And the Lord said the meek and the lowly shall inherit the earth, but today it is not the meek but just the lowly who inherit the wind, the waves, and especially the currents. The Easy, having never finished first, swept the Sonar fleet in all three races from start to finish.
It was a blustery race day on August 3rd at the Falmouth Yacht Club but not all the Sonar Fleet was assembled at the dock. Maelstrom was missing its co-skipper Rocky Geyer, skipper Jim Tiege had a new, less-experienced crew. Last Call’s skipper Joe Voci was in Vermont and Kerry Strom was at the helm and also on the foredeck for the spinnaker runs. Jack Valle on Nimble was missing his foredeck crew, who was stuck in exchange-day Saturday traffic at the Bourne Bridge.
Jack’s wife, Claire, had a new knee and is not ready for heavy weather racing. Nimble was wisely not leaving the dock. Safety prevailed. Molly T had her regular crew as did Easy. Perpetual winner Challenger was missing because longtime friends were visiting Robbie and Mike was in New Hampshire with family. Ripple owners Eric and Bruce were out of town. Greg Packard was still in the San Juan Islands on a WHOI assignment. A reduced fleet of only four boats head out to the start line.
High tide was 1:32 PM, which meant the Sonars raced in a rising east flow, a slack current and a falling west flow. The wind was south-southwest at 8-16 knots with higher gusts. The seas were 2 feet until they built higher in the filing tides’ westerly flow against the southwest wind.
The race committee PRO was Bid Hagan, his assistant is Nate Borovick, and Ben Wayne was running the mark boat.
In the first race, the course for the first race was a D2—twice to the windward mark, twice to the leeward mark and beat up wind to the finish—a nice long race with some spinnaker jibes.
The current was still easterly at the start so Easy, Maelstrom, and Last Call hung off the stern of the committee boat. The current kept them from crossing over the start line too early. Easy took the start covering Maelstrom. Caught in bad air, Maelstrom tacked to port to head to the beach to a weaker easterly current. Easy covered to hold their lead. Molly T and Lost Call follow.
The Easy had a crew weight of almost nine hundred pounds, Maelstrom is racing with a mere six hundred and seventy five pounds. In heavy air, more weight usually means a Sonar sails higher and faster to windward. Easy was first to the mark at 1:15 pm and was six boat lengths ahead of Maelstrom. Downwind, Easy’s extra weight allowed the fleet to close up to less than three boat lengths. At the turn Easy stayed on port to run along the beach and use the Rocky Geyer Gyre. Geyer claims a counter-clockwise circular westerly current occurs east of Nobska in the curve of the bay during the change of tide. Myth or not, Easy opened up their lead. Maelstrom followed Easy but tacked to the lay line too early and needed to take an extra tack. Easy had a ten-boat-length lead into the spinnaker leg. The fleet closed but not enough. Easy was first to the leeward mark and covered the fleet upwind for her first-ever first place. Maelstrom was second, Molly T was third and Last Call was fourth, with less than three minute spread in time.
The second race was a W-3. There were three windward beats and two spinnaker runs to the starting pin and a finishing spinnaker run.The start time was 2:07 and the currents flowed to the west, which could push boats over the start line too early if they tried luffing at the line as they did in the first race. The committee boat was favored due to a very slight wind shift to the right. Easy again covered Maelstrom at the start and took an early lead out to the right side of the race course into the stronger favorable westerly current. Maelstrom tacked to port but Easy covered. Molly T stayed right and closed on Easy, who decided to break cover and check Molly T by moving back to the right side of the race course.
Easy was six boat lengths ahead of Molly T at the windward mark. Maelstrom was third around the mark and decided a spinnaker duel with Molly T was a better idea than chasing Easy. Molly T jibed the spinnaker to port but Maelstrom stayed on starboard. Maelstrom tried for an overlap to create a starboard port crossing, which is always a disaster for the port boat spinnaker.
Maelstrom got close but not close enough. They then jibed to port and eventually beat Molly T to the leeward mark. Meanwhile, disaster struck Last Call. Their spinnaker jibe to port ended in a hellish spinnaker wrap that carries them far beyond the leeward mark. By the time they untangle the wrap, a lunch break seems the best use of time until the third race. After the leeward mark, Easy stayed on the starboard to get to the current while Maelstrom and Molly T tried the beach. Again, Easy stretched her lead upwind only to lose much of it on the final spinnaker run. Maelstrom was eleven seconds behind at the finish. Molly T was third, thirty-nine seconds later.
The last race was a W-2. There are two beats to windward, a spinnaker run to the starting pin and a spinnaker to the finish. The start was similar to the second race. Easy was first out into the current, covering Maelstrom. She had a six boat length lead at the windward mark. Maelstrom closed downwind. Repeat upwind, repeat downwind and Easy just beat Maelstrom by six seconds for a sweep.
Now everyone who raced or did not race will be happy for the Easy and her skipper, Bob Silva. This day will become legend and lore of the Falmouth Yacht Club and Sonar fleet. Bob Silva, Oakie O’Connell, Jeff Zullig and Wiley Osborn (The Easys crew) will make sure that this day will live in yacht club memory. They will take great pleasure in the biblical assurance that The first will be last and the last will be first—sometimes!