Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Wonderful Story of the Arey's Big Cat Race

by Bob Luckraft

Titans Battle at Arey's Pond Race/Rendezvous
Round III


With the series tied up one race apiece, a sun-filled sky and yet another light
wind that hovered just below 10 knots was the setting for the third race in the
five races between KATHLEEN and SILENT MAID. The course was simple enough --
start in the NE corner of Little Pleasant Bay run down to a pin set ~3-nautical
miles away in the SW corner of Pleasant Bay and finish back at the start line.

Little Pleasant Bay has thin water, but the tide was high at the start and began

to ebb and run towards the pin a half hour after the start. There is a narrow
section where the two bays come together appropriately called "The Narrows."
Pleasant Bay has plenty of water for a catboat.

The match-race began as a combined start with a vast fleet and variety of other
catboats. With the sounding of the gun a rather orderly mass of sail slipped
across the line. A reaching/downwind start can be problematic, but everything
seemed to work out just fine for the fleet.

It looked like 10 or so catboats crossed the starting line before KATHLEEN and

KATHLEEN got a good start over SILENT MAID and both boats quickly threaded their

way through the other cats, and to the head of the fleet. Without incident they
cleared "The Narrows" and ran down Pleasant Bay on port tack down towards the
pin. KATHLEEN made certain to stay out of SILENT MAID's wind shadow by keeping
off to port and leeward while SILENT MAID seemed content to run the rhumb line
to the pin.

With the pin approaching, but not yet upon, and with good separation between the

boats -- KATHLEEN made a sudden and perfectly timed jibe to starboard tack. She
pulled in much of her sheet, and with remarkably "quick" acceleration and power
she steamed smartly directly into the path of SILENT MAID who was running free
on port tack. SILENT MAID had no choice; She had to jibe to starboard to give
way. She came off her rhumb line and head up. As she did KATHLEEN --in one fluid

motion, jibed back to port; eased her sheet, drove, caught the pin, dropped her
board, sheeted in, and headed back up the bay. In the mean time, SILENT MAID
gathered herself together and got enough speed so that she could jib back to
port and round the pin. KATHLEEN's move was poetry in motion --so perfectly
timed and positioned! It was amazing to watch.

Now the upwind battle was on. SILENT MAID was moving and out pointing KATHLEEN.
She had found herself, and in short order passed KATHLEEN, and opened a 300-ft.
lead. KATHLEEN tacked and SILENT MAID covered. KATHLEEN tacked again and SILENT
MAID covered, but lost ground.

It became quite apparent in this tacking duel that KATHLEEN was accelerating
much better out of her tacks than SILENT MAID. It seemed to take "the MAID"
quite some time to get her speed back up in the 8 -9 knot headwind. Also noted
-- KATHLEEN's bow seemed to be cutting the water where SILENT MAID seemed to
push the water at the slower speed. This pushing was not noted when she get
herself moving. Anyone that has seen KATHLEEN under sail know the beautiful cut
she makes as she passes through the water.

The boats were neck and neck as they approached "The Narrows." The foul current
from the ebbing tide was quite strong now. KATHLEEN, sailing flat, to leeward
was dangerously close to the shore and grounding. Somehow she managed to clear
the narrows. It's hard to believe she squeaked through. SILENT MAID to windward
and deeper water had their crew on the rail creating quite a heel on her.

Both boats held their tack into Little Pleasant Bay with KATHLEEN finding the
upwind end of finish line ahead of SILENT MAID who finished on the lower end
about 3 minutes behind.

Both boat are set to race again this afternoon, Sunday, August 22, 2010, from
Chatham, MA to Bristol, RI. The route is mostly due west and ~100 miles! The
weather forecast is for E-SE winds 16 MPH today, high of 75 degrees, with a 50%
chance of rain PM thunderstorms. Tonight E 18 MPH 80 % chance of rain and
thunderstorms, low 68 degrees. Tomorrow --Rain/Thunder/wind E 22 MPH, High of
73 degrees.

It looks like the KATHLEEN and SILENT MAID will experience a real Nantucket
sleigh ride for the trip to Bristol. Let wish them the best of luck.

For information on catboats please visit the Catboat Association's website at


Robert Luckraft

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