Sunday, March 04, 2012

On your mark... Get set... Build!

News from the starting line of the WaterTribe 2012 Everglades Challenge and Ultimate Florida Challenge: Team B&B Make Strategic Moves

posted by DancesWithSandyBottom

WaterTribe adventure races such as the Everglades Challenge (EC) have two parts: (1) make it to the starting line, (2) sail and paddle from here to there.. Part 1 is often a race/adventure in and of itself. For example, many challengers aim to bring a new boat to the party. Just making it to the starting line typically feels like a huge accomplishment.

Friday Morning at Ft. DeSoto Campground

Saturday morning at the Starting Line: the tallest mast is "Mosquito" of Team B&B

On Saturday at 7:00 when Chief said "Go!" dozens of sailors and kayakers sprinted off Ft. DeSoto beach into Tampa Bay and its headwind that grew to 20 kts. Some were still packing or repairing, some decided not to start, and some launched out only to return minutes later with broken parts or changes to make.

SandyBottom and SOS (Son of Sandy) continued their new-boat preparations/construction as the starting gun (er uh, bag pipes) sounded and challengers rushed away --or came limping back. For example, the 17.5' Norseboat returned with bailer problems. Danito returned with a bent rudder. "Oh look" I said to SB and SOS, "You've caught up with Danito. Good job."

We are all astounded and impressed with how quicking SOS built (and designed) the "Mosquito". Would having another week to work on it have been ideal? No problem; SOS knows he could "fix it", whatever it is, while racing toward check point 1. I believe he could. The phrase "extremely capable" comes to mind. He's a can-do guy. Really brilliant that way. But SandyBottom was having none of that. Already feeling challenged by the new non-kayak trimaran experience, and not wanting to die while going 20 kts this weekend, she rightly insisted on taking a day or so to get it right.

Weather turned out to be an additional reason that SB and SOS are both happy they waited to launch: The fleet that launched was beaten up all day long fighting a 12-20 kt headwind. WaterTribe events are all about making smart decisions regarding safety and strategy; indeed, there is no rule that says the challenger must launch when Chief says "Go!" and Chief is fond of telling how he and Verlan Kruger waited on the beach at the starting line for two days during one of the early Everglades Challenges that featured horrible weather.

Chief explains it all at the captains' meeting Friday

SOS posted to following on the WaterTribe Forum Sunday Morning ....

"We are still here in the campground at the start. Why havent we left yet?.....

After a test sail from the campground to the beach we had some issues. My mom (and crew) was not encouraged by her first trip out in 15-18knot headwinds and it was not the way I wanted to introduce her to the boat. On top of that the rudder downhaul was not worked out well, the jib sheeting was not good, roller reefing the jib was difficult and the waterstays slackeded under load and became too long to lash properly. All this meant that we had a hard time on our first time out in very tough chopy conditions. Oh and the boat leaked badly through the waterstay holes that I haden't checked for leaks and didn't show themselves in our 30 min test sail in Vandemere.

We decided that this was not acceptable or safe sooo. we didn't start at the start. And instead called a weather hold for ourselves. This decision may have been our best yet seeing that many of the challengers (many elders) have already dropped from the race or had breakdowns battling the 20 knot headwinds on Saturday. Today (sunday) there was a massive front that came trough at 5am and collapsed our tent in the campground. I suddently realized that I had not staked down the boat on the beach and was sure that that was then end of our mast and ositive that the front had blown the boat over on the beach. We rushed to the beach and found her sitting just as we had left her. Another triber who had returned to the beach in a Kruger canoe had left his boat next to ours had his boat spun 180 degrees in the sand by the wind.

Bullet dodged.

Today the wind is NNW and 25 to gale force with very big seas so we are not going today either. Rather we will leave early tomorrow morning in very cold (47) temps but with managable and favorable winds such that we will make gasparilla pass (the entrance to CP1) after sun up. It is really tough to sit on the beach knowing the race has already started but with only challengers at CP1 so far and gale force winds for most of the day today we have little doubt that it is still anyones race and that we are making good decisions.

We used yesterday (Saturday) to work on the boat and needed ALL of it. Today we will spend pushing the boat in the water to test for leaks and to practice dropping the mast on the water (while anchored to the beach) and then to go for a short test sail in Tampa bay sometime this afternoon. We have had to be careful not to receive any help from our shore contact (my dad) DWSB who is here with us and is no longer allowed to help us with the boat in any way.

Changes made to the boat:
-sealed all waterstays and forestay chainplate (NO MORE LEAKS!)
-Improved the rudder downhaul system.
-Returned to classic and reliable 2:1 jib sheeting.
-upgraded to a 2:1 jib furling system (much better)
-improved the mast rotation controls
-shortened the waterstay splices to propperly tension the rig"

And Then....

That's the latest news from SandyBottom and SOS. Those final rigging tasks are expected to be complete by mid-day. The gale-force wind should be dying down to a loud roar around midnight. SOS suggested launching this afternoon with the strategy of crossing Tampa Bay using their tinyest sail (the bare mast itself which has a wing-shaped cross-section) to handle the gale-force wind. Somehow that idea didn't fly well with the crew ...

Will Team B&B ever make it off the beach ?

Late breaking news: At 1:20pm SOS reported that Danito has relaunched from the starting line in his Kruger Sea Wind. This means Danito has retaken his lead on SandyBottom and SOS.

--posted by DWSB

1 comment:

Ken said...

Good work so far, you two! Don't forget it's a 1200 mile challenge, not a 300 mile race. And have fun while you're at it :)