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Audi IRC - Summer Series Race 4.

Last updated on 28 Oct 2009

Race in a nutshell:

Position IRC: 10th from 15 
Total Entries: 56 
Distance: 6 nm. 
Max Speed: 16.2 knots 
Ave speed: 6.8 knots 
Weather Forecast: Partly Cloudy. Wind Southerly 17 knots. Temp 19C 
Weather Actual: Cloudy. Wind SSE 18 knots gusting to 28 knots 
Course: #10 (P) – Yellow (P) - Red (P) - Yellow (P) - Red (P) - Yellow (P) - Red (P) - #8 (P) - #10 (P) 
Seas: Choppy 
Sails: Full Main (North), No. 2 Jib (North), A1 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

We did one of these 'big splash dives' on the final downwind leg, absolutely soaking our foredeck guys. Ah yes, the Cape Doctor - a difficult man to understand sometimes. 

This was not our best race in the Pacer. It's funny once the first thing goes wrong, how quickly problems compound at sea. At the dock, before we set out, we debated which headsail to use, finally agreeing we would go with the #2 as the south easter seems to have a time switch for a 10 knot increase exactly at 18h00. We also rigged the reefing line and decided we would risk going with the R1 big kite, as we would be sailing a windward/leeward course. Those all turned out to be sound decisions. 

The wind wasn't a true south easterly, but more like SSE, putting loads of starboard bias on the start line. That would mean a big cluster of boats up at that end, to be able to lay the weather mark in one tack. We carefully placed ourselves in exactly the right spot, but the big boats were all round us. In order to keep a clear lane we were forced to nudge ever closer to the line and then inevitably, we had to slow the boat down by luffing head to wind to avoid being OCS. Our favourite 42 ft 'block of flats' '8 Seconds' parked on top of us and left us with our own personal zone of flat calm. One thing the Pacer 27 does not like and that is being stalled. It takes effort to get water speed over the foils to get her going again. The gun went and we were left in irons on the start line. Our perfectly positioned start went fully pear shaped and left us as tail-end Charlies. It took a full minute to get going, by which time we were still trying to overhaul the L26's. 

The wind was unpleasantly puffy - ranging between 12 and 28 knots. The boat felt comfortable with the full main + #2 Jib combo, so we felt confident we would be able to handle the big spinnaker. We had caught up to the rear end of the main body of the fleet and got the R1 kite up smartly. As Simon called "MADE!" and Greg sheeted in, a big gust hit us and over we went. Right, so that was mistake number 2. It took around a minute to recover and get her pointing downwind again and we were off again, at a blistering pace. The guys had barely recovered their breath, when we were on the gybe line. The gybe was a beauty and we roared off on the port gybe to the leeward mark. Mistake #3 was about to happen. 

Phill blew the tackline as we had to do a leeward drop. The stopper knot in the tackline had somehow untied itself, sending it zipping through the clutch, down the block, below the deck and right through the pole and out the far end. That left us with a big problem. 

We had in the process caught up quite a bit and rounded right on the stern of Addis (our target boat), but we were sitting right in their dirties, so we tacked away onto the unfavoured early starboard tack. The legs were very short, which meant we only had about five minutes to jury rig a tack line. Phill went up onto the bow and lashed one of the spinnaker tweakers with a block onto the end of the pole. Let's just say the Pacer didn't much like having a man so far up on the bow and of course, the rest of us weren't concentrating fully on boat speed. We lost out a fair bit by the time we got to the top mark, but at least we would be able to fly our spinnaker. 

Round the mark we went and up went the kite, only to present itself in a perfectly untangleable hour glass. We had to haul it back down on deck, untangle and rehoist. More time lost! We did another good gybe and a conservative strike to prevent anything else going wrong. 

Going up the second beat, we noticed our second mainsail batten was protruding a foot out of the batten pocket at the leech. (Problem #4 and I am losing count!) That would have happened during the broach no doubt. More lack of concentration as we watched helplessly as the batten extended further and further, eventually wriggling itself free and falling into the sea. It was about at that point that the top batten also decided to give up, snapping cleanly off about five inches from the luff. Damn and damn again! Things just weren't going well for us. 

The final downwind leg involved the usual DDW leg followed by a 500m beam reach and a short beat to the finish. This time our hoist was good, followed by an excellent gybe. Most of the fleet ahead were unable to carry spinnakers on the penultimate leg, but we decided to give it a go. At that stage the wind was definitely on the very fresh side, but we held the kite and hit 16.2 knots in a blur of white water as we made up some of the lost ground on the leaders, but it wasn't nearly enough. 

As we sailed back into the harbour, Phill went down below for some beers (it was young Daniel's 13th birthday) and let out a low whistle and said "Better start pumping the bilges boys" We had a lot of water in the boat and Daniel did the honours pumping most of it out. I think in the south easterly races, we would do well to sail with the hatch cover and washboard in place. 

Mmmm......10th place? Yikes, but hey, it's still better than being in the office. Next week we'll try again. 

1st Windpower Landmark 43 R. Nankin 1.162 00:43:22 
2nd Puma Unleashed Pacer 42 R H. Hale 1.188 00:45:47 
3rd Addis in Cape Restaurant A 35 Archambault A. Monat 1.036 00:45:50 
4th Bally Hoo II Mumm 36 I Park Ross 1.099 00:46:06 
5th Aladdin Farr 40 B. Geiger 1.03 00:46:22 
6th 8 Seconds Leisure 42 H. Brehm 1.094 00:46:30 
7th Hors DOeuvre L 26 P.Bam 0.865 00:46:43 
8th Lobelia IMX 40 G. Kling 1.085 00:46:44 
9th Naledi J120 F Scheder Bischen 1.09 00:47:46 
10th Regent Express Pacer 27 T Roberts 1.032 00:49:05 
11th New Balance Gumption ILC 40 N Mace 1.187 00:51:20 
12th Warlock L 26 I Slatem 0.868 00:52:57 
13th Always Well Beneteau FC25 No IRC certificate 
14th JML L 26 M Bell 0.868 DNC 
15th Tenacity Fast 42 E Stern 1.113 DNC 
16th Hill Billy J27 P Hill 0.933 DNC