Here is my story:,my experience on the 2015 Around Long Island Regatta (ALIR) on R JMS, a 1986 C&C 35.
In 2015 the ALIR started off Breezy Point, near Coney Island (now it starts in NY Harbor). We had 5 guys on board. I'll use initials: RS (boat owner), ED, BS, DR, and me. RS, ED, DR were all very experienced racers. Back then I had lots of 'beer can' racing experience, but only 1 ALIR under my belt.
Depart Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club and and head to start area. Weather: Warm, hazy, wind S 12. Forecast: T Storms at night, Windy. Our start is at 1520
The trip to the start (2-3nm) was windy and rough. We motor S into steep waves. BS is seasick. We get to start area early. Hoist main. Too much wind. Reef main, hoist #3 headsail. [In hindsight we should have raised the main much earlier, as the ride with it was more comfortable and the crewman probably would not have been seasick].
Start: Very windy, SSW 20-25. We have a very fast trip east. Boat is at 8+ kts for long stretches. Very wet ride. I am soaked [I was too inexperienced to have put on my foulies before the start and too busy to put them on after the start].
Rain 1 hour after start. Very heavy. Foulies on (too late). Bad visibility, dark skies. Little Lightning.
1730 Wind down to 15-20. Set heavy chute, drop #3. Boat is VERY fast. Big following seas. We surf at 10+ kts. See top speed of over 13.
Sunset: Wind continues to build. We douse heavy chute and hoist #2 headsail. Difficult to steer.
2200 I am on helm. I do my best. No visibility. No reference points. Steer by compass. Quite a workout. Following seas lift stern, boat wants to pivot into the wind. Need to force the bow down. Then steer back up as you surf down the wave.
FRIDAY 0100: I go off watch until 0500. Head below and try to sleep
0500 back on watch. Light wind, fog. Light air spinnaker is up. Lots of wet sails on deck.
1040 We round Montauk point. Close beat up to Orient Point. Beautiful day. Sunny, dry, warm. Everything dies out nicely.
1630 Round Orient Point and back in the Long Island Sound.
1700 In Long Island Sound (LIS) . Flood begins but we still have foul current. Wind W 10-15 and building. We sail NW toward Connecticut. Strong foul current so we tack SW towards Long Island. Get close to shore and tack NW again.
1800 Wind up to 20+. Switch to #2. Wind up more. Reef main. Crew is tired but we continue to tack our way west. Why not just sail NW until we reach CT and THEN tack SW? I do what I'm told. We see boats ahead and behind. We think we are doing well but can't tell. Beautiful day. Seas calm, ride is great. Boat goes fast.
Wind clocks SW and we can steer on the rhumbline. Yeah, no more tacking.
1900 Wind drops. Reef shaken out. Wind down more. Raise #1. Hot pasta for dinner. We did this last year and a hot meal raises your spirits. But pasta without wine is not civilized. I smuggle a bottle of Merlot on-board (dry boat when racing). I go below and get it. RS is surprised but allows it (a 750 ml bottle doesn't go far for 5 guys) and we all have some wine with dinner. I get passed a plate and I eat on the rail. Life is good!
2030 Sun down. Moon up. ED drives. I am on watch. Nice night,
2200 I steer. Boat is fantastic. Speed 6 kts. Right on layline. Easy motion. Moon provides enough light to steer by. I am tucked in on the low side. I barely have to touch the wheel. My watch goes by very quickly. At the end I don't want to leave the wheel. Sailing does not get any better than this!
0100: I go off watch. RS on watch and steers. I fill him on on conditions then go below. It's cold and I sleep in my foul weather gear.
0500 back on watch. Wind light but never dies. We have to tack N, then back to S then back on course.
0700 I steer for an hour. Getting close to finish. Should be less than 2 hours.
0800 DR steers. Nothing to do now but keep the boat moving.
0830 RS steers as we cross the finish line. We know we did well but don't have results.
The crew springs into action. We take down sails, clean up boat. The boat owner and 2 crew are taking the boat back to Port Jeff. Another crew and I are getting off now and getting a ride home. We clean up, pack up and jump on the launch to the See Cliff Yacht Club.
Inside the club we head over to the scoring table to get the results: After racing over 190 miles, we won our class by 41 seconds! We came in first in class (spinnaker, division 4), and 6th in the fleet (over 60 boats).
That's why we worked so hard, short tacking in the Long Island Sound instead of sailing into foul current towards CT. That's why we did so many sail changes, hiked out in the rain, dragged sail on deck and below. We worked hard, as a team, and were rewarded for it.
In case anyone is interested, I created a short video of my experience and it's available here: