The second S&S34 Association Race for 2012 was hosted by RFBYC on 25th February 2012. There was a generally light but very challenging SW breeze, with conditions ranging from 8-20 knots, sometimes within a few seconds, and windshifts of up to 45+ degrees.
The race was conducted within the RFBYC Div 2 fleet and five S&S 34s took part, these being Blondie, Morning Melody, Perie Banou III, Sulphur and Swagman.
The fleet started from the RBYC mid-river start line, within quite a large and varied Div 2 fleet. All boats had reasonable start, but Swagmen was able to get clearer air and established an early lead which she never relinquished. Some excellent sailing and timing of the shifting breeze helped put Perie Banou and Sulphur ahead of Blondie who was entangled behind a number of other boats and unable to break free. Morning Melody close behind, but ultimately falling back a little in competition with the regular racing boats. Fortunately this enabled Bruce and Shelly to take the photos seen here, otherwise it would be a dull report!
From then on it was close sailing as the fleet stretched out a little then bunched up again as the wind gusted and eddied over the river. Some excellent sailing and advantageous shifts saw Perie Banou stretch her lead over Blondie, and Sulphur maintain a narrow lead, with Swagman still well in front and Morning Melody the afterguard.
Andrew Waldby and the Swagman crew must have decided to give the rest a sporting chance as they then managed to drop a spinnaker sheet overboard and tangle it in the prop. The rest of the fleet was treated to the sight of Andrew stripping off, diving overboard and being hauled back on board in very short order. Fortunately the line was freed very readily and Swagman’s crew claim only a few boat lengths lost. Some very clever down wind sailing and picking of the very shifty breeze on the next down wind leg got Sulphur up to second place. From then on it was close sailing as the fleet stretched out a little then bunched up again as the wind gusted and eddied over the river. Ultimately boat speed won out and Blondie gradually overhauled Perie Banou and then Sulphur. The final beat to RFBYC saw the lead diminish a little, but Swagman remained well in front, crossing the line several hundred metres in front of Blondie, who was very closely followed by Sulphur and then Peri Banou followed by Morning Melody.
This brought the end of a close and challenging race, with some difficult decisions for skippers and tacticians. The final results of Swagman first and fastest, Sulphur second and Perie Banou third was a good reflection of the performance on the water. The short legs and very shifty breeze helped narrow differences in boat speed making for very competitive and enjoyable racing.
Skippers and crews then repaired back to the lawn at RFBYC for some well earned beers and to contemplate what was a challenging and fun race. Many thanks to Bruce and the crew of Morning Melody for the photos. We all look forward to the next race at RFBYC on 5th February 2011.
Swagman leads the fleet to windward
“Sulphur” was expertly sailed and heading towards a well deserved second place
Concentration on downwind sail trim in light airs aboard Perie Banou III
Blondie going gently downwind in the light and shifty breeze
Swagman heads downwind
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