Friday, July 22, 2005

THIRD REPORT: Newport Bucket

If you are, like me, a fan of sailboats made by Nautor’s Swan, then you’ll want to tune into the Rolex Swan American Regatta set to take place July 25-29 in Newport, R.I. Hosted by the NYYC, over 40 Swan yachts from America, Asia and Europe – including two Swan 56’s, a Swan 60 and a new Swan 601 – will be competing courtesy of sponsor Rolex.

Speaking of Newport, I posted earlier in the week on my experience last Saturday aboard the S/Y Avalon during the Newport Bucket…but haven't detailed the actual sail. The wind was SW at six knots at the start, not ideal for a 106’ yacht but we put the canvas up and crossed the line in good form. Conditions had been fair in Newport Harbor but as we left the East Passage behind outbound to the Narragansett Bay, we sailed back into fog. Interestingly the wind picked up as the fog thickened and we soon had nearly ten knots of breeze with low visibility. As helmsman Ron Holland had several people calling tactics and monitoring the radar the limited line of sight did not slow us down...but the mist did make keeping track of our competitors a challenge. The boat sailed well with more pressure and I soon got the hang of the push button winch system. It was a strange feeling not to be able to see the headsail from the primary winch – we had someone amidships call the trim for me which took a bit of finesse out of the job but still, nice to be ghosting through the fog at six knots SOG (speed over ground). All through the day as the fog cleared the wind lightened. When we sailed back into it, it built. It was my first encounter with fog tactics. By far the best leg of the day was downwind – the boat sails very deep and accelerated well with the spinnaker up. All in all a pleasant, if a bit damp, sail with nobody getting their blood pressure up… though we emerged from the fog to see the last mark dead on our bow and had to bear away sharply. Our tactician was nearly too good! The post-race scene back dockside was epic – I’ll finish up on this topic next week. Have a great weekend all and hope you spend some of it sailing.

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