Fiesta Regatta – Connecting the Dots
By Clifford Begnaud, # 126, Underdog
As we engaged in the race to get our boats out of the water and un-rigged, Jim Ulatowski congratulated us for “connecting the dots” in the last race. As I pondered his comment, I thought that this was an excellent description of what it takes to win a sailboat race. In many venues, but most especially in Colorado, the “dots” are usually a moving target. We always need a good start, we need to choose the correct side of the course, we need boat speed, we need to point high, we need good tactics and boat handling, we need good mark roundings etc, etc.
Chatfield Lake presented us with many challenges on May 4 and 5, as the wind switched from being favored on the right, to on the left or to the middle. Just when you think you have things figured out, the “dots” move and connecting them gets more difficult.
The first ever Fiesta Regatta at Chatfield Lake was held on the weekend of May 4-5. While three of our fleet had planned to attend, “Ultimately”, only two U20’s were in attendance, Underdog and Juiced!. Because of this we were placed into the spinnaker fleet along with Santana 20’s and Capri 22’s.
Saturday morning started with light winds and pleasantly cool temps. The first race began on time and the light breeze jumped around the lake enough to always keep us moving. Jim and crew on Juiced! did a great job of connecting their dots and won the first three races. Underdog came back and finished before Juiced! in the last two races of the day.
The wind had improved considerably for the last two races, at times gusting over 10 mph. Overall, it was a great day of exciting and very close racing, so close at times that in race 5 we finished overlapped after swapping leads 4 times in this one race. After five intense races, Juiced! carried a one point lead into Sunday.
Sunday morning started with very light breezes scattered around the lake. The J22 fleet started first and sailed off to the right side of the course, but by the time our fleet was ready to cross the start line, that breeze was long gone. We could see a new breeze filling in on the left and decided to sail over to it; Jim and crew saw the same thing. Juiced! made a good start, crossing the start line before Underdog, but they got pinned to the right of some of the other PHRF boats in our fleet. Underdog chose to start closer to the pin end, ducked a Santana 20, and headed left. This tactic paid off and we reached the new breeze first, allowing Underdog to gain the lead.
But Juiced! did not roll over and give up. They continued to attack, and both of us worked hard to connect the dots, with fading breezes on parts of the beat and building breezes in other places. After a highly circuitous route through 4 entirely different breezes to the windward mark, Underdog managed to round in the lead by several boat lengths. With spinnakers set, both boats headed for the finish on port tack, and then the breeze died. It died….. and it stayed dead. The occasional zephyr allowed painfully slow progress toward the finish and finally the smallest of breezes allowed everyone to complete the race.
. Sadly, that was to be the only race for the day and in the end, Underdog connected the final few dots and made a “come from behind” regatta win.
The always popular Rocky Mountain Shootout regatta at Cherry Creek is coming up on May 18-19, be there.
All the best,