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IRC Summer Series Race 8.

Last updated on 25 Apr 2009

Race in a nutshell:

Position IRC: 8th 
Total Entries : 15 
Ave Speed: 6.8 kts 
Max Speed: 17.6 kts 
Distance: 12.7 nm. 
Elapsed Time: 01.11.16 
Corrected Time: 01.13.37 
Time behind leader (corrected) 8.5 mins 
Weather Forecast: Clear. Wind South East 15 knots - Temp 28C 
Weather Actual: Wind SE 20 to 28 kts 
Baro: 1017 hPa. 
Course: Start No. 10 (P) – Paarden Island (P) - Laid Mark (P) - Paarden Island (P) - Laid Mark (P) -#4 (P) - Finish #10 (P) 
Seas: Choppy 0.8m. 
Sails: Full Main, No. 1 Jib, Big Assymetric Spinnaker 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Main), Greg Harrowsmith (Genoa), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Wolf Miekle - Guest (Mast), Nic Baigrie (Bow), Total: 510 kg

Great weather for a change at RCYC as we got Pacer 3 rigged for the afternoons race. With Simon still in the UK freezing his butt off in 3 degrees C, we offerred a space to a visiting yachtsman from Germany, Dr Wolf Michel. 

There was very little breeze to speak of so we rigged all the biggest sails - and that was mistake number one. Charles always says there is no such thing as a moderate south easter. It would seem he is right. 

We had enough time to prepare for the start and make our plans. We had a freshening breeze of 18 to 20 knots but we all felt that the breeze would drop rather than increase, so we stuck with the big sailplan. 

We had a good start about two thirds up the line allowing for a fast fetch to the weather mark. We were in contention and right up with the top boats as we rounded Paarden Island mark. We did a good hoist and got going but the boat felt sluggish - like it wanted to fall over. We were not at the correct angle of attack and/or oversheeted on the kite. It took us a minute to get her going fast and suddenly she came alive zipping along effortlessly at 15 knots. 

Then it was gybe time. We are still scholars a this sports boat gybe thing. One of the problems when you are doing 15 knots is that the gybe point comes up so fast - there is no question of saying "We'll wait till the gust is over". before you know it, you have overstood the gybe-line by a hundred meters or more. 

So we gybed going fast. That's supposed to be good. Right? 

The gybe wasn't too bad. We didn't fall over, but the kite had wrapped itself into a lovely tangle, which required a halyard drop and it took two minutes for Nic to untangle. Once we had it up, we had a fast reach to the lee mark, where we had to give water to the Farr 38, Benba. 

Heading back up the beat on port tack, it was clear that we were overpowered. Again! So it was a case of easing the jib in the gusts, full backstay on and feathering the main. Ten minutes later we were back at Paarden Island mark and preparing for the second downwind leg. 

The next hoist was much better and the Pacer took off to log our maximum speed of the race at 17,6 knots. This is the identical speed we attained on that wild day on the J27 in a 40 knot winter gale with huge waves. The Pacer did the same speed in flat water with a minimum of fuss and bother and very much under control. 

OK. Gybe number 2 coming up. Bear off nice and easy. Blanket the spinnaker with the main and then pop the bow upwind to refill the asso. The result - Broach. But Phill was quick on the halyard and we recovered within about 15 seconds for the other half of those fabulous reaches. 

The final beat up to Paarden Island held no surprises other than the wind had backed by 5 degrees, allowing for an earlier approach to the layline. 

The third downwind leg had the breeze in at 28 knots with a few stronger gusts for good measure. We had another reasonable hoist and were flying along enjoying the power and speed of this machine.

Our third gybe was our worst one. You would think we'd be getting better at it - not worse! The gybe itself was OK. The kite collapsed and then suddenly refilled and flipped us over pathetically easily and without warning. 

It was one of those "all crew suspended from the lifelines - keel in the air" scenarios. We've been there before. Many times. It seemed to take forever with the boat lying beam on to the wind, but was probably about 2 minutes. We had eased half the spinnaker halyard and as she came upright, we quickly went DDW to get the halyard back up and then got going again for yet another blistering reach to the bottom mark. 

The last leg to #4 mark was a tight fetch which meant a two sail fetch for us. We were gaining rapidly on the bigger boats ahead. 

So - progress is a little slow and we definitely misread the weather. With this boat, if in doubt, go for a smaller sail plan. If simply has to pay dividends. 

Dr Wolf had a spectacular time and I could see his eyes sparkle at the mention of the 40,000 Euro price tag of the Pacer 27. Another convert to sailing in Cape Town.