Silent Maid was as ready to race as we could make her. The bottom was smooth, the rig perfected, all extraneous weight was removed from the boat, the propeller aperture was closed and the crew aboard. Kathleen was also ready but only her crew knows what the preparations were. I will say her bottom looked smooth and when she tacked around Wickford Harbor she looked fast indeed, executing short tacks in the light air with little loss of speed. Everywhere we went we had heard of the famous Kathleen and the skill of her skipper, Tim Fallon. I expected she would have an advantage if the wind stayed light but in a breeze Silent Maid should do all right.
It was a day of changeable weather, starting out hot, turning to rain with a threat of some fog and later offering a little line squall. But the wind blew enough to suit us throughout the race. At the start Kathleen showed the skill of her people, closing Maid off from a port tack pin end start, Kathleen crossed the line clear ahead and both boats set out on the beat with crews on the rail and some tension in the air. Peter Kellogg did a great job salvaging his start, pinching up right at the pin and climbing out above Kathleen, forcing her to look for another way to win.
We had the tide against us on the weather leg and Kathleen decided to see what could be done with this. She would not mind a slightly lighter breeze than Silent Maid so she favored the shoreline no doubt hoping for less current and more favorable lifts in the breeze. This strategy did help her and she appeared to close some distance but not enough as Silent Maid rounded the old cast iron lighthouse that served as a top mark with a comfortable lead.
On the downwind leg Kathleen tried heating things up with a series of jibes but Maid continued to sail her own race On this leg a line squall passed over the boats, the north end of this cloud bank was dark and ominous enough but the two boats continued to sail as hard as they could towards it. Rain was in those clouds and some wind too but how much and from what direction?
Just as Silent Maid reached the mark the wind shifted 180 degrees and blew with more force. The downwind leg had become a beat giving Maid a huge advantage. She reached off towards the finish in Wickford Harbor on a reach as Kathleen was forced to tack to the mark. Once in the harbor Maid had to short tack up a narrow channel to the finish, running aground was not an option. Boat and crew handled the tight maneuvering easily and the race was won. There was one last challenge though. As Silent Maid sailed back out of the harbor to join up with her anchored tender she had to be sure to keep clear of Kathleen now tacking up the narrow channel. Once Kathleen was safely past Maid's crew could reflect on the days events and look forward to the next match.
The shenanigans involving racy flags will be discussed at some other time.