The Hornet sailors had a full week of practices and regattas, racing against Pingree on Wednesday and Gloucester on Thursday.
First up, the match against Pingree at home. ME won the five-race series, four to nil.
We rigged the boats and raised the brand-new North Sails with the huge ME logos ahead of the visiting team’s arrival. The Pingree coach and six alternates took over the big coach boat and called out the starting sequences, while the ME alternates were in the smaller coach boat and monitored the finish line.
The racing was postponed for a few minutes by a windy rain squall, and by the time it had passed through and the course was set, the wind died on us. After another pause for the wind to fill, we started the first race and our sailors jumped out to a solid “2, 3, 4” combination at the windward mark, which we carried through to the finish line. The second and third races followed with an even better performance, and we won both with a “1, 2, 3” sweep, the best combination in team racing. All our practicing appeared to be paying off, while the Pingree team was less experienced and had managed fewer practice sessions.
After the third race we swapped in Ian Carlin and Matthew Graeter for Aiden and Andrew. Ian led the race from the start and kept his position through to the finish. Anna was second, and Lynn was fifth. We won the regatta 4-0.
The Pingree sailors enjoyed the outing, and the Pingree coach was quite pleased with the set up and how we managed the races. Their team is eager to sail us in another scrimmage next week.
Next the team faced Gloucester High School, an away match in which ME lost in an evenly matched, five race regatta by 3 to 2.
We traveled to Gloucester and met near the Coast Guard station, where the Gloucester team had three 420s rigged and ready for us at the dock. The GHS racecourse is set in the middle of the inner harbor, and it takes some getting used to. The winds are affected by high piers and warehouses around the edge of the small harbor, and the course is dotted with mooring balls and pick-up buoys so that the race marks can be easily confused with other buoys in the sailing area.
It took us two races to become familiar with the course and to get the boats moving in the light and shifty breeze. GHS jumped into the lead in the first two races with two “1, 2” combinations. In the third race however, the ME sailors got a good start, with Lynn and Liv maneuvering their boat to leave two Gloucester sailors stalled on the starting line. We sailed into a “1, 2, 3” combination by the first mark and held it to the finish. Then we scored a satisfying repeat in the fourth race. We seemed to be on a roll. The regatta would be determined by the outcome of the fifth and final race.
Once again, ME won the start, with two of our boats in the lead. However, one of our sailors initiated a “tacking duel” with a GHS boat, and instead of maintaining a tight cover on the competitor, gradually lost ground on each tack and was soon behind the other boat. In the tight action on the next four legs of the course we lost a few more positions, allowing GHS crossed the finish line with a winning “1, 2” combination.
A heartbreaker of a finish to the fifth race, but the third and fourth races showed what the ME sailors can do when they are on their game. We look forward to another scrimmage with Gloucester before the end of the sailing season.
The team has its final race on Tuesday against St. John’s Prep.