Daily Archives: November 18, 2009

J-CLASSIC FINALS III: Rise of the Cetaceans

When we last left off in this tale of the J-CLASSIC Finals, the NYC-Narwhal crew of Nomad Zamani, Chaos Mandelbrot, and Glorfindel Arrow was in a rather sorry state. It was Half-Time; four races were scheduled, and two were on the scoreboard, but those numbers did not look good for Narwhal. In the first two races, Waypoint All-Stars had repeatedly outmaneuvered NYC, and Eureka proved incredibly fast compared to NYC’s whale-boat entry.

However, the absolute worst thing of all for NYC was that their Ace Starting Pitcher, Nomad Zamani, had crashed-out twice in the last race. Narwhal had used-up it’s only discard in the  crash, so NYC was up now against the wall; Team NYC knew that one more bang-up  like that would be lethal, and surely mean an early end to their hubristic playoff hopes. Although back in the locker room, Nomad was still having connection problems and limping badly when Race Director Hay Ah sounded the horn to field a team for the third contest…

Nomad weighed the odds and made the call. During half-time he huddled and laid out the facts.

Nomad said it was too risky for him to skipper the next race, given his tenuous link with Second Reality; he would just crash again. Nonetheless, he exhorted his NYC crew not to give up, but to fight on… “and win one for the Gipper!”

Narwhal Skipper Chaos Mandelbrot

Sometimes fate moves in strange ways. Amidst the din of wind and wave and the clang of rigging all about them, the members of Team NYC thought Nomad said “Win one with the Flipper.” All eyes fell on Chaos Mandelbrot.

Chaos Mandelbrot looked up, swallowed hard, and uttered the immortal words: “WHO ME??”  He protested it was too early to race in his timezone and he hadn’t brushed his teeth, but Chaos was game-to-go. He put down the beer he was drinking, tightened his PFD, and waddled over to take the helm as Narwhal’s Relief Skipper.

The last two races used a new chart that took better  advantage of the extensive sailing water throughout the sailors Cove Estate. It began with an upwind beat to the orange mark in Sugar Reef, then switched to a three-sim long reach to Race Rock Light. From there the course ran through Hay Harbor channel down to the open waters of Schooner Run. The return trip from there to Plum Gut next involved a tricky, narrow squeeze through Anchor Cove, followed by a short detour south around the small island in Quoddy Head. The course was nothing too complicated, and the competition skippers had certainly sailed similar charts many times before. Nonetheless it would take a good deal of skill, and probably some good luck to take first place sailing against this fleet.

However, when the gun went off, Waypoint was ready, and took the advantage!

Massy Johin was once again at the helm, and his WYC All-Stars crew started in the lead with the best time of the day: 00:02. NYC was considerably further windward but started a full ten seconds later, followed by Eureka and then Second Chance.

The next picture (on the right) shows a view of the fleet from high above the spectator blimp taken after the fleet made its first tack; all the boats were now on port. On the left of the image you can see Waypoint leading Eureka, and the right side shows Narwhal far in the distance in front of Second Chance.  NYC is the ‘lowest’ of the four boats as they proceed to the mark.

When he did not win the start, Chaos kept a cool head and took a lesson from WYC’s tactics in Race One. Finding himself  hehind, Chaos deliberately tacked early, sailing away from the pack.

Look what happened next in the picture below. The first image shows Chaos as he reaches the end of his course  and makes a turn; his new course is a starboard right-of-way tack that crosses directly in front of the rest of the fleet.  Chaos timed it perfectly; the middle image shows Narwhal crossing right in front of All-Star’s path. Massy now had no choice; he pulled up short and came about to starboard.

The lower image is a few moments later. It shows all three boats now sailing on starboard with the orange mark in the distance, two tacks away. WYC looks in the lead, but NYC is sailing windward and closer to the mark. Perhaps more important, in that position Narwhal has the “height” to take tactical control.

Watch what Narwhal does next.

As you can see in the first image below, since All-Stars was running parallel and ahead of Narwhal but on a lower course, they ran out of water and had to tack back to port again. The problem is that NYC was blocking them, and NYC was still on Starboard with Right-of-Way. Waypoint had plenty of room, but in order to avoid NYC, All-Stars had to fall off and go astern of Narwhal as shown in the middle image.

That extra few seconds and change in course heading proved disastrous for Narwhal’s competition. Remember, Eureka and Second Chance Were on the same heading and only moments behind the lead boats. In response to NYC’s blocking maneuver, All-Stars lost momentum and turned into the path of the oncoming boats, as shown in the middle image. I can imagine Alain and Trapez shouting  a few unrepeatable words as they desperately tried to execute last minute hockey-stop turns. A collision was inevitable however; the WYC, Eureka, and Second Chance teams all broadsided each other and awkwardly sat in place for more than a few moments  as they sorted out locked rigging and disengaged their scraped hulls.

While all that was going on, Narwhal was out ahead with clean air and an unobstructed racecourse, moving in record time.

The image below shows the NYC team roaring through Anchor Cove Channel on their way to the final leg of the course. Unfortunately the other three boats continued in close quarters after their pile-up. They stayed overlapped and squabbling  for nearly the entire remainder of the race, losing time in the process.

The lower image below shows them traveling three abreast in Anchor Cove. That must be a tribute to wonderful sailing; I didn’t think it was actually possible to fit three J-Class in that channel overlapped…

The final figure below shows Narwhal working the last leg back to the raceline, while the other three boats have just raised spinnaker and are still heading to the last waypoint. Narwhal went on to take Race Three’s First Place in record time, finishing a full two minutes ahead of WYC All-Stars, the Runner-Up.

Nice work for a substitute skipper du jour, Chaos!