Double Damned 2008 Results
Sailed:1, Discards:0, To count:1, Ratings:PHRF, Entries:9, Scoring system:Appendix A
||Corrected Elapsed Time
||More Uff Da
||Spinn #240 or #227
||Slowly Going Grey
Scoring codes used
||Started but did not finish
Well, we survived the inaugural Double Damned Race!
I can only say:
Words could never be adequate.
What started as a race ended as a desperate attempt to just get there and stop the madness. It was beyond a doubt the toughest challenge I've ever faced on a boat and one of the most memorable events I will ever attend.
The Damned name is fitting, it was less a race and more an adventure/test of survival skills. Trent was so kind (I'll get him back somehow) as to offer to enter his F-27 in this race if I'd come along and helm. I'm not known for being overly bright, but I am known for leaping before looking - I gladly accepted.
The night before the race one of our crew cancelled, in the morning after seeing the weather conditions, another crew cancelled. Honestly, that probably wasn't a bad call... So we were 3. Hey it's only 42 miles, how hard can it be? We can do it!
My neck and shoulders are sore from 5 1/2 hours of the most concentrated driving I've ever done.
My face hurts from a full 4 1/2 hours with an ear to ear grin stuck on it.
My butt hurts from about 3 1/2 hours at full milspec pucker.
Oh, and have a huge scrape/bruise on my arm that came from I know not where.
We started very conservatively, with double reefed main and jib right from the start line. That was my call, and it was awful for a few miles as we got left behind. But knowing once we got to the windy areas there would be no way to reef, we left it reefed. The screecher went up almost immediately, jib down, and off we went. The monos were all far ahead already, but after a little bit we began gaining ground, overtaking boat after boat as they took down their spinnakers, blew up their spinnakers, or in one sad case, mast and all came down. Sorry Ryan, bad luck. Again. I might point out that we carried the screecher long after all the spins came down, and most every one of those monohullers in fact did take note of it! Once we got settled in at warp factor 7 they could not help but notice. Damn sure got our attention!
Those who told us to take a screecher made a good call, thanks for advising the screecher over the spin. Thanks also to Charlie for the loan of his screecher. You guys may well have saved our lives! We sheeted it outside the shrouds to the outer ends of the aft beams. The boat seemed to like it. We sure did!
Strong winds, huge puffs, sustained gusts, and runaway freightrain rides became commonplace, commonplace enough to lull us into a sense of security that was probably quite unwarranted. But I have to say, the F-27 is a most reassuring boat.On one particularly strong gust, the boat took off like a shot but heeled far enough to bury the lee bow and loaded up some serious weather helm, and gave me a few breathless seconds to see if I was going to lose it. The little voice in my head said "that's your first warning." Losing control in that river channel could be doubly disastrous, as there was often little or no room for recovery if needed.
After a while I got used to freight train rides, and again settled in to enjoy the ride. But then the waves got bigger, but we got used to it, big grins. The wind got stronger, we carried more speed, more on the edge of control, in bigger gusts, with bigger grins all around. More gusts, bigger and more sustained, sailing so close to out of control you sort of detach and just wait to see how it will play out, more white knuckle driving... I still get a little jittery just thinking about it. Sometimes a gust would heel us way over, monohull style, with so much weather helm pressure I'd need both hands to hold it, but we would take off and it would be fine. Sometimes a gust would just shake the boat like a rag doll, and then off we'd go, unbelievably fast, and with yahoos and yeehaws we'd ride it out, maybe auger into a wave and get firehosed, or bury an ama bow and get firehosed, or just attain a high enough speed we'd get firehosed anyway. Often, quite often, during the blasts we'd have to gybe - with no choice in the matter. We gybed 200 times at least, a few times in a bit of panic, but we never hit bottom and never lost control. And I have to give credit, Trent and Matt never blew one gybe, in spite of my erratic driving! The F-27 is a remarkably capable boat.
Just when I thought we were at the limits, the wind would increase, or the waves would get bigger, and I'd realize we were just going to have to deal with even more, there's no pause button on this thrill ride, and again, things were okay. There came a time when I really did get a bit of genuine fright and readied the guys to dump the screecher, but then things got stable again and I called to keep it up for a while yet. Little voice: "second warning." We began a 'ready to dump and furl' at all times defensive posture. At this point we felt pretty challenged, but it wasn't even close to the epic wind and water conditions we would face in another hour... Incidentally, after the finish we found that windsurfers wind stations along this stretch of the course were recording 35 mph with higher gusts. (Dont forget those waves...)
Eventually we were running with only the double reefed main. Seeing speeds of 16-18 regularly (and certainly higher but there wasn't much time to look at the speedo) with only a double reefed main was sobering. Remember we weren't fun reaching, we were driving as close to dead down wind as could keep it without accidental gybes! Seeing the waves get even Bigger, and then wind even Stronger, was sobering. Eventually it became so difficult to maintain control I just knew we weren't going to make it, but we did. Then we began burying the bowsprit regularly. Then the bow itself, then all 3
bows. The waves were fully 6 feet high at times, the wind gusts unbelievable and the combination of both was surreal. There were many times when I silently said to myself "so this is it then" but, nope, we came through again. [you mono guys do realize a knockdown or a pitchpole is way more serious for a trimaran?] The F-27 just kept on, bringing her nose up and charging over, into, or through wave after wave. Very cool ride this boat. And Trent and Matt are great company, they're great guys to share a thrill ride with.
Toward the end I reached the point where neither surprise nor fear nor any amazement at all was possible any more, I just hung on and steered and watched things unfold like it was movie, not even real, and not happening to me. Like shell shock.
Finally, not much more than a mile from the finish, the wind had gone light (light being a relative term, I bet it was still 20+) and we discussed flying the screecher or maybe the spinnaker but finally decided to put up only the jib (I sorta vetoed the big sails, me being a coward and all.) Around the next bend, yep, you got it, the most wind we had seen yet hit us. Hard. Sustained. Merciless.
It took about 4 more gybes to make the finish, which we did, and then after a bit of discussion we dropped the jib while running, even though no one really wanted to go forward, I was not about to try to spin the boat up with the jib up in that wind... With the jib secure I spun us up into the wind, sheeted in with the intention of sailing close hauled and slow until the motor was running.... this is yet another example of how you get suckered in, we had gotten too accustomed to all this wind and waves, lulled into a false sense of security and control, when I turned upwind the fury that hit us in the face was literally stunning! I don't believe I have felt that much wind in my face while on a boat before, and there was NO sailing
in it, I tried but we couldn't go anywhere but sideways. We got the motor going, the main secured, and even then with 9.8 hp we could barely point the boat where we wanted, and the waves were huge! The bows were rising and falling at least 8 feet, and a couple times it felt like we were gonna blow over. Backwards.
They told us when we docked that the wind at the finish line was a sustained 45 mph with higher gusts!
We weren't even surprised.
My adrenal glands are sore!
Safe in the marina, (after a clown circus, err, stunningly brilliant docking maneuver) everyone who had endured the day swapped stories, beers, and generally all bonded in way somehow closer than the usual regatta afterparty. We all knew, and still know, that we have done something few will ever do, and it was EPIC! Not only that, but we got to do it first.
All in all, 9 boats started, 8 finished, no one was hurt, no protests, no fouls.
We were first multi to finish and first place in the Multihull Division! Well okay, we were the only multi entry.
We crossed the line mid pack, corrected to last, and we had an adventure we won't soon forget!