Olympians join the fray…….but Clancys win the day!

Post date: Dec 05, 2016 3:0:41 PM

While the forecast on XCWeather had looked good from the late part of Friday afternoon through to Sunday morning, the reality on the water was that it didn’t deliver. Instead of a healthy 14 – 19knots of South-Easterly, we got less. While the bulk of the first race offered trapezing conditions upwind and off-wind in the harder puffs, the second race was characterised by a breeze that started to fade. After the five-lapper of last Sunday (27th), the Race Committee reverted to type – based on an online poll – and gave us two three-lap trapezoid races. The South-Easterly part of the forecast was “about right” and saw the committee boat just outside the approach to the marina, a weather mark up towards the East Pier wall, No.2 just inside the end of the East Pier, No.3 inside the end of the West Pier and No.4 about 50/60m astern of the committee boat. Fireball numbers were down marginally from last week’s high, with a number of notable absentees, but at least one of those loaned out his boat to two of our Olympians. Phil Lawton and Ger Owens (470) sailed 15061 in the absence of Noel Butler and Stephen Oram, but with Phil helming.

The early starts of the PY and Laser fleets suggested that the tactic would be to go left initially off the line and then tack onto port to take a long hitch up the middle of the harbour. The Clancys (14807) didn’t appear to fancy that as they were the first to go off on port and it paid dividends as they rounded the weather mark first and like Butler & Oram do on most Sundays, they sailed in their own wind until quite late on in the race. Behind them Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) backed up all the recent talk of their regular season accomplishments by rounding in second place in close company with Neil Colin & Margaret Casey (14775), followed by Frank Miller & Grattan Donnelly (14713), Lawton & Owens, Alistair Court & Cormac Bradley (14706), Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) and Peter & Michael Keegan (14676).

While the beats would prove to be “tricky” all afternoon, the legs between 1 and 2 and 2 and 3 were similar. Possibly as a consequence of being parallel to the pier wall, the wind was playing fun and games with those trying to fly spinnakers – ranging from almost too tight to fly, to powering off in the gusts. Contrary to Adam Bower’s best advice, spinnaker poles were tight against the forestay in many instances. At Mark 3 the decision was whether to gybe or not. And there were no clear indicators! On the second and third lap of the first race, this correspondent and Alistair Court lost places by gybing immediately, only to see those outside them go past. Yet, in the first lap of the second race, the reverse happened when an early gybe allowed Court & Bradley to ghost past the first and second boats who had gone wide. 3 to 4 was an easier spinnaker leg.

On the second beat McKenna was reeled back in by the chasing pack which now consisted of Lawton, Colin and Court and while Court had closed the gap on the two boats ahead of him on the beat, he scored again on the top reach when he caught up to McKenna as well. Colin got further ahead by gybing to go “inside the trapezoid”, Court held a straight line course to Mark 3, but Lawton and McKenna went wide to the harbour mouth and sailed around Court to have the sequence at the bottom Mark as Clancy, Colin, Lawton, McKenna, Court, Miller, Chambers, Keegan. Lawton then stepped up a gear on the last lap to dispense with the chasing pack and to close significantly on the Clancys who hadn’t seen a Fireball at close quarters since the start. While the Olympian got closer, he didn’t get quite close enough.

The Race Committee swung the course northwards for the second race and the hope was that the varied conditions at the top of the course might improve. However, with hindsight, it appeared that 2 – 3 was still being influenced by its proximity to the wall and that leg didn’t evolve into a more comfortable 3-sailer.

The start was a scramble at the pin with Clancys trying to command the pin but being over the line in their attempt. There may have been at least one other OCS at that end but the principle culprit was Court and Bradley who broke the line in the minute before the start signal and didn’t comply with the consequent “round the end” penalty. They sailed off with the X flag flying convinced that the debacle was at the pin. Team Clancy did go back and found themselves in the polar opposite to the first race – fighting their way back through the fleet. The “rabbit status” thus fell to the ladies, Louise & Hermine who rounded ahead of the Olympians and Court & Bradley who felt that at last they had got a beat right. Their situation improved further when having gybed immediately at 2, they went into the lead when McKenna and Lawton went off towards the harbour mouth. However, by the approach to 3, the latter two had gybed back, set a course inside Court & Bradley and all three rounded 3 overlapped with Court on the outside. That was as good as it got for Court and Bradley who eventually found themselves fighting off the Keegans for 2nd last place after Chambers & McGuire had passed them out. Chambers & McGuire then went behind when someone illegally slammed the door shut on a mark rounding with Chambers adamant that she had an inside overlap.

Team Clancy progressively worked their way through the fleet and Lawton & Owens were also in the groove until late on I saw them taking turns. Colin usually revels in the more fickle conditions that were manifesting themselves as the race progressed. There didn’t seem to be any tell-tale signs on the water as to which way to go up the beat, but Neil managed to get himself into third by about the half-way stage of the race. McKenna & O’Keeffe were also enjoying the lighter conditions and showing their transom to the heavier all-male combinations. Miller & Donnelly had one fouled spinnaker hoist which didn’t do them any favours but they were nipping at those ahead of them all the same. Team Clancy went into the lead on the last lap and my recall is that they were closely followed over the finish line by the Olympians. A good day for them!

The two all-lady combinations won the Frostbite Mugs, Louise & Hermine for the first race and Mary & Brenda for the second.