The day was blustery, all day; south-east but full of gusts and twists. The wind and rain of the morning had us mulling the doubtful joys of racing in a heavy, rain-bearing southerly. But, though the weather threatened rain all afternoon, in fact, we stayed dry.
Three boats - Stephen and I were without our regular crew, weather-shy with various explanations, and joined forces on Chenonceau.
And Chenonceau won the start, and held the lead all the way downhill to Sow’n Pigs. The leg to Taylor’s Bay was a square run, but the wind backed and veered and, on Chenonceau, we managed the instability with a series of gybes. Corinna set a spinnaker, and rode it downhill to advantage despite a twist, a broach and a tangle. Umbakumba worked to reproduce her speed of last week; she stayed in touch, but no more.
By the time we turned for the upwind leg to Shark Island, the wind was gusting well over the predicted 20 knots; and that stretch of the Harbour (Sow’n Pigs to Shark Island - as busy a racing leg as any in the world’s harbours) was thick with bigger, more powerful yachts that either powered over the top of us, or came direct at us fast. For a while, we could see little else but one spinnaker after another, each over a bow outlined with white water.
On Umbakumba the skipper ordered a change of headsail before turning upwind, to a more manageable size; but it can’t be done short-handed with any speed. Even with several practised crew it is hard to change headsails without a delay too long to be made up in a Harbour race. Once re-rigged, however, she sailed fast upwind.
Chenonceau's cruising rig - which gives her good speed off the wind - is safe and reliable upwind, but doesn’t give her the height that the hull and design are capable of; and the advantage swung to Corinna. She sailed high and securely over the larger boat, and rounded the top mark, at Shark Island, a minute ahead. The last leg, to Clarke Island was a close reach; all three boats handled it happily, riding the gusts. But the wind, on the last leg, began to die away, and you can’t cut back a longish lead on a dying wind.
Over the line:
Again, Corinna’’s crew showed mastery of heavy conditions.
We race again on Sunday June 6.