Four boats bravely fought the cold this evening and ventured out to the start line for the first Thursday race of the 2017 DBSC SB20 sailing programme. The forecast was an enticing 12knts gusting 18knts from a steady north west direction – ideal SB20 planing weather - and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
Recently installed ISA President and OOD Jack Roy called for the longest course at his disposal for the wind direction, Q1 (all starboard roundings) and set up a fairly even line. At the start, the four boats were evenly spaced along the line. Alert Packaging (Justin, Henrik and Gareth) and Sin Bin (Michael, Owen and Ed) preferred the boat end while Sacre Bleu (Richard, Colin and Chris) preferred the pin. Defiant (Gerry et al) chose to hedge their bets and took the middle of the line.
The fleet raced off upwind towards harbour mark in a rising tide helping them towards the mark. Alert packaging tacked off early towards the right to clear their air and in expectation of more favourable tide away from shore while the other three boats drag raced out towards the left. Sacre Bleu tacked first shy of the layline but Defiant slapped an almighty close cover on them, forcing them back onto starboard. Sin Bin had weekdays out a couple of boatlengths lead on Defiant so placed a loose cover to weather, on the layline. As the boats converged at the weather mark, it was clear that the tack out to sea had helped Alert Packaging and they rounded just behind Sin Bin alongside Sacre Bleu. Defiant overlaid the mark and lost ground on the leaders having to reach back to the mark, going from second to fourth.
Once around the top mark, the kites were popped and the boats took off on starboard gybe in a gust, often reaching speeds in the early teens as they hurtled downwind towards the gybe mark (East mark). The clear air helped the leaders extend and by the second mark, Sin Bin had extended their lead on the following pack. The boats were fairly tightly strapped on port gybe heading back in to shore to Bullock mark but those able to keep the boat under the mast gained massively.
Thereafter, the boats sailed up and down the shore from Bullock to Bay, back to Battery and up to Bay again before close reaching out to sea once more to East mark on a tight reach where most boats could only hold their kites for a portion of the leg. After a gybe around East mark, the kites were set again for a final blast downwind on port gybe towards Island mark. From there the boats beat up to the finish close to the harbour. Alert Packaging and Sacre Bleu enjoyed a ding dong battle up the last beat, crossing a tacking to cover/break cover on numerous occasions.
At the finish it was Sin Bin in first, followed by Alert Packaging in second from Sacre Bleu in third. Unfortunately, Defiant never managed to recover from their earlier loss but battled on courageously to the finish, coming in fourth.
This weekend we have the first two Saturday races of series A, first gun is at 2.15pm on a three minute sequence. Several more boats are expected now that the cobwebs have been blown off and the boats are out of the sheds. Strong winds are forecast so there will be plenty of sleigh rides to enjoy!