Written by Jonathan Stone
Five boats presented on a sparkling afternoon. The harbour was largely empty, the day spring-warm. The unusual thing about it was a powerful northeasterly, running 18 knots and gusting to 25 knots. Somebody said there was a ‘blizzard in the mountains’ sucking air to the south. Anyway, it was very northerly and very steady, a good heavy sailing wind. But probably not a sea-breeze.
Our start line isn’t easy in a northerly; much of our manoeuvring area is in the lee of Clarke Island; it easy to be trapped. You sail in there to fix some rigging problem, and you can’t get out in time. As we planned our approaches, and Amelia prepared to sound the horn, Corinna was caught in the lee, and others took a cautious approach, staying in the wind further south. T&T made the best of it by sailing on the course side of the line 30 seconds before the start, ducking back along the line, which was windy, and tacking to cross - keeping clear of the lee.
Corinna was not far behind however and we rounded the first mark, at Point Piper, we were on even terms. Calypso Magic had however sailed over the top of us both; she is a fast boat and sailed away from us all. From Point Piper to Taylor’s Bay was a soldier’s work, on starboard; and from Taylor’s Bay to Sow’n Pigs a full work. Calypso Magic continued to move away, and Corinna edged away from T&T. Smitten and Chenonceau chased the smaller boats to the top mark, at Sow’n Pigs, which had to be judged by us all. With the luxury of a good lead, Corinna over stood the mark and made turn with ease. On T&T, trying to close that lead, we tacked earlier and for once got it right, rounding with a small margin to spare. Smitten ducked and weaved and had a conversation with the mark.
And then we all headed straight downwind, to Shark Island, with 20 knots of breeze behind us. Only Calypso Magic flew a kite; there were some minor dramas with her spinnaker, but her lead survived. The wind showed sufficient variation that even without spinnakers we had to manage carefully - to run by the lee (and risk an unintended gybe) or veer left and right, clear Steele Point and hope it added up to the direction you wanted.
In the event, we all managed the run, gybed at the Shark Island mark (or before) and had an easy reach to the finish.
It was heavy weather sailing, but fun.
Across the line:
Time & Tide
Drinks in the Clubhouse after the race heard the usual chatter about the afternoon, and talk of the upcoming Laser Worlds, in Croatia. Smitten’s skipper, Simon, together with Martin, were packing for the trip.
We race next in October, on the 8th of October (not the 1st, to avoid the long weekend).