The Royal Savage Yacht Club held a pursuit style sailboat race from Burlington, Vermont this past Sunday south ten miles to Town Farm Bay. A bunch of club members and their crews sailing on seven boats participated. I took Walkabout up to Burlington harbor on Friday to secure a mooring for the weekend. It’s a crowded place, all boat slips in the marina had been taken for months and moorings are first come, first served.
Single-handing is something I haven’t done much of since Jeanne and I have owned our boat. On our travels we met a couple of Tayana cruisers who do it, real independent guys, but not on Lake Champlain. In fact I’ve only taken our boat out by myself four times. But a pursuit race is fun and I hadn’t been out much in the past month so I went – as soon as Jeanne said she would be OK with it.
Friday afternoon was flat calm and I motored the whole way, the sails stayed in their bags. Other RSYC members who went to Burlington on Saturday had super conditions for sailing and were talking about it endlessly…
Lounging on deck Saturday morning I got to watch the dragonboats practicing maneuvers in among the moored boats next to the harbor breakwater. The paddlers try to be as coordinated as possible, an effort which must take endless drills. Paddles cut the water in unison to the coxswain’s chant and drumbeat. By Sunday morning three thousand paddlers had gathered in teams at Burlington’s lake-shore complex racing the long, slender, colorful canoes, the sound of taiko drums banging out cadence over the cheering crowds.
I wandered off downtown in the afternoon to watch some of the ‘Festival of Fools’ activities and to replenish my spice supply at the co-op. There never is a lack of excitement in the big city.
Saturday evening there were impromptu drinking parties on a couple of club member’s boats and then groups of us drifted off for dinner at local restaurants. The west wind that had blown strong all day calmed down for the night but by morning slowly picked up again, now from the south and by race time was blowing smoothly at ten knots.
In a pursuit race every participating boat has a start time, determined by the boat’s PHRF rating, a handicap calculated from a number of esoteric features of that boat’s design. The ratings are a source of unending speculation. Walkabout has a PHRF of 180, accordingly I started pretty early.
If all goes as planned the race boats should converge at the finish line more or less at the same time, using the staggered start formula. It took me four hours of beating into the wind, which picked up to seventeen knots by late afternoon, to finish and even though my boat was last, by a nose, I enjoyed it.