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SENIORS RACE

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17th April, 2010

Charles Paice and his A (for Ancient) team have done it again, this time perhaps with some help from the younger set, but a great day was enjoyed by many - young and old. Charles's dry and witty speech each year is the highlight of the prize giving followed by his delightful poem about getting old.

This annual event draws a large fleet. From the humble beginnings in 1985, when 6 entries almost had the committee remove the race from the calendar, to 2010 with some 50 seniors taking to the the waters of Table Bay in almost perfect conditions. And let it not be said that this race is not competitive. We had more collisions and protests than in Cape Town Sailing Week! There's still plenty of fire in those old veins!

On a more serious note there are some issues that need to be resolved and I will address those, as is my custom. It is quite a dramatic difference being 59 and viewing this event with a slightly condescending attitude about 'old toppies' and yet, having just turned 60 and now being an official 'senior', I find myself at the receiving end of the condescension.

Try to imagine the difference between someone who is 30 and someone who is 60. Fairly vast, I think you will agree. Now look at 60 vs. 90 and you will see where I am going with this. There are vast skills variances amongst such a diverse age group. Some are highly competent whilst others are considerably less so.

Several weeks ago, I asked the Sailing Committee to please consider to allow spinnakers for this event. My request immediately met with several "definitely not" responses from the club. I then made a couple of suggestions.

1. The fleet is big enough to have two divisions. Spinnaker and non-spinnaker.

OR

2. Allow spinnakers, but add a small time % penalty to those who declare up-front that they will use them.

I thought the second option would be the easiest to apply and the most equitable solution to everyone. I sent several requests for further action/information on my request, but all I got was a stony silence. Initially there were a few emails suggesting that by allowing spinnakers we would be in danger of killing a really good event. (I am still puzzled as to the logic behind this statement). I was also told that "there are enough 'gung-ho' races for the younger set on the calendar". The bottom line is that I find it terribly condescending that people over the age of 60 are not considered competent enough to fly spinnakers. In fact it is a laughable situation considering that there are names like Meek, Nankin, Koper, Abromowitz and Provoyeur in the mix. Whilst there might be a portion of skippers that are uncomfortable flying spinnakers, there are just as many (probably more) who enjoy it. So why on earth only cater for a portion of the skippers? Let everyone have fun out there - and it is so easy to solve this problem. This was evident at the skippers briefing, when the Race Chairman announced the 'no spinnakers' rule, he was loudly booed. Hello RCYC - I think you have got the message now. Never call a sailing event a 'race' if you dont want sailors to be competitive. These are sailors and they are ALL competitive. Every last one. Rather call it a 'rally' or a 'cruise' if you are looking for a gentle social event.

OK. That is now my rant done and dusted. on to the racing. The "race" was run in the pursuit format with the slower boats leaving at 14h30. Even with very few boats in each starting time slot, so intense was the competitive edge that we heard several OCS calls.

The breeze was great. About 10 to 12 knots from the south east and we all commented on how clean the sea was. No plastic bags and no kelp. What a pleasure. The course was unimaginative and in line with keeping things simple for the 'old ballies'. We started at 14h53 about 10th from the bottom of the long entry list, together with five bigger boats. We held all of them up to the weather mark, despite an attempt at luffing from the Simonis 35 'Palucci'. We rounded with our group, then sailed down-wind as hot as we dared (without our spinnaker) trying to keep the boat speed above 8 knots, but despite two gybes, we were unable to gain any places. The DDW routing was the best choice. The mark roundings were crowded with a mix of fast and slow boats all trying to gain a place or two. Placing one's boat at the correct spot before entering the 'zone' was very important and could result in the loss of many places if you were on the outside of a bunch.

The Farr 38 'A-L' rounded the Milnerton mark just ahead of us and immediately got involved in a luffing duel with 'Palucci', which seemed a senseless exercise to us, so we dived down low and to leeward of the fleet and by doing that, gained many places. The sea was churned up by all the big boats so some judicious helming was required trying to steer through the popple. Sailing low below the rhumb line, meant we could hot up our angle later on the leg coming in to the mark, but there was trouble looming ahead - in the form of a large group of boats, big and fast, small and slow -all arriving at the #2 mark at the same time. 'A-L' was clear ahead of us by two lengths. We had an RCOD going very slowly dead ahead and slightly to windward. So we had to choose whether to overtake the RCOD to windward or to leeward, but 'A-L' more or less dictated our tactics into taking the leeward route, as they had taken the mark wide, but closed in aggressively, shaving it close by - so close that their crew had to lift their legs out of the way to prevent being hurt.

Immediately after the mark there was some serious congestion and we had no choice but to harden up on port and stay clear of boats below us - and they were all going very slowly and pinching like crazy - the exact opposite of how we sail upwind. We could not tack either as we had 'Paragon' to windward and behind. We were truly boxed in amongst boats a lot slower than ourselves. Things were just starting to get anxcious when we were actually considering slowing ourselves down so we could extricate ourselves out of that group, when 'Paragon' finally tacked over onto starboard, allowing us to follow suite. Finally we had clear air again and we could build some decent boat speed. We quickly rolled 'Paragon' and then had open water in front of us. Charles called for an extended starboard tack, avoiding the bigger boats to the right of the course.

When we were almost on the port layline to the #4 mark, we rolled into a tack. Things were looking good with about 12 boats ahead of us. We had done very well on the last beat and overtaken about 20 boats. We noticed that 'A-L' was sailing straight toward the finish and had not rounded the #4 mark. We weren't the only boat to notice their error, which subsequently resulted in 'A-L' being scored RTD (Retired).

We opted to tack back onto starboard immediately after rounding the #4 mark, which was a mistake as we sailed straight into a big header and were unable to tack back onto port due to other boats coming through to weather on starboard. So we gritted it out until we could put another hitch in to get us back onto the layine to the pin finish mark.

There was a fair amount of chaos at the finish line when a small boat 'Merit' approached the finish pin end on port. The J27 "Pure Magic" was just ahead of us on starboard, like ourselves. The skipper of Merit realised he was in trouble and luffed up to keep clear of us, but then got himself into irons. What followed was a series of collisions with other boats behind us. Their genoa sheet got tangled with the BBQ on the stern of a bigger boat and.....well it was actually quite funny and nothing short of a miracle that nothing broke and no-one got hurt.

We finished 8th and despite our misgivings about being unfairly disadvantaged without our spinnaker, we enjoyed the race and were not that unimpressed with our final position.

An enjoyable day on the water, followed by an excellent prize giving and lots of free food and beer. Well done to all involved in the organization of this event. Just sort out the spinnaker problem for next year please. Listen to your customers. It's how you stay in business.

And if you still think there should be no spinnakers and that by banning them you are making the racing the same for all, consider this: Sportsboats carry an exceptionally high handicap rating specfically because they are fast off the wind. Conversely they are slower and point lower than most other keelboats upwind. So, by taking away the boat's downwind advantage you are unfairly punishing boats with good downwind performance. And if we dont get this changed, we will toyi-toyi in the foyer - barefoot and with our Farmer Brown hats on.

RESULTS

1 Necessity John Spilhaus 0.980
2 Me2Me Derick Shuttleworth 1,070 (Farr 38)
3 Ukuzwana Jeff Avery 0,970 (Laser 28)
4 Periwinkle Tommy Walker 1.095 (Farr 40)
5 Aurora Mel Hawtrey 1.080 (aTLANTIC 49)
6 Tally Ho John Waller 1.015 (L34)
7 Pure Magic Ron Keytel 0.995 (J27)
8 Regent Express Trygve Roberts 1.080 (Pacer 27 Sport)
9 Lobelia Gordon Kling 1.145 (IMX 40)
10 Celine IV Volker Vierhaus 1,050 (C39)
11 Addis In Cape Restaurant Peter Muzik 1.105 (A 35)
12 Auto Atlantic Thunderchild Vince Goldswaine 1.285 (L52)
13 Nautiash Pieter Groenhof 0.970 (H34)
14 Windpower Phil Gutsche 1.250 (LM 43)
15 Maestro Ankie Roux 1.150 (Fast 40)
16 Palucci Sydney Kaye 1,080 (Simonis 35)
17 Halali Erich Lehman 0.950 (Impact mod)
18 African Renaissance Paul Mare 1,130 (Farr 40)
19 Diel Bernard Diebold 1.230 (Diebold 19.2)
20 Wild Goose Ernest Chicken 0.955 (L26)
21 After You Cliffy 1.190 (L40)
22 Lets Go Duncan Johnson 0.800 (Buccaneer)
23 Paragon Clive Flederman 0.970 (Ocean 31)
24 Nauti Bouy Jan Bol 0,935 (Petersen 33)
25 Cabaray Ivor Osberg 0.940 (Van der Stadt 40)
26 Solitaire William Combrink 1.005 (Compass 47)
27 FTI Flyer Keith Mattison 0.985 (Petersen 33)
28 Indaba John Levin 0,960 (van der Stadt 34)
29 Saoirse Alan Jones 0,955 (Atlantic 36)
30 Moonshine Alan Hughes 0,910 (Miura)
31 Voodoo Wayne Hennings 1.130 (L54)
32 Cathy R Johan Rabie 1.020 (Compass 47)
33 Siesta Edward Jongsma 0.840 (Flamenca)
34 Chen Charles Paice 0.935 (Miura)
35 Impact John Connar 0.920 (Impact 30)
36 Apricot Bat Tromp 0.935 (Miura)
37 Thalassa Jack Richardson 0,905 (Med 37)
38 Libra Wilhelm Schutten 1.070
39 Iechyd Da Brian Bradfield 0,910 (Miura)
40 Morgenster Wilfred Krohn 1,015 (L34)
41 Avanti Mannetjies Viljoen 1,060 (Vickers 41)
42 Corrida Peter Nicolay 0.925 (Corrida 36)
43 Carousel Hein Schipper 0.970 (Beneteau 39)
44 Storm Dudley Turner 0.950 (Ocean 31)
45 Bateleur Lindsay Birch 1,070 (Zeevalk)
46 Toy Herman Mory 1.020
47 Casa Mia Tony Hoare 0.940 (VD Stadt 34)
48 Bandit Tim Maclean 0.910 (Miura)
49 Spirit Michael Philips 0.910 (Miura)
50 Foam Barry Wolf 0.850
51 Merit John Morris 0.815
52 Capricorn Fred Heginbotham 0.840
53 Ariel Jeremy Johnson 0,925 DNS (RCOD)
54 A-L Johan Van Rooyen 1.090 RTD
(Farr 38)