First race of the second half of the summer, and I had a Plan for my start. I wanted to start 1/3 of the way up the (short, beam reach) line and be upwind of the competition. That part worked, but my plan for a fast approach didn't as Steve and Bruce were early, and turned head-to-wind on the start line in front of me. We started about even, but Steve managed to pull out ahead, inch by inch. He told me later he'd sheeted his jib for the reach, and heeled the boat to weather. It was a close reach, and so I wouldn't have thought that to be the best approach, but it worked...
We changed the course before the start: Down to X, up to 11, X, 11, finish, which gave two windward legs. 11 is in the lee of Bay Island. Therefore, the center of the windward leg had a big wind shadow, and we had to decide which site to approach on.
We went around the corner toward the leeward mark, and we were overlapped with two boats. We had already decided on a starboard rounding, and I was on the right side of the other boats, except Steve who was, as usual, in the process of disappearing in the lead. So I rounded the lee mark in 2nd place and stayed on starboard across the channel. I figured the better wind was on the right side of the island, so I tacked on to port and stayed there until I was almost at the layline. This turned out ok, and we got closer to Steve than we had been at the leeward mark.
After the windward mark, though, I had to deal with Jonathan coming up on starboard tack, and then got stopped. Steve went right, but I tried to follow and had NO wind for a minute or so, and of course the boats behind, Jonathan and Bruce, caught up.
Jonathan's and my courses converged going downwind, and he blanketed me for a time. Then, fortunately, he decided to go right to get the inside overlap, which cleared my wind. Bruce caught up while we were slowing each other down/playing tactics. When we started back upwind, I must have got on the wrong side of a shift or otherwise goofed up, because I had to duck Bruce on a port-starboard crossing. I'm pretty sure we had the boat trimmed ok, and were moving ok, but Bruce made up a number of boat lengths in the first part of the beat. Gotta figure out how that kinda stuff happens, and make it not happen :-)
Anyway, Jonathan got a bit slow for a part of the upwind leg pinching to try to avoid tacking -- not a good idea in a J22, and we got a solid 3rd place. In retrospect, I generally consider Bruce to be the most important competition and should probably keep at least a loose cover on him when I get the chance, which is rare. The split early in the 2nd leg gave him a chance I didn't need to give him, and it worked for him real well.
Trying to keep learning: that's where the fun is!