Zanzara WSS 5/4
Everything felt good as we made our way out to the line. With three new crew we headed out early and hunted down patches of breeze to do a few warm up gybes with the kite, and do what practice we could. After the short postponement the breeze seemed to have filled in well for a good race.
After some confusion over timing before the start I thought I had us setup well to come in free and fast at the starboard end of the line (which end is the committee boat when they seem to be at both ends!) but after the tack the wind angle to the line did not seem to be what I expected, at the time I put it down to a mistake on my behalf, but after reading With Alactrity’s report, maybe there was an unusual shift at this time.
Either way we were still 3-4 lengths back at the gun, certainly not free and fast as I expected, so with little to loose decided to head over to the other side of the first beat and take our chances on the shifts, but this turned out to be the wrong side, combined with coming out worst on a few Port starboard crossings we were well down the field by the first mark.
With several new crew this was not a bad thing, you always expect a few mistakes on manoeuvres, so it is a lot more fun to spend the race passing forward through the fleet, rather than dropping back, or so I thought. With Alacrity and Premier Cru were not far ahead and I think at this time Vitesse were just behind us, so the race was on. And a close one it turned out to be. We had a few slow tacks and slightly messy sets, but certainly nothing major and really felt we were sailing well, but just seemed unable to close the small gap ahead to With Alacrity and Premier Cru, and could not shake off Vitesse. Every time I looked over my shoulder they were right there!
On the run to the last mark we stayed closer to the shore in the hope of getting clear air and thought we might get the chance we needed as we watched Premier Cru gybe over to try to cover With Alacrity, there seemed to be a short duel which With Alacrity certainly seemed to come out on top of but it turned out the line they were sailing must have been better for tide as approaching the last mark With Alacrity had pulled out a bigger gap on us and we rounded just behind Premier Cru.
We tacked quickly to try to get out from under them, but they tacked to cover us, I started to ponder how we could get some separation, but a look over my shoulder revealed Vitesse, who were now above us! Unable to tack we were locked in Premier Cru’s dirty air and felt well and truly trapped, to late to go free and fast, too slow to try to go high, and even the desperate move of tacking and ducking Vitesse was out of the question as they were too close, yet far enough above to rule out any chance of luffing them and forcing a tack.
Eventually PC and V tacked away, so I decided to hold on slightly past the lay line to the finish in order to sail slightly freer on the last tack to the line, in the hope more power would help drive us through the short chop, the gamble meant coming into the line on Port but it paid off. At the line Premier Cru crossed just 10 seconds ahead and Vitesse gave us a very sporting round of applause as they crossed 14 seconds behind. A very close race, definitely one design racing at its best.