HWS 2007 Race 2 Report – With Alacrity - 14 Oct 2007


What a bizarre days sailing. With more than a few people sporting distinctly sore heads sacrificed in support of England’s rugby win on Saturday night a short postponement waiting for the wind was not unwelcome. However, as the hours dragged by we were itching to get started and avoid a second weeks racing cancelled through lack of wind. Just as we thought it was looking hopeless the start sequence started and we got away in barely 5 knots of breeze at 12:50 for a short 2 lap windward/leeward on the Bramble Bank.


Four minutes before the start the skipper decided he had spotted a right hand shift that favoured the committee boat and abandoned carefully thought through plans for a mid-line start in clear air and headed for the committee boat, it was all looking OK until a succession of boats reached into the line to windward leaving us struggling for boatspeed in dirty air and eventually crossing 5 boatlengths late and pinned into a lane with a  boat to leeward and two boats to windward. We have tried this before in light airs and it didn’t work last time !! By the time we found space to tack off we were well off the front of the fleet and had plenty to do to recover. Upwind we crossed tacks with Flying Formula and Marta who for sure have no problem with boatspeed as we struggled to get past. We eventually found a little more pressure on the right and approached the windward mark within just a few boatlengths of Persephone, Light and Marta. Here disaster 2 struck as we tacked onto the layline only to have a succession of boats unable to round the buoy against the tide tacking back on top of us slowing us down and forcing us to tack off again, three slooowww tacks later we rounded but by then Festina, Persephone, Light & Marta had pulled out a huge distance as they scooted downwind with the tide. With nothing to lose we gybed off to the South and again seemed to pick up more pressure to close the gap and rounded just inside Marta at the leeward mark.


Up the next beat we closed the gap on Light but just couldn’t quite get past and rounded the next windward mark 3 or 4 boat lengths behind which was about the gap at the finish. We suffered hugely in this race by making big mistakes at the start and first rounding, in light airs being in dirty wind is a killer. In truth though we never really worked out the fastest route around this tricky course where the tidal strategy suggested keeping to shallow water upwind and heading North to Hillhead downwind, whilst there seemed to be more  breeze to the South, ho hum maybe the boats who got it right can enlighten us!


Chaos reigned after the finish as it became apparent the finish boat had not realised they were finishing class 3 so had missed the first half of the fleet. Still not quite sure what will be the outcome but a re-sail looks distinctly likely. Has to be said this is a very uncharacteristic lapse from the HWS organisers whose race management and course setting is usually outstanding.


Still the omens are good for a great winter series with really very little boatspeed difference between the Sigma 38s and as ever the key being to point the boat in the right direction. Good to see PandaNova visiting from the west coast and Flying Formula & Marta both seem to be well on the pace.