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IRC Summer Series Race 6.

Last updated on 25 Mar 2009

Race in a nutshell:

Position IRC: 10th 
Total Entries : 16 
Ave Speed: 6.9 kts 
Max Speed: 13.6 kts 
Distance: 7.1 nm. 
Elapsed Time: 00:43:52 
Corrected Time: 00.45.19 
Time behind leader (Corrected): 4.3 mins 
Weather Forecast: Clear. Wind South 12 knots - Temp 31C 
Weather Actual: Wind ESE to SSE 12 to 15 kts 
Baro: 1011 hPa. 
Course: Start No. 10 (P) – Laid Mark (P) - Paarden island (P)- Finish #10 (S) 
Seas: Flattish. 
Sails: Full Main, No. 1 Jib, Big Assymetric Spinnaker 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Main), Tom van der Ploeg(Genoa), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Nic Baigrie (Mast), Total: 410 kg

Well, well, we go again! 

After a painful gap between when the J27 was sold and the arrival of the Pacer 27, it is time to smile, be happy and enjoy the thrills and spills of sailboat racing again. We are back in business! 

So last week after a tentative sail in the IRC fleet, we are actually steadily improving from 11th out of 12 to 10th out of 17. This is a far cry from our regular podium finishes on Smackwater Jack, but exactly as I predicted, we will start at the bottom and work our way up. That is all part of the fun. 

A quick recap on our first race - and I want to really just focus on errors. A new and untested boat is bound to dish up a few curved balls. Here's how things went: 

1. We did not have the mast set up properly. The rig was too loose. 

2. I accidentally bumped the hand held VHF, so did not notice the channel had skipped to 5 instead of 6. Result: We didn't hear the course. 

3. We were late for the start by 30 seconds - I underestimated the time it would take. The Pacer stops quickly without breeze or sail power, whereas the J carries a lot of way. 

4. Because we did not get the course, I assumed we would sail to the #2 channel marker in a NW wind. There was a laid weather mark near Granger Bay, so we were completely on the wrong side of the course (by 900 meters!) 

That little cocktail of events saw us 2nd last at the weather mark. Fortunately the breeze was light, allowing us to remain upright during the first spinnaker hoist, which was one big tangle. It took half a mile to sort things out. 

After that things went a bit better and we gradually worked our way through the fleet ending up 6th over the line, but on corrected time we plummeted back (to earth!) with a 10th. 

A week later and few hours tinkering with rig settings and changing a few things around, we felt a bit more confident, but we were again the subject of some radio problems. 

The first week we had been without Charles and this week we were without our spinnaker trimmer, Greg. 

At the start there was very little breeze so the race was postponed. Despite having charged the VHF overnight, the battery signal was flashing LOW. Then the bridge announced the course on channel 14 instead of channel 6. They slipped the course in hastily somewhere between the 5 minute signal and the start on channel 6 but many skippers never heard the announcement. There was much confusion with 5 minutes to go to the start with no-one really knowing what course to sail, so we took a mid-line position to cover our bets and had a pretty good start - except we were sandwiched between a 42 footer and a 34 footer. So despite a good start it was only a matter of time before we were going to be rolled by the bigger boat. 

We opted to tack over onto port for clear air, in the process ducking a few starboard tackers. This was not a normal south easter - it had quite a bit of east in it, so no-one would lay the weather mark on one tack. Our 'escape route' worked out nicely and we managed to get the boat into a nice fast groove upwind doing 6.5 knots steady and holding station with the two L34's but not pointing nearly as high. 

With Tom standing in as spinnaker trimmer, he was still getting instructions as we rounded the top mark and I must say, the hoist was excellent, considering how little we have sailed this boat. Then came a bit of trimming and we were quickly over 10 knots boat speed and staying there. What a pleasure watching the fleet slip away astern, but of course our angle is much higher, so we lose distance. What is nice is being able to sail in clear air the whole reach and only getting back into the traffic close to the mark. 

We held on a little too far on the starboard gybe and had a slight hiccup going through the gybe, with the kite wanting to fold around forwards and wrap itself into a bra. It takes some getting used such a massive spinnaker. 

By the time we got to the lee mark, we had not gained on Sensation (L34) but we had passed a few other boats and we were ahead of both J27s - a good yardstick for us to measure as we know we have to be 5 minutes per hour ahead of the J's. A tough call on W/L course in light breeze. 

Going up the next beat we had problems with the jib sheets getting overwinds on the winch and it certainly cost us as we battled to get things untangled and sorted - we all feel the boat needs slightly thicker jib sheets, which will stop the over-winding problem. 

At the second rounding of the weather mark, there was total confusion, with half the fleet heading for the finish and the other half heading back to the leeward mark. We went for a conventional bear-away set and decided to follow the boats back to the leeward mark. Seconds later we heard the VHF stating that the leading boat "PUMA" had just finished. That bit of information quickly got us ready for a gybe (another mediocre one) and we aimed the bow for the finish line. It was on this leg, as we heated up to cross astern of Lapwing (L34) that we logged our max speed of 13,6 knots. 

Last week we were 11 minutes shy of the leader. This week we were 4.5 mins behind. That's a good enough improvement. Now if we can carry on going up in increments like that, I will be more than satisfied!