HWS 2008 Race Report – With Alacrity - 12 Oct 2008
We found this a very tricky days sailing on With Alacrity, picking a route through the patches of breeze was key and I don’t think the most obvious route was necessarily the quickest. Wasn’t it nice to be sailing in shorts and t-shirts in October though, and the wind was far better than the previous day when With Alacrity and Festina had drifted around for 4 hours with the RSYC double handed fleet before racing was abandoned through lack of breeze!
Race 1 was started in just 6/7 knots with a big starboard bias on the line, but there was a strong argument for starting at the “wrong” end and getting inshore out of the adverse current first. Watching the fleets starting before us it became pretty obvious that there was less wind to the left so we dutifully lined up by the committee boat. We approached the line at pace but could not find a path past Festina and Premier Cru who were up early but moving slowly at the start, the chancers reaching into the the line found a gap and we had 3 or 4 boats sailing over us – rats! We tacked early to clear our wind and found more breeze on the right. Festina headed straight inshore but it looked very light in there so we tacked right again trying to stay in the breeze but being careful not to venture into the deeper water. Halfway up the beat it looked like the wind was filling inshore so we headed in and for a while it looked like we would cross ahead of Festina but we sailed into one more patch of light breeze and by the time we were through the advantage was gone. We tacked inshore 4 boatlengths behind Festina and by the time we got to the layline Festina had clear air but we had a few boats giving us dirty air so lost a little more before rounding the windward mark. Scarlet Jester, an SJ32, had stayed out to the right and kept in stronger breeze to round 100 metres clear ahead.
The run was another tricky call, with the tide now in our favour most boats stayed out in the deeper water but this meant sailing higher than I think was necessary - so would the extra current make up for the extra distance sailed? We did go deeper and got to the leeward mark without having to gybe but in the end this neither gained or lost any ground.
It was now a short beat to the finish, with Festina a comfortable 10 lengths ahead we switched our attention to covering the S38s behind to secure 2nd Sigma 38 ahead of Persephone.
For race 2 the breeze was much less patchy and had filled in to 8-10 knots across the whole course. With less current and a slightly less bias line we started again from the committee boat end and again were rolled by the boats reaching into the line forcing us to tack to clear our wind. This time we tacked back as soon as we could as there was just as much wind inshore, if not more. Again we crossed 4 or 5 lengths behind Festina but this time on the layline we were pproperly stuffed with 3 or 4 boats giving us dirty air. We bit the bullet and made a short tack to clear our wind but this was taking us well past the layline and we arrived at the buoy alongside Light. At the leeward mark we were fighting for space with a gaggle of X332s and a J110 just ahead, Light was ominously close behind us so again we gave up chasing Festina and covered Light to the finish. Persephone was also on a charge by now and they crossed the line with the committee boat unable to separate them from Light awarding them both 7th=, not often you see that in a sailing race !
A really enjoyable day’s racing, Festina did a great job of keeping just ahead of the pack to win the day with a great 1st & 2nd in IRC3. The new winter series format of 2 action packed races gets a big thumbs up from us, but we are going to have to brush up our starts as it is hard to recover once you are behind in such short races.