Garmin Hamble Winter Series day 5 – 8 November– With Alacrity’s Report
A cold Northerly wind this Sunday with the odd bout of rain to remind us all it was the Winter Series. Breeze was occasionally gusting to 20 knots but averaging nearer 16 so No 1 was the genoa choice, the breeze decreased a couple of knots during the race so this ended up being the right choice. The start line was out on the Ryde bank and in the 10 minutes before the start varied between loads of port bias and just quite a lot of port bias. After our OCS last race we were keen to be conservative at the start and went for clear air in mid line rather than trying to nail the buoy – in the event we were a tad too conservative as we probably didn’t actually cross the line until 15-20 secs after the gun as we sailed at an acute angle to the line on Starboard. Rapscallion got off well at the buoy end and after a few minutes our clear air was compromised as we were squeezed by a J105 under us sailing slow and high and a J105 above sailing low and fast to power over us. We needed to tack but behind and to windward were Light & Persephone on starboard. The wind headed an extra 10 degrees so we tacked and just scraped across less than a boatlength ahead of Light to be first to head over to the mainland shore.
At the windward mark Rapscallion crossed 4 boatlengths ahead on port but then overstood the layline to the buoy so we rounded alongside each other. We both launched heavy kites and set off on quite a tight broad reach back across the Solent to a bouy East of Cowes. Rapscallion sailed high, our GPS showed we were sailing 20 deg above the layline and Persephone, Light and a few other 38s were sailing a lower course behind us - so we opted to cover the bulk of the fleet and sail lower leaving Rapscallion to windward. Halfway down this leg we realised the GPS had picked up the wrong mark – aaaarrrgh – so we headed back up 20 degrees onto a tight spinnaker reach and had to drop the kite to genoa sail the last 100 metres to the bouy. Rapscallion had got this leg right after all and rounded 6 lengths ahead, we tacked on the rounding to get separation and Rapscallion did a slow tack to cover us. The next 10 minutes was crucial as we, for once, got the boat into the groove upwind to pull back the deficit and more until we could tack to squeeze past ahead of Rapscallion – by then though we had just overstood the layline so were sailing “fat” to the windward mark. Persephone approached on port and probably had the chance to tack under us and arrive at the buoy alongside but they crossed behind to overstand the mark even further than we had.
We pulled out a few more lengths on the next downwind leg as Persephone & Rapscallion harassed each other but on the next beat we tried to hold a lane behind a J105 sailing upwind 4 lengths ahead. It took us nearly a third of the beat to realise we were very much not in the groove sailing high & slow to match the J105, by the time we tacked off and crossed the fleet again the lead was back down to just a few boatlengths and we had to cover tightly to the windward mark.
The final run was an awesome sight with Rapscallion, Persephone and seemingly the whole fleet bunched up close together with kites up – Zanzara & Mefisto were ominously close. We covered closely up the final beat to hang to the finish where we got a grandstand view of the battle for 2nd place. Rapscallion were ahead but not quite laying the line on starboard, Persephone were on their hip a boatlength to windward and Mefisto had made big gains by going left and were steaming towards the line on port. Just before sailing into the committee boat Rapscallion luffed head to wind to shoot the line, Persephone luffed as well and the place went to Rapscallion by just 1 second, Mefisto crossed 9 seconds later to take 4th. The winter series delivered another action packed day of high octane sailing, Persephone’s 3rd place was enough to take the lead in the series – now the 3rd Sigma 38 to take a turn at the top of the leader board.