Unexpected pleasure

Post date: Jan 18, 2016 8:48:41 AM

Reading XCWeather’s predictions for this afternoon’s Frostbite racing, one might have expected to be under pressure from the conditions that were being forecast – at 15:00 the projected wind strength was 16 knots with gusts of 23 knots from a SSE direction. As I type this report, Windfinder is suggesting the same thing for 15:00, but it certainly didn’t feel that way.With a weather mark inside the HSS gantry, though slightly to the east of it and a short top reach, the Race Committee set a 4-lap trapezoid for the afternoon’s entertainment and a declaration that two races would be sailed.

In a fleet that boasted a Wayfarer, two GP 14s, a Solo, a K1, a Finn, an IDRA 14, RS 200s, RS400s, Lasers, Laser Radials, a Topper, Laser Vagos and a RS Venture, 9 Fireballs answered the race committee’s call.

The first start line was difficult to cross on starboard tack and those who had chosen to go to the pin found themselves in trouble! Lurking to leeward of the start line on port tack with about 20 seconds to go were Messrs Butler & Oram, obviously intent on starting on the pin on port. However, they found the door shut and had to conform with the starboard tack approach to the start line behind Messrs Miller & Bradley who could cross the line ahead of Team Clancy and Colin & Casey who in their quest for the pin found themselves unable to cross the line. After a short hitch to the left, both Butler & Miller went right to the middle of the harbour, with Team Clancy having being obliged to do the same thing earlier when their pin end start was thwarted. Though he was to leeward of Miller, Butler had better boat speed and was able to eke out a lead ahead of Miller to tack onto starboard and clear him.

At the first weather mark, Clancy and Butler converged with Butler closest to the mark. There was a difference of opinion on the water as to who had right of way at the mark and the mark got “kissed” as a consequence. Rounding in third place, Bradley asked if either boat would be doing turns, to which there was a stony silence.

Behind Miller & Bradley, Cariosa Power & Marie Power (14854) were being pushed by another all-lady combination, Mary Chambers & Brenda McGuire (14865) while the final ladies combination, Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe (14691) weren’t far behind that. A decision on whether to gybe, or not, at Mark 3 was critical to the next leg. Butler sailed on while the two chasing boats did gybe. This allowed Butler & Oram to open a further gap on Team Clancy and leave them in a comfortable position for the remainder of the race. Miller didn’t close on Clancy by any significant distance, and this was as close as the 2nd placed boat came to being overtaken. On laps 2 & 3 Power & Barry closed and overtook Miller and Bradley, being able to sail that bit faster on the off-wind legs. However, in the gusts the heavier male combination were able to hold them off, but by Mark 3 for the 3rd time, the ladies had got ahead and some cleverness was needed to haul them in. After Mark 3 Miller went high, with a view to powering over Power and while that was partially achieved, both boats went above the straight line course to Mark 4. Though he was effectively sailing by the lee, Miller was inside boat and overlapped at Mark 4 and was able to force the ladies to take the long way round the mark.

On the fourth beat, they went their separate ways, Power going left, Miller right. When they crossed again, Miller had pulled out some distance on the other boat and a good hoist at the last weather mark allowed him to extend that lead even further. Power held on to 4th and fifth went to Neil Colin and Margaret Casey which represented significant progress considering they had to duck the pin at the start.

Before the start of the next race there was a sense that the increase in wind strength predicted by the web-based XCWeather was starting to happen. However, it flattered to deceive and while there was a bit more wind it wasn’t that severe. The pin end was moved for the second start and that made the line a bit more negotiable with the usual suspects at the pin – Butler, Clancy, Miller and Colin. Miller stayed left longest while Butler went right after Clancy. Colin worked the middle of the course and by the first weather mark, the running order was Butler, Clancy, Miller and Colin with the latter two being in close company. This meant that Miller had to keep an eye on what was happening behind him, at least on the off-wind legs. The script was fairly mundane for the balance of the race – Butler wasn’t really challenged by Clancy, who wasn’t challenged by Miller, but Miller was very aware of Colin. For the second lap there was no change, but on the third and final beat, Bradley, having to tack backwards with Miller’s set-up, found a trapeze line in the wrong place halfway through the tack and fluffed the tack. This allowed Colin to edge ahead on the beat so that by the time they reached the weather mark for the last time, Colin & Casey were ahead a couple of boat-lengths. Colin led to the last mark where Miller was convinced he had water on the other boat. Colin was determined not to give way and as there was no contact between the boats, all that Miller could feel was aggrieved. Louise McKenna & Hermine O’Keeffe “came into the equation” on the short hitch to the finish such was the skewness of the line relative to mark 4, but Miller held on to take fourth.

In the race for the Frostbite Mugs, the first pair was won by the Keegans (14676) while the second set went to Dave Coleman & Glenn Fisher (14407).