2006 Hamble Winter Series – Race 5 – Report from With Alacrity
The forecast for the day was for a NW breeze to slowly move around to the west so plan A was to keep left upwind to pick up the persistent shift. In the event though there was already quite a bit of West in the wind direction and with1.5 knots of East going tide plan B was rapidly hatched to go right as quickly as possible to get into less tide around the Bramble bank.
We opted for the committee boat end of the line so that we could tack onto Port early but there ended up being a healthy bias to the buoy end and as everybody had the same idea of tacking onto Port we ended up in a drag race to the shallow water with Festina, Light and Persephone 3-6 boat lengths to windward. As we got closer to the Bramble bank things really got interesting with the wind becoming very shifty as it came off the mainland shore. For once it really paid to tack on the shifts and big gains could be made on each one. We managed to cross Persephone only for them to pick up the next shift and regain the advantage, just 4 or 5 boat lengths ahead Light and Festina were having a similar battle. The class 3 boats spread out ahead gave a good preview of the shifts coming down the course and what made the difference today was having someone on board who was very good at reading these and a constant dialogue upwind between the rail and helm. This along with a dose of good fortune when it mattered at the end of the first beat helped us get the better of the next 4 or 5 shifts and we found ourselves 6 boat lengths clear at the windward mark.
This was a race where the rich got richer as we jetted downwind doing 8 knots over the ground while the rest of the fleet were still struggling upwind against the tide. A luffing match between Persephone and Festina helped us gain a little more on the run and for the rest of the race it was just a matter of loosely covering the boats behind whilst trying to keep clear air and working the shifts when we could.
Another fantastic winter series race and this one proved again how well matched Sigma 38s are with almost any boat having a good race capable of getting to the front of the fleet.