Third race and a bit windy

29 April 2018

Carlo was with me again on Sunday for the cruiser race. Weather was a bit cooler with a wind forecast F5 from the NE. Normally I would not go out into a F5 if I could help it, but a wind from that direction usually means a flat sea with little swell, and with two of us big blokes aboard I thought it was worth a go. Before we left we set the first reef in the main. Hoisting the sail in the river meant driving the boat head to wind up the river so by the time we had it up and set tight and turned round it was a long motor down to the sea.

Five boats turned out and the race officer had set the start mark as one of our fixed cruiser marks so it took us all a while to get to the start line, and most of us weren't there for the 1100 start time. Fortunately he waited for us. We'd unrolled about 2/3 of the genoa and the wind was probably around 20 kts and quite gusty sometimes. Elsa was fine with both sails reefed in but did heel and round up when the stronger gusts hit us. Briefly I considered going back but we were out there now and seemed to be managing ok. Not much of a sea, as I'd hoped, fairly flat with small white horses.

With the wind being NE and a fairly strong tide also coming at us from the East it proved tricky to hit the line on starboard heading into all that - half the fleet including us messed it up and were late at the line. You are supposed to cross within 2 mins of the start but we didn't make it. The race officer ahead in the distance had seen this happen and let us know by radio that we could carry on into the race if we wished, so we all did.

Quite a hard beat now to the first mark to the East. On port tack we were heading in the right direction but couldn't point high enough to make it, tacking onto starboard the tide was pushing us back West towards Littlehampton. So it took us about 40 mins hard tacking to reach the mark and get around. The two fastest boats were ahead as usual and we were tacking around quite close to one of the others just behind us. Once around and heading South to the weather station, we had the wind on the quarter, I unrolled the full genoa and off she went on a fast broad reach. As noted on my previous race, I was aware of the tide pushing us sideways so aimed the boat well to the left of the weather station which we could clearly see ahead. We were well ahead of the two boats behind us now so third on the course.

Gybing carefully around the huge metal thing that is the weather station, with its flock of birds perched on top looking down at us, we were on another broad reach to the Outfall mark. This isn't far and with the tide helping us we saw over 8 knots on the GPS for about three minutes before it was time to harden up and start the beat back. The wind felt less strong on these broad reaches but I knew that was a false feeling as it was behind us and we were going fast, so just before we hardened up I rolled a third of the genoa away again so both sails were reefed. This proved to be a good move because as we hardened up onto close hauled to beat back to the finish it was obviously still gusting to F5 and hard going!

This became the hardest part of the race and it took almost an hour to beat our way back to the harbour entrance. The finish line was across the harbour entrance and with an ever-stronger west-going tide and a head wind it took us a couple of goes to hit the entrance, once over the line we spun around and let the boat get blown out to sea again so we could take in all the sails and start the motor. One boat Scampi behind us almost caught us up but we'd crossed in third place. With the outboard on full power, pushing Elsa into the harbour against the river current and into the wind, we made it back to the berth quite cold and physically tired but I was pleased we'd stayed out as it had been hard going but quite satisfying!

R3 - 2018-04-29 at 1100

Race officer Dick Holden
Course - Gate start at Store mark, then East, Weather, Outfall, Store, Harbour entrance
Start: Start 1, Finishes: Elapsed time, Wind dir: 45, Ave wind: 20
DancerHunter Delta8625YDick Holden0.8801;02;450;55;131.0
Sooper TrooperSea Wolf 265614TPhil Turnbull0.8451;12;431;01;272.0
ElsaSeal 22122Alistair Tyrrell0.7901;54;431;30;383.0
ScampiFour 21 Jonathan Penberthy0.7832;00;001;33;584.0
Van NuysPirate ExpressK299George Whitehouse0.760RET 6.0

Sailwave Scoring Software 2.19.8

We were in time for Sunday lunch so I recovered my energy with a plate of roast pork and crackling before finishing packing up and going home. Next race is not till the end of May.


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