Back in the summer, it occurred to me that we hadn’t put on a night race in a couple of years at PYC. There is no time like mid-September to be on the water in the evening! We were lucky enough to experience some of the finest conditions that could be had. So nice in fact, that there may have been some extended sailing into the night after the race was over.
When I scheduled the evening of the 15th of September, I was excited that it was going to be a Friday night, which is a great way to start the weekend. It was also the weekend before TVCC, so what a great warm up! It seemed prudent to plan several courses depending on wind direction and velocity. There was short and simple (start at Harbor, Goldpoint, Fairview, finish at Harbor). Option two was a bit longer, in case of better wind conditions (start at Harbor, Lake Resort, Coast Guard, Pumping Station, Booker T., Fairview, finish at Harbor). Race start was at 8pm which was right as dusk falls over the water. I arrived at PYC around 4pm to get the deck on the Impulse cleaned up and noticed that conditions weren’t even worth rigging the boat. It was ZERO gusting 2, and spotty. Luckily, by the time I finished cleaning up, the breeze had filled in to a nice 5 to 8 mph out of the south; however, it was still a couple of hours until the start and anything could happen. I was still leaning toward the short course as it was sure to lighten up around nightfall. As luck would have it, the wind got even better right around 7pm which was just in time for the skippers’ meeting. With coaxing from a few to “go big or go home,” it was decided we would do the long course. The logic was that, either way, everyone is going to be putting their boats away in the dark so, why not?
At race time, to no one’s surprise, the wind had backed down substantially in the start area around the Harbor mark, but there was still promising breeze across the lake. Ike was kind enough to share his massive supply of glow sticks after a few drive-bys. Quick aside, we keep finding glow sticks everywhere on the Impulse.
Everyone’s start was unremarkable except for our Commodore…..he was late, as usual (we still love you Frank!). There was nice steady breeze, but things got a little squirrely up around Lake Resort. From Lake Resort to Pumping Station was a beam reach and the breeze started to pick up nicely. From Pumping Station to Booker T. to Fairview was a regular sleigh ride for all of the boats that put their spinnakers out. If memory serves me correctly, the Impulse saw 5 knots downwind a couple of times on the run. The last leg from Fairview to the Harbor was a “Chamber of Commerce” beat that made for a very pleasant finish to the evening.
For all of those folks who “don’t sail at night” for various reasons, I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. If you don’t have lights for your boat and don’t want to hassle with fixing old wiring, look around on the internet for battery operated sets that fasten onto the boat temporarily. Also, if you were concerned that the race was going to go late into the evening, I believe everyone was finished, or had retired, by 10:30. This was a fun, very loosely organized, and relaxing race. The feedback since has been 100% positive and encouraging. In the future, we hope to raise the frequency of night races to more often than every two or three years.
Finally, the conditions were so nice after the race was over that Josh and I dropped the better members of our team off at the dock and went back out for more. Let me just say, having the lake to yourself on a crisp Friday evening, double handing with your best friend, and popping the chute for good measure is what sailing is all about.