Holmes Hole update: To reef or not to reef

Photo by Susan Waldrop

On Thursday evening, July 23, 19 boats enjoyed a 15-knot breeze as they circled the triangular course in Vineyard Haven Harbor after beating to Nun 6 for a starboard rounding. Sixteen boats finished. The wind speed was just at the tipping point for many boats to decide whether or not to shorten the mainsail. A reef reduces the sail area, and makes for a more efficient sail in moderate to high wind, when too much wind might overpower the hull. But reducing the sail area reduces speed, and if the wind should moderate, potential speed is lost. Close to half the fleet was reefed at the start.

In the A Division, Escape, a J/100 sailed by Tom and Laurie Welch, took the top honor, with Tango, another J/100 skippered by Phil Hale, 35 seconds behind in second. Go Time, a Sonar sailed by Alex Pardo, came in third.

For the B Division, Julia Lee, a 21-foot Catboat skippered by Woody Bowman, took first place, with David Lott’s Avanti, a Cape Dory 27, in second, just 19 seconds later. In third place was Jim Dixon’s At Last, an Alerion X28.

On Sunday, July 26, the sail was to Tarpaulin Cove. Research doesn’t reveal the source of the name, but it is home to the fourth oldest lighthouse on the East Coast, first occupied in 1817. The cove is located on the southern coast of Naushon Island, where the changeable and strong currents have always made the area a navigational challenge.

Not daunted, Woody Bowman added to his growing HHSA Cup collection by taking first place in the B Division by a whopping 18 minutes on corrected time. He was first overall as well. Bow Van Riper, aboard his Vineyard 15, came in second in the B Division, with King Kiwi, sailed by Irving Gates, in third.

In the A Division, Soma Holiday, a Hanse 335 sailed by Frank Sutula, was first, and Michael Loberg’s Morris 36, Masquerade, followed in second. Third place was taken by the J/100 Escape skippered by Tom and Laurie Welch.

The day, while overcast, came up with excellent sailing conditions: strong enough southerly winds built steadily from the 10 am start until the return to Vineyard Haven. Except for a ½-mile beat at the start, it was a run and a reach all the way to the finish at Tarpaulin Cove. The strong current was favorable in both directions. “Rip roaring” could describe the ride home. Nice planning, Race Committee!