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2010 Nationals & Mykonos Offshore.

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Blasting downwind to Club Mykonos. Two Pacers visible to the right of the image.

The idea to run the 2010 Nationals piggy backing onto a major Cape event was the brainchild of Phillip Rentschler, a long serving crew member on Regent Express. The idea was bounced around amongst the crews at DAC during the 2009 Nationals and seemed to find favour with everyone. The brief was to squeeze the nationals into a three day regatta by adding one day of cans racing ahead of the Mykonos Offshore allowing the tandem regattas to finish simultaneously on the Saturday afternoon. An additional emergency day was tagged on after the event, just in case more races were needed, but as things panned out, everything worked out to perfection. The advantages of running the nationals within the Mykonos Offshore, were many – not least of which was that the Pacers could also compete for places and prizes in the Mykonos event.

As things turned out, the competitive level amongst the Pacers was so high, that four of them went on to clean up the top places in the Mykonos event. Looking at the crew lists of the competing boats there were names like Dave Hudson, Davy James, Alan Lawrence, Andrea Giovaninni, Finn de Haan, Marcus Progli, and Rob de Vlieg – just in case anyone thought this would be an easy event to win. 

Above: The IRC and Class 1 fleet about to start in light breeze from three different directions.
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

At the weigh-in most of the boats' crews totalled around 500 kgs, with 'Unmatched' being the lightest at 460kg and 'Sebago' the heaviest at 534 kgs. 

Thursday 18th February started off flat calm, followed by a one hour postponement, but by 11h00 a pleasant 8 knot westerly graced the bay allowing race officer, Ron Keytel, to set a windward/leeward course right next to the imposing new Cape Town stadium. There was port bias on the short line, which resulted in a bit of a squeeze at the pin end. Felix had a good start, heading off for the left side of the course, whilst Regent Express went out on the right to find themselves rounding 5th at the weather mark and a lot of catching up to do. Felix opened a nice gap and pulled ahead, leaving the lesser spots to be fought for amongst the rest of the fleet. Regent Express made up some ground on the downwind legs to finish 2nd ahead of Pacer 3, but the competition was very, very close. Even the tiniest mistake would result in the immediate loss of a place or two. The boats were exceptionally evenly matched. Unfortunately, 'Unmatched' missed the first race.

Above: Regent Express and Pacer 3 having a neck and neck dice in Saldanha Bay. 
Photo: Barbara Krynauw

We were scheduled for four back to back races and with Felix setting the pace for race 1, the rest of the fleet needed to look a bit sharper. For Race 2, which started promptly some 10 minutes later, the breeze picked up a notch to around 12 knots and clocked around towards the south west, putting even more port bias on the line. Again the left side of the course paid with the whole fleet heading over that way. This time Felix did not have things their own way, having to go back after being called OCS. Pacer 3 were getting the hang of the boat and rounded first followed by Unruly, Sebago and Regent Express, last named who took a different downwind line to the rest of the fleet, sailing higher angles. It paid off for them as they almost stole first place from Pacer 3, who had a spinnaker wrap after their gybe, but a broach right on the finish line caused Regent Express to marginally miss being first. The race was won by Pacer 3, followed by Regent Express with Music Sebago taking 3rd place. Felix finished 5th.

Above: Regent Express going flat out in the long distance race logging a top GPS spike of 22.8 knots. 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

For the third race, the breeze had cranked up to 18 knots. There was a short delay as the course and start line needed to be adjusted as the breeze had shifted another 15 degrees to the south. The fleet started cleanly - off a much squarer line, with Regent Express in a good position on the windward side of the fleet, but it was the wily Rob de Vlieg who found the right gears to sail 'Music Sebago' into first place, with 'Unruly' and 'Pacer 3' taking up the number 2 and 3 positions. Disaster struck for Felix just after the start when their headsail halyard broke giving them a DNF result. 'Unmatched' also suffered gear failure and retired from the race. It became evident that the heavier crews had an advantage in the fresher breeze. After three races we had three different boats all taking a bullet, making for a very tight set of results. 'Pacer 3' managed to sail over their spinnaker (loaned from Russel Morgan of 'Wild Thing' fame) just after the finish of the race resulting in a full on dredging operation and a nice big tear for their troubles. 
Any prawns in there? The aftermath of very fast downwind sailing.....

Another 10 minutes break and with a solid breeze of around 22 knots, race 4 was started. Again the fleet got away cleanly, with 'Pacer 3' showing good boat handling to round the top mark first. Downwind speeds were fabulous in the flat water around Green Point, with Regent Express exploiting their high/fast groove to make up places steadily and finish a close 2nd behind Pacer 3. Unruly crossed in 3rd place. 

Felix the Cat beating up to the Paarden island mark....

It was a tired and weary bunch of Pacer sailors who headed back into the harbour for a few cold beers and hot showers with the results being very close and no clear cut winner. Pacer 3, Regent Express and Unruly were each separated by only 2 points each and held those positions respectively at that stage of the regatta.

FRIDAY, 19th February - Long Distance Race

Above: The GPS track of Regent Express

Above: The Pacer 42 'PUMA UNLEASHED' heading north to Club Mykonos with Table Bay and our beautiful mountain setting a picture perfect backdrop 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

Friday 19th February showed the promise of a stiff south easter for the distance race down to Mykonos. Hooray! The club was humming as some 104 boats prepared for this major offshore event. The atmosphere on the start line was electric with helicopters buzzing overhead, but the breeze was fitful, being very strong up near the weather mark and almost zero near the start line. The Pacer fleet needed to start with the Class 1 fleet of around 60 boats which made for some interesting tactical manoeuvres and a very frustrating few minutes before getting into the breeze proper. Most of the Pacer fleet had changed down to a number two headsail. 
The faces of the crew on Pacer 3 say it all!

Regent Express and Unruly rounded the weather mark first with both boats getting masthead kites up smartly. There were many broaches all over the fleet and the trick was to blast through the big boats without hitting anyone and not broach yourself. It was a fairly tense 10 minutes as the Pacers quickly ripped through the fleet with Regent Express leading the way. Soon it was gybe time and the moment of truth gybing a Pacer in 35 knots. Regent Express and Unruly pulled off good gybes, but the other Pacers broached, allowing the two leading Pacers to blast away downwind side by side at 16 knots for a long port gybe towards Robben Island. Unruly, with skiff sailor Davy James driving, gybed first and went back inshore, whereas Regent Express went far over towards the island. When Regent Express gybed back onto starboard, they found themselves with a solid lead over Unruly. The plan was to stay in the pressure. Regent Express covered the distance from the start to the northern tip of Robben Island in just 50 minutes. All the Pacers quickly moved through the fleet with outstanding downwind speeds.

Above: Regent Express thundering into the back of a wave at 16 knots - completely burying the bow. 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

Bok Point was coming up fast. This is the geographical point where the weather systems change and tactics are vitally important. Some got it right but not others. Regent Express was one of the latter when they found themselves being headered and the pressure going light. It was decision time for them. They decided to switch headsails (a time consuming process) whilst continuing holding the spinnaker, but sailing off course. It would cost them dearly. Unruly had the same problem. They tackled it differently, and immediately dropped their kite, continuing on a beat to get into the westerly using their No.2 jib. 

Meanwhile there was drama further back when the skipper of the L34 Morgenster managed to get whacked hard by the boom during a gybe, rendering her fully unconscious for some 10 minutes. This resulted in a call to the NSRI. They arrived and assisted the crew to bring the boat back to Cape Town into the teeth of a gale force south easter. It took them a very long time to do so, only arriving back ay RCYC at 17h00, where the luckless lady was examined by a doctor and declared to be OK. She was reunited with her family at Mykonos later that evening, none the worse for wear.

Above: 'Felix the Cat' (who is apparently Mickey Mouse's father) shedding water as they clear through a wave at high speed. This was the money shot of the regatta. This photo went around the world in 24 hours via the Sailing Anarchy website. Our photographer Trevor Wilkins has a great eye for marine photography.

A Hobie Tiger capsized in the rough conditions, separating the crew from the craft which led to a few anxious moments, but a well run shore based rescue operation soon sorted the problem out and the Hobie managed to continue on it's way.

Above: The Hobie Tiger in trouble - and easy to see how difficult it is for a crew member to get back to the boat which is drifting downwind faster than he can swim. 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

In the previous hour Regent Express had also collected a large piece of kelp on their keel bulb and despite the high speed sailing, had been unable to get rid of it. Their speed was a good two knots off the pace, which was becoming evident in their lead steadily being eroded. Striking the kite and reversing the boat is a very time consuming process. Finally, once they had their No.1 Genoa up, they went head to wind and reversed the boat to shed the kelp. It cost them many minutes of time, as they watched woefully as Unruly sailed past them towards the Dassen Island gate. 

Meanwhile, 'Felix the cat' had anticipated the wind switch and had gybed early onto port to get into the new breeze. They were able to hold their small fractional reacher and quickly sped past the leaders to clear through the gate many minutes ahead of the second placed boat, Unruly. Regent cleared through a close third followed a few minutes later by Pacer 3 and Music. 

The game was on for line honours with only Gumption, Puma and Windpower still ahead. Even the Hobie Tigers had been left for dead. There had been much anticipation that the Flying Tiger 10 Sports boat would beat the Pacers, but it was nowhere near the Pacer fleet, crossing the finish line in 19th place corrected. 

'Felix' peeled to an A2 masthead kite after the gate,and set off in pursuit of the big boats, followed by the rest of the Pacer fleet. The leg from Dassen to Saldanha provided some of the finest downwind sailing ever. It was like having a nice dream - over and over and over. 

All the boats were averaging over 15 knots and on Regent Express a maximum GPS speed of 22.8 knots was logged as they surfed down a 5m wave.

Above: 'UNRULY' shunting downwind nicely under control with crew stacked up aft and to windward. 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

Pacer 3 was sailing a deeper angle than Regent Express but also falling behind. Tactically the acid test was to see by how much the distance would close once Regent Express gybed back inshore. The gap had indeed reduced down to about 8 boat lengths and these two Pacers were in for a ding dong battle to the finish. There was some irony that both helmsmen on Pacer 3 had been protégés of Regent’s skipper, Trygve Roberts. This was the classic case of the student challenging the master. 

The boats split gybes each standing out on their respective gybes to try to gain a speed advantage. Regent Express was flying down the wave faces on starboard, when they hit something very solid and broached, but recovered quickly and got going again. They had hit a seal and no doubt killed it on impact as they animal floated off the stern in a well of blood and guts. This was a million to one chance of a yacht ever hitting a seal as the seals are smart and exceptionally fast reactors. They need to be agile to keep clear of Great Whites! There was no damage at all to the boat on later inspection. The gap between the two boats had closed down some more after the unplanned seal broach, forcing Regent Express to gybe back onto starboard a little prematurely to clear the reefs at South Head Light and remain ahead of Pacer 3. 

The finest sailing anywhere in the world. Sixty five nautical miles of downwind planing above 16 knots!

Pacer 3 closed in aggressively trying to force Regent Express into submission or an early gybe, but Trygve was having none of it and countered each attack with a luff. With the rocks rapidly approaching it was decision time. Pacer 3 decided to break off the attack and went for a gybe, but they fluffed the gybe and a had an hourglass wrap which gave Regent Express just enough time to extend their lead. They eased sheets and sailed low enough to sneak past the rocks and into the channel towards Jutten Island. Winds always accelerate here due to the venturi effect of the landscape and that day was no exception as some massive blasts pummelled the boats from behind, sending the Pacers blasting towards Jutten in showers of spray. Both Pacers broached, with Regent Express being the quicker of the two to recover, extending their lead by a few more boat lengths. 

Pacer 3 at full tilt in a 30 knot south easterly.

At Salamander Point, it was time to hoist the headsail and drop the kite. The breeze was very strong for the first 2 miles towards the finish line, but the boats were doing 12 knots under headsail and main only. Up ahead the 43ft Windpower was in Regent’s sights with Unruly just ahead of Windpower. Some time had been made on them, but not enough to overtake. Felix had sailed a very good tactical race to clinch 1st place in the Pacer Class as well as 1st overall in the IRC division of the actual Mykonos Offshore. Unruly finished in 2nd place, followed by Regent Express in 3rd, Pacer 3 in 4th and Music Sebago in 5th place. Unmatched finished a bit later and not quite at pace with the rest of the fleet. Pacer 27’s had in fact, swept the board and taken the top four places in the offshore race, as well as place #6, beating 100 other boats to the finish line. It was an extraordinary performance and did a tremendous amount of PR for the class and the boat’s reputation. Improved sales will no doubt result from this performance. 

The first 10 boats were all handed a cold bottle of champagne straight after crossing the line, by the Mykonos tender, which was a nice touch. Once the results had been processed, it was still Pacer 3 and Regent Express lying 1st and 2nd. Felix had moved up into 4th place with Unruly still lying 3rd. A lot rested on the result of the final race on the Saturday.

Above: Hundreds of sea birds take to the skies in the Langebaan Lagoon - a World heritage site. We are priveleged to be able to sail there 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

SATURDAY, 20th February, 2010 
Medium Distance/Pursuit Race

Above: GPS Track of 'Regent Express' showing the routing around Langebaan and Saldanha Bay

Saturday 20th February: 

Things were tight. Regent Express was only one point shy of Pacer 3, but would need two points to clinch victory. Pacer 3 were going to handle things very tactically and focus intensely on covering Regent Express. 

This was a 26nm pursuit race with the Pacers starting at 12h00; some one and a half hours after the first boats. The breeze was light but steady allowing for fair racing. Pacer 3 was late for the start allowing for the other Pacers to forge ahead, but Pacer 3 recovered well, working the left hand side of the course to round in 4th place. The fleet split up all over the bay, but it was Regent Express who came out 1st at the weather mark by about 15 boat lengths. They hoisted their spinnaker and gybed immediately. Unruly and Pacer 3 followed them towards the middle of the bay where there was better pressure, whereas Felix continued on the rhumb line and into a hole. It wasn’t long and the entire fleet became becalmed with spinnakers collapsing. There was about 500m of lateral separation between the four leading boats at that stage. When the westerly breeze arrived, Felix got it first and did a horizon job on the fleet. The rest of the crews had to sit still in buckets of tension as Felix planed away towards the ore jetty. Eventually the westerly filled in, allowing the others to get going. Regent Express sailed high, intercepting Pacer 3 - both without spinnakers. The two Pacers had a tight battle for supremacy with Regent Express winning round one to clear the ore jetty two lengths ahead. 

At the next turning mark, Regent was lying 2nd, followed very closely by Pacer 3 which was covering Regent diligently. Unruly had buried themselves deep down in the bay and had a lot of work to do to dig themselves out of trouble. 

Once past the Dial Rock mark, the tussle between Pacer 3 and Regent continued with no apparent advantage going to either boat, but Regent managed to stay two boat lengths ahead. It was imperative for Pacer 3 to cover Regent to hold their 1st place overall and take the national title. Up near the head of the inner bay, Regent was still just ahead of Pacer 3, but up ahead an L26, 'Escape' (Rodney Tanner) was sailing perilously close to the shore. Regent followed their track, but Pacer 3 went another few meters closer to land, which worked for them, as Regent eventually was forced to dive through the lee of the L26, whereas Pacer 3 cleared through to windward. That little exercise meant Regent had to give Pacer 3 water at the No.2 Channel buoy. Regent could not tack until Pacer 3 had tacked. From there Pacer 3 got their nose ahead and kept it ahead. Sebago had in the meantime been creeping steadily up through the fleet and found themselves some 15 lengths behind Regent near the North Bay mark. 

Regent tacked early after the rounding with Pacer 3 cover tacking. A 40 footer, “Lobelia”, came up under Regent pointing much higher and forced Regent into a tack. From there things were to go badly wrong for Regent Express, as they went for a long port tack to clear their air. When they tacked back onto starboard they were looking brilliant to come out 1st at Jutten, but the weather was to have a hand in their ultimate fate. It went light and backed, which saw Regent basically disappearing off the map. They were in 5th place by the time they got to Jutten. The second half of the fleet had a bit of bad luck when a large ship needed to anchor right across the course. A very aggressive approach by the harbour pilot boat, using the ships claxon horn with exuberance, had many competitors forced to start their engines to get out of the way. This was unfortunate and resulted in many retirees. With this regatta bringing in some 3000 visitors to the area and obviously creating good eco-tourism, I would have thought that the harbour master at Saldanha might have been more sensitive to the cause and asked the ship to stand-to for an hour whilst the regatta ran its course. Of course we all know that is a pipe dream. 

Watch the Pacers fly! Unruly in centre of pic with the white kite and Regent Express further to the right with the blue kite. Speeds out of Table Bay were consistently above 18 knots.

After some nice fresh breeze through the Jutten channel, it went very light again and in fact, several very large holes manifested themselves all over the bay. Felix won the race comfortably, followed by Music, Pacer 3, Unruly, Regent Express and Unmatched. Suddenly Felix was right back in the picture. Pacer 3 managed to hold onto their 1st place, whilst Felix and Regent tied at 13 points apiece, with the tiebreaker going Felix's way - just as it did in 2009 on the Vaal between the same two boats. 

Prize giving started exactly on time with several thousand people crammed onto the terrace in glorious sunshine and calm weather – a fitting way to end a magnificent event. Congratulations to Andrea and his crew on Pacer 3 on becoming the 2010 Pacer 27 Sport National Champions and to Ant Wentworth and his team on Felix the cat on winning the Mykonos Offshore Regatta. The standard of racing was high and there were many admirers of the Pacers amongst the yachties and certainly a few converts. 

49'er and skiff exponent Davy James who had his first taste of helming a P27S during the distance race had this to say: "I will never be satisfied ever sailing any other kind of keelboat after this. It behaves like a dinghy, yet always feels safe and fully under control. It's a bloody nice boat." 

This was a seriously enjoyable event. As a class we should consider repeating the exercise as the test of skills in varying conditions was unsurpassable. The Pacer 27 showed the sailing community just what it is capable of.

Above: The short and the tall. The 52ft 'Thunderchild' towers over 'Regent Express' but no matter, the Pacer 27 crosses the finish line ahead on the final race with Club Mykonos resort in the background. 
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

RESULTS OF THE PACER 27 NATIONALS 

1st 003 Pacer 3 Harvie/Giovanni 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 4th, 3rd - Disc 4th = 11 

2nd 007 Felix the Cat Ant Wentworth 1st, 5th, 7th, 5th, 1st, 1st - Disc 7th = 13 

3rd 017 Regent Express Trygve Roberts 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 5th - Disc 5th = 13 

4th 011 Unruly Iain Gibson 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd, 4th - Disc 4th = 14 

5th 010 Music Sebago Guy Nothingham, 5th, 4th, 1st, 4th, 5th, 2nd - Disc 5th = 16 

6th 001 Unmatched Graham Wentworth 6th, 6th, 6th, 6th, 6th, 6th - Disc 6th = 33
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RESULTS IRC CLASS - MYKONOS OFFSHORE 

1st Felix the Cat - Pacer 27S - Ant Wentworth - 3 points 
2nd Unruly - Pacer 27S - I. Gibson - 8 pts. 
3rd Regent Express - Pacer 27S - Trygve Roberts - 9 pts 
4th Pacer 3 - Pacer 27S - A.Giovaninni - 10 pts. 
5th Windpower - Landmark 43 - Rick Nankin - 15 pts. 
6th Music Sebago - Pacer 27 Sport - Rob de Vlieg - 15 pts. 
7th Gumption - ILC 40 - Mark Sadler - 16 pts. 
8th Corum - Briand 43 - Jannie Reuvers - 20 pts. 
9th Puma - Pacer 42R - Hylton Hale - 22 pts. 
10th Ballyhoo Too - Mumm 36 - I. Park-Ross - 22 pts. 
11th 8 Seconds - L42 - Harry Brehm - 28 pts. 
12th Addis - A35 - A.Monet - 30 pts. 
13th A-L - Farr 38 - Robbie v Rooyen - 30 pts. 
14th Tenacity - Fast 42 - E.Stern - 33 pts. 
15th Lobelia - IMX40 - Rob Meek - 39 pts 
16th Our Diane - Simonis 35 - Billy leisegang - 39 pts. 
17th Benba - Farr 38 - Dale Kushner - 41 pts 
18th Maestro - Fast 42 - Paul van As - 43 pts 
19th Prodigy lV - FT10 - Chris Frost - 54 pts 
20th Touch Wood - Lav 36 - G.hegie 56 pts 
21st Unmatched - Pacer 27S - G.Wentworth - 61 pts. 
22nd Enigma - Fast 42 - J.Beaumont - 64 pts 
23rd Cape Storm - Pacer 376 - S.Cumming - 65 pts. 

24th Thunderchild - L52 - Rhett Goldswain - 65 pts