The DBSC SB20 fleet were treated to tropical conditions last night on Dublin Bay with blazing sunshine and a warm breeze greeting the competitors.
OOD Jack Roy and his team had their work cut out for them as the wind was shifting dramatically from a southerly / south-easterly direction. Ever the perfectionist, this necessitated a repositioning of the committee boat closer inshore a few minutes prior to the SB20 warning signal to give the fleet a good first beat. The additional effort was warmly praised by the fleet.
A committee boat biased line was set in Scotsman’s Bay with a beat up to Bullock mark the first challenge. The flooding tide was roaring in Scotsman’s Bay with many of the fleet being caught line shy. Sin Bin (Michael, Owen and Ed) and Venuesworld.com (Ger, Rory and Chris) were closest to the committee boat with Sacrebleu (Richard, Colin and Dave) and Defiant (Gerry et al) just being squeezed out and having to hang back and wait their turn at the committee boat. As the boats made their way up the beat, several, including Alert Packaging (Justin et al) and Sacrebleu, tacked inshore for clear air and in expectation of less tide in Scotsman’s Bay. Sin Bin and Venuesworld.com on the other hand continued on starboard into the freshening breeze offshore. Half way up the beat, it was tough to call which route was paying as those boats inshore appeared to be lifted but in less pressure relative the boats further offshore. Then, everything went haywire...
The wind started to shift through 30 degrees with every gust of wind (in a Force 4!). It was remarked by several competitors that it was not dissimilar to conditions on Lake Garda where the direction of the shifts are accompanied by a noticeable change in temperature. It was possible to determine in advance whether or not the gust was going to be a header or a lift by the sudden change in temperature. As the temperature rose before the gust hit, the wind would shift right and as the temperature dropped before the gust hit, the wind would shift left.
These shifty conditions favoured the two boats that had continued out left as they had more wiggle room to play the shifts up the latter half of the beat and at Bullock mark, Sin Bin led by 8 boat-lengths from Venuesworld.com who in turn had a similar lead over Alert Packaging in third. The boats set their spinnakers on a tight starboard reach across to Poldy mark. As the boats closed in on the mark, they all had to drop their kites as they were battling against the tide and the wind shifting forward leaving the boats on a fetch. As soon as they got around Poldy mark, the kites were popped once more and the fleet reached down to Pier mark. Towards the end of this leg, Venuesworld pounced and overtook Sin Bin. Venuesworld sailed a little higher down the reach to Pier mark and towards the end of the leg, a gust hit that allowed Venuesworld to get up and planing. The plane and a beautiful mark rounding turned a 10 boat-length deficit into a five boat-length lead in the space of a couple of hundred meters!
The boats rounded Pier mark and headed upwind once more on a beat back against the tide towards Island mark. The wind was still shifting wildly and Sin Bin picked their way through the shifts on the first half of the beat reeling in Venuesworld. They managed to overtake Venuesworld half way up the beat and approximately 200 metres from the mark, they led Venuesworld by 10 boat-lengths. Lesser mortals would have been disheartened by being overtaken but the crew of Venuesworld are made of tougher stuff and they managed to get some leverage on Sin Bin before one final massive left shift brought them back into the lead and they rounded the mark approximately 10 boat-lengths ahead of Sin Bin. There were also plenty of place changes throughout the fleet on the beat with Sacrebleu charging up the fleet into third place. Smoke on the Water (Bob et al) also got themselves in the mix and narrowly failed to catch Alert Packaging.
A further tight reach to East followed by a gybe and a reach to Pier followed... Sin Bin managed to close to within 2 boat-lengths of the leaders but the Committee Boat signalled a shortened course at Pier mark and Venuesworld calmly held their nerve and took the gun. Sacrebleu followed home in third from Alert Packaging in fourth.
After three races, Alert Packaging holds a slender one point lead overall from Venuesworld and Sin Bin in joint second with Sacrebleu three points further back, so all to play for still.