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Cutty Sark Winter Series Race 4- 8th September, 2012

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Course: Start #10 (S) – No. 4 (S) – Harken (P) - No. 4 (P) - No.10 (P) Finish
Wind & Seas: Mod SW (10 knots). Temp: 18C. Seas flat. Swells 0.5m.
Sails: Full Main (Quantum); No.1 Genoa (Quantum); A-2 Spinnaker (Quantum)
Crew: Daniel Spratley, Allesandro Napoli, Simon Penso, Charles Crosby, Trygve Roberts. Total Mass: (420 kg)
Max Speed: 9.7 knots
Distance: 3.5 nm
Position: 3rd
Fleet size: 4

Ring rust!!!
It seems like a long time since I wrote anything at all about yacht racing. A quick bit of research tells me last race report was on June 30th !. That is an absence of almost two and a half months. There are a number of reasons for this apparent lack of activity and enthusiasm. We have had one of the wettest, coldest winters in Cape Town in a very long time, which resulted in some of the races being cancelled, due to severe weather and sometimes due to a total lack of wind. I'm not sure if it's my imagination, but there seemed to have been fewer races on offer on the calendar this winter, compared to past seasons. The Lipton Cup plays a major role in the club literally going into hibernation for the period leading up to and including the Lipton Cup. Add to that mix, we have a sluggish economy with loads of pressure on bread winners.

On the Plus side
On the positive side, there have been a few interesting items. Two brand new locally produced RP37's have been launched and have started racing, breathing some fresh life into Div.1. Hylton Hale's GP42 has found its gears and they are kicking butt way out in the front of Div.1. After some extensive lobbying, the club has finally agreed to make a plan for the sports boats, by adjusting the criteria and giving them the option of sailing in Div 1 or 2. To those responsible for that concession of wisdom, I say thank you very much. There are still some issues surrounding rating increases and how these are dealt with, but the club appears to be working on this, so I will leave things as they are for now and revisit this problem at a later stage.

Onto the racing (at last!)…..
With a rugby test match between the Boks and the Wallabies scheduled to kick off at 12h30, the club yielded to pressure and postponed the start from 14h00 to 15h00, which pleased all the rugby affecionados. The weather was sublime for sailing. A gentle but steady westerly with flat seas and sunshine. This was to be our first race in Div.2. with our new rating of 1.090. We are the highest rated boat in that division and should theoretically be out in front. This would be an excellent test to evaluate the new rating, as conditions were about as perfect for a Pacer 27 as what they could get.

It was a multiclass start with the fleet sailing two differing courses, with the Div.1 course having a more windward weather mark. Based on that, we decided not to start at the pin, where we would be likely to get caught up in the big boat crush, but closer to the middle of the line, which was fairly square. Our start was good, but with a fleet of around 30 boats on the line, our ability to tack for clear air was restricted. The big Beneteau “Ray of Light” squeezed us out of their way (they outpoint us by about 8 degrees) and we were lucky to have to duck only one starboard tacker. The Div.2 weather mark came up quickly with the L34 “Nurther Witch” rounding first. We rounded in 2nd place about 15 lengths behind, with the Sunkiss 32 “YOLO” close behind us.

We opted for a bear away hoist with the new A2 kite heading offshore, whilst the L34 gybed back inshore. YOLO went straight down the middle. We were fairly happy with the wind pressure and boat speed, so we decided to remain on the port gybe, but the layline to the Harken (leeward) mark was coming up, so we nailed a good gybe and headed back inshore into what appeared to be slightly lower pressure. The speed remained between 7 and 9 knots -not record breaking stuff, but perfectly acceptable considering we only had between 8 and 10 knots of breeze to work with. We gradually drew ahead of both opposition boats, but we needed to do another two gybes to place ourselves clear ahead to be able to do a decent Mexican drop, which we almost fluffed, due to a bit of crew ring rust, but we recovered only losing about 10 seconds of time.

We were fairly certain we didn't have a big enough lead (the L34 rates 1.015 and YOLO rates 1.070), so we need to be a long way ahead to be able to beat them on corrected time) and the upwind leg was coming up, which is where the others would gain on us. We opted to go inshore and the other two went offshore. There wasn't much in it when we crossed tacks later with YOLO having made up the deficit at the leeward mark. They tacked on top of us in a covering move and we immediately broke cover. We had opened up a bit of a gap (about 50 lengths on the L34). The forced tack had disadvantaged us and YOLO increased her lead to 30 lengths at the weather mark. We rounded second.

Home run
A short downwind leg followed (of about 800 meters) with the breeze going a little soft. YOLO botched their hoist and lost about 10 seconds recovering. We closed the gap a little downwind and finished second over the line, about 4 lengths after YOLO. On corrected time the L34 beat us into 3rd place. This was a great little race in beautiful conditions and we had a lot more enjoyment being able to actually race in close quarters with other competitors. Much, much better RCYC!!!

Place Name Design Skipper Rating Corrected Time
1st YOLO Sunkiss 32 Dale Kushner 1.070 43.17
2nd NURHTER WITCH L34 Dave Garrard 1.015 43.27
3rd REGENT EXPRESS Pacer 27S Trygve Roberts 1.090 44.25
4th MAFUTA Bavaria 36 Matthys Luorens 1.010 49.58