All of May and June I had spent in Vineyard Haven Harbor. It's been our training ground for the foils and it is a very challenging spot to sail with big shifts, ferries and room for error. But come July my mod switched. Moneypenny showed up on the mooring as it always does and this year we introduced two new J70's to the Harbor. The J70 Class has seen an explosion in interest since its' first boats came off the production line from J Boats just about two years ago. Recently the online registration counted 98 boats register to compete in the J70 North Americans in just under 28 hours. Now while we aren't seeing quite that enthusiasm here on Martha's Vineyard we are seeing a remarkable amount of interest. If all things continue it looks like we will have 8 boats in Edgartown for 2014 and 6 boats in Vineyard Haven. This will make for a very competitive Vineyard Cup and Edgartown Regatta in 2014.
While the J70 has provided us an opportunity to continue our Match Racing Training as well as improve our boat handling we have once again looked to the IRC 52 Vesper to excel in the competitive arena. In June we sailed the 159th Annual New York Yacht Club Regatta in Newport and we just beat out the Japanese Sailing Team Sled skippered by Takashi Okura, well evidently Sled wanted revenge and agreed to come out for our 2nd Annual Vineyard Challenge and the 'Round the Island Race. Unfortunately for Team Sled we were not prepared to lose on our home waters and we beat them in the Vineyard Challenge by a score of 7-1. But with a strong South Westerly forecast for the 2013 'Round the Island Race and with the always hungry Rambler 90 skippered by George David accompanying Team Sled in their efforts to take us down we knew it was not going to be an easy race. The forecast early in the week had called for strong SouthWest winds in the mid 20's with higher gusts and at the start we were seeing every bit of 25 knots. We opted for our 4A Spinnaker at the pin end of the line and we hit it right on target. Our speeds quickly surged into the high teens as we made our way down along the NorthWest shore of Cape Poge. A quick Jibe onto port to honor C3 and to keep ourselves in deep water and before we knew it the A4 was down the hole and we were fetching out Muskeeget Channel. Team Sled was close on our stern and Rambler just in front. This is always an interesting point in the race as we are moving through the fleet and and trying to navigate the shallow waters and strong current of Muskeeget Channel. By the time we had reached "The Hooter" off the far SouthEastern tip of Wasque it was only Rambler in front of us. We tacked over onto Port and set up for the long fetch across the South shore. Looking at my watch I realized it was only 1015...Hmmm This could be interesting.
The next time I looked at my watch it was as we were two sail reaching at over 18 Knots past Philbins Beach and Devils Bridge. It was still only 1215. As we rounded C31 off Devils Bridge the waves had built to 6-8 feet and the current was sweeping us hard to the west. Jim put the bow down further as we hoisted the A4 once again. We left the J3 Jib up as we jibed but broke one of our jibing hoblles sending me down below for the next 8 minutes to fix. Scrambling passed the onboard computer I noted our speed sitting right at 22 knots. By the time I fixed the Jibing hobble we were ready to jibe again and already even with Lucas Shoal. At this point our tactician Gavin Brady and Navigator James Gale were deep in discussion as to which side of Middle Ground to go. Unlike previous RTI Races I had done we had made it around the South Shore so quickly that we were actually pushing tide in Vineyard Sound. Usually by the time we get to Middle Fround we have fair tide and thus choose to stay inside despite the extra two jibes. In our case this year we opted to forgo the extra jibe and stay outside. Looking back we were quite relieved to see Sled following, although our relief quickly turned to a few moments of panic as our last port tack out away from middle ground had us going over a rather light colored stretch of water. Although the chart showed 5 meters we were all a bit concerned when we saw the navigator put down the tablet and hold on with both hands. The sand shift so much around Martha's Vineyard and the water color can be such a vibrant green that it can leave the most experiencing navigator guessing themselves. We reached C25 off West Chop and once again doused the A4 and prepared our Fractional Code 0 aka FRO pointing our bow toward G23 and Squash Meadow, this can be one of the trickiest parts of the race on a SouthWest Breeze as you have the geographic shift of Vineyard Haven Harbor meeting the breeze flowing down Vineyard Sound. Then just as you have negotiated the initial header and then gradual lift you are under the bluffs of East Chop and Inkwell and trying to constantly change gears between the strong cats paw puffs and seemingly desolate lulls. For us the FRO was able to carry us through this difficult spot and get us to Squash Meadow where we were able to redeploy the J3 and Reach for the Finish off R2. Total Time 'Round the Island 4 hours and 51 Minutes. We corrected out in front of Rambler 90 and Team Sled to take a 1st Place in Division 1.