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Portugal Day Race

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Above: Winter sailing in Cape Town at it's best.
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

Race in a nutshell: 19th June, 2010
Position Overall: 4th

Total Entries: 51
Distance: 20.0 nm.
Max Speed: 10.8 knots
Ave speed: 6.3 knots
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with 40% rain. Wind North West 15 knots. Temp 17C
Weather Actual: Clear. No rain. Wind NW 5 to 10 knots - Temp 19C.
Course: 10 [P] – Paarden island [P] – Dyang Family [S] – Celi 1 [S] - Paarden island [S] – 10 [S]
Seas: Flat
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No.1 Genoa (Quantum), R1 Masthead Asymmetric Spinnaker (Quantum)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Connor Leech ( Main ), James Harvie (Pit), Bruce Webber (Mast), Joshua Banks (Bow) - Total: 500 kg

Things just went right for us. It was one of those magical days on the water when you feel incredibly satisfied. It started off with the weather forecast being wrong. That turned out to be a double edged sword. It made for a pleasant day on the water but it also meant that the handicapper had based his course length and wind strength calculations on the forecast. That meant a longer race that had been anticipated and ultimately the big, fast boats would come through. Exactly half the fleet were unable to finish within the time limit, which is always a pity, but with this sort of unique single day event, it is sometimes unavoidable. We took solace in the fact that at the time the original time limit expired, we were leading the race - also we we were the only boat under 30 ft in the top 10.

With a rating of 1.080 we were scheduled to start about 8th last just after the Farr 38 fleet. We approached the line with the kite up but our speed was a lot less than we thought it would be which stuck us away shy of the line by about 30 seconds. That would equate into at least one position lost by the end of the race. With 51 boats in the fleet, we had a lot of work ahead to work our way through the fleet from the back.

The course was a bit long for such light breeze, but would only be a problem for the slower boats. We overtook the first two boats before the Paarden island mark and incredibly there were several boats not flying spinnakers. I guess this event is more of a fun race than a serious one.

From there it was a very long 6 nm true upwind leg to the Dyang Family mark. I'm not quite sure what we did right, but our boat speed was steadily up above 6 knots plus we had very good point and we were steadily overhauling the fleet. We decided to work the left hand side of the course as the wind would probably back around to the west due to the frontal system being quite a weak one. It didn't take long to get through the cluster of middle fleet boats and we chose our channels carefully as to avoid dirty air fron bigger, slower boats.. We did the leg in 8 tacks and found ourselves in a very good position as we approached the weather mark – lying 6 th overall.
Above: Rounding the Dyang Family Buoy just before hoisting the kite
Photo: Trevor Wilkins

Ahead of us were 2 x J27's and 2 x L34's - all of whom we were confident of overtaking on the next reaching leg. The L34 “Lapwing” was first around the top mark, but they were struggling to set their spinnaker and took it down after a few minutes – a sure indicator of a very tight reach. Once round the mark, we immediately went for a kite set and went in pursuit of the five boats ahead, but our heading was about 12 degrees lower than the rest of the fleet, so we had to make the decision whether to strike and rather fetch with the genoa or continue with the R1 Asso and then go for the strike and higher heading much further down the leg. The deciding factor was a very large container ship anchored exactly over the rhumb line of the course and clearly in the light breeze, everyone was heading high to leave the ship to leeward. We were the exception, which actually worked out exceptionally well for us, as we were able to sail the entire leg without any other boats hassling us - in clean air.

We steadily started overhauling the five boats ahead and by the time we were ducking behind the container ship, we had drawn level with the leader, "Lapwing", but it was marginal for us as we were sailing right on the very edge of control with the big R1 kite. This was one of those races where things just seemed to work in our favour, as once through the lee of the ship, we picked up a nice lift, which brought us right on course for the Blouberg mark.

The sailing instructions had indicated the next mark to be a red laid inflatable mark “in the vicinity of the Celi 1 wreck”. Finding it was a lot more difficult than what most of the navigators had anticipated. We had all the young eyes on our boat scanning the sea for the mark as we approached the wreck. We were on a much lower track, about 800m to leeward of the line of boats which had taken the windward route. In our case we had plotted in the co-ordinates of the Blouberg mark into our GPS and we headed high, still with the kite up, trying to get a visual on the mark. We found the Blouberg mark, but the red mark was nowhere to be seen. Then James spotted it – 2 points off our bow to starboard, which meant we were much more in a direct path to the mark than the rest of the fleet, so all we had to do was crack off a tiny bit, whilst everyone else continued merrily along to the wrong mark, all the while sailing higher and higher and further away from us. We rounded the mark in first place, a good three minutes ahead of the next boat, which at that stage, was the 40ft ILC “Gumption”

The next leg down to Paarden island was a bit too free for our liking, so we heated up our angle and tried to keep the speed above 7 knots. Again, fortune favoured us as the wind swung a bit allowing us to head directly to the next mark keeping the breeze between 90 and 100 degrees apparent. We had the priveledge of being the leading boat for most of this leg, but we knew that both Gumption and Windpower would nail us on the final upwind leg. One of the nice things about being the leading boat is you get some attention. There was a large cruising yacht up ahead which we were looking to overtake. As we sailed past close to windward, the two ladies standing on the sugar scoop decided to flash us. Nice! Thank you girls.

As we approached the penultimate buoy, we could see that the lead we had enjoyed for so long was about to be forfeited as “Gumption' sailed through our lee, rounding the Paarden Island mark about 40 seconds ahead of us. The next two boats behind us were the Landmark 43 “Windpower” and the IMX40 - “Lobelia”. We knew we would never be able to hold Windpower off over a I mile upwind leg, but we wanted to make sure of a 3rd overall. We had about a 2 minute lead over Lobelia at that stage.

Photo: Trevor Wilkins
After striking the kite, we hardened up on starboard and headed for the harbour wall where the usual lift was bound to be found, but we had two problems. The breeze was going lighter near the wall, plus we had Windpower coming up behind us and we did not want to sit in their dirties at all, so we opted to tack clear of them whilst we still could. By the time we went back over onto the starboard tack, we could see Lobelia tucked right up under the wall. Their boat points exceptionally high and is the boat most commonly “in our face” at most regattas. We nearly always lose out in a straight tussle with them – and especially so if it takes place upwind – and this was upwind!


We watched them carefully and saw them cross behind us by about 100 meters halfway up the beat to the finish. We still had another half a mile to go, but it was going to be tight. When we tacked back onto port for the final beat on the port layline to the pin end, Lobelia tacked onto starboard, but we were picking up a nice 10 degree lift – surely that would be enough to get us over the line first with our 3rd place secured? Lobelia had to deal with the header on the opposite tack, but no, with her superior point and speed, she still managed to cross the line about 2 seconds ahead of us, leaving us with a 4th place overall. Not what we had hoped for, but 4th overall from 51 boats was not too shabby at all. We were also in the winning 'Vasco da Gama Team" which included Windpower, Tally Ho, and Regent Express.

We had sailed an almost faultless race and lady luck had been on board with us with much of the race as well. A very satisfactory performance considering we had two of our regular crew off for the day. Portugal Day Race is an annual event sponsored by the local Portuguese business community and they put in a huge effort to make the day successful and enjoyable. The hall was bedecked in red and green with a big band and guest artists performing, folk dancers, good food and wine – a really good effort and well supported by the yachtsmen.


There is one thing I need to gripe about and it is common at RCYC. Some members have very little regard for silence whilst sponsors are speaking. Even whilst Commodore, John Martin, was speaking, there was a din of note, as the majority just kept on yakking away with total disrespect for sponsors and dignataries. The Portuguese consul was present and even though he spoke only in Portuguese, it was only about 5 minutes in length and towards the end of his speech the hubbub of conversation almost drowned him out. I was embarrassed as a member of the club and particularly embarrassed for Vitor Medina and Manuel Mendes who had organized the whole event. I don't know what the answer is, but it is in very poor taste. Alcohol has much to do with what happens during these speeches. Well known Portuguese musician, Manuel Escorcio, confided that it was his worst (most unattentive) audience in 33 years of performing his shows. Perhaps just creating an awareness of the problem, might be a remedial starting point?

Last year, in my write up of this event, I mentioned the very poor acoustics in the shed. Once again, this was a major issue, as noise levels were uncomfortably high. Trying to squeeze such a large number of people into the shed meant people had to climb over each other to get to their seats. I would strongly urge Vitor and his team (as I did last year) to move the event to the main hall where tables can be utilised in the restaurant and bar areas as well as the formal restaurant. No matter where in the club this function is held, it will be too small, so the secret is to have sufficient 'spill-over' areas for guests. The superior acoustics in the main hall will go a long way towards guests being able to actually hear what the speakers are saying. Other than those little issues, I rate this as one of the top 3 events at RCYC. Well done to Vitor and his team. Viva Portugal !

Photo: Trevor Wilkins


1 New Balance Gumption Fast 40 N Mace Division 1 1.270
2 Windpower Landmark 43 R Nankin Division 1 1.250
3 Lobelia IMX 40 Rob Meek Division 1 1.145
4 Regent Express Pacer 27 Sport Trygve Roberts Division 1 1.080
5 Naledi J120 Felix Scheder-Bieschin Division 1 1.155
6 Maestro Fast 42 Paul van As Division 1 1.150
7 Auto Atlantic Thunderchild L52 R Goldswain Division 1 1.285
8 African Renaissance Farr 40 G. Blanckenberg Division 1 1.130
9 Spilhaus Swede 55 Ted Kuttel Division 1 1.110
10 Cape Storm Pacer 376 S Cumming Division 1 1.160
11 Lapwing L34 A Keen/J Burger Division 1 1.015
12 Sheshisa Bav Match 38 Arnold Sheman Division 1 1.095
13 Me2Me Farr 38 D Shuttleworth Division 1 1.070
14 Hillbilly J27 Peter Hill Division 2 0.995
15 Sensation L34 Michael Moore Division 1 1.015
16 Pure Magic J27 A Taylor Division 2 0.995
17 Vortex L34 Mike Atkins Division 1 1.015
18 Freedom Farr 38 C.P Van Der Merwe Division 1 1.070
19 Tally Ho L 34 John Waller Division 1 1.015
20 Gremlin Spirit 28 Mod Eva / Alan Versfeld Division 3 0.950
21 Mafuta Bavaria 36 Matthys Lourens Division 1 1.010
22 Miss Isle Simonis 35 H Maclaghlan Division 1 1.090
24 Sirocco Jeanneau 36 Pieter Gerber Division 3 0.950
25 Celine IV Comfortina 39 V Vierhaus Division 1 1.050
26 Hors D'Oeuvre L26 P Bam Division 2 0.955

DNF Phantom Miura T Connell Division 3 0.935
DNF Ambre Trimtwas 36 Larry Davis Division 3 0.870
DNF Paragon Ocean 31 Clive Flederman Division 2 0.970
DNF Iechyd Da Miura* S Hundt Division 3 0.910
DNF Merit Sadler 26 Toni de Villiers Division 4 0.840
DNF Carousel Ben Oceanis 390 Luke Scott Division 2 0.970
DNF Saoirse Atlantis 36 Tony Blackwell Division 2 0.955
DNF Siesta Flamenca D.J Griffin Division 4 0.810
RTD Apricot Muira Bat Tromp Division 3 0.935
RTD Necessity Ben 34.7 David Booth Divison 1 1.050
RTD Storm Ocean 31 M Peper Division 3 0.950
RTD Thalassa Med 37 William Brooks Divison 3 0.905
RTD Cathy R Compass 47 J Rabie Division 1 1.020
RTD Diana Class Allan Nesbitt Division 3 0.900
RTD Sea Oyster Nose B 38 E Eugster Divison 2 0.980
RTD Diel Diebold Custom 62 B Diebold Division 1 1.230
RTD Ava Miura K Botwood Division 4 0.910
RTD Chen Muira M.Saunders Division 3 0.935
RTD Nauti Bouy Peterson 33 Theo Van der Hoek Division 3 0.935
RTD Paprika Peterson 33 Howard Minne Division 3 0.935
RTD Ancient Mariner H23 Mike Cave Division 3 0.850
RTD Cabaray Van der Stadt Ray Matthews Division 2 0.940
RTD Reaction RCOD Charl Cilliers Division 3 0.925
RTD Bella Mia Roberts 45 Annaliene Binderman Division 3 0.915
RTD Indaba Stadt 34 John Levin Division 2 0.960