Zanzara Race report 21-11-10

We were late setting up for the start today, indecision between the No 1 and 2 being the main reason, the no1 we are using has great shape, but being an old UK sail I have little confidence in it at the top end of itís range.

As it was we ended up mid line, Vitesse to Starboard and Festina just to the right of them. I have to admit to being concerned that even we might have been over, but if so they both were too so it would have been a general recall. As it was the line was called clear and off we went.

With a north easterly I normally expect the wind to back towards the mainland shore, so decided to go to the left. We didnít go far, probably the last to tack and felt we had a strong position coming back across, fairly early feeling we were unexpectantly almost laying the first mark. As we closed the mark it became clear we had gone too far and became unable to play the shifts. This was to become the stroy of our day.

As we closed the first mark everyone further to the right was coming in comfortably ahead of us.

From at times thinking we may even be in the lead at the first mark we slotted in about 7th I think.

Our main targets in the series, Nuance and Light were ahead of us as we came out of the mark. This downwind leg was uneventful. It was close to dead downwind and we just went down the middle, not great speed, but going for the shortest distance, running by the lee when we needed. It didnít pay, both Nuance and Light went slightly higher, gybed back and back again to the mark and extended.

The second beat we stuck with the no 2, possibly right for the first one but definitely not for the second, and going what turned out to be the wrong way again we made no ground, and as the wind was lighter towards the north shore lost ground on the boats ahead.

My recollection of the number of legs is now dimming, so may or may not be skipping ahead.. Either way I will continue from the last windward mark. We managed to approach inside Light, and took a very finely judged tack at the mark in order to overlap them on the way in, which we only just made, had to shoot the mark, to the point we only just had enough way to swing the stern around.

On the last leeward leg I decide to sail angles so gybed immediately away to go for clear air and ideally get some speed to come back in hotter again to the mark at Gale HSB. It didnít work. Although we were well ahead for a while we quickly closed with Light on the way back and had clearly not gained on Nuance. We quickly converged with Light on the run into the mark, both on starboard, and with them having regained the overlap from astern decided it was time to repay the luffing they have done to us so regularly this series. I think we went too early, the idea was to go high for speed, get clear ahead and make them go outside us, but as we went too early a luffing battle commenced, there were calls of proper course, but as they had got the overlap from astern it was invalid. Approaching the leeward mark they still had an overlap inside and we were being kind, as I did not want to end up down tide of the mark ourselves, and as we came into the three boat length zone they were still inside and we could have given them room, but they bailed out. Not sure if they had a problem or were just concerned about making the mark, either way we werenít complaining.

Coming out of the mark it was Nuance and Gambit ahead, they had both tacked sooner and once we had, realising there was the chance of laying the finish line we concentrated everything on height. The shifts were slow, but when lifted we were making the line, when headed not. We just had to stand on and hope it worked for us. As we approached the line we were on a knock, Nuance tacked and were in easily ahead, but Gambit passed only a couple of boat lengths ahead, we carried on as close as we dared to the committee boat before tacking towards the line and as we closed there was the question as to whether we had rights over gambit on port as we were on starboard, but not wanting yet another protest, and thinking we could shoot the line ahead of them I went for it, but it didnít work, we crossed the line one second behind.

Conclusion Ė for anyone who has managed to read this far. The overall standard of our class racing has improved hugely. I have a great crew at the moment and have been racing really well, but with everyone else racing so well the first beats count hugely. Boat to boat we have had the better of both Festina Lente and With Alacrity at times, but their consistently good judging of the starts, first beats and shifts throughout the races has made them stand out from the rest of us. Rapscallion and Light are consistently sailed well and Nuance are scarily good for a new boat. Kindred Spirit has been sailed fantastically well, and if they had been out every weekend, and not had what appears to be a very cruel set back last weekend would be challenging much further up the leader board. Gambit headed us in today, Gallant and Vitesse are well on the pace and Marta showed they can finish well up the rankings a couple of weeks ago. Just look at the finish times, we have a great fleet.

I should give a word to protests, it has probably been noticed we have made a couple this series. With Fastina it was a Rule 10, they thought they were ahead of us, we felt they were not ahead and had to duck. It was too close to call and I would not have liked to have had to deal with the consequences had we hit them. That is apparently now enough in the view of the PC. A good thing I think, when our boats weigh seven tons plus it is not good to get too close.

Our protest with Nuance was very complicated, called a lot of rules into question, so probably best to discuss with me or Eddie if you are interested.

My main point is if feeling compromised, then protest. The process of these two protests has taught me a huge amount about the rules and how they can be interpreted. If we all know the rules, when we have rights and what we need to do when we donít, the cleaner and better our racing will be for all.

Lets hope it continues to go the way it seems at the moment. We are showing everyone how yacht racing can be at the best level.