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Puma Twilight Series - Race 4 - 2nd November, & Club Summer Race 1 - 5th November,2011 (Scroll down)

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Race in a nutshell: 2nd November, 2011
Position PHRF Class 1 Spin: 3rd from 10
Total Entries: 48
Distance: 6.0nm.
Max Speed: 17.8 knots
Ave speed: 6.9 knots
Time: 0 hrs 53 mins 59 secs
Weather Forecast: C lear. Wind S 10 to 14 knots Temp 19C
Weather Actual: Clear. Wind SE 25 to 30 knots. Temp 18C
Course: 10 (P) – Paarden island (P) - Milnerton (S) – Paarden Island (P) – No. 8 (P)- Finish (P)
Seas: Short chop.
Sails: Reefed Main (Quantum), No. 2 Genoa (Quantum), A3 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (North)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Daniel Spratley (Main), Simon Penso (Pit), Allesandro Napoli (Mast) Joshua Banks (Bow), Total: 480 kg

The week that was……
(Two races in one week )
The first true blue summer south easterly arrived and gave the fleet a taste, and a not so gentle reminder, what summer sailing in Cape Town is all about. There were broaches aplenty and many damaged sails and gear after racing. But, it was FUN!

We went out in that typically fairy tale fashion, where a gentle northerly wafts over the harbour and the moorings are calm and warm. That Serendipical scene ends abruptly just behind the breakwater, where the real prevailing wind lies in wait – white horses everywhere; boats heeling abnormally. Welcome to Cape Town. If you don't like the heavy stuff, then this place is not for you.

Get some kids on your crew list
We had two crew absentees, but fortunately were able to replace them with our ex pitman, Simon Penso, and 15 year Optimist exponent, Daniel Spratley on main. We must have had one of the youngest average aged crews on the day, with three 15 year olds on board. And they are terrific. Fearless, talented, bright and enthusiastic. We took a short sail upwind into the south easter proper and very quickly changed our minds about the reef we had so vaguely considered earlier on. We doubled back to the shelter of the harbour and put the reef in. We also rigged the fractional A3 spinnaker. Both of those decisions would prove to be really smart. We had a good, clean start with plenty of boat speed. Despite our reduced sail area, we were still fighting the boat upwind. The big lead mines quickly pulled ahead and left the Melges 24 and ourselves to round last and second last respectively. Nothing unusual in that, as we are the two smallest boats in the Class 1 Spin fleet by a considerable margin, but we had the downwind leg coming up – a time when the sports boats come into their own.

Big breeze + flat water + Pacer 27 = Fun!
We got our kite up smartly and were very quickly up to 15 knots – barreling down the windward side of the fleet in showers of spray, rapidly overtaking all the big boats, except for Southern Storm and Corum. There is no better sensation than doing those speeds on flat water. The Melges 24 is much more of a big dinghy than a small keelboat, and doesn't have our advantage of being able to shorten sail. It only has three sails and they are all maximum size and that is what you have to sail with. They took a lot longer getting their masthead kite up, and when they did, they ended up having to sail a much deeper angle than us, in order to keep the boat under the rig. We planed past most of the big boats to round Milnerton in 3rd place. It had been a breathtaking ride. Our young crew up front were soaked, but had these huge grins on their faces, which silently said “AWESOME!”

Upwind, we were doing just fine, holding our track and keeping a steady speed of 6.3 knots. We lost a couple of places on the long beat back to Paarden island to the big 40 footers, but we were still very much in contention. We only just laid the weather mark on one tack, squeezing around just ahead of the A34 “DOCKSAFE”. Right up there with us, was the long absent Farr 40 “Alladin” skippered by Bjorn Geiger.

Prawning on a J133
Straight after rounding, we got the asso up again and went planing down to the No.8 mark. Halfway down the leg, the breeze started going lighter (wind shadow of the mountain) and our speed dropped by three knots. From there it was fits and starts of speed as the gusts came and went. Up ahead, the J133 fared less well in one of those gusts and broached badly, losing their kite into the drink. It was basically the end of the race for them as they had to heave to and start the slow and laborious task of retrieving the massive spinnaker completely submerged under water. On the previous reach, many of the boats had severe broaches and at the start Windpower, Unleashed and the J133 were all recalled OCS. All those incidents meant valuable seconds we could capitalize on. The last 200 meters in to the No.8 mark were very fast. We had two Class 2 boats approaching the mark at tighter angles than us, but both managed to round just ahead of us.

Miura's in trouble
Our rounding was good and we were able to hold a high upwind angle, as we needed to climb up over the two Class 2 boats ahead of us. The wind had ratcheted up another two notches to gust in at 35 knots for the final short, port skewed beat to the finish. Suddenly the Miura “FAR MED” which was directly in front of us, got flattened by a gust (that's no mean feat as these boats are seriously heavy) and they could not uncleat their main sheet. The Miura went over on her side, then corkscrewed up into the wind, then bore off abruptly and almost collided with Saorsi, which was to leeward of her. Saorsi managed to bear away and avoid a collision. At first we thought it best to bear away and keep clear of the antics going on in front of us, but that process opened up a gap, and we went back into point mode and gradually pulled ahead of both boats to windward and crossed the line at speed.

After crossing the finishing line, we watched the Miura "Chen" do an unplanned 360 turn. A big gust of wind saw them go through head to wind (mainsheet cleated), the jib sheet then jambed, which backwinded the headsail. Bang! Unplanned gybe. Round up and in the space of 10 seconds the hapless Miura had done a full 360 without hitting anyone. (For those unfamiliar, the Miura is an older cruising design, 30ft in length and displaces about 5 tons. It will give you some idea of the strength of the gusts the way these boats were being flipped around. Imagine our predicament in a boat that weighs one ton.)

This was a great little race. Enjoyable and exciting with hardly any mistakes on our part. Our reward was a 3rd place and just four seconds shy of 2nd.


RATING Elapsed Corrected
1 Corum Jan Reuvers 1.2 00:47:41 00:57:13
2 Southern Storm Pacer 376 Tim Dykins/Harry Brehm 1.19 00:48:56 00:58:14
3 Regent Express Pacer 27 Trygve Roberts 1.08 00:53:59 00:58:18
4 Lobelia IMX40 Gordon Kling/Rob Meek 1.135 00:51:38 00:58:36
5 Mini Mace Melges 24 Nicholas Mace 1.08 00:55:33 01:00:00
6 DockSafe Archambault 35 Alexandre Monat 1.1 00:54:46 01:00:15
7 Windpower Landmark 43 R Nankin/P Gutche 1.25 00:48:30 01:00:38
8 Aladdin Farr 40 Bjorn Geiger 1.1 00:55:20 01:00:52
9 Speed of Yellow J133 Patrick Holloway 1.155 DNF
10 Puma Unleashed Pacer 42R Hylton Hale 1.255 DNF


Race in a nutshell: Club Summer Race 1 - Saturday, 6th November, 2011

Position PHRF Class 1 Spin: 3rd from 4
Total Entries: 8
Distance: 18.38nm.
Max Speed: 12.4 knots
Ave speed: 6.1 knots
Time: 2 hrs 3 mins 52 secs
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with light rain. Wind WNW 11 knots Temp 17C
Weather Actual: Clear. No rain. Wind W 5 to 8 knots. Temp 17C
Course: 10 (S) – No. 1 (P) - Barker Rock (P) - 10 (P)
Seas: Lumpy with large swells of 4.0m of Clifton.
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No. 1 Genoa (Quantum), A2 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (North)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Waldo Zevenster (Main), Craig Preston (Pit), Allesandro Napoli (Mast) Joshua Banks (Bow), Total: 490 kg

We have seldom had a good race to Barker Rock. The course is usually only feasible in a westerly. Invariably this happens in winter where the wind fades near the rock and one is left with an uncomfortably large and lumpy sea running and little breeze to drive the boat through that lot. November in Cape Town is normally SE, SE and more SE, but this year things have been quite different. The normal pattern of strong south easterlies that herald the summer has been replaced by cool, gentle westerlies bringing light rain. It is something of an indictment of the sailing scene that the club laid on good racing on a lovely benign day, perfect for sailing, with sunshine and gentle breezes and hardly any support from sailors. Of the 350 odd boats lying in the marina, just 8 ventured out for an afternoon on the bay. What a shame. I suppose one can rationalize that out by saying that we have 45 plus boats out on Wednesday evenings, so most people have “filled their sailing tank”, so to speak. Anyway…. That was my whinge of the day.

We had fairly stiff competition in Division 1. After You (L41 mod) skippered by JJ Provoyeur; Lobelia (IMX 40) skippered by Rob Meek and Majimoto (Farr 40) skippered by Paul Mare. At 27 foot LOA, Regent Express is a very small boat by comparison. We had the entire line to pick a good starting spot and we absolutely nailed it, being the first boat out the starting blocks. The first leg was a no-tack-beat to the No.1 green channel marker. We were keeping good pace with After You and Lobelia and rounded the mark in 3 rd place, perhaps a minute behind Lobelia.

Both the leading boats tacked immediately after the mark and headed inshore to pick up the usual westerly wind bend. We did the same, whilst only Majimoto headed offshore. The usual wind bend wasn't there. A lot of short tacking in a gradually fading breeze took place, with the main dangers being the ubiquitous kelp and some ponderously large waves breaking on the reefs off Green point and Bantry Bay. We also sailed through a mysteriously dark patch of water, which we eventually figured to be a bait ball – an intense concentration of small fish spread over about 70 square meters. That would account for the large numbers of dolphins and seals around the boat.

As the breeze got lighter and the sea state increased, it affected our speed and point much more than the 40 footers. Over the last 2 miles in to Barker Rock, we lost touch with all the big boats. Majimoto came back inshore after their long port tack out to sea, and crossed just ahead of us, leaving us firmly with the 'Tail-end Charlie' tag. It would take monumental concentration and effort to close the gap downwind with such light breeze to work with. If we can't plane, we can't close the deficit. Rounding Barker Rock in a big seaway is well……a bit scary, but we hosited the A2 as quickly as we dared, then threw in a gybe and headed offshore on the port gybe. It was hard work trying to coax just 6.5 to 7 knots out of the boat. We were making up some time on the leaders, but it was not quickly enough. Perhaps the brilliant speed and power we had experienced on Wednesday, made this race seem a bit tame. Had there been forty boats in the race, it would have made things a lot more interesting. Anyway, we are well experienced at being at the back of a fleet of 40 footers after a long slog upwind and then having to play catch up from behind on the downwind legs. It requires a certain level of mental fortitude.

We pulled off three gybes and then finally, as we cleared the western breakwater and got into the flat water, the breeze picked up to 15 knots and we had a lovely, fast, planing reach all the way to the line. But it was not quite enough and we had to settle for 2nd place, behind Lobelia (by 1 min 33 seconds). We were a little surprised at coming second, as we were a long way behind. It just goes to show how well the RCYC handicapping system works.

The screen-shot below shows the wind bend along the coast line clearly (especially on our upwind legs).

1st Lobelia (IMX40) – Rating 1.135- Rob Meek/Gordon Kling – 2.12.14
2nd Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport) – Rating 1.080 - Trygve Roberts – 2.13.47
3rd After You (L41 mod) - Rating 1.210 - J.J. Provoyeur - 2.14.35
4th Majimoto (Farr 40) – Rating 1.140 - Paul Mare – 2.18.53