THE CURSE OF THE EARLY BIRD RACE

By DOUG JONES

The Quissett Yacht Club launched its 2017 season with the Early Bird race for H-12’s and S boats this past Saturday.  After a threatening and rainy morning, the skies cleared for a gorgeous afternoon of sailing.  The Race Committee of Sarah Meigs and Doug Jones confident that the S boat fleet was still in dry dock took advantage of the later starting time of the H-12 race and quickly checked on the placement of all of the racing marks.  Upon returning to the starting area, the Race Committee set a short but legal starting line with a slight starboard favor and posted the course of JQA, sending the racers upwind to a mark off Penzance Point, then on a run to the Quissett Light buoy, back upwind to a mark off Stoney Beach, and a final reach to the finish.  Four boats prepared to do battle for the sometimes dubious honor of winning the inaugural race of the season.  Tradition and QYC superstition holds that the winner of the Early Bird race is doomed to win no other races all season.

Ted Grayson and Steve Chalmers in Swizzle timed their start perfectly towards the pin end of the line, while Tom and Kristan First in Olivia opted for the ideal windward position a few seconds late.  Mike and Emma Garfield in Phoenix chose the conservative, safe position in between the two leaders, while Chuck First and Betsy Zimmerli in Allie Rose opted to avoid the fray and confusion.  After testing the inshore route and the building air offshore, Phoenix quickly took over the top position and gradually increased her lead as the fleet sailed upwind.  Olivia did her best to stay within striking distance but Phoenix expertly covered every maneuver from a safe distance.  Once Olivia hoisted her spinnaker for the downwind leg, Phoenix was compelled to follow suit.  Meanwhile Allie Rose and Swizzle were engaged in their own close battle with each boat alternately holding the upper hand.

As the fleet rounded the light buoy, Phoenix had increased her lead, followed by Olivia, Swizzle, and Allie Rose.  On the subsequent upwind leg, the first two boats maintained their position, while Allie Rose found a few puffs and lifts that allowed her to round the upwind mark in third; however, Swizzle’s find spinnaker work pushed her past Allie Rose on the downwind leg.  By this time, Phoenix’s lead was too big to give Mike the opportunity to surreptitiously avoid the “dangers” of winning the race.  Perhaps the curse will finally be broken!

Results:

1.         Phoenix          Mike and Emma Garfield                  1:04:59

2.         Olivia               Tom and Kristan First                      1:07:09

3.         Swizzle            Ted Grayson and Steve Chalmers     1:09:08

4.         Allie Rose       Chuck First and Betsy Zimmerli        1:09:57