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IRC Winter Series Race 6 & 7.

Last updated on 25 Jul 2009

Getting ready to gybe....
Race in a Nutshell:

Position Race 6: 8th 
Position Race 7: 10th 
Total Entries : 11 
Ave Speed: 3.9 kts 
Max Speed: 6.8 kts 
Distance: 8.0 nm. 
Weather Forecast: Cloudy and misty. Wind NW 5 to 8 knots - Temp 16C 
Weather Actual: Accurate 
Baro: 1011 hPa. 
Course: Windward/Leeward with a downwind finish 
Seas: Flat 
Sails: Full Main, No. 1 Jib, A2 Light Assymetric Spinnaker 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Main), Greg Harrowsmith (Genoa), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Craig Latigan (Mast), Simon Penso (Bow), Total: 510 kg

Winter sailing is so different from summer sailing. We are all having withdrawal symptoms from not doing enough planing as most of the races to date have been in winds below 10 knots. 

Suffering from a bit of ring rust, we took Hyperactive out for her second race in winds between 5 and 8 knots, with a fairly small, but highly competitive fleet. We had three L26's sailing, so at least we had the benefit of not being the smallest boat in the fleet for a change. 

The race was postponed by an hour as the RC waited for the light wind to settle. The course was the standard windward/leeward with two roundings. There was some port bias on the line, so it was obvious most of the hot boats would head for the pin end. We know by now to keep clear air in favour of a favoured side when trying to start with mainly much bigger boats than ourselves. Within the final sixty seconds a big gap opened behind us as we sailed along the line on starboard towards the "soon to be bunfight" at the pin. Charles made the call to do a quick gybe and head back towards the committee boat. I immediately saw the benefit in that and flicked the helm through a gybe, but the turn was too sharp and in only five knots of breeze, the Pacer simply stopped dead in it's tracks. It took a full minute to get her going again and we were stone last leaving the start line. Aargh! 

We knuckled down and focussed on sailing fast and smart and managed to regain some lost time up at the weather mark. We were right up with Maestro (Fast 42); Aladdin (Farr 38) and Addis in Cape (A35). We have found that we stay in contention with those three boats if we soak down deep on the runs, rather than sail ninety degree reaches. 

On the run, we gained decisively on the Fast 42 and the Farr 38 and managed to sneak inside both of them at the leeward mark by approaching on the starboard gybe. 

We were a very long way ahead of the L26 fleet - an entire leg towards the end of the race, but still not enough to beat them on corrected time. We finished with an 8th. 

The second start was abandoned due to a windshift, which was a pity, as we had an excellent start. There was a lengthy delay as the RC relaid the course and gave fresh starting signals. This time there was once again port bias, so we decided to go for a pin end, port tack start - highly risky on a short line with a competitive fleet of mainly big boats. We stuck to our plan but things went pear shaped as we tacked under the bow of an approaching L26 on starboard. They were unable to luff up out of our way as a gaggle of forty footers swept over us, leaving us in irons at the pin trying to sneak past the mark, but we had lost all our speed and parked there for a good 30 seconds until we eventually drifted backwards and limped off the start line on port with our tails between our legs. 

Those must rank amongst our two worst starts of the past three years. Anyway, it was catch up time again and we did well to reel our three big target boats in by the weather mark. Again we made up ground on the downwind legs by soaking very deep and heeling the boat to windward. It feels horrible, but it does work. 

We finished seconds behind Aladdin for a 10th place, beating only the Fast 42 on corrected time. 

Whilst our positions in the results are not improving much, the time gap between our boat and the consistent leader is definitely diminishing and that gives us confidence that we are improving. 

We understand fully that getting a podium finish on a windward/leeward course in light winds is improbable in a sports boat, but it does give us excellent practice and keeps us sharply focussed on minimising our mistakes. 

This Saturday we tackle the Robben Island Pursuit Race, where our opportunities for a better placing increase quite a bit, depending on the wind direction.