2006 Hamble Winter Series – Race 6 – Report from With Alacrity
Wow – what a classic race with the first 4 boats all leading at some point and Festina having to dig herself out of a big hole to only break into the lead on the last downwind leg.
On With Alacrity our downfall was believing the weather forecasts which were predicting light 4-5 knot breeze for the start building to 9 knots at midday. With this in mind we happily motored out with just 7 people on board and despite valiant effort all round it just wasn’t enough to sail the boat well when the breeze settled in at a solid 15-19 knots – big lesson learnt.
The start had a starboard bias at the committee boat end and a strong tide pushing along the line towards the committee boat evident from the carnage at the class 3 start with 4/5 boats being swept into the committee boat. We opted to start 3-4 boat lengths from the committee boat and lined up just to leeward but half a boat length ahead of Festina. Premier Cru came reaching down the line and rounded up with seconds to go and we managed to squeeze through to leeward leaving Festina in Pemier Cru’s dirty air and eventually having to tack off.
It was all looking good up the first beat which was a long starboard tack into the tide, but Light and Persephone who started at the other end of the line gradually started to gain and point higher – better boastpeed maybe but I think the wind was increasing and lifting towards the island shore and they were getting the benefit first. By the time we crossed they had caught up and as they were on the layline we tacked between them but took an age to get back up to speed after the tack and were overtaken by both boats. At the first mark Persephone lead with Light second but we rounded close behind. With the wind touching 19 knots we delayed the kite hoist until we had a decent gap to leeward and after the hoist managed to sail over Light, by the gybe mark we had an overlap on Persephone to round inside but a poor gybe with a pole problems on both With Alacrity and Persephone let Light through to take the lead. We sat on top of Light down this next downwind leg and managed again to gain an inside overlap to come out of the leeward mark narrowly in front.
Next came our terrible five minutes as we struggled to get the boat going upwind, we wanted to tack back out into the deep water but the genoa sheet caught round the foredeck cleat creating chaos on board – by the time we got the tack in we had dropped to fourth place and this time the wind shift by the island didn’t come to our rescue and we rounded the next windward mark 10 boat lengths down.
On this downwind leg we were treated to the amazing site of Light, Festina and Persephone in a huge luffing match by the Bramble post just within a few boat lengths of each other, fleetingly we thought this could be a chance to sail through as we sailed down the rhumb line but it didn’t last long enough and by the last leeward mark Festina was clear ahead and we were still 5 boat lengths behind Light & Persephone.
The last windward leg to the finish was just a matter of trying to split tacks in the hope of picking up a windshift but it didn’t work out for us so we finished 4th with Festina coming good when it mattered to take the win and Light getting the better of Persephone for second place – wasn’t it an exciting race though !