2006 Hamble Winter Series – Race 3 – Report from With Alacrity
Weather forecasts during the week had been predicting 30 knots during Sundays race but when the day arrived it was another perfect 15 knot breeze even if the rain set in half way through the race.
For the third race in a row we screwed up the start, and then couldn’t believe our luck as everyone tacked onto port allowing us to continue on starboard with clear air after crossing behind every boat in the fleet. Our logic for going left was simply that the fleets ahead seemed to be heeling over more on that side of the first beat and we headed towards where the wind was, plus at this point we didn’t have much to lose! I don’t think there was much of a wind bend or tidal advantage one way or the other but we certainly seemed to have more breeze out on our own to the East and by the first mark we had recovered to second place a few boat lengths behind Persephone and just ahead of Festina Lente. We held off Festina quite easily down the broad reach but then in our determination not to make silly mistakes we hoisted the genoa too early and couldn’t keep the kite filling in the last few boatlengths to the mark allowing Festina to narrowly gain an overlap and round inside - this was a place given away far too cheaply.
On the next beat we tried to keep left again but this time it didn’t pay and as we approached the next windward mark Light had pulled back a huge distance to tack for the mark half a boatlength to leeward of us. I don’t think they realized though quite how close our masts got to touching as they tacked forcing us to luff sharply – well we are quite sensitive about looking after the new mast! We had a close tussle with Light for a while but in truth we just never managed to work out the best route upwind and with the tide setting in strongly we had lost further ground by the last windward mark. We gained a little on the last two downwind legs and the short beat to the finish but had to settle for 4th place again though this was a much more exciting race as we at least proved that we can get to the front of the fleet if we sail properly.
Persephone sailed another great race covering Festina all the way round but lost the lead on the last downwind leg to give Festina a third win in a row. As we headed back to Hamble the 30 knot gust came through which made us quite pleased we didn’t use the spinnaker for the sail home!