First race with Bay Leaf

21 July 2019

Big day at the yacht club as we hold the annual Dobson Memorial combined dinghy / cruiser race. Morgan came down, we also had my friend Janet, and a new member Roger appeared just as we were getting ready to leave. So we had four aboard. A decent steady F3-4 from the West and bright skies.

The engine seems fine after we sorted out the thermostat and freshwater cooling, I knew the genoa sheets were a bit poor but worth going to sea. Hoping to keep up with the other Centaur, Free n Easy. Crew in good spirits.

We got off the berth about 1.15pm and got the mainsail up then drove her out to sea amongst a crowd of other cruisers and several dinghies being towed out against the current by the club RIB. We tightened the main halyard as it was drooping as bit but once that was done the main set perfectly for the rest of the day. She's difficult to sail under main alone due to lack of drive so we unrolled 3/4 of the genoa and tacked up and down around the start area. Dinghies were due to start first at 2pm so we sailed about for a bit to get the hang of it.

We were keeping well clear of the line at the dinghy start so we didn't hear their hooter which was also our 5 minute signal and as we sailed back to the line I could see flag P so we'd missed the 4 minute signal as well. I hit my stopwatch as the P came down so that was a minute to go and we tacked around aiming to hit the line on starboard around the middle. A bit of a crowd as there were 15 cruisers starting, but a good long start line so we got through fine quite pleased with our position.

Bay Leaf is a heavier boat than Elsa so the wind and the chop did not bother her, she just heeled into it and ploughed on. We had trouble in the tacks as those genoa sheets particularly on the port side were not gripping the winches and it took Morgan and Roger working together to get the big genoa sheeted in properly. But we got better at it as the race went on.

Picture of us as we neared the windward mark, Janet on the foredeck, the rest of us mostly out of sight! Bay Leaf looking good in my humble opinion.

I found it tricky to get a helm position such that I could see properly forward yet be standing comfortably, Bay Leaf having a bigger deeper cockpit than Elsa, my instinctive position isn't right so need to work on that. We found ourselves close behind Free n Easy most of the way round - three laps of a triangular dinghy-style course. Morgan got seasick a bit but seemed to recover though a bit sleepy.

In the end it was lucky we had four of us as two would have been tricky! Right at the end of the third and final lap we edged ahead of Free n Easy and at the final mark she had to turn to avoid another cruiser who seemed to have lost control - so we got properly ahead of them just as David in Dedicated Dancer came underneath us to lap us on his fourth lap. We crossed the finish line about five seconds ahead of the other Centaur and we were delighted to have got ahead of them on our first race!

The engine started perfectly and with some difficulty we furled the genoa - another thing to fix - and with the wind from the SW it seemed ok to keep the main up to help us back up the river. Lucky we did as the engine stopped right in the narrows so we kept sailing in until a club RIB happened along and helped us back to the berth. So the answer to my question, how much diesel is in that tank, is now known - none. 

Morgan was fully recovered now in the warm sunshine and back ashore. We had a celebratory drink and enjoyed telling the large crowd of sailors how we'd beaten the other guys. We were 12th out of 15 cruisers which is respectable for our first race I think! I've put more diesel in but my friend Peter reckons the filter is probably clogged so it wouldn't restart. Another job to do.

I need to work on my helming stance, and she definitely needs better genoa sheets, but I was really pleased with the day and the crew worked well, we had a great day.

Dobson Cruisers

Start: Start 1, Finishes: Place
1Sooper TrooperSeawolf 265619TPhil Turnbull0.84958:2331:06:051.0
2ZenithLimbo 6.693Harry Gregory0.83162:5531:09:432.0
3Kusi YHunter Channel 31David Chandler0.89058:5431:09:543.0
4KirLimbo 6.6Dick Holden0.98671:0741:10:074.0
5CadenzaTrapper 500John Kerr0.77070:2731:12:205.0
6PapyrusHunter Channel 32Tim Freeman0.89660:3531:12:236.0
7Dedicated DancerLimbo 6.69943YDavid Robinson0.98673:3941:12:377.0
8Reef KnotKonsortK7361Jonathan Penberthy0.75575:0731:15:378.0
9DancerHunter Delta8625YGeorge Whitehouse0.87465:2931:16:199.0
10MerlinHunter Legend 306Gordon Lindsay0.73081:0031:18:5010.0
11Catch 22Anderson 2221Carlo Ponterosso0.81573:1831:19:3911.0
12Bay LeafWesterly Centaur1499Alistair Tyrrell0.79974:5731:19:5112.0
13Free N EasyWesterly Centaur2157Nick Clare0.80675:0531:20:4113.0
14Little AukOysterman 161623Jon Norris0.74357:0721:24:5314.0
15Van NuysPirate ExpressK299Paul Caldecott0.77886:1231:29:2515.0
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