Tuesday February 25, 2003 01:44AMon
After an all-night haul down to St. Petersburg, we rigged and launched "Thin Ice" Thursday afternoon just in time to miss the last of a dying breeze, and therefore, some valuable pre-regatta practice. 160 boats had registered - 28 of which were J/24's, making it the largest class at the regatta.
The next morning opened the regatta with a steady 8-10 knots. The J/24 class was the last start on our course, so we had plenty of time to watch some great starting action by the previous 7 classes, including the J/29's.
The race committee extended the line for the last classes (Melges 24, J/80 and J/24) and we found that we needed every inch as class needed two general recalls due to the large number of boats agressively over the line, before finally getting a clear start under a "Z" flag. Unfortunately after two good starts negated by the recalls, Team Thin Ice was busted barging and only managed a second row start. It was a hard lesson in the value of clear air!
After getting two races in before the breeze died, Team Thin Ice was less than excited about sitting firmly in the bottom third of the fleet. SPYC more than lifted our spirits with a great buffet, bar and Race 1 of the Americas' Cup on several big screen TV's. Nothing like watching the Cup with about 400 enthusiastic sailors!
Day two started with little or no wind but the Mt. Gay Boat spread good cheer on the course while we waited. When the seabreeze filled in, we resolved to be more agressive and were rewarded with winning the pin on the first race, rounding the windward mark second on the way to an eventual fourth place finish.
The second race found us a little too agressive and we were hit with an OCS. Under the "Z" flag, OCS carries a 20% penalty which negated the gains we made picking up 8 boats before finishing. Day three had the best wind which had the effect of aggregating the J24's and Melges 24 classes, as the longer course sailed by the Melges resulted in overlapping the two fleets by the first leeward mark! Needless to say the traffic was a bit more congested and we saw approximately 10 boats from each class working hard to simultaneously cross a short upwind line.
After packing the boat up, we headed north towards the remnants of the winter storm that had covered Richmond, regretting that the St. Petersburg NOOD wasn't a week-long event.Log Streamer's Note: For more on this regatta see also Whittemore Shines In The Nood