One Design…speed, fun, affordable, trailerable.

IRC Winter Series.

Last updated on 25 Aug 2009

This boat can be very wet when you push things!

Race in a Nutshell:
Understanding weather based on forecasts is whole science in itself. Wind Guru persistently showed wind speeds of 15 knots average out of the North West, whilst the official SA Weather site showed much the same. It had been raining all night and showed little sign of abating as a double cold front swept over the Cape. 

Five boats wanted to go racing. The rest of the IRC fleet either wussed out or were at MSC week in Durban. I called for the #1 Genoa ("Hey guys, its only 15 knots out there!") and a full main. We were still debating whether we should button up the A2 heavy kite or try the smaller A3. 

We left our mooring under motor in light rain with the genoa furled and the main tied around the boom. Normally the 5 hp outboard is more than adequate to propel this boat, but as we turned upwind into the exit channel out of the small craft harbour, I noticed we were making no forward headway at all, despite the outboard having its throttle open fully. The top third of the genoa had unfurled itself and was causing too much drag. Soon we started going sideways and suddenly from being totally under control, we were rapidly getting ourselves into a precarious situation. I managed to squeeze the bow past the moored boat to port, so we could motor down the channel between the moored boats. The problem is, it is a dead end, so when we reached the end, I had to try and reverse the boat back up the channel as the crew battled to sort out the genoa - All this with a 30 knot wind pumping from the starboard side. 

Eventually we turned upwind between two big yachts and held on till we got the mess sorted out. It took ages, but eventually we got the #1 down and replaced it with the #2 Jib - a brand new sail having never been used in the two years the previous owner sailed the boat on the Vaal Dam. We also decided it would be prudent to stick a reef in the main and hoist everything to give us the extra horsepower to clear the exit channel. 

Once we were in the main harbour, it became evident that the wind was much stronger than the forecast. We heard a VHF broadcast from the harbour master that the wind was 30 knots gusting 42. Felix was also out, but motoring and no sign of Pacer 3. We then had the unenviable task of getting the outboard off the stern, which required ducking behind one of the breakwater walls into calmer water. 

At the start area things were a tad wild - a real washing machine ocean with some alarmingly big waves. Only Phil could hear the VHF down below as on deck it was the crashing of waves and shrieking wind which made VHF audio impossible. It took us about 30 seconds to make the decision to retire and head back to our mooring, as the weather and especially the seas were looking on the dangerous side. The rest of fleet immediately followed suit. As we bore off onto a 90 degree two sail reach, the boat speed registered 13.5 knots as we had a fast plane back into the harbour. The guys enjoyed that so much, we voted to go out for a second burn, just for the hell of it, but as we reached the outer breakwater the reefing line snapped. That meant some more hasty adjustments and also having to sail with a full main in extremely strong wind. The moment we had the sail properly set, we tacked and headed back into the harbour. This time we logged 15,2 knots with the boat feeling beautifully under control. Now imagine the A3 kite up in that lot as well??!! The foredeck guys were being firehosed as the boat sped across and through some of the waves. 

So, another day of no racing with Cape Town living up to its name. Here invariably, it is feast or famine. Well, to be fair, we have all been complaining about too much light wind sailing! 

It is good to know that the boat can handle that sea state and gale force winds. The rig looked absolutely fine. Suprisingly she handled the conditions well and was not as jumpy and twitchy as I expected her to be. 

Next week, we re-sail the Slaley Robben Island Race, so there is much to look forward to. 

Some new lessons learned: 
1. Make your reefing line a Spectra line. 
2. Furlers are not such a good idea on a racing boat. 
3. The Pacer handles very nicely with a reduced sail area in strong breeze. 
4. The forecast is just a forecast - expect the worst. 
5. Having a forward opening fore-hatch is not a smart idea. 

It may seem elementary, but Iain Gibsons Pacer 27 "Unruly" ended up on its side on the slipway a few days ago at the start of the annual MSC Regatta in Durban. (Note the people standing around in shorts and T shirts at 0800 mid winter !!!). Iain and his crew got the boat ready for launching off their trailer - keel winched up, tie downs off, ready to go - and go it did. Without a bow tether to the trailer, the Pacer simply slid backwards off the trailer straight onto the concrete. 

If ever there was a test of a boat's construction integrity, this is it! There are a couple of nasty

gelcoat chips but no other apparent damage. So now we all know the boat is strong!