Eighteen-knot winds and tight reaches provided a fast ride for crews in Monroe Boat Club's Race for the Sisters yesterday.
"It was just the kind of wind Red Cloud needed," said North Cape's John Greiner, skipper of the overall performance handicap racing fleet division and Class B winner. "We waited for this wind all year and it hadn't happened."
In addition to the wind, Greiner credited "a good crew and good chute work."
"Rob Stephenson, our foredeck crew, did a lot of work getting the spinnaker up and down and Bill Summers was good on the jib," he said.
Twenty-degree wind shifts swept over the fleet several times, putting pressure on the rigging, as well as the crew.
Two boats - Bill Bollin's Stand Aside and Fred Hibbert's Fearless - dropped out due to damaged gear, and Dave Gonzalez's Three Niner withdrew after its carbon fiber mast broke.
"It was a really tight reach from the beginning," Greiner said.
"Shortly after the start, we put up our A-sail (asymmetrical spinnaker) and were doing eight knots. Some boats had up only working jibs and they were doomed to slow."
Red Cloud led most of the way to Middle Sister Island, the first mark of the 39-mile course.
"Three Niner caught us just before we got to the island," Greiner said. "After he passed us, his mast fell down. Then Kicks got by us just before West Sister Island [the second mark], so we knew we were in good shape."
Kicks, skippered by John Glanville, won first-to-finish honors and Class A.
"We did the whole thing in less than five and a half hours," Glanville said. "That's fantastic. Because there wasn't a weather leg, we just concentrated on boat speed."
Like Red Cloud, Kicks flew an A-sail and carried it longer than anyone else in its fleet.
"Our boat likes heavier air and it likes to go upwind," Glanville said. "I wish there had been an upwind leg, but the last leg was real tight and that's why we did so well."
The Jib-and-Main division classes competed on a 15.5-mile course with turning marks at the G1 buoy in the Toledo shipping channel and the R18 buoy.
Jagen, steered by Dave Branson, with his father, Tim, calling tactics and trimming the jib, swept the line, overall division and Class A honors.
"It started pretty howling," Dave said. "We were heeled over and washing the 'gunnels.' But it was mostly our kind of race - abeam and downwind. We do well off the wind."
Matt Kern's Discover, which also excels downwind, beat Richard Hamilton's La Chiva by four seconds to win JAM Class B.
"We had a very good first leg, sailing neck and neck with Erie Grog," Kern said, "and it's a good thing we did, because we struggled on the weather leg. I think maybe our rig was out of whack. We just barely managed to save our time."