Second race of the year

19 April 2015

A northeasterly F5 was blowing first thing this morning as various crews began to assemble for today's race. Stuart and Georgia were with me and we went out around 1015 with a reefed mainsail and unrolled about 2/3 of the genoa when we got out to the start area.

A line start off the committee boat, with flag signals and hoots 5, 4, 1, 0 and away, about a minute late across the line and beating hard to the east for the Steel Can mark. Quite close to several boats including the commodore's yacht.

Making good progress as we were slightly ahead of the tide turning, we were around Steel Can after 22 mins and bearing away out to the Weather Station, on a broad reach, Georgia taking the helm while Stuart balanced the boat from the foredeck.

Nice bright sunshine and the wind began to drop back towards F3, we were considering shaking out the reef and going to full sail but we knew we'd have a long beat back shortly so we left the decision for a while. We were about 5th on the course with one boat in the distance well behind us.

Gybing around the weather station and running towards the next mark at Outfall we were close behind Free n Easy and Cabre who were very close to each other and we watched them go round the buoy neck and neck. Georgia had brought some chocolate which was just the job at this point. A minute or so behind them we hardened up for what we knew would be a long beat back to Steel Can northeast of us into the wind and into the tide.

At this point we made a couple of decisions on when to tack which did not go well for us and we lost another couple of minutes when we tried to shake the reef out and get the full main up, the reefing ropes getting a bit tangled and all in a bit of a flap. Once back on course the wind was variable in direction and seemed to fall away to nothing every few minutes then back came some gusts and off we went again. Steel Can was always just on the beam and 3/4 of a mile away each time we tacked and it never got any closer no matter what we tried! Once she was on course with full sail Elsa remained well balanced and went really well but the wind kept heading us and the longer we took, the stronger the tide got and the harder it became.

Other boats did better then us and it was 2h 20min into the race before we reached the mark and went around it, clearly well behind the others by now. The race officer Richard waited patiently at anchor in the committee boat for us to cross the line at the back of the fleet, 6th out of 6, 2;33;05 elapsed time.

As we motored back in a couple of big lifeboats, from Shoreham and from Selsey, were visiting the harbour and waved as we went past and back into the berth just after 2pm. Over 3.5 hours at sea and 15.5 NM logged on the GPS trip meter. We'd had a really good sail but totally messed up that last leg so we were not surprised to be last place!

Time for beer and chips as usual and lots of thoughts about what to do to make it easier to reef and un-reef in future!


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