacht Club teamed up with Del Rey Yacht Club, to sponsor this annual race of wooden hull boats on June 23.   I decided to enter Destiny just to see how she would sail against other boats of her era. I know that Mr. Atkin had, at least, a thought of racing when he drew the plans for the Meridian model, or why else would he describe his Yawl rig a “rule cheater” in the accompanying article for MotorBoating magazine’s April 1934 issue.  Though, the whole idea of a “rule cheater” begs the question of whether it is the “winning” or real performance of this sailing yacht that was most important to the designer.  I guess by nature we are a competitive species, and if there is no desire to win then why race at all?  However, if designing a “yawl” was primarily to get a better handicap performance rating, rather than it actually performing better, then I wonder what is the point other than “winning”?  I would like to think both.

            I have not been able to ascertain whether Destiny had raced before in Southern California; at least not by her present name because neither SCYA, nor Southern California PHRF had a record of it.  As far as I know this wasn’t “One More Time” for Destiny, but perhaps its first time on the field of competition. It was, at least for me at the helm.

            I had sent in my entry form, and at the Saturday morning skipper’s meeting I was supposed to be assigned a handicap.  We looked up other full keel yawls of about the same water line length and displacement and came up with an acceptable rating for the race committee.  The race is historically an inverted start, meaning the slowest boat start first, then all subsequent boat, depending on their handicap, are assigned a start time the appropriate number of minutes and seconds after the first boat is off.  The idea is that if all boats sailed up to their handicap, they would all cross the finish line at the same time.  Thank God it’s only a theory.

            My start was 18 minutes, 45 seconds after the first boat, and I was the 3rd boat to start in a field of 17 entrants.  The winds were pretty good for Santa Monica Bay this day and that 18 minutes and 48 seconds seemed like a very long wait as we watched the two boats ahead stretch their lead further and further.  Finally our time was drawing near. “Your to close…” shouted our bowman “you’re going to be over early.” So I jibed around, loosing precious momentum, but we got pointed to the line and I heard our horn seconds before crossing; we were off.  The big genoa was cranked, we healed over and someone shouted “we’re doing seven knots”.  By the time we rounded the first mark, at the Santa Monica Pier, we had cut the lead of the first boats by more that half.  As we approached the next mark, three and a half miles to windward, we had already passed the first boat start and the second boat was approaching the mark slightly behind us…but I had miscalculated the current and had to wear away and jibing to keep from hitting the mark.  This was a costly error and the second boat scooted by, rounded the mark seconds ahead, and set its spinnaker, “Good by”, we didn’t have a spinnaker or a chance.  The whole rest of this leg we watched as it pulled away.  Number two was now number one, and I started to look over my shoulder.

            Rounding the third and final mark, at the El Segundo buoy, we turned toward the finish line and starting a slow but encouraging game of catch up.  But, it wasn’t to be, our rival, a gaff rigged sloop, was over the line a good four minutes ahead.  One could argue we were faster, boat for boat, since they started eight minutes ahead, but we didn’t beat the handicap. One could also wonder what might have been if we too had a spinnaker to fly.  As it was, we were handed the first place trophy for “Ketches and Yawls”, but the coveted first over all was captured by the boat of which I only saw the stern…and I didn’t even catch its name.  I guess next year, if we are here, it can truly be “One More Time.”




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