Yesterday (29 October) the weather forecast was for steady rain and a 20-30 knot wind. Not exactly the conditions most sailors would have liked for the final race of the Summer Series, nevertheless six 303, two Liberty and one Martin helm turned up to race and they were rewarded with far better sailing conditions than those forecast. And they were provided with a good challenge for their final outing of the season. The wind was blowing mainly from the S, but with irregular shifts to SSW and SW, at around 15 knots with gusts up to 20 knots. And just to remind us we were in the last week of October, a light drizzle set in just as the 5 minute whistle sounded.
As in previous races the 303 fleet went off 3 minutes before the Liberty fleet and 8 minutes before the Martin. The start/finish line was set away from the clubhouse on the north shore, between the Race Boat and Buoy C, from which the fleets would have a beat into the shifty S wind for the upwind leg across the lake to the first mark (Buoy K), then a downwind leg to Buoy D, followed by a broad reach back to Buoy C.
With visibility reduced and the race boat’s position moving about, none of the helms wanted to be baulked by the race boat and hence they held back from the Start Line. Their caution paid off and all three class fleets were able to start within 30 seconds or so of their Start whistle. Kim and Bob had a slight head start over the rest of the 303 fleet and whilst most of the fleet quickly got onto a port tack, Brian Mac chose to head East until he realised that he was the only boat heading for Buoy D and turned around to rejoin the others. LESSON: Confirm the Race Course by looking at it on the Race Board, by the clubhouse, and check that you have remembered it correctly just as you’re going on the water. And you can always ask another Racer!
Meanwhile Bob had made an excellent start and headed the 303 fleet around the first mark (Buoy K), closely pursued by Kim and Fay (and her crew – the Chairman of Trustees!). And, although Mike started 3 minutes behind the 303s in his Liberty, he slipped round the first mark just ahead of Brian Mac and Steve to start chasing down the leaders. Peter still had some distance to catch up in his Liberty. Mark Cayzer (and his carefully chosen crew – top club sailor Tony Meyrick!) had been patiently waiting in his Martin for their Start Whistle which was blown just before Kim and Bob completed their first lap.
Now that all three classes were racing, spectators could witness the superior boat speed of the Martin over both the Liberty and the 303. Which taken together with Mark’s crafty crew selection, meant that Mark’s Martin, although starting a full lap behind the leading 303 and Liberty, was lying in 5th place by the end of the second lap and was just ahead of Kim in her 303 as they completed the third lap, and so Mark ran out a comfortable winner over four laps. Nevertheless Kim managed to hold both the Liberty helms at bay during the last two laps of the race. There was an excellent tussle going on behind Kim, with Mike and Peter trying to gain an advantage over each other in their Liberties. It was nip and tuck with Mike mainly the winner on the upwind leg, Peter sailing the downwind leg better and both helms making similar progress on the reaching leg. However, on the third lap Peter made a decisive move by just managing to get room round the mark (at Buoy K) on starboard tack which meant he could round the mark as he wanted to and position his boat to start his downwind leg in front of Mike. On this leg Peter gained some more distance – helped by a big gust (which he seems to relish as his boat heels sharply leeward) – and his lead round Buoy D enabled him to hold off a final challenge by Mike on the reach between Buoy D and C. Bravissimi to Peter and Mike for a closely fought season of Liberty racing! Ed.
During the second lap Bob could not hold off the Liberty onslaught but he had created sufficient advantage over the rest of the 303s by the end of the second lap to hold onto his fifth place for the rest of the race. Brian Mac’s solid sixth place showed that he might have been fighting Bob and possibly Kim if he had not gone walkabout immediately after the start of the race!
All in all, well done to this intrepid group of stalwart WS Racers for getting out on the water and making the last race a really good race!
Result: 1 Mark; 2 Kim; 3 Peter; 4 Mike; 5 Bob; 6 Brian Mac; 7 Fay; 8 Steve