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Lewmar Twilight Series - Race 1

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I found two great little video clips of 'Pacer ll' helmed by Harry Brehm, taken on-board during a fun downwind sleigh ride on Table Bay in 2008. They are short but in HD, so well worth viewing. It will give you a good idea of what it's like being on board. The video is in two parts - Just click on the links below and enjoy the adrenaline filled world of sports boat sailing:

Must Watch Video (English/Italian)

Pacer 27 Planing Clip 1
Pacer 27 Planing Clip 2


Race in a nutshell:

Position PHRF: 2nd from 11
Distance: 7.0 nm.
Max Speed: 15.2 knots
Ave speed: 6.9 knots
Time: 1 hr 35mins 28secs (Corrected to 1:43:06)
Weather Forecast: Cloudy. Wind SW 10 knots Temp 25C
Weather Actual: Accurate Wind variable 0 knots to 20 knots
Course: 10 (S) – No. 2 (S) - Milnerton (S) – No.2 (P) – No.10 (P)- Paarden island (S) - Finish mark (S)
Seas: Flat with some chop offshore.
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No.2 Jib (Quantum), No. 1 Genoa (Quantum), R1 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (Quantum)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Simon Penso (Pit), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Phillip Rentschler (Main), Joshua Banks (Bow), Erhardt Joubert (Mast) : Total: 495 kg

Collisions continue unabated during twilight racing despite vigorous attempts by the Sailing Committee to vastly reduce the risks. This week a collision occurred in Class 1 Non-Spinnaker fleet between a Farr 40 and a Farr 38 where the port stern quarter of the Farr 38 collected a major wallop from the 40 footer, causing serious damage - in what initially appears to be a simple port/starboard upwind incident. The protest hearing takes place on Monday. Watch this space......

What is very pleasing to me, is to see that two protests were lodged on Wednesday. This is the correct way to curb poor seamanship or bad behaviour on the water and I am heartened to see skippers actually going to the trouble of going to protest. Both protests are port/starboard incidents - the simplest of all the basic sailing rules. Being disqualified during a protest hearing is a very good lesson for the erring skipper to learn and far more long lasting than the opposing skipper shouting an obscenity (which has been the norm). The more we protest, the healthier our sailing will be and the less frequent these accidents will become.

Edited Tuesday 25th Jan: In the protest between the two Farrs, the protest was dismissed as both vessels had retired from the race, but the Farr 40 (port tacker) had conceded responsibility in that their main trimmer was just too slow in easing the sheet to allow the helmsman to bear off sufficiently.
In the other protest between the Stadt 34 and a Miura, the Muira (port tacker) was disqualified. She claimed a sheet overwind had prevented them from taking evasive action. The protest panel advised the skipper that penalties must still be done, even though they were out of control at the time.

We were a little rusty after almost a month off the water and yet produced a respectable result – one of the best in recent times. It was great having our full regular team on board again with everyone raring to go. A good weather forecast ensured a big turnout across the boards in all the fleets. It was nice to see one of the Melges 24's being launched to race for the evening. At least we would have some sports boat competition which is always enjoyable and a solid contest it would turn out to be. The smaller (by 3ft) Melges 24 holds us upwind in light to moderate breeze, but we seem to have the edge downwind. I would imagine above 20 knots wind speed we would be the better boat.

The first leg of the course was a fetch. We ensured we had clean air and a clear lane all the way to the No.2 channel buoy. Our start on port was on time and at speed. We had opted for our No2 Jib as the breeze was above 15 knots. We were able to hold both the 43ft Corum (and get ahead of it) as well as the 38ft Cape Storm. We rounded well up with the big boats and got the R1 asso up and drawing. The boat speed immediately went up to 12 knots as we got on the plane with the Melges following us out to sea. Soon it was gybe time and we put in a well timed and executed gybe onto starboard as we headed back towards the shore making very good speed. We carved our way through the big boats. After another two gybes we found ourselves lying 2nd overall, right on the stern of Puma Unleashed as we rounded the Milnerton mark. Not too shabby for a 27 ft boat! But ahead lay a long beat in heavy chop.

Rule of thumb in westerly in Table bay is head for the mountain. For once this strategy didn't work. Halfway up the beat the Melges got ahead of us, much to our surprise. Looking at our GPS track there is one short port tack up the middle of the beat which shows a very poor heading. There is a story behind that little squiggle: We had to bear off for the J120 coming across on starboard. Coming downwind in the Class 2 fleet on a collision course with us, was the 31ft Storm (without spinnaker). I remained unconcerned as they were weather boat. We have had an incident with this boat before, so I tend to have a long memory and when I noticed no response, I started bearing away to give myself space to tack if I had to. It was only at that point that I saw them gybe. They had in fact, been on starboard. From our angle it looked like they were on port. In a nanosecond all that changed, when they gybed. So we were actually at fault and needed to keep clear. I waved an apology to their skipper, Mike Pepper as we looped around their bow with enough speed to clear. Shortly after that the Melges crossed ahead and tacked on top of us. So, we had a game on our hands! Much to our discomfort, we watched the Melges gradually draw ahead of us on that last port upwind leg to the weather mark, but we had little option than to eat dirties, which would have accounted for some of our lack of point and speed. All of that would change on the downwind leg.

The leg back to No.10 was a fetch and unlikely we could hold the masthead R1 spinnaker, but the breeze was fading and the further we got along that leg, the more we were tempted to give it a try. Finally, we could resist no longer and made the call for the hoist. It was one of those awkward weather hoists, requiring a quick bearaway and then head high to get back on course. We quickly made up distance on the A35 and the Melges, but we were right on the edge of control and struggling to lay the mark. The Melges had also hoisted their asso, but they couldn't hold the angle and had let their kite flap. We very quickly erased their lead and got in between them and the A35 right at the No.10 mark, only just being able to squeek past the mark. But we were sandwiched and would never be able to get through the lee of the 35 footer. The A35 caught a puff and pulled ahead, allowing us to luff up and accellerate out between their stern and the bow of the Melges. And that was our lucky break as we forged well ahead of the Melges.


The leg from 10 to Paarden island was much freer but the breeze was starting to fade ahead of us as one by one most of the Class 1 boats started a park-up. We had to take a risk, so we sailed high and close to the shore and managed to just keep the boat moving in a low arc of light breeze only meters from the beach. There was a light streak of breeze offshore. The Melges gybed away and headed for the breeze, but we stuck to our inshore plan, which paid off as we managed to just keep the boat moving and basically sailed a circle route on a constantly headering (towards the mark) south easterly. But we needed to gybe as we were virtually on the port layline, so we went for broke and it paid off handsomely. We got well ahead of the A35 and the Melges during that manouver, then almost blew it as we came into the mark on starboard with the J120, Naledi coming in on port. They did a sloppy rounding forcing us to go DDW to give them room, which cost us plenty.

The last beat up to the finish saw the breeze clocking more to the south with better pressure being inshore. It was a cat and mouse duel with the Melges all the way to the finish, where we were able to hold the Melges off by about 20 seconds over the line. An enjoyable and interesting race with a good result and a good way to kick off the first race of 2011.


1st Windpower Landmark 43 Phillip Gutsche 01:36:03
2 Regent Express Pacer 27 Sport Trygve Roberts 01:43:06
3 Puma Unleashed Pacer 42 Hylton Hale 01:43:08
4 Melges Racing Melges 24 Nicholas Mace 01:43:26
5 Southern Storm Pacer 376 Harry Brehm 01:44:09
6 Lobelia IMX40 Gordon Kling/Rob Meek 01:44:39
7 DockSafe Archambault 35 Alexandre Monat 01:44:45
8 Naledi J120 Felix Scheder-Bieschin 01:46:12
9 Ballyhoo Too Mumm 36 Rick Garratt/David Hudson 01:48:52
10 Corum Briand 43 Jan Reuvers 01:50:42
11 Tenacity Fast 42 Errol Stern 02:06:26