Rounding the last mark we had a fairly good gap back to Light, so dropped early, intending a conservative beat back up to the line, but that wasn’t to be! We gibed around the mark, and as we came out on port Marta came storming out of nowhere to cross ahead of us, believing we were in phase we stayed on port till the shift, which proved to be the right choice as at the next crossing we were much closer! With great judgement Brian stood on port to cross us barely a couple of meters ahead as his transom passed us. I was ready to duck, and had the furled up red flag behind in mind had I needed it, but that wasn’t the case. At the next shift we tacked back, and this time crossed a couple of boat lengths clear ahead of Marta, and having gained the advantage decided it was time to switch from the shifts to close cover to protect our position. We seemed to be in control for a couple of tacks, but then a very quick tack onto port by Marta meant they just edged out of close cover, still to leeward of us, but in clearer air. At this point we still felt in control as Marta were too close to complete a tack ahead of us, so would have to wait for us to go. The match race between ourselves and Marta would have been a thrilling end to the race in itself, but more was to come, now back in phase with the shifts we had both managed to close down With Alacrity who I can only guess had carried too far west on the tide and came back across both of us on starboard, Marta needed only to duck slightly if at all, but not wanting to tack into almost certain cover had to make a big bear away around the transom of With Alacrity and our cover on Marta was broken.
With the tide building strongly from the East it was now a three way battle to make the line. We quickly tacked back onto starboard towards the line, quickly followed by Marta, who were now positioned to cover our final tack at the line. With Alacrity tacked away early, possibly to setup a starboard approach at the line, passing ahead of both us and Marta, certainly too early to make the line. As we sailed up alongside the line with Marta to windward our choice was difficult. We had already passed the point at which I knew we could tack and make the line, if we went quick and ducked under Marta I was confident we would cross the line before them, but would this put us in the teeth of With Alacrity now coming back on starboard. While trying to work out if it was likely to work Marta finally tacked, and we went after them, bearing away more to try to build speed as quickly as we could but it was not enough and Marta finished 23 seconds ahead, With Alacrity crossed the line 25 seconds behind us.
A fantastically close finish to a nearly 3 hour race, what one design racing is all about. As for the first two and half hours of the race, well they were fun too..
Congratulations to Persephone on clinching their first inshore series. A big thankyou to all the crew of Zanzara who have come together well over the series, from a rather desperate start, putting together a crew in a few short days after returning from the Caribbean, the last couple of weeks have been great. Yesterday was the first day with nearly all the Nationals crew sailing together, so great practice, and judging by the atmosphere and enthusiasm on the sail back and in the bar afterwards we are all hoping for good things..
Roll on next weekend.