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Club/IRC Winter Series, Race 1 - 25th June 2011

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Above: Winter sailing in Cape Town - Blue skies, mild temperatures - but low fleet numbers.

Photo: Charles Crosby

Race in a nutshell: 25th June, 2011

Position PHRF : 1st
Total entries : 5
Distance: 5 nm.
Max Speed: 6.2 knots
Ave speed: 4.1 knots

Weather Forecast: Clear. Wind NW 2 to 5 knots. Temp 17C
Weather Actual: Accurate
Course: 10 (S) – No. 2 (S) - No. 10 (P) - Paarden island (S) - No. 10 (S) - No. 2 (S) - No. 10 (P)
Seas: Flat. Swell 1.5m SSW.
Sails: Full Main (Quantum), No. 1 Genoa (Quantum), A2 Assymetric (North)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Phillip Rentschler (Main), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Simon Penso (Pit), Allesandro Napoli (Mast), Joshua Banks (Bow), : Total: 505 kg

Two nasty cold fronts swept over the Cape Peninsula during the week, bringing lots of rain, wind and cold temperatures, thus ensuring that most crews who had ideas about sailing on the Saturday, would not pitch on race day. I know the formula well by now. I was not even expecting the five entries necessary to run a race, but much to my surprise, we did actually get five boats on the line and all five finished the race as well. The weather here is fickle. And that is something of an understatement. Sailing conditions on Saturday were actually quite good with light winds and pleasant temperatures. Those that pitched, enjoyed good sailing. Those of you that stayed at home, well........ eat your hearts out!

Our much reduced fleet of five consisted of three regular racing boats and two regular cruisers. We would need to keep on eye on the IMX 40, 'Lobelia' and the Farr 40 'Majimoto'. We had the advantage of being a lightweight boat that goes well in breeze under five knots providing the seas are flat - and we had both. With loads of starboard bias on the line, everyone was at the pin end fighting for position. We also know that speed is the single most important feature for us and we often sacrifice position for it. We arrived at our chosen spot with a minute to go and fought hard to protect our spot, with the other four boats all fighting for the prime spot next to the can. With 30 seconds to go, we reached off down the line to build speed, crossing the line on time and going fast. Only Lobelia could keep pace with us and much to our surprise they were falling down onto our track. This is a boat that points extremely high, so perhaps they were just having an off day.

The Farr 40 recovered well from a poor start and soon crossed tacks ahead of us halfway up the beat. With Lobelia the clear leader, we had to settle for third place around the first mark. The Farr 40 appeared to having issues getting their spinnaker set, so after executing a perfect gybe set, we closed them down within about 3 minutes. Ahead by about 400 meters was Lobelia, but looking slow and uncomfortable. Phill suggested a gybe to stay offshore. Everyone agreed. We had nothing to lose, as the swell direction made playing the spinnaker very difficult on the starboard gybe. We did a good gybe and shaved past the transom of the Farr 40 doing much better speed. We also found that by soaking low, we could almost lay the No.10 mark. We were slightly faster than Lobelia, who had also gybed at that stage, but we were closing the gap steadily. The Farr 40 took ages to get going. By the time they gybed onto port, we were about a kilometer ahead of them.

With boat speed showing a mere 5 knots, this was not the most exciting sailing, but at least we had the possibility of a good dice with Lobelia. Unfortunately, the angle to the No10 mark was just too deep for us, so we had to throw in two gybes to clear No.10, but we had closed down at least 50% of the lead Lobelia had on us. The next leg to Paarden island was a beam reach and that was bound to benefit us. Table Bay in winter is littered with plastic bags - and I mean it in the worst sense of the word. It is troubling to see our bay deteriorating so rapidly. I suppose therein lies a story of its own for a different platform.

Slowly, but surely, the gap was lessening and then Lobelia did an early strike which almost brought them to a standstill. In those last few minutes before they rounded, we again halved the lead they held on us. Things were looking good, but we had a 2 n.mile beat waiting for us and we know how that IMX can point and in how many races they have been able to beat us easily in a single upwind leg! We worked the boat hard for height, sacrificing some speed in order to stay above Lobelia's track and out of their dirties, The two Cruisers were just approaching No.10 mark, still on their down wind leg, neither boat much enjoying the ultra light conditions. The R.O. wisely decided to shorten course at that stage. Lobelia took line honours followed by ourselves some 2 minutes later, but on corrected time, we won comfortably by a one and a half minute margin.

To be able to beat Lobelia is something of an achievement for us and despite the low key nature of the race, it was a very satisfying result for us.


1st Regent Express - Pacer 27 Sport - Trygve Roberts - 1.17.17
2nd Lobelia - IMX 40 - Gordon Kling/Rob Meek - 1.18.29
3rd Majimoto - Farr 40 - Paul Mare - 1.26.46
4th Cabaray - Stadt 34 - Ray Matthews - 1.39.59
5th Storm - Ocean 31 - Mike Peper - 1.58.14