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Mid Summer Fling Regatta - 4-6th Feb. 2011

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The massive Queen Mary 2 docked in the main harbour as we sailed out on Friday evening.
Photo: Charles Crosby

Reluctant Starter

The word "Fling" conjures up a few immediate mental associations and both are light hearted, although once into the one variety it will probably end up heavy hearted and empty walleted! The Fling Regatta was an idea initiated by Rick Nankin and Irvine Laidlaw, a well known British businessman, who owns a series of yachts all ending in the word Fling. His Cape Town based Corby 49 is aptly named "Cape Fling". Being here on business, he wanted to sail in a summer regatta on his new boat, but the closest event in the Western Cape is the Mykonos Offshore, so he decided to create a new regatta and one that he could compete in whilst in town.

The Corby 49 'Cape Fling' seemingly on a collision course with the Farr 38 'A-L' - but it's just the effect of a strong telephoto lens. There was no collision, but what fantastic spectating it must have been for the occupants of the apartments on the shore..

Rick Nankin organised good bridge crew and mark layers and must have had some hot line to the weather gods, as in the devastingly strong south easterlies so prevalent at this time of year, he laid on three consecutive days of light westerlies - and that was just the catalyst needed to make the event very enjoyable for everyone. There were some fresh and novel ideas mixed into the sailing instructions. For starters, two of the races had to either have an owner-driver or a lady helm, which immediately removed some of the seriousness. There were also unusual courses that kept the fleet close inshore, thus making for a good public spectacle. And through all this, the weather remained magnificent. From a personal point of view, another 10 knots of breeze, would have suited us a lot better, but the event started and ended really well, with race officer Doug Alison, doing an excellent job of ensuring square lines and fair racing with very little waiting between races.

Plenty of sea life in the bay helped to pass the tedium of long, slow races

I had been a reluctant starter for this event. I thought it was too close to the Mykonos Offshore and too close to the start of the working year and the hype of the Cape to Rio. In fact, I was convinced it would be still-born. We put our name down gingerly on the entry list with a sort of "wait and see" approach. I was pleasantly surprised when the entries topped twenty. Once committed, we decided to use the regatta as a morale booster and training event for the upcoming Pacer Nationals/Mykonos Offshore. So the decision was whether to enter Club Class 1 or the IRC division. Once we noted that the Beneteau 7.5 sports boat had entered under Club 1, we needed no further prompting to follow suite. Our IRC rating is punitive, making it very difficult to win races/series on typical windward/leeward courses, but the Club rating is much fairer and gives us a better opportunity for a podium finish and to be fair, the competition is also easier in the club fleets. So it was one of those questions of a 1st in the B fleet or an 8th in the A fleet? Considering our goals, we decided to go the easy route.

Regent Express closest to camera starting in the ultra light conditions

Starting on time

I had been warned that races would start on time. The 17h00 start time on Friday meant loads of pressure fighting rush hour traffic to have the boat and full crew ready by 16h20. But we made it to the start line with a few minutes to spare. The course announcements were foreign. Buoys with names like Grand, Raddison and Wakami were being given and we didnt have a clue where they were, but we always have the advantage of simply following the bigger, faster boats. Once we were racing and got closer inshore, it all became clear and the name of the game was to keep the fleet close inshore for the spectators. We nailed a perfectly good start to escape the big boat dirties. Conditions in some ways suited us. The seas were flat which is very nice for the Pacer 27 but of course, the breeze was too light for us to plane downwind which is a big disadvantage.
Team Regent: Joshua, Simon, Erhardt, Phill, Trygve. Charles is hidden on the leeward side of the boat.

The race ended up being essentially three windward/leeward loops and we managed to make no mistakes and for once did not collect any kelp on the keel, to take a twenty four second [corrected time] bullet from the Beneteau 7.5 (Always Well), with the big Beneteau 44.5 (Ray of Light) picking up third place. The Melges 24 (Mini Mace) had also entered, but in the IRC division, which was a pity as we enjoy very close racing with them.

Saturday 5th Feb - a day of sunburn
Kelp n Gull - Another picture perfect shot from maestro Trevor Wilkins
We were running late. There were some items that we had to attend to - amongst them was to re-reeve a new genoa halyard and some sticky-back had to be applied to a tear on the leech of the mainsail. We arrived at the start area in a bit of a flap and only just made it in time after a long motor in very light winds. We only managed to pick up the one minute time signal and we were off. The course would be a standard Olympic course. At least we would have the four reaches to maximise on. Our fleet got underway and we immediately cleared into an open lane by tacking offshore onto port. That would end up being a very lucky break for us as we enjoyed better pressure than those inshore. It was a long race doing paltry upwind speeds of 3.5 knots, but we managed to secure a safe 2nd place, with the big Beneteau (Ray of Light) claiming the bullet. The smaller Beneteau sport had a terrible race and ended up going back to the club and not making an appearance for the rest of the event. That greatly reduced our real opposition and it also meant with only 5 boats in the Club 1 fleet, that it would be more difficult to score well.

Our A2 spinnaker showing some signs of snags and repairs but still flying Regent's name high.

The afternoons race was destined to be a long one. A very long beat to a mark to the west of Robben island, followed by a dead run back to the start, followed by another beat to a mark off Sea point and a broad reach back to the finish. Despite a murky looking Atlantic Ocean, the sea was full of life. There were large schools of dusky dolphins, penguins and sea birds. We saw at least three sunfish - the handbrakes of the seas - so there must have been many more.

Fuzzy Swede

The pic is fuzzy, but not too fuzzy to see the mostly octogenarian crew on the elegant Swede 55 still giving it a go. These guys are still at it despite their advancing years and the upside down spinnaker is something they don't often do.

Photo Charles Crosby.
Once they figured the spinnaker had been hoisted sideways up, they got it right, only to see an hourglass develope. The rest of us can only admire and hope that we will still be sailing at the age of 80.
Photo: Charles Crosby.

We sailed our level best, having worked the middle of the course, but it was the left hand side that had paid off. Puma Unleashed and the Melges 24 had both gone far left and benefitted a lot. We locked our sights in on the Melges which was about 2000 meters ahead of us as we rounded the weather mark. We have learned much about sports boat sailing over the past two years and one of the hard lessons is that it doesn't help roaring off on a beam reach if you cant plane. It is less pleasant, but more advantageous to soak down low and slow. The boys on the Melges were about to learn the same lesson. They went far offshore and when they gybed back inshore and crossed with us, their entire lead had evaporated. We even managed to run over them to windward to round the bottom can a few boat lengths ahead.

The beat up to the Raddison mark, saw us losing our lead to the Melges again and then making up the deficit on the downwind leg again, to finish a few seconds adrift of the Melges in 2nd in Club 1.
That would leave us after three races in an awkward situation. We had a 1st and two 2nds versus our main competition 'Ray of Light' with a 3rd and two 1sts. That would put both boats on 5 points each.
The Melges 24 - all carbon and quick - giving the Pacer 27 a hard time upwind in the light breeze, but a little slower off the wind. All told a great performer in such a small boat. It would go on to win the final race in the IRC fleet. No mean feat..
When the going gets tough...
Sunday turned out out to be much the same as Saturday weather wise, but perhaps a touch lighter. Again, the racing started spot on time. On the menu for the day would be another two Olympic courses. The lady helm or owner driver rule applied again. With a touch of fun, this race was also touted as a pursuit race. We were slotted in as the 5th start with three boats (one from each division) in each start. We were in the company of the 30ft Impact (winner of Club 2) and the Fast 42 Maestro (IRC). Some of the crews got fully into the spirit of this with the skipper of the Farr 38 A-L donning the first available bikini he could find. This team of youngsters make a point of having as much fun as possible. There are always a bevy of pretty young girls on board and the accent seems to be fun, fun, fun.

Robbie van Rooyen doing his cross-dressing-helming thing.

However, occassionaly their exuberance boils over into volatile anger, as we were privvy to when we tacked inside them at the weather mark after they had fluffed a tack. Instead of simply protesting us, there was wild screaming and deck thumping - all a wee bit auver the top.

Our pitman Simon getting up close and personal with the camera lens. When I saw this pic, I dredged the old Smackwater Jack archives to find our Oracle. And yes, there is a vague resemblance. Isn't there?

Blast from the past - our very old J27 mascot - The Oracle. I used his pesona to put delicate points across in the sensitive world of club politics, but he frequently stood on a few rather large toes, so he got sent back underground for a few years..

The start was a problem. We had our timing wrong and were one minute adrift of what we thought our start time was. In such a drifter it seemed to take ages to get back to the committee boat. By the time we got there, the other two boats had closed the gate on us, so we zipped over the windward side of the committee boat and dipped back down on their port side - crossed the line, gybed and started correctly on starboard in fairly clean air. We headed off immediately onto the right side of the course where we felt the pressure was better. We had a fairly good first leg, but the wind had shifted, making the first reach very tight, so we put up the Code Zero but gained very little from it, having to strike well before the gybe mark to switch back to the big A2 spinnaker.

Above: Our spinnaker trimmer and tactician, Charles Crosby, for once having an easy time in the light breeze. Photo: Simon Penso

We hammered the big Beneteau in this race to finish several minutes ahead of them. That put us in 1st place with one more race to go. We had the pressure on us, so our strategy would simply be to stay close to the big boat.They would pull ahead upwind and we would be able to pull their lead back downwind. The handicap variance would do the rest of the work for us.
The final race
Our bow boys - Erhardt and Josh (sporting the coolest glasses) trying to hide from the sun on the long run back from Robben Island
Photo: Charles Crosby

The wind picked up just a little - to maybe around 6 to 7 knots and Race 5 was underway. We knew our game plan and stuck to it. The final race was similar to the previous one with us and the 45 footer swapping positions frequently. We were able to get ahead of them quite comfortably on the downwind legs, only to lose about 2 minutes on the beats. Approaching the leeward mark on starboard, we had an overlap on Ray of Light for a very long time and were disappointed to see them not giving us mark room - claiming that we had no overlap. We decided that our game plan was more important than winning a mini-war, so we luffed hard and spilled the kite allowing us to get up and behind their transom. It was breathtakingly close. The big boat then did a sloppy mark rounding and left a large space for us to slide into, and suddenly we were level with them again. Of course they can outpoint us and within a minute we were forced over onto starboard tack - exactly where we wanted to go anyway.

This cat and mouse game with the Beneteau went on for the entire race. We finished a few seconds behind them, but killed them on corrected time, to take another first and a solid Club 1 overall victory. Mission accomplished. Roll on Pacer Nationals!
Rodney Tanner getting into the Fling of things with a very unracy brolly on the stern of his L26
Photo: Charles Crosby

This was exactly the way I had planned things. A more relaxed regatta, with a podium finish. Good for training and good for crew morale and the perfect setup pre Nationals. Congratulations are in order to Rick Nankin and his Fling team on a well run event. And by all accounts, Irvine Laidlaw has indicated his intentions of repeating this as an annual event. Now if we can just find such a nice weather window again!

Trygve, Phill and Simon sailing back into port
Photo: Charles Crosby

Results: Club Class 1
1st CLUB1 Regent Express Trygve Roberts 1st,-2nd, 2nd, 1st, 1st 5 pts
2nd CLUB1 Ray of Light M Kavanagh -3rd, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 2nd 7pts
3rd CLUB1 Mafuta Matthys Lourens -4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 13pts
4th CLUB1 Always Well R Thomas / L Burger 2nd, 3rd, (7.0 DNC) 7.0 DNC 7.0 DNC 26 19
5th CLUB1 Miss Ilse H Mclaghlan (7.0 DNC) 5 7.0 DNF 7.0 7.0 DNF 27 20

Results Club Class 2
1st CLUB2 Impact Jackie Brand Jackie Brand 1 1 -3 3 2 10 7
2nd CLUB2 Ancient Mariner R Le Roux B Gardener 3 2 -6 2 1 14 8
3rd CLUB2 Eko Energy SA Ray Matthews Rodney Tanner -4 3 2 1 3 13 9
4th CLUB2 Horse D Oeuvre Peter Bam Peter Bam 2 4 1 (13.0 DNC) 13.0 DNC 33 20
5th CLUB2 Cabaray Ray Matthews Ray Matthews 5 5 5 5 -6 26 20

Results IRC
1st IRC Windpower P Gutsche R Nankin 2 1 1 1 -3 8 5
2nd IRC Al Robert Van Rooyen Robert Van Rooyen 1 -4.5 2 3 2 12.5 8
3rd IRC Lobelia Rob Meek Gordon Kling 3 -4.5 4 2 4 17.5 13
4th IRC Cape Fling Irvine Laidlaw Xavier Mecoy -7 2 3 4 7 23 16
5th IRC Puma Unleashed H Hale H Hale -5 3 5 5 5 23 18

Only the first five positions are reflected here. All other results available here: