Yesterday (22 October) was the penultimate race of the Summer Series and it was a real challenge for the 11 Racers who took part. The wind was (as it often is) the main reason for the challenge, not only because its strength fluctuated between a slight ruffle up to a decent 15 knot breeze, but also it changed direction frequently, veering from W to NNW and then backing to W, during the whole race. This meant that the Racers had to adjust their sails differently for just about every leg of each lap of the race. The helms could never settle into a pattern of how to attack each leg. Also the variable wind meant that some helms delayed their decision to tack away from the Island (west of the pontoons) fractionally after just slight wind shifts and they found themselves running aground on the rocky outcrop that runs north west of the Island.
After the normal 5 -4-1- START countdown, most of the helms in the 303 fleet were closely bunched as the Start Whistle sounded and they took a couple of minutes to sort themselves out. Kim, although only sixth over the start line, managed to find clear air quickly on the upwind leg to the first Mark (Buoy B) and she started to pull out a 50 yard lead over Lukas, Bob and Brian Mac on the downwind leg to the second Mark (Buoy C). Peter Wagner was helming the only Liberty in the race and he hit the start line within a few seconds of his Start Whistle (3 mins after the 303 Start) and a good gust helped him to immediately get into his stride on the beat upwind to the first Mark….. but Peter’s first Tack came to a resounding HALT when he sailed too close to the Island and went aground on the rocky bottom. Fortunately the safety boat got Peter back on his way quite quickly and he made the most of the stiff breeze upwind to round the first Mark (Buoy B) before the 303 fleet had completed their first lap. The two Martins in the race, helmed by Mark Cayzer and Mike Blatchford, set off a daunting 8 minutes after the 303 fleet’s START but that did not put them off and Mike especially started to gain ground on the boats in front of him and worked his way through the fleet (for the first time – since he had started over a full lap behind) and he soon had the leader group, headed by Kim, in his sights. But just after Mike had rounded Buoy K to complete his first lap, he sailed too close to the Island and ran aground (as had Peter W). Unfortunately for Mike, the safety boat took a long time get him off the rocks and back into the race and this meant that the 303s and the Liberty had escaped his clutches! The rest of the race saw Kim starting to close in on the back markers of the 303 fleet (Well done! Ed.) and, of course, maintain her lead over the chasing 303s of Patricia, Bob and Lukas and Peter W’s Liberty, which was gaining ground (as expected by their respective PYs) massively on the upwind leg but slowing down on the two downwind legs.
The changes in the wind direction and strength required constant vigilance by the helms to enable them to sail the best course whilst tacking upwind and to be patient when the wind died on the downwind legs and then to try and stay in front of the boats behind them which were benefiting first when the wind filled in again!
All in all the race was tough and challenging due to the variable wind and made more difficult for the three helms (Yes – Peter, Mike and Brian Mac!) who went aground near the island! Well done, especially to Kim,whose victory cemented her as Summer Series Winner, and to all the helms and crews.
Result: 1 Kim; 2 Peter; 3 Patricia; 4 Lukas; 5 Anne; 6 Bob; 7 Steve; 8 Mark; 9 Mike; 10 Fay: 11 Brian Mac