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Club/IRC Winter Series, Race 4 - 27th August 2011

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Race in a nutshell: 27th August, 2011
Position PHRF: 1st
Total entries: 11
Distance: 8 nm.
Max Speed: 16.7 knots
Ave speed: 6.8 knots
Weather Forecast: Clear. Wind SE 14 knots. Temp 17C
Weather Actual: Accurate, except the wind was 22 to 28 knots gusting.
Course: 10 (P) – Paarden Island (P) - Milnerton (S) – No. 2 (P) - Woodbridge (S) - No. 10 (S)
Seas: Short chop of 0.75m with some swell closer to the beach.
Sails: Reefed Main (Quantum), No. 2 Jib (Quantum), A3 Asymmetric (North)
Crew: Trygve Roberts (Helm), Phillip Rentschler (Main), Charles Crosby (Genoa/Spinnaker), Gabrielle Fernandes (Pit), Allesandro Napoli (Mast), Joshua Banks (Bow) : Total: 500 kg

It's been a while! About six weeks to be precise. My last race report was dated July 9th . For all my enthusiasm for winter sailing in Cape Town, this winter just hasn't delivered the goods. I suppose we shouldn't complain if we compare ourselves to almost any other European or American destination. They have snow and ice to contend with. But what we have experienced this winter in Cape Town is an extraordinary amount of strong south easterlies. Some of them in excess of thirty knots, which meant races had to be cancelled. And that is most unusual for winter sailing.

One of our long serving crew members, Simon Penso, has made the decision to leave the sport of sailing in favour of mountain biking, so it is with a great deal of regret that we say goodbye to Simon. He is one of the true gentlemen of the sport. He joined our team back in 2004 on the J27 'Smackwater Jack'. We sailed some 8,000 nautical miles together over eight years. We sort of sense wedding bells ringing somewhere between gear changes. As we say goodbye to Simon, we welcome his replacement on board, in the form of Craig Preston - a competent dinghy sailor.

Above: Trygve, Phill and Simon - Good luck Si. May your thrills be many and your spills few.

On the subject of the Lipton Cup ….. This year Andrea Giovaninni, sailing for False Bay Yacht Club, snatched victory in the final race from veteran campaigner and Finn exponent, Greg Davis. The reason I am mentioning this here is that two of the crew on the winning boat learned to sail with me on Mirror dinghies. Andrea won his first national championship medal at the age of 10 as my crew in 1995. With him on board the L26, “Intasure” was Nic Baigrie, who followed the same learning curve and replaced Andrea as my crew back in 1997. Nic continued to crew for me over a long period of time, including on the J27 “Smackwater Jack” and later on the Pacer 27. I am enormously proud of these two youngsters and to see the success they have just achieved. Congratulations!
Photo: Trygve and Nic Baigrie winning the Mirror nationals in 1999. Nic has grown another 5 feet taller since this photo.


Eleven yachts made it to the start line in a blustery late winter, south easterly. Typically the forecast of 14 knots was not quite right for Table Bay. Rigging the boat at moorings was ice cold and gusty, so we immediately opted for a reefed main, No2 jib and fractional A3 spinnaker. That would turn out to be a very wise sail choice. As we got to the start area, it was the usual decision whether to start near the bridge and sail to the weather mark slightly freer, or go for the pin end at a tighter angle, but shorter distance. We decided to stick to the lower third end of the line, near the pin as there was enough southerly to give us a good angle up to the weather mark. Two other boats decided to duplicate our plan. The Farr 40 “Majimoto” and the Beneteau 34.7 “Necessity”. Those two had a good session harassing each other, which resulted in the Farr 40 being over early and being recalled OCS. That left us with just the Beneteau to worry about. In 22 knots of gusting breeze, with ourselves in the windward slot, we did just enough to gradually edge ahead of the bigger boat and get them into our dirties. As soon as they fell behind us, they went for height and climbed up to windward in an effort to clear us.

We were looking good with only the big Beneteau 44.7 “Ray of Light” ahead of us by about 100 meters, but “Necessity” had done well to draw level with us near the Paarden island mark. However, we had water at the mark and were able to round inside them and execute a better hoist. Typical of this race was how many mistakes our competitors were making. Close behind and to windward was the J133 “Jacana” giving us bad air, but they too were slow getting their kite up, allowing us to sneak up past their bow and get back into the breeze. We took off and got the boat speed up to 12 plus knots as we planed along the surf zone next to Milnerton beach. It didn't take long and we had drawn level with the leader “Ray of Light”, but we were running out of depth and we needed to gybe back inshore. Gybing with the reduced sail plan made life easy for us, and soon we were bearing directly at the beam of “Ray of Light” and going fast. We shaved past their transom and continued for another 150 meters, before gybing back onto starboard and heading directly for the Milnerton mark. Things were getting noisy on “Ray of Light” as we closed in on their port quarter and asked for water at the mark. That meant they were unable to get their spinnaker down quickly as they couldn't bear down. It allowed us to do a fast strike, gybe and do a perfect mark rounding as they ended up having to sail below the mark, to get their kite down. By the time they had recovered, we had opened up an 80 meter lead on them and were sitting comfortably at the front of the fleet.


The leg from Milnerton to No.2 was a fetch. We could have used the Code Zero, but the breeze was probably just too strong to hold it, so we continued under the standard sail plan, but on the odd occasion, we were a little under-powered. We debated shaking the reef out, but (as it later turned out) wisely decided not to do so. The two mile leg saw no changes to the leader-board and we still held an 80 meter lead on the big Beneteau at the No.2 mark. The course wasn't great with very few tactical options to work with. It was all about speed and boat handling and up to that point, we had done a good job. Ahead lay a one leg beat and this would be crucial for us. “Ray of Light” footed off and sailed low to get through our lee. It took them almost three quarters of the leg to do that. The breeze was increasing in strength as we approached the shore, making it more difficult for us to sustain our speed as the chop increased. The J133 was also steadily eroding the lead we had built up, but at the Woodbridge mark we were about a minute behind “Ray of Light” with the J133 about a minute behind us. Of course we were killing them on corrected time, but we would really have liked to have taken a line honours victory for good measure.

At that stage the gusts were 25 to 28 knots and even with a reefed main we were on our ear in the gusts – and that is slow. The final leg was yet another fetch with the angle just too tight to carry a spinnaker. We were not able to make any further gains on “Ray of Light”, whilst the J133 rolled us to windward with about half a mile to go to the finish line. We crossed the line in 3rd place just about 10 seconds behind the J133, giving us a winning margin on corrected time of around two minutes. “Necessity” took second place (corrected) and an old Astove 30 “Spirit of Victory” sneaked third spot, leaving some of the more illustrious competitors with some egg on their faces. But that's cool too.

After the race, we shook out the Code Zero and went for a burn across the bay just for fun, but the smaller kite just didn't have enough horse power to make for an enthralling display of speed. I suppose 16.7 knots with a small spinnaker and a reefed main is not too shabby. After a really long recess, it was wonderful being out there tasting the salt spray again. Towards the end of September, we will be competing in the annual Spring Regatta at False Bay Yacht Club, which is a very enjoyable event in clean water and lovely surroundings.

Photo: Regent Express in action in lat year's Spring Regatta off Simonstown.

1st Regent Express – Trygve Roberts – 017 – Pacer 27S – Rating 1.080 – 1.05.56

2nd Necessity – David Booth – SA4114 – Beneteau 34.7 – 1.040 – 1.07.58

3rd Spirit of Victory – Mike Paddick – SA2314 – Astove 30 - 0.890 – 1.08.07

4th Cabaray – Ray Mathews – SA2018 – Van der Stadt 34 - 0.940 – 1.08.31

5th Hors d Ouvers – Peter Bam – 044 – L26 – 0.955 – 1.08.59

6th Iechyd Da – Stefan Hundt – SA797 – Miura - 0.910 – 1.08.59

7th Ray of Light – Michael Kavanagh – 9 – First 44.7 – 1.155 – 1.09.08

8th Hillbilly – Peter Hill - SA198 – J27 – 0.995 – 1.09.19

9th Jacana – Patrick Holloway – GBR – J133- 1.160 – 1.10.37

10th Majimoto ll – Paul Mare – SA765 – Farr 40 – 1.130 – 1.11.11

11th Ava – Ken Botwood – SA818 – Miura 30 – 0.910 – 1.12.43