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Intasure Spring Regatta - FBYC 23rd to 25th September, 2011

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Above: A well turned out Flamenca rounds the inner weather mark near Roman Rock Light

Click on the arrow centre pic below for a quick overview taken by the official regatta videographer, Marc Bow.

The village of Simon's Town is steeped in history and much of that is naval. The village struggles sleepily up the steep slopes of the mountain in serried ranks of homes - all of them with a sweeping vista over the blue waters of False Bay. At the foot of the bay the naval base is tucked into a sheltered corner where warships lie in their military gray cloaks with very little real action these days. I reckon they should go and practice some anti piracy measures off Somalia. IMAGINE! Beyond the mountain to the west lies thousands of kilometers of ocean. The harbour has been a haven to ships for centuries. The Yacht Club is a family oriented club with a mix of sail and power. Fishing itself is big here. The club is spotless and well run by a group of volunteers. Once a year the club puts on a really good show in the form of the Intasure Spring Regatta, where yachts from Gordons Bay, Hout Bay and Cape Town sail around Cape Point (and that's another story! - See the archives) to attend this excellent sailing event. What is particularly charming, is the large number of old, small boats that show up to compete. There is a healthy fleet of Bucanneers, Flamenca's, Miura's and a smattering of other small boats including a Theta and a Quarter Tonner called Magic Bus. [Many years ago (circa 1975) I raced against Magic Bus on the Vaal Dam in my Sweet Pea Lathyrus Odoratus. The skipper of Magic Bus was John Sully who had not come to grips with the little boat yet, resulting in a poor showing in the Castle Week regatta of 1975.]

Many of them use this event as their national championships. This regatta is a wonderful advert for the sport of sailing. From the top IRC boats right down to the smallest 19 ft keelboats - all of them were out on the blue waters of the bay, spinnakers showing a colourful display. It was good.

Above: Google image shows the sailing waters and approximate course configuation used. In the left foreground is the naval base at Simonstown with the yacht club tucked in on the west side where generally wind free conditions make for a great family club.

Friday 23rd - Let the games begin!

Sixty six entries entries were received for the annual Spring Regatta hosted by False Bay Yacht Club and sailed in the pristine waters off Simonstown. The 2011 event threw a bit of a curved ball in that the usual public holiday making this a three day event, fell on a Saturday. That put pressure on skippers finding enough crew who could take the Friday off work, school or varsity. Taking into consideration the tough economic climate, the big entry speaks volumes for the popularity of this regatta and that notwithstanding a clash of dates with the Cape Town Boat Show.

The fleet was split into a range of classes, starting with the IRC class, then Club 2, Club 3; and Club 4, and a Cruising Class which also had its own start. The organizers wisely decided to only run the first race at 14h00 on the Friday, which allowed people to get half a day's work done. FBYC as usual put on a first class display of hospitality with breakfasts available throughout the morning.

Above: View of the double decker club house from the marina

The fleet set off into a moderate south easterly of around 12 knots, to the start area set about 2 miles SE of Fish Hoek beach. Racing for Friday was scheduled to be windward/leeward courses. There was the inevitable delay as the mark layers struggled to get the course laid, but at around 14h20 the Cruising class set off on their first race, followed in 5 minute intervals by the various classes. Each of the classes had approximately ten plus entries. When that whole lot was engaged in competition on the same course around the same buoys, it made for some serious congestion and some very interesting situations as big, fast boats were arriving at marks at the same time as very small, slow boats. There was lots of shouting on False Bay for the next three days as the skippers asserted themselves and their perceived rights.

Above: The jetty we were tied up at with some big naval vessels in the background, including a visiting warship from Germany flying an uber-large swallow tailed German flag.

In our class (Class 2) there was the usual squash for the committee boat end of the line. Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport) luffed Regent Express up behind the committee boat and left Regent Express for dead on the line, but Regent recovered well and tacked immediately on to port. When the two boats crossed tacks, Regent Express had caught up and crossed close behind Felix the cat. By the next tack, Regent Express had drawn ahead and arrived in 1st place at the weather mark, followed by the Farr 38 “Rockstar” and Felix the cat. The two Pacer 27's headed offshore on the starboard gybe with Felix the cat only about 5 boat lengths astern of Regent Express. Both boats gybed together and sailed right across the course in close proximity. It was only after the final gybe in to the lee mark that Regent Express was able to gain a small advantage.

Above: Felix the cat in action in Race 1

In the middle of the traffic at the lee mark, Regent Express tacked early onto starboard and headed offshore. Felix the cat followed suit, but Regent Express had better speed and point to open up a considerable lead over the other Pacer by the next weather mark. The Farr 38 Rockstar was working hard to stay in touch with the two Pacers. Another fast downwind leg followed with Regent Express consolidating their lead.

Above: Regent Express - From L-R - Craig Preston, Phillip Rentschler, Allesandro Napoli and Joshua Banks

The final beat saw Regent Express pulling even further ahead to round the weather mark still in 2nd place behind the Farr 38. Regent Express pulled out all the stops and sailed an excellent final downwind leg to close the gap on Rockstar. They crossed the line mere seconds behind the Farr 38 to score a comfortable handicap win. Felix the cat scored a 4th . Initially, the results showed Rockstar with a 1st place, but after putting in a request for redress, the error was found and the results corrected. The skipper of Rockstar, Brian Gardener, was gentleman enough to admit that they could not possibly have beaten us on corrected time. Good on yer mate!

The IRC fleet was given a second race, but Race Officer, Doug Alison, decided to send the rest of the fleet home when the south easter started topping over 25 knots.

Above: One of the IRC fleet starts with the J133 and the Landmark 43 closest to camera

In the Cruising Class there had been a serious port/starboard incident, where the 55 ft Swede “Spilhaus 3” (on starboard) T-boned a Miura, taking her entire rig down and breaking her boom, as well as substantial damage to the cabin roof. Sad, but sh*t happens!

Above: Carnage onboard the Miura. A dismasting, a broken boom and severe damage to the coachroof.

RESULTS RACE 1 (Club 1 Fleet ONLY)
1st Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport)
2nd Rockstar (Farr 38 mod)
3rd Raging Bull (Miura 2)
4th Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport)
5th Ebb Tide (L34)
6th Nandi (Didi 34)
7th Faraway (Farr 40)
8th Seaboard (Stadt 34)
9th FTi Flyer (Charger 33)
10th Majimoto (Farr 40)

Saturday 24th Sep

Above: One of many close shave port/starboard incidents

The forecast was for light to moderate winds of 7 to 10 knots, but conditions on False Bay indicated much more breeze. There was a motor problem on the bridge boat, so a delay of about 45 minutes had us wondering if there was any point bashing the boat out in the strong south easterly, so we picked up a mooring just outside the breakwater and loafed there to kill time.

By 10.30 things got underway and a triangular course was set. They may as well have left it as a windward/leeward, as the gybe mark had been set so deep, that we had to gybe twice to lay it. So there wasn't much advantage for the sports boats at all. As we went into our countdown sequence we noticed the wind pressure dropping slightly from 18 knots down to 15. We had rigged our No.2 headsail and were concerned we might be underpowered if it dropped further. Our opposition, Felix the cat, had changed to their No.1 Genoa from their blade.

Above: Felix the cat giving it horns in Race 2

Felix the cat made a good start. Ours was just ordinary and they got their nose out in front. From the first tack they sat on our wind, tack for tack. This is a most unusual tactic as cover tacking is usually left till the final beat. I suppose we could take the special attention we were being given as something of a compliment. Our concern was that in the process of all the frenetic cover tacking, that the two Pacers might be losing out to the Farr 38 and other boats in our fleet (and I was right). This is often a 'win the battle and lose the war' scenario. The breeze had dropped to 12 knots and we were definitely slightly off the pace with the smaller headsail, so we had Josh bend to the task of doing a headsail change whilst we did the first downwind leg – all of that whilst he was also doing the gybes on the foredeck. It's amazing to see just how competent a 15 year old can be.

We rounded the weather mark about 10 boat lengths behind Felix the cat and set to the chase downwind, but the same tactics were employed, where we were not allowed to get away to one side of the course. The two Pacers went down the course like a pair of Siamese twins, doing a sort of ballet gybe dance. The mark roundings were congested and a bad tactical decision could cost a boat many places.

Above: Breath catching activity at the leeward mark

Up the second beat Felix the cat, continued to cover us tack for tack, which was causing us some frustration. So we had a brief discussion about our options of breaking cover by getting into a tacking duel and possibly losing places to the other opposition and decided it wasn't worth it. Looking at how close the results were, it would seem we were right. The breeze remained between 8 and 10 knots for the rest the race and try as we may, we just could not close the gap on Felix the cat. We finished about 30 seconds behind them. The two Pacer 27's were dominating the Club 1 fleet and proved to be the fastest boats in the regatta.

Results Race 2 (Club 1 Fleet only):
1st Felix the Cat (Pacer 27 Sport)
2nd Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport)
3rd Ebb Tide (L34)
4th Faraway (Farr 40)
5th Raging Bull (Miura 2)
6th Rockstar (Farr 38)
7th Seaboard (Van der Stadt 34)
8th Majimoto (Farr 40)
9th FTi Flyer (Charger 33)
10th Nandi (Didi 34)

Above: This Farr 38 (A-L) optimised to the IRC rule, is a regatta winner. Her young and talented crew sailed really well and nailed the IRC fleet with a string of mainly first places.

Race 3
Race 3 followed fairly quickly in the same wind strength. (Light to moderate). Sailing conditions were excellent, but of course, the lumpy sea does not suit the Pacer 27. So the big heavy boats had a good advantage over us. We watched the IRC fleet start and noticed some serious port bias on the line, so we amended our starting plan and headed to the unpopulated pin end. However, we were the only boat to do so. We know from experience when that is the scenario, that we probably have it wrong. The nice thing was that we had good speed and clear air. The bad news was that the tack was lifting progressively and we were on the outside of the lift. By the time we did our one and only tack onto port, hoping for the salvation of a knock, which never materialized, we knew we were going to lose out badly. Felix the cat crossed some 40 boat lengths ahead. They got the tactics right and had a big lead on us.

We set off in pursuit downwind and made some small gains, but in boats that are so precisely equal it is very difficult making a big comeback if the breeze is so steady. The race seemed to last a long time as we steadily eroded the gap, meter by meter, but we didn't do enough and that first beat up the left side of the course had cost us dearly. We ended with a 4th place versus Felix the cat's 2nd . It would be our worst placing of the regatta. What was a big surprise in this race was that 1st place went to Raging Bull - a new generation Miura which is heavy. It was a big surprise that in fairly light breeze this heavy cruiser nailed a first and it does add to the theory of too much cover tacking not being a good idea.

Above: Felix the cat showing a clean pair of heels in Race 3
Results Race 3:
1st Raging Bull (Miura 2)
2nd Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport)
3rd Rockstar (Farr 38)
4th Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport)
5th EbbTide (L34)
6th Faraway (Farr 40)
7th Seaboard (Van der Stadt 34)
8th FTi Flyer (Charger 33)
9th Majimoto (Farr 40)
10th Nandi (Didi 34)

Above: A typical False Bay fishing boat heading home with their catch on a perfect spring day

Race 4

The breeze cranked up a notch to around 15 knots and that suited the Pacer's much better as we would be able to plane down-wind. We revisited our strategy for the race and resolutely focused on keeping to the right hand side of the course. We also needed to be more aggressive on the start line. We have become a bit lazy about starting at RCYC, where we have a fixed start line which is a quarter of a mile long and it's never square to the wind, so we have adapted a starting style suited to those circumstances and they were'nt working well at this regatta. The one minute signal sounded and Felix the cat did their usual “park and ride” thing at the committee boat, and they do it very well and with a lot of aggression. We slid over their bow to take up a slot just to leeward of them and then luffed up hard to hold them in the little space between the committee boat and ourselves. The problem with this technique is that the boat almost becomes stationary in the final 30 seconds as one kills time trying to remain below the line. The big, heavy Farr's were coming up below us at speed, so we had to watch out for being luffed up from below. We just managed to get our nose ahead of Felix the cat and hold our line in the fleet. Within a minute we found a nice channel to tack over onto port and head for the mountain and we took it. Felix the cat tacked with us, so we knew this was going to be another one of those races where we were going to be frenetically covered. We footed off for some speed and found it. We had our bow 4 meters ahead of them and then we started the squeeze. It took about 3 minutes and we had them behind us, forcing them to tack away. We really needed to up our game a notch if we wanted to beat these guys. We have things too easy at RCYC.

Above: Some action in the Cruising Division on board the L52 Thunderchild. What a lovely says everything about this regatta.

When we crossed tacks further up the beat, we had taken about 15 boat lengths out of them. All we had to ensure was that we didn't make any mistakes or pick up any kelp. We also thought a reversal of roles would be a smart idea, so we tacked on top of them, pinning them into the slot. From there they lost out progressively. By the weather mark, we had a substantial lead and powered away downwind to extend the lead even further. Later we learned that they had picked up some kelp.

Above: Powering our way to a line honours win in Race 4.

We had a really good race in the fresher conditions. The race officer had reset the course and it was perfect for a fast triangle for us. Finally the triangle was correct, giving a 90 degree beam reach on each leg. Only the last round was a triangle, so we needed to catch the three Farr's, but especially Rockstar, which had a big lead on us. We got the A2 up and the log settled on 15 knots as we roared through the IRC and leading Club 1 fleet to windward. We must have passed 15 boats on that reach, but we had the gybe mark looming and we were hard pressed keeping the boat flat. There was plenty of traffic down there, including a brace of 42 footers and some very small 22 footers, all coming in to the mark on starboard and everyone was calling for water. Luckily we have the advantage of speed and we are often able to zip through gaps and gain big advantages at mark roundings. We had caught up to Rockstar on that blistering reach and we decided it would be safer to gybe behind them, being 100% certain we would get a big luff from them. And so it was.

Above: Sails everywhere at the gybe mark!

We nailed our gybe perfectly and sailed low and fast to get away from the carnage at the mark. In short order we were the leading boat, as Rockstar were unable to carry their spinnaker. We could see that if the breeze remained steady, we would not be able to lay the finish line with the spinnaker up, so we held for as long as dared, before striking and finishing the leg on a two sail reach. The ten knots we were achieving felt awfully slow after the spinnaker speeds we had just been enjoying. We took line honours and a solid 1st place in this race. A nice way to finish the day off.

Back at the clubhouse, I was called in for my protest hearing, which after presentation of the facts, appeared to impress the protest committee sufficiently to grant the redress I asked for. That gave us a 1 st place for Race 1 and put us in 1st place overall after four races. However, the top three boats were each separated by only two points each. The final day's racing would be interesting, when the discards were to be applied. This little show, was far from over and the fat lady was only beginning to warm up for her swan song.

Above: J105 "Pants on Fire" slogging upwind in the heavy stuff. They struggled to show good results in the very competitive IRC fleet.
Results Race 4:
1st Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport)
2nd Rockstar (Farr 38)
3rd Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport)
4th Ebb Tide (L34)
5th Raging Bull (Miura 2)
6th Faraway (Farr 40)
7th Majimoto (Farr 40)
8th Seaboard (Van der Stadt 34)
9th Nandi (Didi 34)
10th FTi Flyer (Charger 33)

Above: Using a Farr 38 to break cover. The two Pacers are in very close proximity on port tack. We cleared the starboard tacking Farr's stern, but Felix the cat had to tack away. Their sail number (007) is visible between our jib and mainsail.

Sunday 25th September
Some weary bodies shrugged into oilies once again for the final day of racing. The bay was flat and calm with not a sign of any breeze. The forecast had indicated 4 to 7 knots of southerly and by 10 am that is exactly what there was. Wind Guru is proving to be the weather site of choice! The race committee took a little while to get the course laid. It would be another day of the sausage, sausage, triangle format.

Race 5:
We decided to match Felix the cat's aggression on the start line, but still they got a nose in front. It took some very hard work and we finally broke cover and got ahead to round the weather mark in first place, but Lady Luck decided to throw a nice slab of kelp in front of us - our first of the regatta. Suddenly we could feel the vibration on the keel and our speed came down a knot as we got the A2 flying. We were just slow enough for Felix the cat to close down our lead and round just ahead at the leeward mark. "But wait, that's not all" as they say in the Verimark ads....We had the Farr 38 to windward, with an inside overlap. Felix snuck around the mark clear ahead and we had to give the Farr water. Suddenly a two boat length lead stretched into 50 in as many seconds, as we sat under the Farr sucking dirties. By the time we managed to tack away, it was into a header and then we sullenly sulked off to the extreme port side of the course, hoping for some miracle (like an unlikely header) to save our bacon, but it was all in vain. Felix rounded the top mark well ahead. We fought back downwind and made some gains, but it was not enough and we had to be content with a 3rd place. The two Pacer's were at that point tied for 1st place. Everything lay in the final race.

Results Race 5:
1st Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport)
2nd Ebb Tide (L34)
3rd Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport)
4th Raging Bull (Miura 2)
5th Faraway (Farr 40)
6th Seaboard (Van der Stadt 34)
Majimoto (Farr 40)
8th Rockstar (Farr 38)
9th Nandi (Didi 34)
FTi Flyer (Charger 33)

Above: Some great special effect photography from my good friend Trevor Wilkins

Race 6:
The wind remained light - around 7 knots, but fairly steady. We geared ourselves up mentally for a battle royale with Felix the cat. They definitely were getting their noses in front with good starts and once ahead, would simply sit on us for the rest of the race. It was frustrating, but we had no option to employ tactics to break out of the situation. It is fairly negative sailing and our focus soon became "get out of jail at all costs" and, predictably we lost focus on Rockstar and Faraway, the latter which was having a good race. With each tack, the stranglehold cover got worse and our focus deteriorated. The net result was a less than stellar performance and we ended our regatta on a low note, scoring another third place. That elevated Felix the cat into 1st overall and we dropped down into 2nd place, just two points shy of a victory.

To be fair, at this level of one design racing, there is not much room for 'catch-up' sailing and hats off to Alan Lawrence, the skipper of Felix the cat on having a good plan to hold us back. He is an experienced helmsman and understands one design sailing only too well from Hobiecat racing. We were considerably faster than Felix the cat in breeze over 15 knots, but that's the way regattas go. You have to play your hand with the weather of the event. Felix showed the biggest lead over us in the final race, beating us over the line by one minute.

Above: Felix the cat going upwind in Race 6

Results Race 6:
1st Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport)
2nd Faraway (Farr 40)
3rd Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport)
4th Ebb Tide (L34)
5th Rockstar (Farr 38)
6th Seaboard (Van der Stadt 34)
7th Raging Bull (Miura 2)
8th Majimoto (Farr 40)
9th FTi Flyer (Charger 33)
10th Nandi (Didi 34)

Above: This immacultely prepared Flamenca won her class.
Results Overall: Club 1
1st Felix the cat (Pacer 27 Sport) - Alan Lawrence
2nd Regent Express (Pacer 27 Sport) - Trygve Roberts
3rd Raging Bull (Miura 2) - Tom Brown
4th Rockstar (Farr 38) - Brian Gardener
5th Ebb Tide (L34) - B. Stemmet
6th Faraway (Farr 40) - Chris Sutton
7th Seaboard (Vand der Stadt 34) - J.Delport
8th Majimoto (Farr 40) - Paul Mare
9th Nandi (Didi 34) - N/Fairley
10th FTi Flyer (Charger 33) - Keith Mattison

Above: Nice, close competition amongst the smaller boats. Here a pair of Flamencas give each other a go.

There is very little one can fault this event on. The weather was as close to perfect as one could get. The courses were true and fair. The scenery was magnificent. The fleet was big and competitive in all classes. The club was spotless and everything worked. The food was plentiful and affordable. The FBYC members were super friendly and helpful. The prize giving was on time and not too long. The prizes were excellent. The website was up to date. Rating: 10 out of 10

In the IRC Class the Farr 38 A-L walked off with the top spot. The Club 2 division was won by Felix the cat, whilst the Club 3 division was won by Richard Gie on Garmin Fiesta. Vitor Medina won the Miura Class in his customary style in FarMed (and if I sailed a Miura I would call it FarCanal) , whilst Isivunguvungu graduate S.Sizthu won the Buccanneer class in Orbis Fusion. The Crusing division was won by Piet Groenhof in his H34 Nautiash. Within the fleets some of the classes held national championships. The Flamenca class was won by M. Clarke on Garmin Fiesta.

Above: Winners of the Bucanners class were this group of youngsters - a product of the Isivunguvungu training programme at Simonstown.

These four youngsters who all learned to sail at the Isivungu Sailing School in Simonstown campaigned their ancient Bucanneer without a spinnaker and they missed Race 1, which became their discard. In the process they klapped the regulars in the Bucanner fleet, like multiple class winner and Buccaneer enthusiast, Tom Garven. Word has it that they didn't call 'STARBOARD' quite loud enough and gave some of their competition a fright. I bet! I applaud this effort!

Above: In the IRC division Geoff Meek helmed Puma Unleashed into 5th place overall. They had a titanic boat for boat battle with Windpower throughout the regatta.

For a full set of results in all classes, visit

A more general report covering the fleets more proportionately has been written and submitted to SAILING MAGAZINE. Watch out for the next issue..........