Last Thursday (3 Sept) was another brilliant sailing day, with the sun unexpectedly shining brightly and warmly through gaps in the light cloud and a decent but variable NW backing WNW wind. These conditions provided the 6 WS Racers and 2 volunteers a good challenge for Race 5 of the Summer Series. There were 5 entrants in 303W Access and 1 entrant in a Liberty plus Allan and Mike C in the two other Liberties. The course was set to enable the fleet to have an upwind leg from the Start – namely the Start Line was between Buoy D and the Race Officers’ Commando (stationed north of the Buoy), the first leg was a Beat upwind to Mark B, the second leg was a Reach to Mark A and the third a Run downwind back to Mark D.
It was tricky for those racing because the wind varied in strength and direction before and throughout the Race. This might have been the reason for all the 303 helms’ cautious approach to the Start and this resulted in the first boat not actually crossing the Start Line until 20 seconds after the Starting whistle. (LESSON: Use your time before the race to decide the direction of your first tack after crossing the Start Line and then assess how long it will take you to sail the last 25/50 yards or how far you will sail in 30 seconds approaching on that tack. Use that information to get your boat in the right position away from the Start Line to cross it as the Starting Whistle sounds). However, Kim crossed the Start Line first and was closely pursued by Fay, Brian and Steve. Since it was their first race, Rosie and Kai were being ultra-cautious and kept out of the other boats way to such an extent that they only got up to the Start Line just ahead of Mike B’s Liberty start (which was 3 minutes after the 303s!). The Liberty start was an example of how to start and all three boats crossed the Start Line within a few seconds of the Start sounding. Well done Mike B, Allan and Mike C!!
During the 3 minute wait for the Liberty Start, the 303 fleet had made good progress Beating and Tacking up towards the first Mark B which was a port hand rounding. Kim got there first closely followed by Brian then Fay and Steve and all four boats were off on the Reach vying for a good position at the next Mark A which would be a port gybe rounding. Brian was close to Kim as she rounded Mark A to start her Run downwind and just a few boat lengths in front of Fay and Steve. And then, as is often the case with sailing, Brian, running in 2nd place, lost the wind and Steve running in 4th place found a great gust which pushed him up to within 50 yards of Kim as she rounded the third Mark D also to port, whilst Brian lost boat speed and was overtaken by Fay dropping him to round the Mark D in 4th place. Mike B and the two Liberties helmed by volunteers had overhauled Rosie and Kai, who were battling hard as they tacked steadily but slowly towards Mark B, and some good wind helped the bigger Liberties to make up distance on the 303s. By the time the Liberty fleet had completed the Run downwind from Mark A to Mark D and hence their first lap, they were close to the 303s and their proximity may have caused Kim to have an uncharacteristic loss of concentration which allowed Brian and Steve to gain the advantage and lead her around Marks B and A. However, by the time the leaders had run down to Mark D to complete the second lap, Mike B in his faster Liberty had caught up and rounded Mark D just in the lead from Kim and Brian, then Steve and Fay. Mike held his lead throughout the final lap but there was still close racing behind him with Brian and Kim swapping honours for second place but eventually and literally on the last run down from Mark A to the Finish Line, Steve managed to sail past Brian pushing him into fourth, with Fay not that far behind. Our stalwart beginners Rosie and Kai succeeded in finishing some distance behind Fay – nevertheless a very creditable effort! Well done to all our WS Racers.