Dear BHIR competitors,
Your 2011 Race Committee wishes to extend congratulations to all the regatta winners, and more importantly, to all competitors for safely negotiating some very difficult conditions. While many were able to finish the regatta within the time limit, regretfully many of the Fleet 2 boats were not able to complete the course within the established time limit. The great party on George's Island, and the satisfaction of supporting a great organization were enough for most competitors to call the day a success. Nevertheless, we think it appropriate to relay a few thoughts about the regatta from the perspective of the Race Committee.
First off, we deeply care that boats that traveled a distance and paid the entry fee (at least for a great cause!) and sailed the course, were scored a disappointing Did Not Finish (DNF). Some of the key decisions that we made and factors surrounding them are detailed below:
The selection of course 2 was made 45 minutes prior to the first start. At that time, the breeze was 12 to 14 kts out of the east. Course 2 was directly into the current, but at the time of the course decision, was close hauled point of sail on port tack, which was quite manageable. Course 1 would have given an initial break on the current, but would have resulted in a beat through Hypocrite Channel with plenty of adverse current. This would have resulted in a significant jam up in a treacherous area, especially if the breeze died at all. The forecast was for 5 to 10 knots. The other courses 1R, 2R, 3 and 4 would have taken the fleet into areas which had less wind and in some cases more current. The wind shifted to the south enough to make the first leg a beat, and the wind velocity died to barely enough to allow the smaller boats forward progress for quite some time.
As the race progressed, the faster Fleet 1 boats started making really good time, and even some of the Fleet 2 boats were closing in on completion of the first big loop of the course well before 1:00pm. The sun was coming out and the breeze had filled nicely. A decision to postpone the shortening of the course was made, which turned out to be most regrettable. As soon as the top boats passed GC "1", the breeze began to die. We moved to RN 4 between Rainsford and Long Island and set up the shortened finish line. The point of sail from Quarantine Rocks to the finish was a close reach and boats were moving well, until the fog rolled in and the breeze shifted back to the East, making the last leg a slow beat.
Other factors included a spring tide of over 12 feet, with the peak current right at the starting time. Also, a number of Fleet 2 boats were late to their start - many by a significant amount of time. These are factors that we will look at for planning next years' regatta. We also will build more flexibility into the Sailing Instructions to allow for appropriate shortening of the course for either Fleet. We wish to thank those who emailed comments and we will consider their suggestions for next year. The regatta is a unique event that plays an important role in supporting a great organization. We thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you next year.
Wade Edwards, Race Director
Wil Lockman, Race Manager