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Club/IRC Winter Series, Race 2 - 9th July 2011

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Above: Life in Africa. Bliss! Our pitman Simon Penso had the day off to celebrate his birthday. He's the guy grimacing on the foredeck in the above pic taken on a different day. Happy birthday Simon!

Photo: Brenton Geach

Race in a nutshell: 9th July, 2011

Position PHRF : 2nd
Total entries : 14
Distance: 6 nm.
Max Speed: 10.5 knots
Ave speed: 6.0 knots

Weather Forecast: Clear. Wind ESE 10 knots. Temp 24C
Weather Actual: Accurate
Course: 10 (P) – Paarden Island (P) - Milnerton (S) - Paarden Island (P) - Milnerton (S) - Paarden Island (S) -No. 10 (S)
Seas: Flat (and clean)
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No. 1 Genoa (Quantum), A2 Assymetric (North); R1 Assymetric (Quantum)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Phillip Rentschler (Main), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Craig Preston (Pit), Allesandro Napoli (Mast), Joshua Banks (Bow), : Total: 500 kg

Saturday was one of those days which was so perfect for sailing, that the result was almost irrelevant. A warm easterly covered the whole bay (unlike the South easter which frequently leaves large holes in front of the mountain) as the fourteen yachts reached around the start area waiting for starters orders. When they came, we had some puzzled frowns on our faces, as the announced course meant the two windward/leeward loops would end up being sailed as figure of eights, instead of loops and worse, the final rounding of Paarden island was announced as having to be left to port, which would mean tacking around the mark, easing sheets, gybing, then setting a spinnaker. In short, if the "string theory" had to be applied to this course, it would have ended up in one big knot.

I really don't like querying race officers. Their job is difficult enough as it is, but the course just didn't make any sense, so after some prodding from the crew, I raised the RO on the VHF. I was told that the starboard rounding of the Milnerton mark was done that way, to accommodate several requests from members who did not want to have to gybe to get around the mark. Uhmmm..............

A course correction was given just before the start sequence which made more sense. The fleet made a clean start and we positioned ourselves in the middle of the line as it was clear that with the extra easting in the wind, that we would not lay the weather mark on a single tack. We had the Farr 40 'Majimoto' to leeward, which was not good news as they point higher than us and we had the Fast 42 "Maestro" on our windward hip. More bad news.

We held a clean, fast lane for as long as we could, noting that we were holding the Fast 42 (just) but not pointing quite as high as them. After about 4 minutes, the Farr 40 had squeezed up to within a boat length, forcing us to tack. We took our gap well, and nailed a beautiful tack onto port, but the Fast 42 was on a collission course with us, so we had to either duck them or tack under them. We went for the latter option and executed it neatly. Up ahead Lobelia was pointing like a hunting dog - sniffing out the weather mark and determined to lay it without tacking. That boat really points high! And apparently they have recently discovered an error on their IRC certificate, which once corrected, will drop their rating by a large margin - which in turn will make them virtually unbeatable. The Archambault 35 "Docksafe" have also had a big reduction in their rating, so my prediction is that these two boats will be giving the rest of the IRC fleet a tough time in the coming summer season.

Just a few minutes passed, before we had to put another hitch in to windward, this time, having to dip behind the starboard Fast 42. Meanwhile Lobelia, was just heading ever higher in clean air, outpointing everyone else by several degrees, and nailing the first mark without a problem. Man that is demoralising! Closer to the mark, Docksafe lee-bowed us, forcing yet another short hitch on port tack. Those three tacks would end up costing us one podium place.

Lapwing (L34) rounded inside us, then fluffed their hoist. As we got our kite up and drawing, we were unable to get clear behind and to windward of the L34, so we were forced to sail deep to get through their wind shadow, but that didn't take long and we were away. We had our fullest masthead kite up which was proving to be quite a challenge as the angle was very tight. That meant a lot of work working up in the lulls to get up onto the rhumb line, but halfway down the reach, we had passed all the bigger boats except for Docksafe and Lobelia. We were gaining on Docksafe, but not on Lobelia, who maintained an 800 meter lead on us.

The beat up to Paarden island was a one leg affair and we wasted a few precious seconds sailing on the headered starboard tack, trying to clear the two leading boats dirties track. Sailing conditions were absolutely sublime. The Pacer 27 just loves flat water. That allowed us to sustain between seven and eight knots upwind. The two IRC boats ahead did not have that much advantage on that leg, as it was a pure boat speed drag race and we were able to hold our position quite comfortably. We held a respectable lead over the Farr 40 and the Fast 42 all the way upwind.

The next reach was a duplication of the first. In the meantime we had switched to a flatter asso and were able to generate better speed and height on the reach, closing Docksafe down to around an 80 meter lead. On PHRF they only give us about 20 seconds an hour, so we would need to get right up their tails, if we wanted to beat them. Our spinnaker hoists and strikes were first class with no time wasted and no glitches. The last beat up to Paarden island was a repetition of the first one and we didn't repeat our error of tacking late onto starboard after rounding the leeward mark.

The final broad reach in to the finish was just too deep for us. Though we were catching Docksafe on pure boat speed, they were able to sail much deeper than us for the finish line. We were hoping to pick up stronger pressure nearer the land and plane in toweards the finish, but the breeze, instead faded down to 6 knots. We missed out by around 18 seconds for a handicap win and just beat Docksafe into 3rd place by 4 seconds.

It was one of those days where you came off the water with big smile on your face and ready for a cold lager. Absolutely fabulous sailing weather. What a privilege to live in this city.

1st Lobelia - IMX 40 - Gordon Kling - 1.28.31
2nd Regent Express - Pacer 27 Sport - Trygve Roberts - 1.28.49
3rd Docksafe - A35 - Alexander Monet - 1.28.53
4th Lapwing - L34 - Alan Keen - 1.31.15
5th Impact - Impact 30 - Jacqui Brand - 1.36.27
6th Hors d-Ouvers - L26 - Peter Bam - 1.37.11
7th Majimoto - Farr 40 - Paul Mare - 1.38.32
8th Maestro - Fast 42 - Ankie Roux - 1.38.34
9th Ariel - RCOD 30 - Tony de Villiers - 1.39.37
10th Lets Go - Bucaneer - Duncan Johnson - 1.40.17
11th Cabaray - Stadt 34 - Ray Mathhews - 1.40.58
12th FTi Flyer - Charger 33 - Keith Mattison - 1.42.51
13th Isla - Wilderness 1480 Cat - Ian Henderson - 1.48.30
14th Ava - Miura 30 - Ken Botwood - 1.52.38