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Audi Twilight Series Race 5.

Last updated on 25 Nov 2009

Race in a nutshell:
Position IRC: 7th from 10 
Total Entries: 63 
Distance: 13.6nm. 
Max Speed: 9.4 knots 
Ave speed: 5.7 knots 
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with 30% rain. Wind South West 17 knots. Temp 19C 
Weather Actual: Partly cloudy. No rain. Wind SW 5 to 10 knots. Temp. 21C 
Course: #10 (S) – 4 (S) - Gybe(S) - Paarden island (S) - 4 (S) - Paarden Island (S) - 4(S) - Gybe (S) - Paarden island (S) - 4 (S) - #10 (P) 
Seas: Flat 
Sails: Full Main (North), No. 1 Fusion Genoa (Quantum), R1 Asymmetric Spinnaker. (Quantum) 
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Charles Crosby (Main), Greg Harrowsmith (Genoa), Phillip Rentschler (Pit), Daniel Spratley (Mast) Simon Penso (Bow), Total: 500 kg

It's that time of year when the south easter blows us Capetonians out of existence. It's also a time when we suffer from frequent cancelled races. This particular topic needs to be debated a little and I am going to venture an opinion here. Hopefully it is a balanced one. 

Firstly, the decision to cancel the IRC racing rests with three people. The race officer, plus two experienced skippers in the IRC fleet. Generally one would think that should deliver a sensible result. For the Class 1 and 2 non-spinnaker fleets the decision is made by the race officer plus the duty officer who is also generally an experienced sailor and boat owner. 

We have had three consecutive races cancelled due to extreme weather over the past three weeks. The first two there was no doubt that the decisions were correct, but last week the call was made early, at 3 pm. (and all of us appreciate getting early notification for obvious reasons) and then to everyone's dismay, the wind started dropping - right down to 20 knots which would have allowed for some good racing on the bay. 

That got a bunch of members hot under the collar, but let's be practical and consider that no-one wants to cancel a race to spoil anyone's fun. The decisions are always made in the the interests of the general safety of the fleet. Do we ever send an email or make a call to those who make the calls and set the courses? No, of course we don't, but we are quick to complain when a race is cancelled without due cause. I think as members, we should abide by their decisions as they are the very people we have asked to be there. It's really not fair to burden these guys with too much guilt. Mistakes will be made. Let's leave it and move on. 

The reality is that every skipper is responsible for his vessel and crew's safety and only he/she can ultimately make the decision whether to sail or not. It is a dangerous precedent for the club to make these decisions - then when a tragedy happens, the club gets blamed for the consequences. Races should happen for most conditions - skippers make their own decisions whether to race or not. 

Last night the decisions were generally good. The race was a bit long resulting in many boats not finishing, but again it's easy to criticise. Best thing is to do is go and do some bridge duty and you will have a much better understanding how difficult things can get for those running our races for us. 

I thought the course was as close to being excellent as what one can expect for a twilight race. We had almost true upwind legs and enjoyable reaches. It was all quite manageable even on the tight reaches. I have been pushing the RC hard to add some variety to our courses and it was great sailing one of the old Olympic style courses again which adds so much more variety than the windward/leeward options. It does mean a bit more work by mark laying boats, but that can only be good for the general standards of our sailing. 

We had a great start - a really great start. A big gap opened up to behind us on the start line, so we gybed around onto port (more gently this time so we wouldn't stall the foils) and hardened up onto a beat hitting the line precisely on the gun and going fast. Of course a great start like that doesn't keep you in front for long in a 27 footer, as the big boats inevitably roll you. We put in a few tacks to clear dirties and rounded somewhere mid fleet. Once we got the asso up, we were able to clear ourselves a nice path to windward of the fleet and sail down to the gybe mark in clean air. Our gybe was good and we slowly started overtaking some of the bigger boats like the Farr 40 'Aladdin' and Fast 42 'Tenacity' but our target boat "Addis" the A35, had a two minute lead on us, so we would need to sail well to catch them. We did a weather drop down at Paarden Island and Charles suggested we head offshore, whilst most of the fleet went inshore. That little trick paid off handsomely as we had taken a big lead on the two big boats by the time we got back to the top mark. 

The next leg was a run, so we decided to go for the 'super-soak' mode of sailing. Basically we sail as deep downwind as we can and move all the crew weight forward to get the boat's stern clear of the water. We were much closer to 'Addis' and the two big boats were still at least 40 lengths behind us. We did another good weather drop and tackled the second beat along the same pattern as the first. This time our strategy did not pay off. By the time we got near the top mark, both the big boats plus Addis had gained on us. We rounded together with the two forty footers and soon started making up time on them on the reaching legs, opening up a nice lead by the time we got down to the leeward mark again. 

The third beat had us in a quandary. Left or right? So we went up the middle, doing our best to stick with Addis, but they worked the shifts better than we did and increased their lead. We had both 40 footers back with us again at the top mark as all three of us rounded in a bundle. Being the smaller boat, we were able to squeeze into the gap next to the buoy and managed to get away and ahead of both big boats for the short downwind leg to the finish. 

We crossed the finish line with just 10 minutes to spare before the 8 pm cut off time, having finished 7th under IRC and 8th under PHRF. Not a great result and we could have done a better job on the last two upwind legs. The reality is that we were 10 whole minutes shy of the leading boat's corrected time in conditions which suited the Pacer 27. So there is more work for us to do and a focus on eliminating errors.


1 Windpower Landmark 43 R Nankin 1.162 01:55:52 
2 New Balance Gumption ILC 40 N Mace M Sadler 1.187 01:59:00 
3 Lobelia IMX 40 G Kling R Meek 1.085 02:01:23 
4 8 Seconds Leisure 42 L Barnat H Brehm 1.094 02:02:12 
5 Addis in Cape Restaurant A 35 Archambault A Monat 1.036 02:02:23 
6 Puma Unleashed Pacer 42 R H Hale 1.188 02:03:20 
7 Regent Express Pacer 27 T Roberts 1.032 02:05:22 
8 Aladdin Farr 40 B Geiger 1.03 02:06:06 
9 Naledi J120 F Scheder Bischen 1.087 02:07:05 
10 Tenacity Fast 42 E Stern 1.113 02:15:23