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Sunday, July 31, 2011

2nd in Van Isle 360...

The last leg of the VI360 is a night run from Victoria to Naniamo.  One of the challenges with this leg is that there are multiple navigational choices, the outcome of which greatly influence how well you do.  Further complicating things is that this last leg carries a weight of ten (10), which means that it is the highest weighted leg of the event and a bad showing in this leg can easily take you off the podium -- given that we are in the lead and only several points ahead of Flash the pressure was on...

We had a somewhat late start (which was probably a good thing given the blustery conditions) but quickly passed all but DragonFly by Trial Island.  Our original plan was to take Discovery Passage, but the winds looked light so we made the decision to stay outside of Discovery Island.  This turned out to be a mistake as we had to press extremely hard to avoid the island losing ground to Flash.

After rounding Discovery Island we headed for San Juan Island while trying to get in the river associated with the flooding tide.  By mid Haro Strait we had built up a nice lead leading up to our next major decision -- to stay inside or roll the dice on Boundary Pass.  Even though DragonFly decided to take Boundary Pass, the winds looked good up Swanson Channel so we decided to press north on the inside.  Most of the fleet followed us, with the exception of a few brave boats who followed DragonFly.

The winds were great up Swanson & Trincomali Channel and we quickly horizoned the rest of the fleet with the exception of Makika (a tri-hull not in our race).  With the flood about to change to an ebb we decided to punch out through Porlier Pass -- unfortunately the wind shut off and we drifted around in circles for hours while the rest of the fleet sailed up to us, with some electing to continue north to Dodd Narrows.

Meanwhile behind us Flash and Dark Star had no option but to head out Active Pass against a building ebb.  In talking with them later they barely made it out, but once in the Strait they were launched and quickly passed us as we drifted around in Porlier Pass.

Eventually we managed to catch a slight puff of wind in Porlier Pass and inch our way out against the current while the rest of the fleet had several more hours to wait until the current shifted.  Once in the Strait we were launched and reeled in the brave boats who took Active Pass and the outside route.  By the time we got to Entrance Island we were right behind Flash & Dark Star.  Staying wide in through our finish at Naniamo we nearly caught them, but given our handicap we needed to be hours ahead -- Dark Star 1st; Flash 2nd and Icon 3rd.

The crew was really discouraged as we were so, so close to making a real big move on the entire fleet and consolidating our 1st place -- instead we took 2nd overall to Flash and ahead of Madronna (Buchan).  Nothing to complain about, especially given the stiff competition - but still a disappointment!

A wonderful race - next time we will be back!

Tired crew member crashing after last leg