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2009 Mykonos Offshore Regatta.

Last updated on 25 Apr 2009


Race in a nutshell:

Race 1 [Distance 40 nm]: 6th (IRC) 
Race 2 [Distance 65 nm]: 3rd (IRC) 
Race 3 [Distance 22 nm]: 12th (IRC) 
Overall: 6th IRC 
IRC Entries: 17 
Total Entries : 86 
Race 1: RCYC to Dassen island gate (40 nm) 
Course: Start No. 10 (P) – Paarden Island (P) – Dassen Island gate 
Seas: Flat 0.5m. 
Sails: Full Main, No. 2 Jib, 2A Asym Kite; 3A Assymetric Spinnaker 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Main), Greg Harrowsmith (Genoa), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Michela Byrnes - Guest (Mast), Nic Baigrie (Bow), Total: 510 kg

The Mykonos offshore is the most popular offshore keelboat event in South Africa – by a very long margin. Quite what makes this event so popular no-one really knows, but each year the numbers increase. This year the organizers applied a few innovations – One of which is that due to many smaller boats not being able to complete the full distance race within the cut-off time, the ORGCOM decided to put a gate in at Dassen Island. Crossing the gate would count as Race 1. Any boats completing the full course (Cape Town to Mykonos) would score for a second race. If I may be so bold as to suggest different cut off time for Class 1 and 2 might be a fairer means to determine class winners. 

There was a further ambitious plan – to run a fourth race on the Saturday, after the Pursuit Race, but the weather gods rapidly (or was it slowly?) laid that plan to rest. 

The 2009 event will be remembered as the race of the many holes. They were numerous and almost every boat fell foul of a hole at some point in the regatta. The plus side was that the weather was manageable by the whole fleet and a good vibe prevailed with good onshore activity. The main sponsors Club Mykonos and Puma provided lots of freebees. As with all events there is always room for improvement and I will get to those towards the end of this report, but in general it’s a serious thumbs up to Hylton Hale and his team for taking some worthwhile risks. It is so important not to rest on ones laurels but keep the innovation and improvement coming year after year to ensure success and sponsor retention. 

The fleet was divided into several categories – IRC, Class 1 (over 30ft), Class 2 (under 30ft), Class 3 (under 25ft) and Multihulls. (I have used a length to distinguish class separation for the reader, but it was actually based on rating) A healthy entry of 17 boats made up the IRC fleet and here the competition was hot with Geoff Meek, Rick Nankin and Mark Sadler making their presence felt. 

But back to the first race. The fleet was split into two starts. Class 2 and multihulls at 0830 and Class 1 and IRC at 0900. Despite RCYC’s considerable start line, it still seemed crowded with 40 boats on the line. A stiff south easter was visible - tantalizingly close to the line, but most boats spent several agonizing minutes almost stationary, waiting for the south easter to fill in. 

Eventually it came through and we all got going to wards Paarden Island, the first mark of the course, consisting of a half mile beat, before the fleet could ease sheets and put up spinnakers for the long run down to Dassen island.

Above: Great shot from Barbara Krynauw capturing the spirit of one design racing. Taken shortly after rounding the Paarden Island mark and before the spinnaker hoist. "Felix the Cat" is closer to the camera.

We had two Pacer 27 Sports in the fleet (‘Felix the cat’ sailed by Anthony Wentworth and ourselves on Pacer lll) and the moment these boats got their spinnakers up, they ripped through the fleet. On Pacer lll we logged 17 knots as we headed up towards the beach for our first of about 40 gybes for the day. However ‘Felix the cat’ (weird name for a monohull) had their big asso up, whereas we had opted for the smaller 4A reaching asso expecting very strong gusts. The difference quickly became obvious as ‘Felix the cat’ could sail much deeper than ourselves and maintain a faster speed as well. We reluctantly decided that the sooner we changed to a bigger kite, the better. The change cost us plenty, but as soon as Nic had the big kite ready, we gybed back inshore and set off in pursuit of the other Pacer which had opened up a 1nm lead on us. On these sports boats a small error quickly opens up into a massive distance. The wind got progressively lighter as we went up the coast. On our boat, the general consensus was that we should hug the shore. With each gybe offshore, we could feel the pressure decreasing, so we would gybe back inshore. It was a good strategy up till Bok Point, but a disaster after that.

Mixing it up with the yachts were a half dozen Hobie Tigers who seemed to be making heavy work of things in the light conditions, but ultimately they arrived long before anyone else. I noted they were were not scored or recorded. Perhaps it is something the ORGCOM need to look at for future races? We already have a multihull division (with only 3 entries) so why not throw them all, into one category? 

The breeze had dropped down to around 10 to 12 knots giving us a hull speed of around 8 knots. Approaching Bok Point (the halfway point to Dassen Island), ‘Felix the cat’ went offshore whilst we remained very close to the beach. On that single leg we eradicated their entire lead and crossed within 3 lengths on the next gybe. Beyond Bok Point, the breeze dropped further right down to 5 knots and less. By sailing hot angles we were able to keep the boat speed at 5 to 6 knots.

Felix the cat’ decided to head offshore and a big distance separated the two boats for the next hour or two. We decided to stick to the beach hopping plan which in the final analysis cost us dearly. ‘Felix’ picked up a nice gradient shift as the wind veered to the west offshore and they could soak much further north than our heading. By the time we crossed over into the westerly, ‘Felix’ was a mile ahead of us (again). Once the breeze settled in and increased a bit in speed, our VMG changed dramatically. Up until that point, we had been keeping level with Greg Davis’ 40ft cat, the Class 40 monohull ‘Kazimir’, the Farr 38 ‘Benba’ and the A-35 ‘Addis’. Now it was time to say goodbye to them, as the Pacer reveled in the favourable wind angle.

‘The other sports boat (Beneteau 7.5) had also gone offshore and was now ahead of us as we approached the gate at Dassen island. 

Thomas Boecker had been given the task of anchoring at Waterloo Bay off Dassen to record finishing times and identify boats as they crossed through the gate, which was from a virtual mark on the shore to his anchoring point – a distance of almost two miles. He was having a rough time of things as the boats came streaming through the gate. Even with good binoculars, he was unable to identify all the boats. This was further complicated by far too much radio chatter as skippers wanted their finishing times confirmed (a requirement on the race declaration). Next time the gate needs to be made much smaller – say 1000 meters) and a full team of recorders on board.

The Pacer 27 "Felix the Cat" showing off the massive A2 spinnaker near South Head light.

We were fairly disappointed to hear we had only scored a 6th versus “Felix the Cat” which had nailed a 2nd place. Nonetheless it was a sparkling performance by the Pacer 27’s showing just what they are capable of, despite their high rating. At one stage we noticed the Pacer 27 overtaking Crocs and going a lot faster. 1st place was awarded to the Farr 38 “Benba”  whilst 3rd place went to the L34 ‘Lapwing’ skippered by Jennifer Burger. The big boats (over 40 foot) seemed to do less well in this race. 

Amongst the Class 1 fleet competition was close with another sports boat (Beneteau 7.5 ) ‘Always Well’ taking first place from Teddy Kuttle’s graceful Swede 55 ‘Spilhaus’ with Dave Smith’s ‘Touch n Go’ taking 3rd place. 

The smaller boats (Class 2) were also having a ding dong battle in the light wind with 1st place going to Izekwela (Phil Flockton) which entered with a new, lower rating followed in 2nd place by Reaction (RCOD) sailed by Thinus Groenewald – a newcomer to the RCOD class, whilst 3rd place went to Matthys Lourens on Mafuta

Race 2: Cape Town to Mykonos (65 nm)

Going into Race 2 was a simple matter. Just keep heading north till South Head light, then hook a right into Saldanha Bay. We had dropped all our earlier competitors a good distance behind us and ‘Felix’  was a mile ahead but half a mile more west than us. That meant we could sail a hotter angle than them to South Head Light and it soon became obvious that we were closing on them. It took another two hours, but eventually we had closed the gap down to 20 boat lengths. They somehow had a better technique for soaking low than ourselves, so we decided there would be no point sitting to leeward of them and heated the boat up onto a plane (yes, this little speedster can plane in 12 knots of wind) so we could play the VMG game. We worked the boat hard for the next 40 minutes, but the deficit remained the same four gybes later. We sailed into the cut between Jutten island and South Head with the fabulously restored Voortrekker (SA1); ‘Felix’, and ‘Lobelia’ (IMX 40) in that order with Pacer 3 bringing up the tail end of that little group.

Conditions were typically West Coast with a freshening breeze, crisp blue skies and the calm waters of the lagoon beckoning (although the usual aquamarine colour was a dirty brown). We picked up a few nice puffs and as we held the weather lane, we were able to power over Lobelia in fairly quick time. Sailing the hot angles meant we had to put in two gybes to clear Salamander Point for the final reach in to Mykonos. We have really mastered gybing this boat. Those two were number 51 and 52 of the day’s gybes. Around the point the wind nearly always accelerates violently and today was no exception. I was hoping we might be able to hold onto the big asso. Ahead of us ‘Felix’ had taken theirs down and were two sail reaching towards the finish. We decided to hang on to the big kite as long as possible. Let’s just say in those gusty conditions, it proved to be an interesting exercise, but we managed to avoid a broach and got our kite down as well after a short fast reach with an oil tanker anchored directly in our path. 

The final reach in to the finish in a southerly is usually with the wind at around 80 degrees apparent – just too tight for a flat asso in strong conditions, so we had to settle for the No.1 headsail and a full main. We managed to roll Voortrekker along that leg and finished within a minute of ‘Felix’ to score a 3rd for Race 2. 

The well sailed and well prepared Farr 38 ‘Benba’ with it’s almost unbeatable IRC rating took another 1st, with ‘Felix the Cat’ in 2nd place. 

The second leg had worked out a lot better for us. What a difference berthing at 4.30 in the afternoon instead of arriving at midnight! We were allocated a private jetty for the weekend (which was really a nice treat) and settled down for several cold beers on the terrace watching the fleet arriving over the horizon. 

Amongst the Class 1 fleet it was another first for ‘Always Well’ followed by ‘Spilhaus’ and ‘Touch n Go’ in 2nd and 3rd places respectively. 

In Class 2 it was the RCOD ‘Reaction’ taking the victors spoils from Izekwela and Impact.

Saturday 21st March: Race 3 (22 nm) Pursuit Race.

With the forecast showing a light southerly building to only 11 knots towards the afternoon, I prepared myself for the worst – a long hot day on the bay. Our start was scheduled for 11.34 – an hour and four minutes after the first starters. I have only ever seen a boat under 30 foot winning this race once in all the years I have done it and that was Thomas Swana’s Laser 28 about three years ago. Invariably this turns into a big boat race in a building breeze. The reason is obvious. The bigger boats spend more time sailing in better pressure than the small boats. There are other factors like the lumpier ocean on the Jutten island leg, but it’s really all about the wind pressure. 

Our start was OK as we managed to luff ‘Felix’ onto the wrong side of the committee boat, but in the process we got rolled by the Lightwave 395 of Dave Smith and ‘Felix’ did a good recovery to sail over us three minutes later. The breeze was around 7 knots. It had taken the leaders almost an hour to cover the first beat. We tacked over to port and headed west – the only boat to do so, but we felt it was a better option than sitting in other boats dirties.

Almost every boat remained on starboard right up to the layline, so we felt a little vulnerable all on our own in the middle of the bay, wondering if had made a bad tactical decision. There were advantages – like sailing in clean air all the way to the weather mark. It all worked out well as we nailed the weather mark some 10 boat lengths ahead of “Felix” 

Ahead of us there must have been 30 boats parked in a hole. One of the advantages of starting later is the ability to see what is happening to the fleet in front of you. Charles made the call to gybe off to starboard and head back towards the start line. It seemed alien at first but we soon saw “Felix” parked up with the rest of the fleet as we sailed away at 9 knots towards our gybing point and then a fast sail right towards the front of the fleet on the port gybe. We also ran into the front end of the parking lot, but for much less time than the rest of the fleet. Soon we picked up a hint of breeze and we powered out of the lagoon towards the ore jetty on a fetch. To windward of us, the orange spinnaker of ‘8 Seconds’ gave a good indication that there was good pressure on the seaward side as well. We rounded the ore jetty in about 15th place (out of 86). Things were looking good.

On the run down to the bottom of the ore jetty we passed another half dozen boats and rounded on the transom of the L26 ‘Warlock’. We rolled the L26 and a Sweet Pea on the leg to Dial Rock which was nothing more than a tight fetch. I always find this leg a bit odd and I am sure a better routing option could be created. Perhaps the organizers could consider going up to the last mark at the ore jetty head and from there down to Dial Rock – that would give a true beat and a nice broad reach to Dial Rock. 

By the time we rounded Dial Rock, we were lying 5th overall. This is about the halfway mark of the course and where places start to change quickly. We rolled the leading Sweet Pea’s and another boat and soon we were lying 2nd overall with only Harry Brehm’s Leisure 42 ‘Eight Seconds’ still ahead – but by a long way! 

But below and behind us the big boats were closing like a pack of wolves. Soon Voortrekker sailed through our lee and behind us Lobelia climbed ever higher to roll us to windward on the long starboard tack towards Salamander Point. After that it was a succession of big boats overtaking us until we had dropped to about 12th place at the western end of Jutten island. 

Of course downwind sailing is the Pacer’s long suite and we soon had the big asymmetric up - pulling us quickly downwind and overtaking some of the bigger boats, but the breeze seemed to be getting lighter and lighter, until the inevitable holes started appearing at random across the bay. We managed to wiggle our way out of one of them and still get ahead of Voortrekker and ‘Addis’ before the wing mark. 

In the southern section of the bay a major wind shift was playing itself out with a 30 degree shift to port. We lost perhaps 3 places from being on the wrong side of the shift with Voortrekker and Picasso (Sovereign 54) overtaking us before the windward mark. Hey who cares? There’s a reach coming up. Right? 
Up goes the asymmetric and on comes the power as the little Pacer lifts herself effortlessly onto the plane at 12 knots and we quickly drop the two bigger boats that had passed us upwind, to finish with a respectable 12th place overall. ‘Felix’ had been less fortunate and finished in 17th place, after sailing into that huge hole off Salamander Point. 

1st place went to the new Landmark 43 ‘Windpower’ (Rick Nankin) with Geoff Meek taking 2nd place in the ILC 40 Ponty Point Leisure (Crocs/Gumption) and 3rd place going to “Puma Unleashed” – Undoubtedly another big boat favoured pursuit race. 

Prize giving was postponed by an hour and dealt with efficiently and witnessed by a happy and contented bunch of sailors who got plenty of what they came for. 

As the results turned out, the points separation was only 5 points amongst the first 6 boats with four boats having to be sorted out by a tie breaker for 4th place. That meant as we were one of those four, we dropped from 4th overall to 6th. Well, I am fairly happy with our result especially considering it was only our fifth outing on this boat. 

We are improving! 

Overall Results: 
IRC: 
1st Benba – Farr 38 – Dale Kushner – 1,1,14 = Total 16 
2nd Maestro – Fast 42 – Ankie Roux – 7,4,6 = 17 
3rd Addis in Cape – A35 – Alexander Monet – 5,5,9 = 19 
4th Windpower – Landmark 43 – Rick Nankin – 11,9,1 = 21 
5th Felix the Cat – Pacer 27 – Ant Wentworth – 2,2,17 = 21 
6th Pacer 3 – Pacer 27 – Trygve Roberts – 3,6,12 =21 
7th Alladin – Farr 40 – Bjorn Geiger – 6,8,7 = 21 
8th Lapwing – L34 – Burger/Keen – 4,3,15 = 22 
9th Puma Unleashed – Hylton Hale – 12,10,3 = 25 
10th Eight Seconds – Harry Brehm – 10,11,4 = 25 
11th Voortrekker – Marcello Burricks – 8,7,11 = 26 
12th Lobelia – Gordon Kling – 13,12,5 = 30 
13th Ponty Point Leisure – Geoff Meek – 15,14,2 = 31 
14th Sensation – L34 – Avery/Munnik – 9,13,16 = 38 
15th Cape Storm – Pacer 376 – Ettienne van Cuyck – 14,17,8 = 39 
16th Just Fun – MG 30 – Dave Arnott – 16,15,10 = 41 
17th Auto Atlantic – L52 – Rhett Goldswain – 17,16,13 = 46 

For full Class 1 and 2 results visit www.rcyc.co.za

It is fantastic to see how many companies are willing to sponsor sailing and the following deserve our recognition and support for making the Mykonos Offshore the premier keelboat sailing event in South Africa: 

Club Mykonos 
Puma 
Harken 
Rocket Signs 
Atlantic Yachting 
Distell 
Starlight Cruises 

Some great news is that the organisers are busy negotiating to have the event televised next year.  Now we're cooking!!!