, 2022-07-31 12:40:36,
It was in the 1980s when the International 50-Foot Class saw some of the most competitive racing ever in the IOR era. Prompted by owners who wanted to race their yachts on a near level-rating basis, a narrow rating band attracted boats known as 50-footers for their approximate overall length.
But close racing can get too close, and for 50-footers, messiness can follow. Prompted by an image by Onne van Der Wal in Scuttlebutt 6113, Moose McClintock shares how a weather mark approach became nightmare that still haunts him:
The John Thomson led Infinity team chartered the Farr 50 Windquest from the DeVos family for $1 for a year. The current Infinity was a masthead and the 50 foot fleet was becoming all fractional. Although Infinity still performed well, John recognized the shift and wanted to try the fractional version before committing to it.
It was the 1990 Key West Race Week when I was filling in for Ken Read who was putting together a J/39 project for the week (the 50s sailed from Saturday through Wednesday of KWRW on a slightly different schedule). We weren’t having a particularly good regatta, and on the second to last day, we started with a deep finish. At this point, John turned to me and said, “I can’t drive this thing, you should drive.”
John was one of the most fantastic people I’d ever sailed with; I respected his ability and knew he was better than he had been performing. I had no desire to drive the boat and persuaded him to drive the next race, and offered to take the helm if we stumbled again.
With that, we ended the last two races with a 2-3 and spirits on the boat rose exponentially with each race. We hit the dock in a great mood, and \John immediately led the team up to the Tiki Bar at the Galleon Resort and everyone proceeded to down every manner of alcohol. Fortunately for me, my wife was there sailing on the J/39 and took me home in fairly short order so I escaped the rum squall.
The next morning, I was the first to the boat and watched as the teams for all the other 50s showed up and left for the course. I rigged the boat by myself and waited for our crew to straggle down as the last of the fleet departed. John was last down and definitely feeling the effects of the previous evening.
The breeze was around the break-even point between the heavy #1 and the 2, we went upwind with the #1, thought it was too much so went back downwind and changed to the #2. The #2 was not enough but we were short on…
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