Four boats presented late on a sunny morning. A gentle southerly was blowing, predicting to build to 20 knots by race time.
Build it did, and skippers either reefed the main or shook out their #3 headsails. The wind rattled our rigging as we maneouvered for the 1.00pm start
Time & Tide won the start, and we headed for Point Piper on a squareish reach, with plenty of wind. But the Point Piper mark was in the lee of the point, and the winds were flukish. Ten metres form the mark, T&T was becalmed, and first Corinna and then Umbakumba sailed over us, with momentum from a gust that never came.
The leg to Taylor's Bay was the most difficult of the race; the wind was dead astern on the average, but shifted and gusted. Helmsmen had to fight to avoid unwanted gybes, whatever tack they were on; there was no encouragement to put up a kite.
Umbakumba made the best of it, poling her headsail quickly to starboard, and hanging on to that setting. Corinna went low, gybed onto a port tack and managed the gusts.
On the leg to Sow'n PIgs, Chenonceau made a charge from the rear, fast in the close reaching conditions; but the wind was gusting well over 20 knots, and there was always a danger of rounding up. Chenonceau was caught a couple of time, but was well within striking distance as we turned the mark to head upwind, to Shark Island.
Umbakumba turned first and stayed ahead, fast under a reefed main and small headsail. For all us, sailing to windward in heavy, gusty conditions is a challenge to our skill; managing gusts without being overpowered, sailing high without luffing, avoid stalling and over-heeling. Clean work tacking the headsail.
We all chased Umbakumba, but her crew had the right combination of sail settings and boat management; she would not be caught. Time & Tide and Chenonceau - the smallest and largest boats in the fleet - tussled for advantage in the windward leg; all that separated us was a decision or two close to the top mark.
For a change, the last leg - to Clarke Island - was uneventful. Any southerly wind veers and back and dies and gust so close to a point (Point Piper); we are all experienced now in managing the flukiness; and we were too separated for attack and defense.
It was a fun, testing sail in blowy conditions; classical racing.
Across the line:
Time & Tide
We race again on May 3
Be there or be ........