A great Swiftsure Race is in the books for 'Firefly'!

A great Swiftsure Race is in the books for ‘Firefly’!

Our very own Brad Baker gives his report from racing aboard the Morris 45 Firefly during this year’s Swiftsure International Yacht Race:

Firefly goes upwind after the start. (Photo courtesy of Jan’s Marine Photography.)

It was a great Swiftsure! The most consist breeze for a Swiftsure we’ve had. I’m sure there are some long course folks or slower Neah Bay racers that would disagree as I believe the conditions faded, but as long as you finished in the early morning you had consistent breeze all the way. With very few exceptions it blew 10-20 for the entire race. Very civilized. 

We ended up third, just 20 minutes out of first (results here). Rating wise, we sailed a good race, but there was definitely 20 minutes to be gained in tactical decisions alone. I feel pretty darn good about our performance. And we were the first boat to finish for the entire Flattery monohull group.

We had a great start in the front row nearer the boat end with good speed. We took a tack to weather which got us inside on the lift. The first tactical mistake was taking another tack up and getting in a spot where we had to go through race passage.  The boats that went outside the rocks did better. Also, there were a couple boats that went through race passage that waited to tack into that area late that did better as well. Most the rest of the beat went well, but as we neared the turn mark, we got out of sync a bit with the shifts allowing Joy Ride to catch up. We were first to round with Joy Ride just minutes behind. Joy Ride wasn’t in our class, but we will be racing against them in Vic-Maui, so obviously we wanted to do well against them. We jibe set around the windward mark and it turns out it would have been better to initially play the right for perhaps ½ hour to hour before heading over to the left. This was mistake #3. We were heading toward the Canadian side, but didn’t hit it all that hard and took a jibe to the right because it looked light to the left. In retrospect it would have been better to continue left and take advantage of the shift. The wind held for those that did go all the way left. This was mistake #4.

The reality is we went mostly the right way, just not all the way the right way. We were too conservative I suppose. What is interesting is the plan I had in place would have been perfect! We sailed a pretty good race, but not a great one and finished where we should have from a tactical stand point. It was fabulous sailing in the goldilocks zone — not too light, not too windy! And hey, we finished just before 1 am. The crew learned a lot and I learned a lot about the boat. The next race for us is Vic-Maui! I can’t wait.

Read more Swiftsure Race stories at Sailish.com.