I don't know what is up, but somehow Refanut has been converted into the perfect short-handed racer. Well, let's be honest, it isn't quite that simple. It only works if you're extremely lucky with the winds, which we were.
Before talking about the race from a Refanut perspective I want to say, once again, that the No-Crew gang delivers top notch events. First Harken Solo Challenge and now this. What they've done with a tiny crew is nothing short of amazing. Like Jimmy (Hellberg) said when he picked us up at the dock were we moored before the race, "When we started no-crew we only intended for it to refer to the competitors, not the organizers..."
Just like last time it was a pursuit start with the addendum that the results would be re-calculated based on handicap if the first boat did not finish within 15% of it's ideal time. I've sailed in other events where they either never recalculate or always recalculate. The former has the negative that the handicapping could be extremely skewed when the actual winds differ from the projected. The latter means that you loose the charm of having the order over the finish line stand. For races that are a bit more informal in nature (or, if you wish, where participating and having fun is as or more important than winning), this is a winning formula in my view.
The video does more to show off the beutiful sailing conditions enjoyed than anything I could write, but we did have an interesting incident not caught on tape that illustrates the limitations of Refanut as a short-handed boat.
As we approached Prästkobben by Nassa and the next mark we decided that the wind was a bit too much for our #1 genua and that we had to make a shift (it was furled). I know it from before and it is still true ... changing headsails is the nemesis of Refanut as a short-hand boat. We unfurled and I tried to pull it in over deck as Anders lowered it ... failure. A slip of the halyard and the sail comes shooting down into the water. Not good. The following 10 seconds were "interesting". We were making no headway on moving the sail and it kept trawling. Anders reminded me to run back and turn us down onto a dead run to reduce pressure and we were lucky enough to manage to pull on the leech and, slowly but surely, empty the sail and then get it back on deck. The whole event probably didn't take more than two minutes but it felt like an eternity. In the end we probably didn't loose that much time and we rounded Prästholmen nice and tight with our #2 up. That was a good thing since we saw both 21 and 22 knots apparent coming up the beat.
We also diverged from the crowed around Möja. The course as drawn (and sailed by everyone ahead of us) had us going up just north of Möja (inside Norrö). However, we realized that would be a full beat through that narrow channel and we figured that we could just stay our course and pass through the next set of island by Moskär. This way we'd reduce the number of tacks a lot but would essentially "bang the corner" thereby taking a big risk on shifting winds. We were right on both counts as we were headed several times coming back on starboard tack.
As we converged with the fleet again we estimate that we had made up at least as much ground during the time we've been split as we had across Björkskärsfjärden, that is we had avoided the punishment of lots of tacks, something a 34 ton boat doesn't do very well (or rather, acceleration is what we don't do very well). Some other boats that decided to follow us weren't so lucky as far as I heard since the got more of the header (and probably would have paid less for the 20-30 tacks required on the regular route).
From there on down to the finish it was a close reach (sometimes pure upwind conditions) and we took full advantage of our waterline as we reeled in one boat after the other. We passed the last boat, the Albin Nova Cappuccino, with about 3nm to go, but we were constantly aware of Pac-Man's telltale mainsail chasing us. In the it was still enough and we crossed the finish line at 16:00:25, only 25 seconds after the "ideal time" estimated by our handicap ... guess the ratings are correct after all :-)
As we're cleaning up the boat and head back to the dock we're keeping track of a big black cloud approaching from the west. "That cloud probably has 40 (knots) in it" says Anders. During dinner we talked to some of the boats caught under that cloud ... while most boats talked about 30-40 knots, one boat had seen both 52 and 71! on their wind instrument. Ouch.
Anyway, myself and Anders had a beautiful day on the water and you can expect Refanut on the starting line for next year's edition.