Warsash Spring Series Race 6 Report from No Fear.
After ripping the carbon race main on Saturday a full crew
To our surprise, after a short postponement, ripples started to appear on the water and eventually a 6-8 knot breeze became stable enough for the race committee to begin the start sequence – race on!
With the Sigma 38 start being combined with IRC4 we were expecting some mayhem on the start line so lined up with two minutes to go for a conservative mid line start. Unfortunately, we were caught by almost 20 boats reaching down the line to windward of us. Sailing close hauled in this dirty air turned our two minute run into the line to almost 4 minutes as we crossed the line late and forced to tack off to get clear air. With clear air we started the chase of the Sigma 38s ahead and by keeping to port on the first beat with a slight tidal advantage made some gains and reached the first windward mark back in touch with the pack.
The first downwind leg was a broad reach but in the light airs it paid to sail high of the rhumb line and half way down the leg we started to set up for an early gybe and port approach to the mark. Suddenly a tiny gust left our smooth rounding plans in tatters as we could sail lower in the extra wind and were now heading directly towards the rapidly approaching leeward mark. 2 minutes of frantic crew work later we managed to hoist the genoa, drop the pole, drop the kite and gybe around the mark pretty well simultaneously. Complete mayhem on board but probably looked OK from outside the boat.
We headed left again on the next beat but any tidal gains were lost in the fickle wind by the windward mark as we had to put in extra tacks to get round – very slow in light airs! As the tide was still just going west at the windward mark we gybed in the deep water to hang on to the last of the current. This was a long downwind leg as we tracked Torbellino who were a few boat lengths ahead , proving again that there really is very little difference in boatspeed between Sigma 38s. Vitesse had rounded a short distance behind and was sailing a deeper route that took them closer to the mainland shore. Persephone had headed off on Starboard and looked to be hardly moving on the right side of the course, mind you in 6 knots of breeze it probably looked to them as if we were hardly moving as well.
As we gybed back towards the leeward mark it looked as though it was going to be a tense battle to the finish in mid fleet as four S38s converged on the mark within just a few hundred metres. Unfortunately the wind switched off and after 20 frustrating minutes trying to ghost the boat towards the mark we were out of time. Commiserations to Light who pulled out an enormous early lead only to find they were OCS at the start. Congratulations to Festina Lente both for the series win and a great late recovery to pip Light at the finish, and end up being the only boat to finish before the time limit.
Post race drinks at Hamble Point rounded off the day hosted by Nigel and Karen from Persephone. My new measure of success for a pontoon party is if the mooring lines from boats alongside are the only thing stopping the pontoon from sinking under the weight of people!