Zanzara race report GHWS week 2
Week 1 for us was a write off due to a very dirty bottom, although I thought we would get away with it in the strong breeze, coupled with being light on crew numbers it was not to be. This weekend however we were freshly scrubbed and much more optimistic.
Although combined with irc3 the long start line made things quite easy. We got off well about 2/3rd of the way to the favoured pin end. With good height and speed were soon in the comfortable position of being possibly the lead boat and certainly able to tack when we wanted and safely be able to cross the boats to starboard of us when our first interesting moment of the day occurred. An irc3 j97 came across on port on a definite collision course and did nothing to duck us, finally tacking messily half onto our line causing us to have to luff up hard to avoid a collision, and then appeared to be remonstrating with us as if we had done something wrong. I had not hailed starboard on them as it was clear they could see us as we approached, so we could only conclude that they felt themselves so important having had a good day last week that they expected us to just give way to them? It is my understanding that there is no obligation to hail starboard, someone please correct me if that is not the case. Although we were slowed and ended up sailing in their dirt for sometime which lost us our advantage over the boats to the right there seemed little point in protesting as they were in a different class despite being on the same start line.
Approaching the first mark we were on port with Light coming up quickly a couple of boat lengths back to windward, we had an interesting moment deciding whether we needed to duck a class 0 boat (possibly Bob) coming up on starboard but fortunately a back in the wind put us comfortably clear ahead, even more fortunate for us Light had to duck them giving us back the choice to tack whenever we wanted. Rapscallion were about three boat lengths ahead coming up the lay line from the right, we tacked onto the layline and shortly found Bob coming back at us on port, unlike the arrogant J they duly tacked onto starboard just inside us, and with their superior height were able to make the mark.
We rounded the first mark in second place, still three boat lengths back from Rapscallion.
With some new crew our hoist took some time until we were properly up to speed although Rapscallion must also have had their own problems as we had managed to close the distance to them while being deeper. We gybed off for the mark a third of the way down the run, but when it was quickly apparent we were being taken well to the left of the mark along with a lot of boats in other classes we decided to gybe back to the right. This meant we would be approaching on port but we would have the ability to go clean around the outside if things got tight which turned out to be a good decision.
Unfortunately we were then to have a second interesting moment when a cruising catamaran came sailing across from the left on a collision course and once we had converged we were forced up onto a reach. The driver of the catamaran, skipper is too strong a word, seemed proud to exclaim that he was the right of way boat. I politely explained that according to seamanship it is customary to give way to a boat under spinnaker, particularly one racing, but yes technically he was the stand on vessel.
Once we cleared ahead of the cat we soaked down and gybed back at the mark. With the breeze now quite light we had lost ground with our excursion to the right but were able to come back high and fast in time to see the carnage around that mark, we sailed round well clear as we expected boats to sail up further towards us in order to get clearly round the mark and wanted to give them plenty room, but it appeared several boats all thought they were the inside boat and were going to sail that line no matter who else might be inside. I had no idea how it had all started in regards to overlaps etc so could be of no help to anyone as a witness, but will be interested to see the outcomes of the various protests resulting. They will no doubt be tricky ones.
As we came out wide of the mark we were now down to 5th or 6th, With Alacrity, Persephone and Pavlova and possibly another had all got through ahead of us with Rapscallion still in the lead. After the first beat with it's clear advantage to the left a lot of boats quickly went that way, I felt the advantage there was now gone so stayed right initially and then sailed conservatively, concentrating on the shifts and prioritising clear air up to the last windward mark. By this point we were back to third with just With Alacrity and Rapscallion ahead. I think they both went left on the last run, and we went right for a similar safe approach to the last leeward mark which turned out to be an easy clear rounding. We were now about 4-5 boat lengths behind With Alacrity who were a similar distance back from Rapscallion. There was no one close behind us so we were free to take a gamble to catch the boats ahead. Knowing we had no chance of catching Raps and WA by following them we decided to tack onto starboard as soon as there was the chance that another veer in the wind could lift us to the line. Even if the wind backed we would have no problem covering the boats behind us.
The lift never came and we ended up tacking back for the line about 10 boat lengths out. The line was offset to an extent that it looked impossible to cross on starboard and although Raps were out of reach we converged tantalisingly close to WA who tacked on our line to the finish (giving us plenty of room). They had good control of us, our only hope now was that they would not make the end of the line and that we would, as it happened we both had to shoot the line, us line astern.
Let's hope we get more breeze next week, and that we can continue to have fun at the front of the fleet!