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Core Sounds Racing with the Big Boats


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Reacher and I tried something new on Saturday.  We took our boats out with the PHRF fleet on Green Bay, and the heck of it was, we did pretty good!

Reacher is a member at M&M YC in Menominee, Michigan, where they have a fairly active big boat racing program.  This includes the annual "100 Miler" (which is only 45 miles long, for some reason) that usually attracts a lot of boats returning from the Chicago-Mackinac Race.

Last Saturday, M&M held their annual Joey Shepro Memorial Doublehander, a more or less "fun race" and fundraiser for Make-a-Wish.  Reacher suggested I trailer up from Milwaukee and we could enter our Core Sounds and see what happened.  He has a 20, I have a 17.  This race is c. 14 miles from their Club, out around Green Island in the middle of Green Bay and back.

They were nice enough to give us PHRF ratings, which was interesting.  Mine was 252. (That's seconds per mile, deducted from the final time, so I had about 62 minutes deducted.)  Reacher's was 246, so they pegged him theoretically as 6 seconds a mile faster.  For comparison, a Cape Dory 27 is 243 (New England PHRF) and a CD 22 is 282.  The slowest boat in the fleet was deemed to be a Com-Pac 19-2, rated at 283, while the fastest was a Tripp 33, rated at 90.

This was set up as a reverse start.  The race started at noon, but each boat was given a unique starting time reflecting the handicap.  In theory, in a perfect race, all boats would cross the finish line together.  In practice, wherever you are in the race is your position at that time, since the handicap has already been accounted for.  No need to figure out if you need to "give time" to a boat at the finish line, since that's all been handled at the start.

Thus the Com-Pac, as the boat with the highest handicap, was supposed to start at noon, precisely.  It never did, and we learned later that it could not point into the light breeze without starting its engine.  Tip to consumers:  don't buy a Com-Pac if you want to sail upwind in light air.

I was next, at 12:07:02, and Reacher next after that 12:08:23.  So it went until some 34 boats were off the line, with the last (fastest) one at 12:43.  (Make sense?)

The first leg was a beat of about 1.75 miles to a buoy before we turned to the island.  Reacher and I kept company on the upwind, tho he passed me as we neared the mark.  It was a blast sailing together.  It was about 80 degrees out, full sun, the water sparkling blue, the wind maybe 6, puffing to maybe 8 mph, from the north east.  I had us moving at 4 to 4.5 mph on the gps for most of the upwind.

Then came a 3.5 mile close reach out the island.  It wasn't until then that other boats in the fleet started to catch up.

I decided to go south-about the island; Reacher and most of the fleet went to the north.  Not sure if there was an advantage one way or another.  I was hoping for more puffs on the broader reach back on the North side -- dreaming of a bit of planning -- but those puffs never materialized.  GPS showed c. 5 mph on the way out, c. 6 on the way back.  Reacher's larger sails definitely helped as the wind stayed around 6ish or a hair more.  The water got a bit choppier, too, which hurt our light little craft when we had to punch into it but was still "flat" for the big keel boats. 

The last leg was around the buoy and back DDW to the finish.  Almost caught up to a Catalina on that leg, but not quite.  My speed was 3.5 to 4.5, depending.  Their speed was flogging....

Results:  As one of the big boat skippers said, in that light air, "it was a waterline race."  In general, boats with longer hulls and therefore lower handicaps did better, which is typical for a PHRF fleet in light air.  But Reacher was 18th of 34, and I was 26th, finishing in 3 hours 29 min.  Reacher was done in 3:09. (Full disclosure:  two boats abandoned and four were DSQ for whatever reason).  Of the 28 that finished, I was in ahead of a S2 11.0 (handicap 161) and a Catalina 309 (HC 186), and Reacher also bested a Hunter 27, a Hunter 38, an S-9.2 and a Catalina 28, among others.  I should add Reacher's a pretty fine sailor.

Needless to say, Reacher and I were pretty darn pleased with these little boats.  They kept moving in the light air, pointed well, reached well, ran well.  We spent a long time after the race admiring them and talking about what mods we like on each of ours.  We couldn't have kept up with the big boats in this year's Mac race, of course, given the 6 to 8 foot waves and the 30 mph winds on the nose.  But in this race, hey, we were right in there.  And it was a blast to be out on the water on such a beautiful day.

And photos?  I wish I had some, but sorry folks,  can't race singlehanded and take pix, too.  I might have one, and might have a gps track.  Will see if I can find download.

But be glad you have a Core Sound.  Great boat. 

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Paul, thanks for the good write up on the race and describing how it works. It was great to sail along side another Core Sound.


I don't know how the committee arrived at the PHRF rating. I won't complain because it was fair to generous to me, but I think the CS 17 was rated a little high in comparison and deserved a better standing. I don't think Paul gained anything by being one of a few boats to go the other way around Green Island, but it was a good strategy. If there was a big wind shift it could have paid big dividends over the rest of the fleet.


It was too bad that the wind settled in the second half of the race. After 8 miles of tacking and sailing close hauled I was looking for some good reaching to make up time. As it was, the racing ended for me at the windward mark because my position didn't change. I passed one boat, and one passed me, a North American 40.


I was pleased about the pointing ability. Paul took the lead off the start and I could see he was making good progress upwind. I tried to match his technique. My tracker showed us tacking through about 95 degrees.


And, even though the wind didn't allow us to demonstrate the reaching strength of Core Sound boats, I was happy that in light wind the boats still out performed their length and held off the longer keels.


It was a blast, and, as the only centerboarders in the race, we felt that we represented our class well. A 15 mile race on the waters of Green Bay is a good test.

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