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Club Race - Winter B Series PHRF Race 1.

Last updated on 14 Oct 2009

Race in a nutshell

Line: 1st 
Position PHRF: 1st 
Total Entries: 11 
Distance: 16 nm. 
Max Speed: 10.4 knots 
Ave speed: 6.0 knots 
Weather Forecast: Clear. Wind NE 1 to 7 knots. Temp 19C 
Weather Actual: Clear. Wind WSW 8 knots. Temp 20C 
Baro: 1011 hPa. 
Course: #10 (S) – #2 (S) – Milnerton (S) - #2 (P) - Container mark (S) – #10 (S) - #2 (S) - #10 (P) 
Seas: Long swell 9 secs 1.5 m 
Sails: Full Main, No. 1 Quantum Fusion Genoa, R1 Asymmetric Spinnaker. 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Main), Greg Harrowsmith(Genoa), Craig Latigan (Pit), Daniel Spratley (Mast) Simon Penso (Bow), Total: 500 kg


There is something to be said about winter sailing in Cape Town. Perhaps we have just been lucky weekend after weekend with all the bad weather happening during the week, but Saturday once again delivered perfect, steady light wind conditions – pleasant enough to wear shorts and T Shirts. What a pity that Lipton Cup didn’t get this weather pattern. Well, I guess it’s our sport and we must make the most of whatever we get weather-wise. 

Charles brought along a young lad (12) called Daniel Spratley, who had sailed with him on the Active 15 the weekend before. Daniel slotted in with us as if he had been on the boat for many months – cool, calm, efficient, agile and willing. I hope he enjoyed his sail as much as what we enjoyed watching this youngster so comfortable on a completely strange boat. Watch this kid – he will go a long way in the sport. At around 40 kgs he is very light for keelboat work, but in a year or two he is going to be a very sought after foredecky. Our piano player Dr. Phill had the day off doing the daddy thing at his son’s 2nd birthday party, so we had Craig Latigan standing in on halyards for this race. 

One of the disadvantages of winter sailing is a frequent dirty harbour and bay. We picked up a string of kelp and a large white sheet of plastic on our keel and only discovered that lot when we docked after racing. Throughout the race we felt that the boat was a third of a knot off the pace and despite heeling the boat and doing visual checks we saw nothing, so it must have been lodged close to the top of the keel. A kelp window in front of the keel would be heck of a nice feature. The modern T keel torpedo design is also a bitch for collecting underwater garbage. 

The club asked me at short notice to be duty officer, which meant I got to set the course, but the race officer felt the course had too much of a reaching element in it, so he modified it to include a very long beat and (for us) the dreaded DDW leg. So we had a fetch, a dead run, a beat, a tight reach, another fetch, and another tight reach. This was not a course that would particularly advantage a sports boat. The new genoa and spinnaker had both been branded during the week and the artwork looks really smart. 

It was a typical club race entry and as is our custom, we try to identify boats before the start which we need to keep in our sights. We had the Mount Gay 30 “Just Fun” and the Comfortina 39 “Celine IV” – also at the start area was the Farr 40 “Majimoto”. Deciding on start line tactics was easy enough. We wanted to be near the pin and going fast on port tack. Our start was perfect and we went straight into the lead. The Mount Gay was upwind of us with the 39 footer just to leeward in an almost identical position to last week’s race. We were holding a good line to the first mark and were surprised that the Mount Gay kept on falling down and actually crossed behind and went to leeward of us. We were even more surprised when we realized why – we were sailing to the wrong mark! It wasn’t a total train smash, but it meant fetching down to the #2 mark which felt slow and pedestrian. In the process we sacrificed the small lead we had built up. We arrived at the weather mark with the Mount Gay inside us and the C39 just behind them. 

That suited us as it meant we were weather boat and could power away on a reach with our R1 spinnaker. 
As soon as we had the kite working we dropped the Mount Gay and started sailing good VMG angles. After the first gybe we crossed behind the MG30 and in front of the C39. We had between 7 and 8 knots of boat speed in about the same amount of wind. We did a total of five gybes on our way down to Milnerton, in the process taking about 100 meters from the MG30. This boat gives us about 18 seconds per hour, so we were quite happy with our lead. We rounded the Milnerton mark first - and I need to mention here that this mark is VERY difficult to locate without GPS navigation. It is very low in the water and one can only see it from about 50 meters away. 

The next leg back to the mark we had just come from, was a long one. Our focus was to stay ahead of the MG30, but they were steadily shrinking the gap on us. We felt that there was something wrong with our boat speed. In eight knots of wind, we normally do 6.1 to 6.2 knots hard on the wind, but we were only just managing 5.8. It was about that time that we did the kelp check – and the kelp and plastic bag discovery back at the dock certainly explains the lack of speed. Two thirds up the first starboard tack leg, we went over onto the port tack, whilst the MG30 and the C39 carried on towards the layline. Our breeze started fading and our boat sped dropped down to 5.1. By the time we crossed back onto the starboard tack, the MG30 had closed our lead off substantially. We only had about two boat lengths to play with. We tacked back onto the port layline below the MG30 and picked up a nice lift, which allowed us to round the weather mark just ahead, but the MG30 rounded the #2 mark the wrong way, so we had the situation of both boats rounding in opposite directions. I indicated to the MG skipper he had to leave the mark to port. They then rounded it the wrong way, luffed up, tacked, and left it to port – but technically it was not a correct re-rounding maneuver, as they had not "unwound their string". It took them so long to recover (as they already had their spinnaker pole up) that the penalty in terms of time was more than enough, so we thought it best to just let it go. 

The reach down to the container mark was tight and we could just hold our big asso and keep the boat upright. I’m not sure what happened to the Farr 40 – they appeared to be under crewed and were lying well back in the fleet. We opened up a nice big lead on that leg on most of our competitors. We tried out our new spinnaker striking technique for tight reaches (which works a treat) and did a good rounding for the final upwind leg back to #2 mark. There wasn’t much in terms of tactics, as it was an easy fetch all the way. Again we felt we lacked boat speed and did another kelp check which revealed nothing. A kelp window just in front of the keel would be such a nice feature to have! 

Approaching the #2 mark for the final rounding meant we had to leave it to starboard, but many of the slower Class 2 boats were still rounding it on the previous leg, so we had another case of boats rounding in opposing directions. Fortunately the weather was benign so there were no incidents. On the final leg to the finish, we started lapping some of the smaller boats to cross the line first as well as take the handicap win from the C39 (which we owe about 12 secs per hour to) by 5 mins 6 secs. 
Whilst we are in no way anywhere near being on top of the game and we fully understand the competition is not top ldrawer at this level, it is very good for us to be getting some winning time in the front of the fleet. It has been good training for the Nationals and I am hoping it will stand us in good stead. 

Class 1: 16nm 
1st Regent Express (Pacer 27S) Elapsed: 1:39:10 Corrected: 1:47:6 
2nd Celine IV (Comfortina 39) Elapsed: 1:46:51 Corrected: 1:52:11 
3rd Just Fun (Mount Gay 30) Elapsed: 1:43:29 Corrected: 1:54:52 
4th Tally Ho (L34) Elapsed: 1:58:59 Corrected: 2:00:46 
5th Majimoto (Farr 40) Elapsed: 1:50:37 Corrected: 2:05:00 

Class 2: 11 nm (Shortened course) 
1st Impact (Impact30) Elapsed: 1:37:56 Corrected: 1:30:06 
2nd Mighty lemon Drop (Lav Mini) Elapsed: 1:46:13 Corrected: 1:33:28 
3rd Let’s Go (Bucanner) Elapsed: 1:56:57 Corrected: 1:33:34 
4th Arial (RCOD30) Elapsed: 1:42:03 Corrected: 1:34:24 
5th Saiorse (Atlantis 36) Elapsed: 1:46:23 Corrected: 1:42:40 

6th Apricot (Muira 30) Elapsed: 1:52:30 Corrected: 1:45:11