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Puma Twilight Series - Race 5 - 9th November, 2011

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Race in a nutshell: 9th November, 2011
Position PHRF Class 1 Spin: 8th from 11
Total Entries: 41
Distance: 13.5nm.
Max Speed: 17.1 knots
Ave speed: 6.9 knots
Time: 1 hrs 04 mins 06 secs
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with rain. Wind W 11 knots Temp 15C
Weather Actual: Cloudy with rain. Wind W 14 knots bec SW 25 knots. Temp 15C
Course: 10 (P) – Landfall (P) - Paarden Island (S) – Finish (S)
Seas: Lumpy with 2.5m swell.
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No.1 Genoa (Quantum), A0 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (Quantum)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Malcolm Shrek (Main), Craig Preston (Pit), Allesandro Napoli (Bow) Gordon Burchell (Mast), Total: 573 kg

Shrek to the rescue

This time of year plays havoc with crew attendances. Its a mix of exams, functions and holidays. This week we had our bowman and our main trimmer off, but luckily we have a good backup bowman who was available to sail. Only problem was his car broke down, so we had to take on a visitor. Malcolm (aka Shrek) is a mighty chunk of human being. He is very big and at 140 kgs I had to figure out just where on a sports boat, I was going to fit him in. The only feasible place would be as main trimmer. His resume was impressive, having done stints on Volvo 60's and several very big maxi yachts, where his sheer size and strength might have been put to better use. The "Shrek" tag comes from his lilting Scottish accent, rather than his ogre like frame. Well, in for a penny.....

Another torn kite!
At the start the breeze was just under 15 knots, so we went for the full rig. the big A2 spinnaker had a large tear in it (unnoticed from the last take down) so we rigged up with the A1 masthead, but later in the race, that was hurriedly exchanged for the Code Zero. Our mastman Sandro, was shifted forward to do bow and it would be a baptism of water for him as he tried to figure out which lines go where.

Every dark cloud does not have a silver lining
Our start was terrible. We had the time wrong and at one minute to go, there were still 2 minutes. Our starting plan had to be modified, but we had nowhere to go, due to heavy big boat traffic at the pin, so we trundled up the line on starboard trying to kill some speed, but at least we had clear air. We continued till we were on the port layline and rolled over onto port tack for the long 2 mile beat up the Landfall mark. We had clean air and a clear lane, but upwind, to port, a large dark cloud loomed and suddenly the breeze picked up to over 20 knots and we were dumping power big time, with the boat wanting to feather up into the gusts, with loads of weather helm. At the same time the wind started freeing drastically, turning the port biased beat into a fetch and we were on the wrong side of it. Damn!

Unwind the string
The video clip gives a good idea of what conditions were like. For some reason or the other, the Melges did not race, which left us once again, as tail end Charlies at the back of the big boat fleet. The RO had also made a mistake in calling the Landfall mark to be left to port, which created some interesting scenarios amongst the mid fleeters, but no problem for us, at the back with no other boats to worry about.
[Note: It has been established that the club specifically requests courses to be set without gybes, to cater for lesser skilled skippers/crews, hence the cross-looped rounding of the Landfall mark, which is better known to most of us, as a "Granny-Tack".]

Time for the sports boat to do their thing
We also were able to see that none of the leading boats were able to hold spinnakers for the down wind leg. Those that did, were heading way off course. We sent Sandro down into the cave to switch to the Code Zero - a small, flat-cut, fractional spinnaker. As soon as he was done, we hoisted and the speed went up dramatically. With the the big swells running, we were able to pull off some really nice, fast, sustained surfs - peaking out at a top speed of 17.1 knots. In the process we started reeling in some of the big boats. First the A35, then the J120, then the Fast 42, then Lobelia. By the Paarden Island mark, we were well up with the fleet again, but it was a lot of hard work, keeping the boat planing and that flat spinnaker trimmed.

All that was left was a 1 mile beat to the finish, which we completed with no dramas and mixing things up with the Div 2 boats. Not a bad race for us, considering the new crew and other crew out of position, but disappointing to only gain 8th place and how close our finishing times, corrected were..

Position Yacht Class SAILNO OWNER/SKIPPER RATING Finish Elapsed Corrected Ave speed
1 Puma Unleashed Pacer 42R SA3800 Hylton Hale 1.255 184319 00:48:19 01:00:38 8.444 kn
2 Speed of Yellow J133 GBR5733R Patrick Holloway 1.155 184804 00:53:04 01:01:18 7.688 kn
3 Corum SA969 Jan Reuvers 1.2 184727 00:52:27 01:02:56 7.779 kn
4 Southern Storm Pacer 376 SA4227 Harry Brehm 1.19 184801 00:53:01 01:03:05 7.696 kn
5 Lobelia IMX40 SA2700 Gordon Kling/Rob Meek 1.135 185059 00:55:59 01:03:32 7.288 kn
6 DockSafe Archambault 35 FRA34635 Alexandre Monat 1.1 185305 00:58:05 01:03:54 7.024 kn
7 Windpower Landmark 43 SA3737 R Nankin/P Gutche 1.25 184616 00:51:16 01:04:05 7.958 kn
8 Regent Express Pacer 27 17 Trygve Roberts 1.08 185421 00:59:21 01:04:06 6.874 kn
9 Naledi J120 SA2773 Felix Scheder-Bieschin 1.15 185150 00:56:50 01:05:22 7 7.179 kn
10 Mini Mace Melges 24 SA 410 Nicholas Mace 1.08 DNC 12
11 Aladdin Farr 40 SA3502 Bjorn Geiger 1.1 DNC 12