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Twilight Series Race 3

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Race in a nutshell: 3rd November, 2010
Position PHRF Class 1: 5th from 10 entries
Position IRC Class 1: 5th from 9 entries
Total Entries: 47
Distance: 13.7nm.
Max Speed: 16.4 knots
Ave speed: 7.3 knots
Time: 1 hrs 53 mins (approx.)
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with 30% rain. Wind NW 20 knots Temp 17C
Weather Actual: Accurate - no rain though.
Course: 10 (S) – Landfall (P)- Paarden Isl (P) - 8 (P) - #10 (P)
Seas: Lumpy - Swell 2.5m
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No. 2 Genoa (Quantum), R1 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (Quantum)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Connor Leech (Main), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Erhardt Joubert (Mast) Joshua Banks (Bow), Total: 470 kg

A considerably reduced fleet size was no doubt the result of a stormy weather forecast. It is no surprise that with the accurate forecasts these days, that they have a direct bearing on attendance. The forecast had a hint of anger in it, but conditions weren't nearly as bad as what we had anticipated. Bad, was what we were about to witness on the start line, but more of that in a moment. With Simon away on business, we had a new crew member on board in the form of the young and very fit Erhardt Joubert, so we slotted him in as mastman for his first trip with us. Connor is going back to the USA in a few weeks so Erhardt has accepted our invitation to join the team.

We had in interesting scenario whilst sailing out of the harbour when a vessel under power (a local sailing yacht from RCYC) refused to give way to us, despite a hail from us, followed by some agressive shouting. There would be more to come.

We sailed all the way to the start line, tacking up the harbour and the wind felt solid. We were happy with our sail selection of a full main plus No2 Jib. At the start area we noted a lot of starboard bias on the line, so we planned our strategy around starting at the pin, but we decided with the uncomfortable sea running, that we would delay our start by a few seconds to allow the predictable pin end bun fight to resolve itself. It was as well as we had made that decision.

With 30 seconds to go, the crush at the pin end developed. We remained on the other side of the pin, luffing carefully and then we ducked in with good speed to grab our spot. Corum (a 49 footer) came charging in, whilst Ballyhoo Too (a Mumm 36) driven by Dave Hudson decided he had rights, so he "closed the door" on Corum right at the mark. The mark is a serious one - of the very heavy, steel types. Corum managed to not hit the mark, but they smashed into the Mumm 36 with such force that they broke their bowsprit clean off and spun the Mumm around 180 degrees. In the same instant there was a shout of MAN OVERBOARD! from Ballyhoo Too as they charged out of control directly into our path. There was pandemonium - to put it mildly. We had nowhere to go as we were completely boxed in by other boats. The Mumm was now running straight down wind with us and the No.10 mark directly in their path. They gybed and broached, which saw their carbon mast scything towards us. I waited for the impact with our rig, but there was none and suddenly we were clear and over the line and in the race.They missed us by half a meter. This incident would continue to turn into quite an issue in the days to come.

As soon as we found a gap, we nailed a quick tack onto port and headed resolutely out to sea, determined to get well clear of the fleet and into clear air and water. The new Quantum No2 Jib was working well, giving us good power and plenty of height. We were able to sustain upwind speeds of 6.5 knots despite the lumpy seaway. At one stage whilst on port tack, it looked like we could cross ahead of a starboard tacker (Farr 38 - Periwinkle) but just to make sure, I waved at the Farr's skipper, seeking his consent for us to cross ahead. Either he didn't see me or hear my hail or simply misunderstood me, as when I called the second time (now a lot closer) he suddenly reacted by turning more upwind, which immediately changed the angles and meant we would definitely not be able to cross ahead, so we tacked straight away onto starboard and allowed them to roll us - which they duly did, coupled with a barrage of verbal abuse. I just let it go.

At the weather mark we were just behind the Farr 38 fleet, some of whom were entered in the non spinnaker class. We got our spinnaker up quickly, but two of the non-spin boats immediately luffed, not allowing us to overtake to windward, so we gybed onto port to get away from them and quickly accellerated into the 12 knot boat speed range. We had to sail high and hard to clear the other two Farr 38's ahead and then we had the port side of the course to ourselves, so we got our bow guys back onto the stern of the boat as we started pulling off some really fast downwind surfing and planing and a top end speed peaking out at 16,4 knots. We made up lots of ground on the downwind leg, throwing in two good gybes to round just inside the Farr 38 'A-L' and the J120 "Naledi", at the leeward mark.

A short beat up to the No.8 mark followed, followed by an even shorter reach down to the finish line. By the time we crossed the line, it was getting quite dark, but we had a good race and were well pleased with a 5th place in conditions which really didn't suit small boats. We are currently lying 3rd overall in this series.

Another collision took place in Class 2 non spinnaker at the Paarden Island mark, again with considerable damage. This was a rules violation and was avoidable, just as the incident at the start was avoidable. The fallout from this lot resulted in a few complaints and as we have come to expect these days, you just can't please everyone all the time. There has been a call for a banning of spinnakers, but neither collision occured due to or during spinnaker work anyway, so that is essentially poppycock. A reasonable solution could be to give the non spinnaker boats their own separate start. Watch this space!

RESULTS PHRF Class 1 (Spinnaker)

1st Windpower - Landmark 43 - Rick Nankin
2nd Puma Unleashed - Pacer 42 - Hylton Hale
3rd Gumption - ILC40 - Nic Mace
4th Docksafe - A35 - Alexandre Monet
5th Regent Express - Pacer 27 Sport - Trygve Roberts
6th Ballyhoo Too - Mumm 36 - Dave Hudson
7th Naledi - J120 - Felix Scheider-Bieschin
8th Southern Storm - Pacer 376 - Harry Brehm
9th Me2Me - Farr 38 - Derek Shuttleworth