Santa Barbara Island Race 2014

That sole green bow light on Janina haunts my dreams ever since the 2012 night drifting match down the backside of Catalina. In the 3am drizzle, a green bow light ever so slowly got closer…and closer. The Green Eye that never sleeps! By dawn I learn it belonged to the Tartan Ten hunter, Janina correcting out over Slacker for the win. Back to Janina in a moment…

Conventional thinking for this year’s Santa Barbara Island race is go west on port as the wind was expected to veer west that afternoon. Once having done so, you would flop over to starboard and fetch the island. After the start, the fleet largely proceeded west. Then reality set in. Starboard tack became ever more tempting: continue 70 degrees off-course on port, or 30 degrees on starboard and expect to get lifted to the island? The choice was obvious, and most boats flopped over to starboard.
Most, except for Janina.  Early in the race Janina found a wind line off Malibu and pulling a horizon job on the fleet. Meanwhile, on Slacker the singlehander was busy arguing with himself. “Surely we’ll get lifted.” He tacked to starboard. “Wait, wasn’t the forecast for more wind to the west?” He tacked to port. For some reason, John Petit aboard Challenge decided to take a flyer with Slacker.
With dusk bringing 30 minutes of drifting conditions complete with spinnaker folly with brief easterlies, the wind filled in and the three of us were off to the island. Janinawisely changed down to a small jib and Slacker passed her, carrying her No. 1 into the darkness.
With the failing light the green bow light appeared. Aaaaaaaggghhhh! 40 miles though the night: It’s getting closer! Or is it? I’m so tired! It’s only a mile back! Surely I’ll be passed! As we tacked our way back to Catalina, the Green Eye caught up to Slacker. Then Slacker got just plain lucky and was lifted to the West End and the breeze held long enough to the finish.

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