30 Jun Queen’s Cup Race Report – Arete Finished First Her First Freshwater Race!
Every good racing program needs goals, and on Areté, our team is no different. With a powerful new boat that requires a new level of intensity and skill, and a new set of sails out of which to get the best performance, our goal is straightforward – we want to be the first boat to finish every race we enter.Read below for a full summary of our very first race!
Race Preparation and New Sails
The days leading up to our first race were action-packed, as our days tend to be. The new sails – Doyle Stratis ICE sails from New Zealand – that Rick had ordered arrived. Pat Considine, a team from UK Sails in Chicago and some of our crew spent several days taking down the old sails and installing the new ones. We eagerly awaited the arrival of the final piece of the puzzle – the new, extremely sexy hollow rectangular carbon battens…which promptly got stuck in customs in Los Angeles. When it became apparent that they would not arrive on time, our crew sprung into action, modifying the battens from our battered old mainsail to fit our lovely new one. This definitely put us on our back foot, as we lost valuable preparation time while putting them all together. Everything was finally installed in time to leave the dock after 3:00 pm, with just over three hours before the start of the Queen’s Cup.
The next three hours were spent running the reef lines – the reefing system takes time to get right, and is absolutely simple in action – and getting preliminary adjustments done on the sails, which had not yet been set. Our start was the final one, along with the rest of the multihull fleet. With 20 knots of true wind, we elected to start with a single reef in the main, as we did not completely trust our second-string set of battens, and under the #2 jib.
The Multihull Teams and The Start
Before describing the race, it is worth saying that we know most, if not all, of the sailors in the multihull fleet. These sailors are among the best we know, and it was a pleasure to share a starting line with them for Areté’s first race. The wind angle was perfect for a reach across the lake to South Haven, MI, and at 6:50 pm on Friday, June 26th, Areté took her first starting gun. The Queen’s Cup was under way.
We quickly gained speed to 21 – 22 knots as we powered through the multihull fleet. These were ideal conditions for all of the multihulls, not just Areté, and we could see the speed that our competitors were able to reach even early in the race. Sailboat races are traditionally organized with the slowest boats starting first, and the fastest boats last. This gives the slower boats – who are very competitive within their own classes – the opportunity to start well ahead of the larger, speedier boats. It gives those on the fast boats a bit of an obstacle course to pick through – you want to get past your competitors as quickly as possible, and they prefer not to be passed to windward, which slows them down. Slower boats will often make it quite clear by altering course to weather that they do not wish to be passed on the windward side. We aimed well below competitors and Areté’sincredible speed left the fleet behind quickly.
Dialing it In!
We also recognized that we needed more speed to do well against our handicap. We compete with a rating system that levels the playing field as well as possible, allowing smaller boats to perform fairly against big ones, and vice-versa. The sails looked great, so we changed from the #2 jib to the #1, and then shook out the reef, sailing under full main and #1. The older battens did not hinder us much on a reach, though they would have if we had needed to go upwind.
It was fast – 23-25 knots of boat speed – wet with lots of spray and – once again – COLD on deck from the cold Lake Michigan water spraying the deck, the wind chill and cold temps. But it was exhilarating for all of us on board – Areté was racing with a bone in her teeth. In this, her shakedown race, not a boat was visible behind us after an hour and a half.
At that point, we were nearing the center of the lake. The wind was staying fresh and we began to – quickly – rotate drivers so that all seven of us would have an opportunity to take the helm for 20 to 30 minutes. As night fell, the temperatures began to rise a bit, and then the wind backed off somewhat. We continued to tweak the sails, traveler, mast rotation and foils for the best power until, just over four and half hours after our start, we flew across the finish line off of South Haven, the first boat to finish.
Misson Accomplished & Congratulations to The Winners
Areté’s first race was a blazing reach across Lake Michigan, yet one where we did not have our foot hard on the gas. Brand new sails, really old battens in the main, and no practice meant that the Queen’s Cup was our first test sail. Taken in that light, the race was a resounding success. The three sails we flew – the mainsail, the J1 and J2 – all looked great. After many, many delivery miles, we have basic crew work down, but we have a lot of work to do as a team to get the most out of the boat, a process that, honestly, will go on for some time – it’s a fabulous boat with a lot of secrets we have yet to explore.
Congratulations to the podium finishers in the multihull class – John Achim’s Tri-N-Catch-Me won the class sailing doublehanded with Rick Hake, whose name may be familiar to Areté fans, as he was on the delivery from Newport to Quebec. Mike Steck and his crew on Caliente corrected to second place, with Peter Patullo’s Nelda Ray in third.
For Rick and the Areté crew, it was mission accomplished – first to finish! Arete’s name is now on Queen’s Cup’s Sylvie Trophy, awarded to the first boat across the line. This was our goal for the race, and we were delighted to capture the Sylvie. Next up – the SuperMac!