It was supposed to be a cold, cloudy day, and we feared this might be the third consecutive year without a Witkin Cup race due to weather — but King Tiki the Grey (Commodore Gibbs’s new idol) smiled upon us and gave us gentle SSE winds, warm temps, and peeks of sun.
We set a starting line just off Finlay’s dock and a weather mark near Foster Point. The course was start, Foster Point, around Oak Island, and finish. The fleet set off on the weather leg, split between the left side of the course and the right.
The right side was the right choice as the breeze filled in from the south. Gibbs shot out like a rocket toward the weather mark. Meanwhile on the left side, a minor tacking duel ensued between Beck and Ford. Toward the weather mark, the Beck/Ford duo reached the layline with Ford tacking away seconds before Beck. The top three at the weather mark were Gibbs, Ford, Beck.
On the second leg, Gibbs continued his “horizon job” on the rest of the fleet. while Beck and Ford continued to battle it out. Subtle wind shifts meant alternating from wing on wing to a broad reach.
Around the north side of Oak Island, the challenge was to play to wind shadow. Gibbs made it through, no problem. Ford took the inside track with Beck directly to leeward. Beck gybed early to get on to a starboard tack and (possibly) to squeeze Ford out. Ford gybed and emerged from the wind shadow seconds before Beck.
On the final leg, the increased wind made it tough to sail the Vanguard for the solo Gibbs. Just behind him, the Fords were loving the fresh breeze, and with more crew weight, ate away at Gibbs’ lead. But it was not to be. Gibbs shot across the finish line, followed a few minutes later by Ford, then Beck.
A hearty welcome to Brent and Max Krizo, sailing their Vanguard FJ “Galactica” for the first time. They made it around the course in fine fashion, but about 100 yards from the finish had trouble getting across the line. With a little coaching from the shore and some extra tacks and gybes, the Krizos made it!