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Last updated on 25 Sep 2009

Race in a Nutshell: 14th August 2009

Line: 1st 
Position PHRF: 2nd 
Total Entries: 8 
Distance: 15.0 nm. 
Max Speed: 12.8 knots 
Ave speed: 6.7 knots 
Weather Forecast: Clear, sunny. Wind SW 5 knots becoming SE 10 knots. Temp 18C 
Weather Actual: NW 2 knots becoming 15 knots SE. 
Baro: 1016 hPa. 
Course: Butt cat – Container mark (P) – Milnerton (P) - Container mark (P) – Milnerton (P) – Finish at Butt cat 
Seas: 13 second long period swell of 3.0m 
Sails: Full Main, No. 1 Genoa, A2 Light Asymmetric Spinnaker, A3 Asymmetric spinnaker. 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), John Fassler (Main), Charles Crosby (Genoa), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Simon Penso (Bow), Total: 450 kg

REGENT EXPRESS takes her first line honours victory, but to be fair, the fleet was not nearly as competitive as the previous race win. It is very rare for a 27 ft boat to take line honours in any mixed fleet and it's a pretty good feeling. Sailing off a PHRF rating of 1.080 means having to seriously cane the smaller boats. Even this victory was not enough to beat octogenarian Sheriff Saville in his 40 year old RCOD. We finished 11 mins 20 secs ahead of the RCOD and still had to be content with a second place on corrected time. Hats off to Sheriff!!

It’s that time of year –  Lipton Cup – when most of the top crews get involved for a month in South Africa’s top one design keelboat regatta. This year there are twenty eight L26’s entered which is a very good turnout especially considering the L26 is now a fairly old design. Our spinnaker trimmer is sailing on the L26 'Elsumo' for the event so the usual communication problems occurred in him not telling me he would not be sailing on the Pacer and me not thinking about Lipton Cup at all. I had one day to find a replacement crew and as any skipper will know, that is just not enough time (unless you fluke it). 

I made eleven calls to possible crew; strictly avoiding anyone who I thought would probably be sailing on a Lipton boat but had absolutely no joy at all. With a very light wind forecasted, I figured we may as well go racing four up. On Saturday morning I received a call from John Fassler who was one of the people I had approached. His arrangement for the weekend had gone pear shaped and he was able to crew after all. John is (or is that WAS) a potential Pacer 27 purchaser and was keen to see how the boat sails. His background sailing dates to many years ago on FD’s and Hobie 16’s. It was going to be one heck of a quick learning curve for him. Fortunately conditions were benign. 

Out on the bay things were pretty flat with a hesitant 2 to 4 knot westerly coming and going - not quite enough to set a championship course for the L26 class, who were sailing their Nationals prior to the main Lipton event next week. Eventually the club fleet was given a course to sail and the start line was set. No sooner had that taken place (whilst we gleefully looked at the angles and figured we could carry spinnaker on all the legs), when a south easterly made its appearance. It was a solid 12 knots to start, building later to 18 knots. The RC changed the course in a hurry and set a new course for the club fleet (us) who were scheduled to start first. 

As we approached the committee boat with 30 seconds to go, the L26 “Hors d’ Ouvers” parked up near the committee boat. I decided to duck behind the L26 and shoot upwind to leeward of it where there was space to spare. Only problem was John had the main strapped in tight and didn’t ease for the bear away which meant my helm inputs were useless. That left me with no alternative but to luff up sharply between the L26 and the committee boat. For a horrible moment I thought we were going to have another collision. Fortunately the boat responded well and we luffed up into just enough space. A quick glance at the stopwatch showed 2 seconds to go, so all we needed was a quick bear away and hit the line on the gun. It actually turned into a good start for us. 

Two of the fleet had elected port tack starts, but things went badly for them as those on starboard forced all the port tackers to tack onto starboard and into dirties. As soon as we were clear, we rolled onto port tack and had good clean wind with the Mount Gay 30 to leeward of us and keeping pace. They only had two people on board so were heeling too much and losing out on leeway. The separation was steady and by the time we got to the layline for the weather mark, we had about 12 boat lengths lead on them. I was really pleased we had the 5th person on board to help keep the boat flat. 

We had slightly over-stood the weather mark, so could foot off and accelerate before out kite hoist. Our spinnaker of choice was the max size A2 light. It went up fine, but the moment it set, we realized we were heading well below our course. The boat speed was quickly up to 12 knots. We decided to continue with the big kite until we had reached through the L26 fleet which was on its way to their leeward mark. We had rights on everyone, but decided to “play nicely” since they were in a championship event and avoid any calls for them to keep clear. By the time we had cleared them we had fallen well down off our rhumb line course to the Milnerton buoy, so we took the A2 down and did a tighter two sail reach towards the Milnerton mark. We had not gained much on the MG30. A new Comfortina 39 “Celine IV” had also caught up and was right behind the MG30, but neither boat had flown a spinnaker. We still held the same 12 boat length lead by the downwind mark, so the extra distance we had sailed had not been worth the effort of flying the kite. Closer to the mark, the breeze went a bit lighter and freed for us, so we put up the smaller A3 reaching kite and increased our lead a bit. 

The next question was, would we be able to hold the A3 on the next leg back to the Container mark? We thought we would give it a try and did a neat gybe which left our guest on his back on the cockpit floor on the leeward side tangled up in the lifelines, but he was fine. We immediately realized the angle was not good enough and took the A3 down and settled back onto a tight two sail fetch. The other two boats behind us had closed the gapand made up ground on our error. Only about 8 lengths now separated us. We knuckled down and got the speed up to 7,5 knots which seemed enough to hold the C39 off, but both the MG30 and the C39 were close behind us at the weather mark. 

We stuck with the A3 kite and left the genoa up. It set nicely but our angle was still too low. This time we kept the A3 up for a lot further before striking and doing the same two sail reach up to the Milnerton mark. We had opened up a considerable lead on the opposition on that leg. Our GPS track showed exactly the same angle as we had held with the A2, so it was an interesting observation which simply showed that the A3 is sometimes a better kite to use in the fresher breezes and especially so when one needs to get higher than ninety degrees to the wind. We did a seamanlike gybe and hardened up for the final leg up to the finish on the L26 course. There was some uncertainty as to whether we had to round the top mark a third time, so we called the RC for confirmation which was affirmed. The angle to the finish was an easy fetch which allowed a steady speed of 8 to 9 knots. The opposition boats must have had the same doubts as us as they all headed back up to the weather mark. The RC called them on the VHF advising them of the correct course. We finished comfortably first over the line by some 5 minutes over the second placed MG30. 

Another good race under the belt for Regent Express. Things are improving faster than what I expected. 

A word on our new Quantum #1 Genoa. This was our second race with the new sail where we have now tested it in winds ranging from 2 knots to 18 knots and it handled the whole range of breeze with aplomb, holding its shape well and responding well to trim changes. This is a Kevlar sail which we will be using for non one design events. Call it co-incidence if you will, but two 1st places in both races we have used this sail? 
You decide. We think it is a lovely sail and have only praise for the shape and quality. 

Some of the Pacer 27 rules have been changed. One of those is to allow Kevlar sails as they make more economical sense than the Pentex ones - especially so for the coastal boats. However, this new rule will only kick in the 2010 nationals in PE, which gives everyone a chance to get full use of existing newish Pentex sails.


Sail No & Class Yacht Skipper TCF Finished Elapsed Corr Place 

1st RCOD Arial Sheriff Saville 0.925 16.34.39 1.24.39 1.18.18 
2nd Pacer 27 S Regent Express Trygve Roberts 1.08 16.23.21 1.13.21 1.19.13 
3rd L26 Hors d'Oeuvre Peter Bam 0.955 16.35.55 1.25.55 1.22.3 
4th Comfortina 39 Celine IV Volker Viehuis 1.05 16.28.53 1.18.53 1.22.50 
5th Bucanneer Let's Go Duncan Johnson 0.8 16.54.30 1.44.30 1.23.36 
6th Charger 33 FTI Flyer Keith Mattison 0.985 16.36.51 1.26.51 1.25.33 
7th Ocean 31 Storm Mike Peper 0.95 16.41.30 1.31.30 1.26.56 
8th Mount Gay 30 Just Fun Dave Arnott 1.11 16.28.33 1.18.33 1.27.11