By Rachel Tagen and Austin Vance aboard Stingray
Editor’s note: In this recent Coop’s Kaper, Rachel Tagen and Austin Vance, 17-year-old students at North Kingstown High School in North Kingstown, RI, joined skipper Rory Cumming, co-skipper Ian Ray and headsail trimmer Stephen Schwartz aboard the Corsair 37 Stingray (Norwalk, CT) for Stamford Yacht Club’s Vineyard Race last month.
Rachel – The idea for doing the Vineyard Race first came up during the awards ceremony for the Ida Lewis Distance Race. That was my first overnight sail and I absolutely loved it! Everything from trimming the sails, flying the spinnaker, and steering the boat was a completely new experience in the dark. Coop brought up the Vineyard Race that night, and the idea took off from there. A couple emails were sent within the next week and suddenly I had a boat and a crew to join. The morning of the race, Austin and I drove down to Norwalk early and were off sailing a few short hours later (after a safety brief and MOB drill, of course!). The boat setup was very different than what I was accustomed to. I spent the time trying to figure out the locations of sheets, halyards, clutches, winches, etc.
We were out on the line early and ran through several practice tacks and jibes while watching the starts of the other classes. It was incredible to see so many boats out there, especially the ones I had tracked on many of the offshore races this past summer! Finally it came time for our start, which was rather calm, with only one other boat in the Multihull class. And then we were off!
A few moments stood out to me during the race. One was definitely the wind dying and the other was sailing at night. Sailing overnight is something I have very little familiarity with, and it definitely tests what you know about the boat. Having never sailed a trimaran – or any multihull – before, it was definitely a unique experience. I spent my time on the boat rotating through most of the positions and filling in wherever it was needed.
Steering the boat was much harder than I expected it to be, especially in light air. Because you can’t feel the heel of the boat, it was hard to gauge what I needed to do, and which way to steer. However, in the few moments the wind picked up, the boat gained speed quickly. I remember looking at the instruments at one point and we were going 10 knots, which was exciting. Although the lack of wind was a little disappointing, it was interesting to take a closer look at strategy, whether it was switching out sails, deciding where to tack the boat, watching our competitors…there was so much to take into consideration. Overall, I had a wonderful time and definitely learned a lot!
Congratulations to the winners of the race and to all who competed! I would also like to extend a big Thank You to the crew of Stingray and Coop for organizing this.
Austin – Participating in the Vineyard Race was truly an experience to remember. At the awards night after the Ida Lewis Distance Race, Rachel and I both were on the hunt for a boat to race on for the Vineyard Race. Cooper, as usual, worked his magic and was able to get us onboard a Corsair 37 skippered by Rory Cumming. For the past few years, I have been sailing monohulls and dinghies, so when this opportunity arose to sail a trimaran in the Vineyard Race, I didn’t hesitate.
The race started out with a steady 14-15 knots of breeze but was forecasted to slowly decrease throughout the night. As we beat up to Seaflower Reef we averaged 7 knots of boat speed with very little chop. I noticed that sailing on a trimaran is much more relaxing than sailing a monohull, with less heel and less moving around. The race upwind was definitely the fastest part, as we had good breeze all day. When the sun set the wind started to die down a lot, to about 2-4 knots. However, the views that I saw were amazing and made up for the no wind. I saw things that night that people may never see in their lifetime. I was able to see shooting stars, the Milky Way, and the moon setting on the horizon. These views were absolutely stunning and truly one of my highlights of the race.
Of course, with everything going smoothly, besides the light wind, something was bound to happen. Around 3:30 AM Saturday, we were sailing downwind back to Stamford with our A3. At this point, I was on watch and we planned on hoisting the Code Zero. While the Code Zero came unfurled with no problems, I was having an extremely hard time getting the spinnaker down on deck. The spinnaker halyard clutch was open but the halyard itself was fouled. I was unaware of this at the time and kept fighting the wind and halyard. Luckily I was clipped onto one of the jacklines as I was getting pulled towards the water. Within seconds, there was a 15-foot tear along the leach of the sail.
With all of the commotion on deck, Ian, who is another owner of the boat, quickly came out of bed to help with the situation. After about twenty minutes of fighting with the spinnaker, we were finally able to get it on the deck. This incident unfortunately cost us a great deal of time. We only finished about twenty minutes in front of the other trimaran, but so blessed that it didn’t turn into anything more and that we were all safe.
Despite this being a low wind race, and our spinnaker incident, it was still extremely enjoyable. I got to meet some extraordinary people and was able to tack another offshore race onto my resumé. If I was given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would, without hesitation. All of this would not have been possible without Cooper’s help; he has worked wonders for me and I cannot thank him enough! Can’t wait for what’s up next! ■