The second S&S34 Association Race for 2010 was hosted by RFBYC on 5th February 2011. The race was started in a fresh variable easterly around 15 knots but gusting to 25, which seemed to drop slightly for a while and then strengthened to 20+ knots with gusts to 28. The gusty conditions and constant wind shifts made for quite tricky sailing conditions.
The race was conducted within the combined RFBYC/RPYC Div 2 fleet and seven S&S 34s took part, these being Blondie, C’est Bon, Le Jag, Morning Melody, Perie Banou III, Sulphur and Swagman.
The fleet started from the RFBYC start line, near Dome buoy, with a windward leg to Squadron Buoy. It was a tight start for 22 boats on a fairly short line. Swagman started close to the boat end, which proved a good choice enabling them to tack early onto port and make the best of the wind shifts to Squadron, which they rounded ahead of all other 34s, but followed fairly closely by Blondie and the rest of the fleet. Le Jag lost some time heading for an incorrect mark due to having the incorrect sailing instructions but soon realised and altered course to catch the rest of the fleet.
This was followed by a virtually dead downwind run to Pt Walter North buoy, with the shifting winds making it hard to decide which tack to take, then back up to Squadron and back and fort to Dome on two short legs – hardly time to get the spinnaker up before getting ready to drop it again close to a lee shore – no mistakes wanted here! Swagman maintained her lead on this leg, with good crew work, before the long downwind leg to Parker buoy again in the gusty easterly. Attention required with helm and sail trim on this dead downwind leg with many boats rolling in the stronger breeze and some tricky gybes required.
Swagman decided to gybe on to starboard tack for the final run in to Parker, with Blondie not too far behind on port tack and Perie Banou III, Sulphur and C’est Bon only a couple of minutes behind fighting for the 3rd spot. Morning Melody with her cruising layout being a few minutes further behind but in hot pursuit.
As the two leading boats closed in on Parker, Swagman struggled to lay the mark for the port rounding, it was too late to gybe and she was forced to drop the spinnaker a little early, allowing Blondie on the favoured starboard tack to catch up and round the mark right on her stern. Swagman struggled with a sticky jib track, being a little slow getting on to the wind, allowing Blondie to pass to windward.
It was then a rather nail biting windward leg to Miller for the two leading boats, as Swagman had changed to her No. 1 Genoa but Blondie stuck with the No.3. The wind dropped to as little as 13 knots, causing great anxiety on Blondie as Swagman surged up behind, followed then by an increasing breeze to 20+ knots where Swagman struggled to avoid being overpowered and excess leeway, allowing Blondie to stretch her lead a little. The rest of the fleet all carrying their smaller headsails were powering up not too far behind.
The last downwind leg to Parker saw increasing winds gusting to 28 knots. Some boats exercised prudent judgement and avoided carrying their spinnakers in such testing conditions. Blondie were focused on not giving up their hard won lead and got the big spinnaker up quick smart – but the halyard jammed about 10 feet from the masthead! Despite much shouting it could not be forced higher and it was too late for remedial work. With a tear across the foot but with the big kite pulling hard, if a bit closer to the water than usual Blondie held on grimly, charging toward the last mark at 8+ knots. Much to the relief of skipper and crew the spinnaker came down without incident and she swung over the finish line in first place (and third over the line in Div 2 a couple of minutes behind two very well sailed Farr 9.2s). Swagman crossed a couple of minutes later and the rest of the fleet shortly after.
Not only were the times over the line remarkably close for such a demanding race with a wide variety of S&S 34 layouts, but excellent handicapping brought the majority of the fleet within 5 minutes of each other. Blondie did well to be first and fastest, but great credit goes especially to C’est Bon and crew for sailing very well to gain an excellent second place les than two minutes behind.
There was disappointment for Le Jag, who was adjudged OCS. Some observers doubted the accuracy of this call, but we have to abide by the decision of the starters.
All skippers and crew then repaired back to the RFBYC wharf for wonderful hospitality at the club, and reflections on a fun and exciting afternoon on the water. RPYC members were particularly happy for their club to gain all three Div 2 places over their rivals at RFBYC and S&S 34 Association members were satisfied to see Blondie and Swagman gain the first two Div 2 places. The visiting yachts high spirits were only slightly dampened by having to motor back home into a 25 knot easterly. It might have been wet but at least it was warm!
Overall a great day out and fantastic to see so many S&S 34s with crew, friends and family present. It sets a great precedent and hopefully one that can be repeated next season.
|Boat No||Boat Name||Skipper||H’cap||Elapsed Time||Corrected Time||Over Line||On H’cap||Finish Code||Minutes Off|
|R444||Perie Banou III||C.Sanders||.7380||2:12:46||1:37:59||3||5||FIN||5:04|
Photos courtesy of Bruce Collins (Morning Melody).
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