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Fling Regatta - 2nd to 4th Feb. 2012.

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Above: Regent Express - second from right - getting a good pin end start in Div 1

Foreign funding and support from Lord Irvine Laidlaw coupled with local expertise in the form of Rick Nankin, ensured that the second Fling Regatta was as successful as the first. One can always guage the acceptance of an event by the volume of entries. This year they had almost doubled, to the tune of forty two boats, split into three divisions: IRC, Club Div 1 and Club Div 2. Just in case you didn't know, Lord Laidlaw has several yachts based around the world and all of them end in the word Fling . So he has Highland Fling in Scotland and Cape Fling here, and so on..... Capiche?

Above: Boat owners were hosted here for pre-dinner drinks.
Photo: Trygve Roberts


With a touch of originality, Irvine invited all the boat owners with partners, to dinner at his estate in the Noorhoek Valley. I normally have no problem describing things, but the estate is jaw dropping in its grandeur. As a Capetonian of many years, I was not even aware that it existed. It is vast in extent, starting at the crest of the mountains to the north (where there are several dams supplying water to the estate) extending south, where the property covers a large portion of the southern peninsula.


Above: This is an aerial view of the manor and immediate grounds, which hangs in the guest loo - taken with a cellphone camera, hence the poor quality, but it gives one an idea of the scope of the manor house..

Once past the security system, it was a long drive up a steep curved brick paved road under enormous trees of such variety that I lost count after a short while. Instructions from security indicated that we should pull over and park behind the queue of cars on the left, halfway up the hill, from where a golf cart with driver would be waiting to drive us up to the manor, which was another kilometer or so. Alighting at the courtyard, we were greeted by one of several hostesses, with four of Irvine's fabulous cars including a Bentley and two other seriously expensive cars, casually parked in the cobbled courtyard behind a large Roman fountain - we are talking about counting the value of these cars in several millions. It was only the little Honda CRV that seemed starkly uncomfortable and out of place. The Laidlaw's hospitality was refined and understated – perfectly suited to the guest profile.

Irvine's wife, Lady Christine Laidlaw, gave me some of the history. In 1923 the original property only offered low level indigenous shrubs (or fynbos as we know it). It took more than a hundred years to cultivate the densely forested property of today. The gardens are enormous and immaculately maintained. I was immediately comparing it to Kirstenbosch in style and scope. There are numerous ponds and fountains, with multi terraced lawns dropping down to the croquet area, where a black granite statue of a jaguar overlooks the lawns.


Photo: Trygve Roberts

At the highest point of the estate the grand old mansion still stands in fairly original condition with colonial style, high ceilings, yellow wood floors and oak beams. Persian carpets, multiple fireplaces and original art hangs on all the walls, including the loo! A three course dinner for a hundred people was served in Irvine's personal gym – a room large enough to play host to that. International race officer, Peter Craig, made a short speech, immediately endearing himself to the audience. And so started the 2012 Fling Regatta in dignified and gracious style. I was impressed that all the boat owners at least wore shoes and long pants for the occasion. We are yachties, after all – and it was a hot evening.


Above: Alexandre Monet - owner of the A35 - Docksafe is a Frenchman with a sense of humour - gamely acknowledging his close links with the image on the wall.
Photo: Trygve Roberts


Friday 2nd Feb, was a typical late summer day in Cape Town. Hot and windy! Race 1 was scheduled to be a twilight race starting at 17h00. A blustery 35 knot south easter whipped up spindrift on Table Bay as the RO went out to set a course. The vast majority of skippers, didn't even bother rigging. It was wild out there. But five boats did go out and we were one of them, with just a reefed main up. We waited maybe 15 minutes in the relative shelter of Granger Bay, when the ‘Race Abandoned' call came through. The forecast for the rest of the weekend was looking interesting, with light to moderate breeze.

Saturday morning had the club buzzing with activity as boats were prepared for a long day on the water. The RO radiod that racing would start on time; the breeze was steady and the course was already laid. We are not used to that and I must give Peter Craig full marks for good communication, which was broadcast frequently. The one criticism I did have is that he was often not audible and spoke on the radio facing into the wind, which caused distortion, but there was sufficient repetition to catch up on missing words on the next transmission. The American accent was also an issue at times, but overall he did a great job – always willing to adjust the course and he made it clear that he did not encourage ‘on the water radio dialogue'. In other words – Shut up and listen.


Race Officer Peter Craig from the USA did a good job, assisted here by Di Hutton-Squire (in blue) and Toni Mainprize (in white)

Race 1:
The IRC fleet started on time at exactly 10h05 with a clean start with most of the big names in the fleet. Normally the well prepared Farr 38 A-L wins most IRC events, relying on their excellent rating and skill, to get them there, but lately Rick Nankin on the Landmark 43 Windpower has been giving them a hard time. These were the two boats tipped to take IRC honours, but it would not turn out that way by the end of the event with both boats being relegated to 5th and 4th places respectively. The wind was SE and steady at around 10 knots - Damn! There goes my theory about there being no such thing as a moderate south easterly in Cape Town!

In our (Div 1) fleet, we also had some serious contenders, including the Farr 38 Rockstar; JJ Provoyeur's L41 After You and a range of big boats totalling 14 which accounted for the biggest of the three fleets. There were a number of boats in this fleet which are IRC defectors, including all the sports boats, due to punitive IRC ratings. They put the three sports boats in this fleet as well, consisting of two Pacer 27's and one Melges 24 – all three carrying the same rating of 1.080. With light winds and windward/leeward courses being set, it would be unlikely any of the sports boats would be able to win a race.


Above: Its old and its ugly - perhaps a suitable end to its life aloft. So how does a spinnaker blow in 10 knots of wind?

All three sporties opted for a pin end start, leaving a large gap in the line, where the rest of the fleet had a bun-fight for the committee boat end. We weren't complaining. Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport) had better upwind speed than us, which had me puzzled as these are one design boats and incredibly even. We were last of the three sports boats around the top mark, but managed to close some of the distance down by the lee mark with good downwind tactics, but we were definitely a little off the pace. Doug Alison was helming Felix the cat, getting to know the boat in preparation for the nationals in two weeks time. We finished mid fleet, in 8th place, close behind the Melges (7th), whilst Felix the cat took 6th place - a good indicator of sports boat mixed fleet potential in light breeze on W/L courses. Straight after finishing and dousing the kite, we did a Jose (reversing the boat to clear kelp and debris off the foils) and there it was – a 3 meter long strand of that thin ribbony kelp. That helped to explain our lack of speed. It was a better discovery than figuring out we were sailing the boat badly!


Above: The IRC fleet off to a clean start

Race 2 kicked off in short order, but the breeze had gone lighter. A triangle-sausage course was used with a downwind finish. Rounding order (between the sporties) was the Melges, Felix and us – but very close together in a group. Our boat speed was as good as the other Pacer, but the angle to the gybe mark was way too tight for the big masthead assym, so all the sporties were forced to drop kites halfway down the leg, and two sail reach to get around the gybe mark, which left the next leg as a deep reach, but the wind was shifting dramatically clockwise and we could see the bigger boats ahead all dropping spinnakers in favour of headsails. We had worked our way into the windward position at that stage. The Melges did a bad gybe and had to sort out a kite wrap, so they had lost two places fairly quickly. It gave us the opportunity to get our nose ahead and we held onto that slender lead, to extend it up the next leg, which was a very tight reach and almost a beat. You know the story with a soldiers course – no-one was going to pass us with no opportunity, so we forged ahead to take a 2nd place in our fleet behind Rockstar and it turned out to be our best score of the regatta, leaving the Melges and Felix in 6th and 8th places respectively. Our confidence suitably restored, we got ready to do battle for Race 3. This was a perfect example of how a sports boat does better when the course is skwewed and not a windward/leeward. We were about 30 seconds shy of the first placed boat - a Farr 38.


Above: Getting ready to hoist the A2 for a windward move on the 39 footer ahead.

Race 3:
The RO (wisely, and no doubt with advice from Nankin) moved the entire course to the east, closer to Milnerton Beach as the south easter cranked up a notch to settle at 12 knots. Conditions were perfect for yacht racing. We lined up for the third time with the other two sports boats near the pin end for a good start. It was probably 5 seconds after the start signal, when we heard a bang - the kind of sound we have heard before. Our main halyard had snapped right at the top of the mast. You cannot jury rig a halyard on these boats as it is 2:1 main halyard system, so that was us out of that race. Speaking to other competitors on shore after racing, they all said it was the best race of the day. Felix the cat had a good race, attaining a 3rd place. For those who need to know, besides fitting an expensive Tylaska shackle to the head of the main to increase the turn of the radius the halyard must turn around, it is a wise policy to send someone up the mast once every few months, to raise the stopper knot on the mast crane by a few inches, which will move the chafe/stress point away from the shackle. So cut your halyard about one meter longer than required, to allow for the four times a year trimming. Another interesting point to note, was that we sailed back to harbour under the headsail alone and managed to point reasonably high and sustain a speed of around 6 knots in about 10 knots of breeze.

Race 4: Sunday 4th Feb.turned out to be a very hot, light wind day. Again racing started on time with another windward/leeward course. We had a decent start and rounded first of the sports boats and then went on to open up our lead downwind. On the final run down-wind, the breeze started dying down to just a whisper. We chose to work the right hand side of the course, whilst the other sporties went to the left, where they sailed straight into a massive hole in the lee of an anchored ship, where they spent several agonising minutes becalmed, whilst we sailed over the finish line in some breeze. Despite the big time gap, the finishing order was Regent 7th; Felix 8th, Melges 9th.


Above: This pic tells it's own story. I hope they did their penalty.

Race 5: Once the bay went calm in the beach zone, the fleet was sent to Granger Bay where a gentle westerly had made its presence. The course was scheduled as a medium distance race and followed a triangle - sausage format. I thought at the time it was a smart idea as it offered a perfect shortening course option. We had another good start and worked our way immediately over to the shore for the westerly lift. Again the three sports boats were neck and neck all the way up the beat, with the lead changing several times. The Melges rounded first followed by Regent, then Felix - all within a 10 second window. We went for a bearaway hoist and went straight into a low soak mode, whilst the Melges went hot and high. Felix made a mistake by doing a gybe hoist and promptly got buried behind some big boats. They never recovered from that and ended up almost a mile adrift towards the final leg of the race. Our strategy worked well and we held a solid lead at the lee mark. We forged ahead to open up a significant lead on the final run, only to hear the RO call the race abandoned. What a lot of effort for no result! At that stage we did not know our class would be allowed a discard after only 4 races. It would have made a big difference to our overall result if we could not discard our DNF result in Race 3.

With hindsight, it would have been much better if the course had been shortened after the first triangle. It was one of very few mistakes made by Peter Craig. So IRC got a 5th race in, whilst the Bravo and Charlie fleets had to settle for four. At least a discard was allowed and we were able to shed our RTD result, which brought us to the top of the three sports boats in terms of results, but a long way from a podium result with a 6th overall in Div 1. But ours was a race within a race amongst the sports boats and we were quite satisfied with the final result.

Congratulations to Rob Meek and his crew on the IMX40 Lobelia who were popular winners of the IRC fleet. Div 1 was won by David Booth in the 35ft Beneteau Necessity and Div 2 was won by one of our ex crew members Rodney Tanner on the L26 Team Escape.

This was a very good event which was carefully planned and executed with a Plan B for everything (thanks to Rick Nankin with backup from Hylton hale, Ron keytel and Toni mainprize from the sailing office at RCYC). The prize giving was well attended and one could tell by the applause that the sailors had enjoyed themselves a lot. Every boat received a prize, which is always a nice touch and Irvine Laidlaw promised that the Fling Regatta would be back in 2013 - even bigger and better. Be there!


Above: The Corby 49 "Cape Fling" is a very pretty boat!

Results: Club div 1 Only. For full results please visit www.rcyc.co.za
FLEET BOAT NAME DESIGN SKIPPER RATING = R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 Total Nett
1st Div 1 Necessity Beneteau 34.7 David Booth 1.04 = 2 -12 1 2 17 5
2nd Div 1 Maestro Fast 42 Paul Van Ass 1.16 = 1 -5 4 3 13 8
3rd Div 1 Lapwing L34 J Burger/A Keen 1.015 = 4 4 -5 1 14 9
4th Div 1 After You Lavranos 41 JJ Provoyeur 1.21 = 3 -13 2 5 23 10
5th Div 1 Rockstar Farr 38 Brian Gardener 1.095 = 5 1 -6 6 18 12
6th Div 1 Regent Express Pacer 27 Sport Trygve Roberts 1.08 = 8 2 (15.0 DNC) 7 32 17
7th Div 1 Felix The Cat Pacer 27 Sport Doug Alison 1.08 = 6 8 3 -11 28 17
8th Div 1 Celine IV Comfortina 39 Volker Vierhaus 1.045 = -9 3 7 8 27 18
9th Div 1 Majimoto II Farr 40 P Mare/L Birch 1.14 = -10 7 10 4 31 21
10th Div 1 Mini Mace Melges 24 Markus Progli 1.08 = 7 6 8 -9 30 21
11th Div 1 Tally Ho L34 John Waller 1.015 = 12 9 9 (15.0 DNC) 45 30
12th Div 1 Me to Me Farr 38 Derek Shuttleworth 1.08 = -11 10 11 10 42 31
13th Div 1 Bambe Zonke Beneteau Cyclades 434 Daniel Price 1.09 = 13 11 12 (15.0 DNC) 51 36
14th Div 1 Windhover L34 Allan Johns 1.015 = (15.0 DNC) 15.0 DNC 15.0 DNC 12 57 42