Jim Tomes’s boat is called Raisin Hull and that’s what he did Saturday (12/5) by snatching the giant AYC Governor’s Cup for 2015. Jim’s speedy rating meant he started the pursuit race more than an hour after the first boat, but he finished ahead of everyone in his F18HT catamaran. See below for Jim’s account of the day.
Thirty-nine sailboats with one, two, and even three hulls took part on a day that delivered strong morning wind, light midday breeze, and before finishing nicely with a good wind in mid-afternoon.
Just like that other famous race, the America’s Cup, there is no second place in the Governor’s Cup, but credit former winner Court Roberts for finishing first among the monohulls in 4th overall.
Race organizer Tom Errickson has arranged to make the humongous race trophy even bigger by adding a two-inch solid mahogany base to make room for more winners’ names in the future.
Here is my write up of the best Governors Cup Ever! (Because I won!)
A bunch of us started off by meeting up Friday night to all hang out at the campground. We had some great sailing stories and lots of laughs of sailing days past.
The trash talk was flowing as all of us were hoping to take the cup and confidence among the sailors was greatly exaggerated around the fire. One thing we all had in common was the concern on the wind forecast. It looks to be a floater; lets all hope wind finder is wrong. We all tucked ourselves into bed and not a breeze was to be had the entire night. We woke to the same, no wind at all. Then out of nowhere the answer to our prayers was answered, WIND!! Wait, lots and lots of wind? The forecast was slow so I had no crew. My thoughts of having the light boat advantage quickly turned to: I sure hope I don’t flip.
Well the wind was holding out at the start line. We cat sailors buzzed around, zipping in and out of the monohulls as they started on their adventure leaving us at the dam on their way up the lake. Wow, a lot of those boats sure were far ahead. I was still in caution mode as the wind was blowing and I sure did not want to go over. I was getting worried as I tried to compare boat speed prior to our start. I could not keep up with those darn I20’s with boat speed. Then there was this Nacra 5.8 that I’ve never sailed against before. Those guys were blowing me away and I could not catch them. There was the P19 looking so fast and always a threat. The Hobies were now off and flying down the course. A p16 was practically out of sight before my start time approached. Fred comes booking in on the H18 a little late but then is just gone. My start is getting close, just me and those four darn I20’s left at the line. As my time approaches I hit the line moving fast and head up the lake. I have just over two minutes before the reign of I20 terror approaches.
Wow, the wind is got me a bit overpowered, so pull hard on the out-haul, max out the down-haul, under rotate, and I’m still having to pinch to keep under control. I finesse the tiller keeping my hull just above the water and am trapped out to the front cross bar to keep the bows down. Two minutes go by and I watch in horror as the freight train of 20’s rains on my parade. Within a matter of minutes after they started I was overtaken and out-sailed. Man, those guys are all fast! Now here I sit in last place overpowered and out of ideas. My visions of Governor’s Cup glory are fading fast! So I decide to not look at the other boats and focus on boat speed. My bows are down, the hull is riding at the perfect height, my tiller movements are smooth and I have a perfect line to the first island.
Almost to the north islands my spirits are reawakened, my high angle may have paid off. Brett with all wisdom decides to sail to the wrong island, Woo Hoo. I’m now one boat down. My angle seemed to have made good on Manny. Two down. But man Brad and Brian are so fast and still ahead. I round the first Island and make my way to the second. What do I do now? Wind is softer but man the spin will be a handful. Brad and Brian both have theirs up so I have no choice. I pull the chute. A little bit of crazy shifting wind by the island then I get dialed in. Single-handed trapped out with the spin is always intimidating. I’m sailing well, the wind is perfect. I’ve got the angle on Brian and I’m approaching a bunch of sailors rounding the south island. Brad, Johnathan, and Victor are all there. I pull down the spin and fight my way through the passage crowded with sailors. I decide to stay to the east, hoping that I again can make a good angle to the north islands.
Heading north I have now passed many boats and now only have Fred, two H16’s and a P16 as far as cats in front, but they are way up there! Lets see what the Lake Pleasant wind crap shoot has in store for us now. Well first let’s just turn the wind off. Not slow: off. I see everyone just kind of floating and I’m going nowhere. The boats to the north are just bobbing and the boats to the south just crawling. I can see small patches of wind in either direction but I have nothing. Then the sight I could have only hoped for: wind From the south! Good wind too!
I watch as the boats behind me fill their sails and the spinnakers come back out to play. The midday wind 180 has come! I sit waiting in anticipation and the water darkens behind me showing me that sweet wind treat. I pull out the spin and with that my grin, here it comes and I have the perfect angle. Like a switch the wind fills my sails and accelerates my boat up the lake. I’m moving now! Wait, now I’m not. I was too fast and was sailing beyond the wind line, crap. What do I do now? Let’s sail a lower angle and give me a hotter line to the island. It worked! The last group of boats are in sight coming up to the north island.
My boat is now cooking, spin out, trapped out, and I have rights as I mix it up with the rest of the fleet on a port tack. I drive through the middle of the group and have a super hot angle. I’m living up to the boat name as I get closer to the Island. Time to jibe, slide in off the trap, de-hyper-rotate, loosen the main, slide over the blocks, pull the main, re-hyper-rotate, pull the spin sheets, trap out, and set course all in one breath. The Whoop sound as the spin fills up and powers the boat to speed. Perfect line to the island and I’m passing the remaining boats. I take my last jibe and island to island line is a super hot one. Again the spin is powered up, trapped out making those oh-so-smooth figure S’s as I hold the hull just above the lake. I’m pulling away and getting a good lead on the others. My mind is now racing—I could win this!
As I douse the spin and set course up down the lake I focus on a great line and great boat speed. I look back and Brad is still within striking distance. That boat is sure fast upwind and I’m not out of the woods yet. The wind is up and I’m trapped out again all the way to the front cross bar. My arm is stretched to the max wishing my tiller was longer to keep the leeward bow deep and the windward bow above the water. I’m afraid to look back and focus forward.
I’m approaching the east side of the lake and running out of water. Time to make my tack. I slide in off the trap again, make my turn and back out on the wire. The sun is in my eye and I can’t tell where the end of the island is. Did I tack too late, do I head up or fall off a little, I can’t tell. Brad is now is now in my view as I look up the lake headed down to the last island. I still have him but he is still within striking distance.
As I get closer to the west side I can not see the island markings through the glare of the sun. I have a perfect layline! I make my last tack and head around the island. The wind is good and I’m not sure whether to run the spin or not. If I do I could be overpowered by the hot angle of the finish line, If I don’t, Brad could power up behind me and take it. I pull the chute and hope for the best. I’m pooped and feeling it in my arms. The angle is a little hot for my spin but I power through it, twice popping up a little high risking the capsize. I look back to see I am going to make it if I just don’t go over. I slide back in from the trap and ease out on the spin and sail my way over the line with Tom there to record my victory.
Holy Crap, I’ve just won!
I head back to shore to dismantle the boat and enjoy the victory with all of my great friends. I am blessed to have such great people in my life and to be able to enjoy the great sport of sailing with them. Time to cook dinner for all my friends. This time it’s gumbo! I’ve never made it before so I hope it turns out well. Thirty minutes later a huge pot, a bunch of bowls and a group of cold hungry sailors await. As Brian would say, “Winner, Winner, Gumbo Dinner!” Let’s eat. Judging from the huge, now empty pot and how many went back for seconds I think I did all right. The perfect way to close out a perfect day.
Thank you to all my friends and fellow sailors who were there to make it so special, and to those who missed it, I wish you could have been there. I hope this gives you a little feeling of what it was like on my boat and it fires you up to make it next year!
Jim Tomes on Raisin Hull