Like most things in 2020, sailing events have been dampened down from their once glorious social scenes where the competitive racing was just one of many fixtures of the overall experience. The 2020 Pig Regatta was no different.
Covid-19 has been a bitch. There isn’t any way to dress it up. While I have been fortunate that the overall stability in my life has been maintained, it’s still a major bummer that the simple things in life are being turned upside down. This year’s edition of John’s Pig Regatta at Privateer Yacht Club was, as anyone would expect, a bit different. Most importantly, the event lives on in some form and this is where I must give the faithful organizers all the credit for condensing the event to a level that is pandemic sensitive.
Luckily, I was once again recruited for the pig roasting and if I’m honest, it was much more pleasant without the “groupies” standing around. With just a few crusty sailors standing around drinking, the jokes and story telling are more colorful (or perhaps off-color) which in the right company suits me just fine. Also, everyone seemed to be a bit more efficient without the peanut gallery there to interject. Needles to say the actual roasting of the pig went off without a hitch on Friday night.
Earlier Friday, Josh and I did a bit of work on the Impulse to get it ready to rock. I had just finished up replacing the internal outhaul system which required a swege. The foils also needed some hand scrubbing since the boat hadn’t moved in over a month. Since it was a nice afternoon we decided to go out and make sure we remembered how to sail. This was the first time the boat had been sailed since we cleaned the bottom and it was the first time we hoisted our new .5 ounce Spinnaker from North Sails. Needless to say, it felt really good; however, our expectations for the next day were low by our standards. We hadn’t sailed in over a month. Life has a funny way of dealing you the awesome hand when you least expect it.
Saturday morning was brisk and beautiful. There were folks splashing boats, cleaning bottoms, and the general bullshitting that accompanies. By the time the race got started that afternoon the wind had picked up to 5-7 out of the south. The course was from the Day Mark just below Gold Point Marina to Fairview Mark just below Big Ridge Marina until the time ran out at 4p.m. after watching most of the fleet take off, we hit our start in mostly consistent breeze and very efficiently. We had pulled ahead of the j27 and were making significant gains on the whole fleet. Approaching the Day Mark (the first time) the wind had gotten light and variable. This was very beneficial to the faster boats while the slower boats suffered. We would go around the first mark 3rd overall with around an hour left to sail.
We managed to punch out to the lead quickly, but the wind got crazy and the Wavelength managed to roll right over us with breeze that got to us a just seconds later. From there it was a literal pissing match as we rolled right back under them to leward. During this time a good portion of the fleet came barreling down the course riding the best breeze of the day. We of course got covered up by four boats which in turn let the two boats with the inside lane slide right by. But with a bit of smooth maneuvering to get clean air we hung on to stay within striking distance. After giving up the lead twice, we left Fairview to port in 3rd overall right on the hip of the j27.
The j27 did the usual and luffed us up to make us tack out. I have never found these boat on boat tactics beneficial in a handicapped race, but I digress. So we tacked over to port and separated from the whole fleet which was disconcerting for a while. The j22 eventually would come over to join us which was nice because they were just in the right spot to let us know what was coming. Meanwhile, the j27 was on the other side of the channel somehow one tacking the whole leg due to a perpetual lift down the second half of the leg. At this point it was becoming clear that the wind had settled in and it was a three boat race between us, the j22, and the j27. We eventually ground the j22 down and rolled over the top of them. With around 10 minutes left to race, we came around the Day Mark in the lead with both the j22 and j27 VERY close behind.
At this point the wind had shifted even further south which made sailing angles very reachy. Our initial inclination was to hoist the chute, but the j22 kept the jib and was sailing higher and faster showing signs of rolling us to windward. We decided to drop the chute and power up the genoa so that we could come up and control our lead. While this is going on, the j27 is making ground further back with their chute up on the leeward lane. Even more importantly the race committee had set the finish line around 100 yards ahead. I don’t remember much during this time other than I was trimming the genoa to every single wind change there was. With the j22 squarely behind us by just a boat length or two, the j27 was moving well under Spinnaker on the other end of the line. Luckily, in the last 10 yards to the finish, we got a nice little puff that was just enough to hold our lead over the j27. We won by maybe a boat length.
It was an amazing race, and not just because we won. We’ve been in the second and third place seat for this ride and I had just as much fun for the pure and simple fact that it’s just plain willpower at that point. It also doesn’t hurt that the crews of the other two boats are good people that we are all friends with.
A friend of mine that would know said that we are one of three boats that have won the Pig Regatta back to back years. I’m proud to join that club because I know you don’t just “get lucky” winning this race. Don’t misunderstand, luck is very much intertwined in the persistence and decision making that goes into a win…… Not to mention two in a row.