03 Sep Farr 40 Blue Takes 3rd In vineyard race
The 2019 Vineyard Race hosted by Stamford Yacht Club started in 15 knots of breeze gusting 18 with sunny skies. It was a downwind run off the line and all three Farr 40s deployed their A2s. They each also set a staysail for extra stability and a little power boost. The Farr 40s and Oakcliff Open 30 were all competing against one another in PHRF 12.
The navigator on Farr 40 Blue, Ethan Johnson, kept them a little hotter than Black to reach the North Shore of Long Island sooner. He wanted to get out of the middle of the Sound because, based off his experience doing the race before, it had a tendency to go light in the middle. His prediction came true and they were able to follow a line of pressure along the shore. Red also went for the shore early and stayed in the pressure neck-and-neck with Blue. About three hours into the race, Black joined the party too, escaping from the light patch in the middle of the Sound. Red tried to swap out their A2 for the Fr0 but quickly switched back when they started to lag behind.
Blue and Black kept pace with one another and reached Plum Gut at about 7:30pm. At that point they were still under A2 in 18-20 knots of breeze but their angle through the gut would take them into Fr0 territory. Blue unfurled the Fr0 and opted for a letterbox douse of the A2.
It took them about half an hour to get through the Gut and at that point they faced a tough tactical decision. Do they go around Block Island to the North or the South? The routes were nearly equidistant (10 miles to go South and 11 to go North) so it came down to a question of wind. The Northern route would allow them to go back to the A2 and stay faster. The breeze was also forecast to shift to the Northeast which would give them a nice angle to the Buzzard’s Bay Light Tower from the North side. Both Black and Blue decided to go North but, the shift came later than expected so they didn’t make the gains they’d hoped for. Regardless, they were still in a good position on the fleet.
Blue rounded the Buzzards Bay Light Tower at about 3:45am. Approaching the Tower, they struggled through light wind and a challenging sea state that made it hard to keep their A2 filled. Shortly after rounding they switched to the Fr0 and found the breeze again. They made big gains on Black who had been close behind before rounding.
Blue and Black continued through the night around the South side of Block Island, this time not as a tactical decision but as a requirement of the race course. Blue cruised around the island at sunrise doing 5.6 knots through the water in 6.2 knots of breeze with the J1 up. By that time they had put a hefty 6.5 mile lead on Black; but Black wasn’t out of the running yet. Black hardened up when they rounded Block and headed for the Northernmost entrance to Long Island Sound: the Race. Meanwhile, Blue went for the Southernmost entrance, Plum Gut, and got stuck in a big hole and a 2-knot current on their beam. They painfully watched Farr 40 Black chip away at the 6.5 mile deficit until they were through the Race sailing along the Connecticut shore in pressure.
When the breeze finally filled in for Black, it was just what they needed to get back in the game: a steady 10 knots from the West. They peeled from the super light jib to the light medium and bucked the current through the Gut. They beat into the middle of the Sound and who do they bump into? None other than Farr 40 Black. They started a loose tacking duel with Black who was slightly ahead. Blue made their way to the Connecticut shore and, by that time the breeze had swung Northwest. Black footed off and headed towards the middle of the Sound while Blue stayed high to hug the shore for current relief. The wind continued to back until it got into fractional code zero territory. Blue launched the Fr0 and, at about the same time, Black did too. At that point it was a drag race to the finish with all hands on deck, hiking hard on both boats. The Boat Captain on Blue, Alex “Firefly” Lulewicz, manned the helm while the Boat Captain on Black, Chris Holman, drove in a tight battle between two seasoned Oakcliff staff.
Black was doing a good job keeping speed up, staving off Blue’s approach. When the sun went down Blue bore away and switched out the Fr0 for the A2. Black held their Fr0 and stayed higher but it didn’t pay off. Blue was able to reel them in and get a good current boost in the middle off the Sound. They pulled ahead and had one more maneuver before the finish of the race. They had to round the last mark outside of Stamford Harbor, the Cowes Green, and switch out the A2 for the Fr0. They executed a clean letterbox douse and cruised to the finish with the Fr0. They crossed the line at 11:57am. Black finished about 45 minutes later.
Blue took 3rd place in PHRF 12, Black took 4th, Red took 6th, and Overproof took 10th.