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Lewmar Twilight Race No.6

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Race in a nutshell: 1st December, 2010

Position PHRF Class 1: Unknown (buoy missing)
Position IRC Class 1: Unknown (buoy missing)
Total entries all classes: 55

Distance: 6.0 nm.
Max Speed: 15.1 knots
Ave speed: 7.1 knots

Time: 0 hr 55 mins 00secs

Weather Forecast: Cloudy. Wind SSW 14 knots Temp 22C
Weather Actual: Cloudy. Wind SE 20 knots gusting 25 knots with rain
Course: 10 (P) – Paarden Isl (P) - Milnerton (S) - Paarden Isl (S) - #10 (S)
Seas: Flattish/ Chop 0.5m
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No. 1 Genoa (Quantum), R1 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (Quantum)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Simon Penso (Pit), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Joshua Banks (Bow), Erhardt Joubert (Mast), Daniel Spratley (Main) : Total: 470 kg

So who knows the difference between AMTRAK and AMDRAM?
I would imagine most people would know that AMTRAK is the USA 's major railway carrier, but just what the heck is AMDRAM? A small portion of Amstel beer maybe? I learn new things every day. It's one of the little joys of life and I will share this gem with you. AMDRAM is the response I got from James King after I complimented him on how well he speaks in public (at the previous week's RCYC prize giving to be more specific). James normally has a ruddy complexion but after the compliment he glowed a deeper shade of red and confessed that he does AMDRAM. So is it a drug to boost one's confidence to be able to speak in public? It took a full minute for me to figure it out: Amateur Drama! Well, well, well…… an insider's perspective of drama school. Here at there is always lots to learn!


Cape Town, oh Cape Town . My beloved city. Why are you so fickle?

Yesterdays positive forecast of a 14 knot westerly brought the sailors down to the club in droves. We rigged in beautiful warm weather of around 28 C at 4 in the afternoon and returned from racing a few hours later in a Black South Easter of 25 knots with rain. It's the reason we always wear oilies. It is astonishing how quickly the weather can change here. In the lovely warm weather we rigged the boat with a full main, No1 Genoa and the R1 masthead asso. It would be 14 knots SW right?

Wrong again! Just north of the start line there was a large calm area but to the south of the line there was a south easterly blowing of around 15 knots. Big dark clouds were gathering over the mountain. Everything was uncharacteristic for early December. Someone onboard said something about maybe it will be a black South Easter? It was too late to change headsails. We would just have to tough it out with the No.1 Genoa. Up ahead in the Class 2 and Class 1 non spinnaker fleets we could see most of the boats were being knocked and needed to tack at least twice, to lay the weather mark, so we decided to start right at the starboard end of the line – exactly with all the other fast boats. The last two minutes before the start was spent luffing a few meters behind the line, surrounded by 40 footers (that can outpoint us). Once you are committed to a starting strategy, it is a bigger mistake trying to wriggle your way out of that “box”, so we just bit the bullet and ended with the kind of start we really don't like. Within two minutes, we were eating dirties, so we tacked over to port to clear our air; hit the wall and went back onto starboard for a much cleaner path up to Paarden island buoy. We were still more or less OK position wise at the top mark.


Spinnaker time! We had our main trimmer away on business and had the very small, but talented Daniel Spratley (a 14 year old) trimming main for us. Up went the kite and with it went our speed. In seconds we were at 14 knots and eating up positions through the fleet. The angle was fairly good for us, but even so, it still necessitated two short gybes to lay the mark. We pulled both of those off with precision and found ourselves lying 3rd at the leeward mark, having overtaken some fairly hot competitors.

“Where's the mark?” I called with a mild hint of panic. I could see boats turning just ahead, but there was no Milnerton mark to be seen, so we just turned back upwind with everyone else around us. I knew it was a stuff-up when we found ourselves crossing tacks with the ILC 40 Gumption who had been a fair distance ahead of us on the reach. Later examination of our GPS track showed we had turned upwind well short of the actual mark. OK, so it would never be a race officially without a mark. Just sail and enjoy the race for what it is.

Above: The Google image above clearly shows that we were nowhere near rounding the actual position of the Milnerton mark and it shows that human nature will dictate that each following boat will shave another few meters off the turning point, until the last boat in the fleet, who will end up sailing the shortest leg. This sort of technology could easily be used by race committees wanting to use virtual marks where competitors could provide GPS tracklogs to prove they have rounded a virtual mark. Missing marks at RCYC continue to frustrate and bedevil the race organisers.

We had excellent upwind speed in the flat water, right next to the beach in shallow water, rounding Paarden island well up in the fleet, then got the big blue kite up again for another fast reach to the finish. Just like the previous week, we were unable to hold the kite all the way to the finish, having to do a strike followed by a two sail fetch over the last few hundred meters, to clear the finish line.

Enjoyable sailing and a great pity about the mark. That begs the question “Where the hell is it?” No-one would surely steal it? For scrap metal value? Or was it just simply blown away in all those gale force southerlies we have had the past week? Or did the perlemoen smugglers sink it below sea level by tying their ill gotten gains to the ground tackle? Who knows?

Putting another mark down is actually quite a big job and involves constructing the steel float and superstructure; laying the concrete for the bottom weight; painting and then a good weather day for the accurate placement of the mark. All in all, work on about 3 months and expect a temporary mark for next week's race. Like I said……Cape Town, oh Cape Town……(and I don't do Amdram)

This time of year presents the usual issues with arranging crew and as we use juniors extensively, the exam time tables take most of them out of the equation during November/December. Nontheless, it was great seeing both Joshua and Erhardt back on board last night, with varying degrees of confidence about their exam results.