HWS 2007 Race 3 Report - With
For the 3rd Sunday in a row we drifted around with the AP flying debating whether we would get a race in, this time the wind gods gave us enough to get a race in with just a 2 hour postponement. Watching the previous 3 starts was fascinating, although the line bias and tide suggested starting to the left, several times the boats from the right end of the line seemed to defy logic and pick up longer lifting gusts and end up ahead. Last week we started from the committee boat and it was awful so this time we ignored the same temptation and found a big gap a quarter of the way along the line and set off in clear air with Festina and Persephone struggling in a pack of boats to leeward. Half way up the beat Dragonfly was leading having nailed the start (and being nearer the committee boat than us) and we flirted with a windless zone too close to the shore crossing tacks with Festina. At the windward mark Dragonfly still had a solid lead and we scraped around with a risky port tack approach to round in second place just ahead of the chasing pack lead by Festina. Avoiding traffic once around was difficult and in the chaos Festina sailed over the top of us and Dragonfly into the lead.
After a long spinnaker leg trying to make the most out of wind barely touching 7 knots we picked up some pressure on the way into the mark which meant we could sail lower and avoid having to gybe and just got an overlap to round inside Festina. The next beat had become very bias to starboard and we developed a serious boatspeed problem as Festina re-took the lead and started to stretch away and Persephone came from 4-5 boat lengths back to sail through to leeward. With little to lose we tacked off for a line of pressure to the right which paid off and pulled us back into contention - after crossing tacks a few times we ended up on the layline with Festina tacking right on top of us. This became a drag race as Festina built speed but we just slipped through their lee enough to hold our own as we sailed the last quarter of a mile into the mark just 6 feet apart. A few feet further back and they would have sailed over the top but we just held them to round the second mark in a row overlapped on the inside.
On this final downwind leg Festina sailed low and Persephone were suddenly starting to look threatening by sailing high. We only had the slenderest lead and with no way to cover both decided to concentrate on boatspeed and getting the angles right. To our astonishment we either picked up a patch of wind or managed to get the boat in the groove, still really not sure which, but had pulled out a healthy lead by the leeward mark which we held to the finish.
In the end a very tense and enjoyable race in which the time difference at the finish really didn’t justify how tight it was. I lost count but the Sigma 38 lead probably changed 7 or 8 times during the race. On handicap Sigma 38s struggled today partly because of the less than ideal conditions but we probably spent a good part of the race slowing each other down. Interesting to see just 2 seconds was the difference between Marta and Vitesse at the finish – would be fascinating to hear that story!