Race 7 was about putting together a complete race from start to finish. After two general recalls and our second black flag I decided to start in the middle of the line because there is almost always a mid-line sag. I made sure I had a nice hole to the nearest leeward boat and pulled the trigger early to get my bow out in clean air. After a minute of sailing and concentrating on max boat speed, I saw I was even with the top boats who started at the leeward end and that I could cross all the boats that started at the weather end.
The first mark was 1.5 miles to windward and placed close to the windward shore of Key Biscayne Island. The wind was very unstable with puffs, lulls, and big shifts - very tricky. Today's conditions make the upwind tactics a lot like a rat maze. There are many potential paths to get to the weather mark but nothing is certain until you actually get to it. I decided to stay on starboard because I was going well and had good pressure, also to see if I could sniff out any sort of header. I soon tacked over onto a nice lift with solid pressure. At this point there were three groups of leaders - left side - middle (me) - and right side who were spread out over 1/2 mile of separation. As it turned out, the Dutch sailor Marc de Haas punched the left corner and had a huge lead of 45 seconds at the first mark, while the rest of us squeezed everything out of every shift and puff following the "maze" up the beat. I stayed in pressure and made some good decisions to round in 4th.
I held even downwind and put together another smart beat, while the conditions became more varied. Down the run I lost two boats to finish 6th, bow-to-stern with the 2nd to 5th place boats.
Tomorrow is the final day of racing for all competitors except the top ten who will battle it out in the medal race on Saturday. Tomorrow's forecast is for east winds 9-13 knots, classic Biscayne Bay conditions.