HWS Day 3 – 23 Oct 2011 – Report from With Alacrity
A beautiful day to go sailing, 20 knots of wind made it classic Sigma 38 conditions and an easy choice to go with the No 2. The wind dropped to 17 knots or so shortly after the start and we briefly toyed with swapping to the No 1 but quickly forgot that idea as the wind increased to the low 20s as the race went on.
We had a few more crew changes than ideal for Sunday, with 3 new faces on board and another 2 re-jigged into jobs they hadn’t done before our boat handling was a little ragged – a HWS race in 20 knots is not the best time to put the spinnaker up for the first time with this set up (we had a few problems on the way out so ran out of time for our usual pre-race practice hoist). No complaints though, everyone did brilliantly and we were just glad to be out sailing!! We got around the course solidly and for most of the race near enough to the leaders but just weren’t good enough to get into the top 4. It highlighted to me how close the fleet is now as the difference between the front and mid-fleet is getting to be really tiny mistakes. Not having weight on the rail as you go around leeward marks, losing lanes of clear air upwind and spending more time on what is going on inside the boat rather than looking out is enough to bleed the boat lengths around the course.
The first beat was interesting though, with a slow tide against most boats headed inshore off the line, but there was a distinct wind bend that the boats starting down the line sailed into first and were being headed on starboard v those that were near the committee boat. Often a wind bend near the shore is worth going for as you gain on the tack back out – but the wind angle to the shore was such that you spent longer going in on the headed tack and less time on the lift coming out which I think was enough to negate any tidal advantage from being inshore.
Persephone led the way in fine style as we sailed the cascading windward leeward legs from Ryde bank onto the Hillhead plateau. The decisive point for the leaders was when a ship steamed down the North Channel as we were beating across it allowing Pavlova III to seize the initiative from Persephone and hold it to the finish making P3 the 3rd race winner in 4 races. Great to see this team “progressing” all the way to first place!! On the final downind leg Zanzara, who had been sailing strongly from the start had a mini broach (to avoid a boat sailing upwind?) and we thought we had the chance to get past but were held up by an IRC asymmetric pushing us wide and couldn’t capitalise. Zanzara finished strongly for another podium, we could not make inroads on an under-crewed Rapscallion and by the finish were keeping a wary eye on the charging Gambit (proving that sailing with a reef in 20 knots is not so slow) as we held on to finish in fifth.
Looks like the series is poised to become a classic with P3 leading after 4 races but on equal points with Persephone, we need to up our game before they run away with it.
Update from the protest room
Well, the summary is that after 90 minutes of presenting cases and a long deliberation With Alacrity were disqualified for the leeward mark rounding incident on race 3 - which is obviously disappointing. As expected, it was a very good-natured discussion though I am still trying to process exactly what to make of the conclusion. Perhaps when I have thought it through, I will write some more about the experience.