Another fabulous, fabulous sail today. We set out from Nyneshamn expecting NW winds and planning to go to Vaestervik. In the event, the wind
was WSW. So we had to go S for some miles to squeeze through a gap in the rocks at Landsort before being able to lay in our course towards Vaestervik.
As we left Nyneshamn, sailing hard on the wind, we spotted a boat with black sails
a mile or two ahead of us. So we piled on the sail to see if we could catch up. The barber hauler on the staysail has a marvelous effect – for the first time (in five years of owning this boat), I can trim it for sailing upwind. And I am amazed that the staysail gives significant drive upwind. Other cutters I’ve sailed never get anything from the staysails upwind. Maybe it’s because my 13 year-old yankee is a bit bagged out – the flatter staysail helps attach the air flow to the yankee. Or something. In any case, we quickly overhauled what turned out to be a Bene First 37 with a roachy main, carbon-fiber sails
, and a Swedish racing
number. The skipper
noticed us just as we were about to steal his wind, and set about getting his speed up. And so an impromptu race
for Landsort ensued.
Immensely satisfying was the fact that we actually beat this guy through the gap. It was like dingy racing
in days of yore, battling it out tack for tack. Of course with our baggy Dacron sails and cruising rig, there is no way we can sail as high as a Bene First with carbon sails, so we had to make it up in speed, using our waterline length advantage. We tacked back and forth, both of us steering
by hand. I had an advantage in that I have an excellent Finnish guy on board crewing
, whereas our opponent had only his somewhat sluggish wife. So our tacks were much snappier than his, and we carried a good bit more boat speed all the time, and so just managed to keep up with him despite his sailing at least 5 degrees higher than we did. It was just about neck and neck until the other guy made a fatal misjudgment – he got a little too close to land on his last tack. We tacked inside him and walked away from him through the gap, as he lost
time in the lee of the land. He gave us a cheery wave and thumbs up as we headed off out of sight.
Clear of Landsort, we realized it would be a slog dead upwind to Vaestervik, so we decided to divert to Gotland, by this time 65 miles off, bearing about 170 so allowing us to crack off a bit onto a close reach, my favorite point of sail in this boat. The wind backed and we ended up hard on the wind, expecting to tack at some point before we made landfall. But miraculously, the wind recurved as we approached Gotland, and we unexpectedly laid our mark without a tack. And tied up just before the sun went down (having sailed many miles South to 57 degrees North, we are getting reacquainted with the concept
The barber hauler on the staysail made a big contribution to our getting in before dark