Test it, bust it, then put it away

Published on October 14th, 2019

The members at Indian Harbor Yacht Club (Greenwich, CT) have a sense of humor, a good attribute when the climate limits their sailing fun.

They start the season with The Geartester in May, allowing sailors the opportunity to test their gear, in an early season tune-up race. Then, with luck, they’re still standing for The Gearbuster in October to challenge the durability of their gear in the typically strong autumn conditions.

The Gearbuster, first sailed in 1956, has grown to become one of the premier fall sailing events on Long Island Sound, and this year featured 57 entries from over 20 clubs. However, the usual end-of-season gear-busting conditions were not in this year’s outlook.

One professional weather prognosticator remarked rather drolly that he was concerned “that there will be enough breeze for decent sailing” (weathman speak for it’s going to be a good day for golf).

Gearbuster sailors normally compete on one of two courses, the 46.5nm Stratford Shoal Course for spinnaker divisions, and the 19nm Eatons Neck Course for non-spinnaker divisions. Originally sailed as an overnight race, it is now a mostly daylight affair given its 1100 first start.

Also notable was the shorthanded fleets. Not only was there a doublehanded division but also the new PLUS ONE division in which the crew limit is one more person than the tens digit of the boat’s hull length. Therefore, any boat from 20-29.9 feet will race with three crew, any boat in the 30s will sail with four, and so on.

Twenty percent of the fleet took advantage of these two divisions.

Given the forecast, the Race Committee elected to invoke a “short course” option. This had the Stratford Shoal fleet sailing to Eatons Neck (19.0nm) and the Eatons Neck fleet sailing to Mid-Sound buoy 32A, The Cows and then to the finish (10.9nm).

Though conditions were not bust-worthy, it was still a pleasant day on the water, and by the early afternoon, the overcast skies turned to blue. Afterwards, competitors gathered at IHYC to compare war stories and enjoy the traditional spread of Heineken beer and some of the finest post-race food on the Sound at the club’s stunning new South Patio.

A great way to end the day — and for many, their sailing season.

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