It has been a few months since the 2011 Sun Cat Nationals, time enough for even a catboat jib trimmer to get around to posting the rest of the photos, so here they are!
Between the first and second races, Sonja got quite a few good pictures in the catboat parking area. Here comes Good Juju reaching into the pack as Catboat Willy approaches in Sea Bird out beyond committee boat Whimsy.
Click any picture to enlarge.
Catboat Willy’s Sanderling Sea Bird makes a fine picture as he waves to Sonja on the mark set boat.
I got a nice shot of the new Sunday Cat going by, moving along well under full sail. Hmmm… perhaps I should have noted that fact at the time. We still had a reef in our sail.
As the start of the race approached, the Sun Cat fleet started our tactical maneuvering and timed runs to make the start line on time and with good speed. Well, we mostly just sailed around off the stern of the committee boat. The Horizon Cat class did not participate in this charade.
The crew of Horizon Cat Good Juju take a break between races from the demanding work of paying attention to the string that controls the catboat sail.
Meanwhile, I evidently had snacktician duties requiring my attention down in the cabin and failed to notice that the wind had died down a bit. Enough to shake the reef out of our sail, it turns out.
By the time the Sun Cat fleet started, I was looking under the baggy reef in my sail at a whole bunch of unreefed Sun Cats! The only one who still has a reefed sail is Scott in Suitsus, but his big sail reefs down to the size of our full sails. I had a feeling we might be in trouble, even though the wind still felt pretty strong.
We were moving pretty well with the fleet despite our reduced sail area on the upwind leg. We crossed above Catnip the first time our paths crossed, but Butch had closed some distance since the start and was coming on strong.
We were unable to close on Suitsus at all on the upwind leg, but he did not cross all that far in front of us so we were not losing much ground either.
Suitsus got around the windward mark ahead of the pack, but Catnip was not too far behind and looked to be in good position to take an easy second place in the race. Fortune (or something) was about to intervene to make things a bit harder for Catnip.
It is not clear exactly what happened next up at the windward mark. Catnip was trying to get around when Horizon Cat Good Juju managed to rub against her outboard engine, putting a couple of two foot long scratches in Good Juju’s gelcoat. The ordinary Racing Rules of Sailing are supplemented by the admonition from the Head Jib Trimmer In Charge that no boats shall be scratched for any reason during the course of the Sun Cat Nationals, but my edicts only apply to the Sun Cat Class. If the Horizon Cat Class allows a bit of bumper boats, that’s OK just as long as they don’t hurt a Sun Cat or, God forbid, either race committee volunteer boat. Catnip’s engine and mount sustained no damage and Butch probably got a little speed out of the event, so no harm, no foul! (But we might slip a sea anchor on Charlie M’s stern cleat next year, just in case.)
They had moved on by the time we got there and Wily Conch made it around the weather mark ahead of Indy Anna and Sea Bird, but just barely. We were in third place with our reefed sail sailing against an unreefed fleet.
Sonja ran the mark boat over to catch this shot of most of the fleet coming around the windward mark. Suitsus was too far ahead by this point to be in this picture. From left to right, that is Catnip in second place, a slightly scratched Good Juju just behind, then Wily Conch, Indy Anna, Sea Bird and the Sunday Cat just coming around the mark. The sail just behind Wily Conch belongs to Frisky, and Odd Duck was far enough back to be out of the shot.
Our good position in the race quickly slipped away once we turned downwind. We had enough power in the reefed sail to sail upwind with the pack, but sailing downwind we were underpowered. Charlie J. and I discussed shaking out the reef right then, which would have been a good move but seemed like a lot of work just to get a better position in the Sun Cat Nationals.
Next the Sanderling Sea Bird passed us by. We were expecting that to happen, as it is a faster boat.
With our wind disrupted by the passage of two boats above us, it was not long before the Sunday Cat was passing us by. This was starting to get annoying. It’s just the Sun Cat Nationals, not any reason to get worked up, but it is hard to watch other boats sailing by even if you are not in a real race. Charlie J. and I talked a bit more about unreefing our sail, but still took no action.
Sonja ran the mark boat over to the reach mark, getting there just before class leader Suitsus rounded the mark. She got the entire race two fleet in one photo. From left to right, that is Odd Duck in the distance, still trying to round the windward mark, then Frisky, Sunday Cat, Indy Anna, Suitsus, Wily Conch, Sea Bird, Catnip and Good Juju.
Charlie J. and I decided that when we got around the reach mark, we would swing the boat up into the wind and quickly shake out our reef. My two line reefing system, detailed with other Sun Cat rig modifications here, showed a couple of weaknesses and the operation was not so quick. Putting the reefing lines on the boom works fine if you can reach the boom, but without the engine, we could not bring the boat far enough into the wind to put the boom over the boat. I had trouble reaching the clew reef line, which was on the horn cleat that came with the boat. That one needs to be replaced with a jam cleat.
I got the clew reef undone, jerked the tack reef out of the jam cleat, and started hauling the sail on up. I expected it to be a bit difficult since we were beam to the wind, but just could not get it to go all the way up at all. I looked around trying to figure out what was stopping my sail from going up, and noticed that the gaff boom downhaul line had worked its way around the front of the mast and hung up on the bow navigation light fixture. I quickly let off the halyard pressure, ran forward to clear it, then got back into the cockpit and finished raising the sail. The picture shows our sail luffing as the fleet goes on by. With the amount of time we lost trying to unreef, we would have done just as well to sail on with the reefed sail.
By the time I got things sorted out and Charlie J. got back on course for the downwind mark, the pack we had been chasing was going around the mark. Suitsus, Catnip and Good Juju were already well on their way to the upwind finish and we found ourselves looking down the course toward Sea Bird just rounding the mark as Frisky and Indy Anna start to head upwind, both several boat lengths behind the Sunday Cat. In the end, we were able to pass Indy Anna on the upwind leg, but could not catch the rest and took a fifth place finish. Once again, I suspect Charlie J. would have done a bit better if not encumbered by my assistance.
Sonja moved over to the end of the start/finish line to get this nice shot of Scott winning race two in Suitsus. Congratulations on getting in ahead of Catnip even after he got a helpful shove from Good Juju!
While we were hanging around in the catboat parking area after race two, Mike showed up in Sun Cat number 8. I had been worried that he might be having some trouble and be unable to make it out to race. This vintage Sun Cat has a Marconi rig with a 160 sq ft sail, ten feet more than the modern Com-Pac Sun Cats.
This photo has several generations of catboat designs represented. On the left is Odd Duck, a Sun Cat of the modern Com-Pac type, but with an added stainless steel railing around the boat. To the right in the background is Suitsus, another Com-Pac but with a larger sail off another boat. Next is Sun Cat number 8, with Horizon Cat Good Juju in the background. The Horizon Cat is based on the Herreshoff America catboat. On the far right is Catboat Willy in his Marshall Sanderling Sea Bird. It was really quite a good show for a regatta that started out as a joke on the internet, and we still had one more race to go!