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 Mills Trophy Race, Lake Erie

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Ben Posted - 06/11/2019 : 10:55:10
I did my first long race this weekend, the Mills Trophy Race. I was invited to crew on a J/92. It was a lot of fun, and very challenging. I found the J/92 not terribly comfortable when you're up on the rail for hours at a time. True wind speeds were pretty consistent, between 12 and 14 knots, but never aft of the beam, so we never raised the asymmetrical spinnaker.

We got fouled early on, at the 10 minute mark in the video linked here, if anyone is interested. they weren't even in our fleet, but no harm was done.

Disappointingly, we had to abandon the race about a hour before the finish, around 2:30 am, due to our backstay breaking. Fortunately we were able to get the sails down rather quickly. If we hadn't had to quit the race, we would have finished second in our fleet of (I think) 7 boats.

It was grueling for this not-very-fit sailor, but it was tons of fun and I'm glad I did it. Although I don't think I'd want to do another night race, at least not a night race where we can't take a sleep break. :)
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Ben Posted - 06/12/2019 : 05:25:32
Thanks for the tip, Steve! Yes, on a bigger boat I think it'd be much better. After the race we tied up to a J/120 at Put-in-Bay. That would have been an awesome boat to be on. You're right about that J/92 being a little rocket, we were doing 8.5 knots consistently at one point, usually somewhere between 7 and 8 knots for the rest of the race. That seemed fast in my perspective. :) On this boat, no one was in a hurry to try to sleep, use the head, eat, or really do anything other than sit on the rail. And we ALWAYS had the wind forward of the beam, which was not anticipated. We did get spray, and those of us who didn't bring waterproof clothing got cold. Fortunately I was dressed appropriately, so was not in discomfort in that regard. It was a challenging experience, but very much a good one. I'm so glad I was able to participate.
Steve Milby Posted - 06/11/2019 : 14:36:40
Love the video! The J92 looks like a little rocket ship! I couldn't see what the "bad guy" did before he came into the picture, but he clearly fouled you. With such a blatant foul, he should have voluntarily taken his 720 penalty. Otherwise, he'd almost certainly be DSQ'd, and it would be a disaster to race all night and get a DSQ.

That's a smallish boat for an all night race, because, as you said, it's hard to find a place to get comfortable or to get sleep, and, if you have to beat to windward against a severe chop, you'll catch cold spray all night.

I love all night races, but do it on bigger boats. There's room to move around and room below to sleep. On bigger boats you can get better meals. Often the trip to the starting line is 2-3 hours, so I go below and sleep, and that puts some energy in the bank for the long night ahead. I also nap on deck when possible, and, when the helmsman calls "Prepare to tack", I get up, do my job, sit down and go back to sleep. We all try to take turns sleeping below for an hour or two, including the skipper.

Try it on a bigger boat, Ben. It's more civilized! You'll love it!

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