FSC/RCYC Joint Pursuit series 12/9/14

The starts for the combined RCYC/FSC pursuit races began at 5-43pm and went on until 6-30 with the small slow boats starting first and the faster boats following at precisely defined times surveyed by the beady eyed OOD Walter Amos and only one boat out of twenty was disqualified for starting too early. From the docks I could see the line behind which all sorts of boats were hoisting their sails and looking for the exact location of the start. The very brisk 4/5 easterly which had been blowing for the last couple of days was easing and the incoming tide was high at 8-30 so it was still a force to be avoided, if possible, on the first beat east.

Gap Year, a dark blue Nordic Folkboat was the first to cross the line and beat down the harbour followed by Popincoota, a GK 24 and then Sunbeam Ivy, each roughly 150 m apart. It was not until the first three had reached Trefusis that the later starters appeared in a loose shifting group. The ideal breeze and flat sea gave excellent conditions but as the fleet went east the wind slowed as the water was sheltered by the St Mawes shore and this caused problems at the Waterloo mark. By 6-20 Gap Year was well over to the east of the Roads but now chased by an ever growing fleet. At Waterloo they eased sheets and bore away on a close reach to the Sunbeam mark near Penarrow but by then the faster late starters were eating into the lead of the slower boats in front. At the downwind mark Gap Year gybed onto port and close reached south but the chasing fleet accelerated away from Waterloo by hoisting their spinnakers. Nitro was the first to launch their kite but then Scorpion, Encore, Minx, Quicksilver and Vindscreen Viper followed suit so that it was a close chasing multi-coloured fleet. The dark sailed late starters are almost impossible to read from above the docks, I would prefer the numbers to be in day-glo yellow.

The last starter, a fast chasing catamaran from M class appeared from behind the quayside ships and although now nearly two legs behind it still looked threatening. After the three leaders reached the Governor they tacked onto starboard and beat east once again. Behind them a fast moving mixed fleet came south lead by Intro who was in front of the two Flying Fifteens but they were separated by a fast chasing bigger boat. In this sort of racing when you are overtaken you know that will only see their transom disappearing in front of you. The larger late starters were now closing down the gap between them and the smaller leaders. The only big working boat Grace had started without their large top sail but as the wind speed fell they decided to hoist it and Derek the crew man assured me that it was carried out slickly and smoothly in a very seaman like manner but the helm was not in total agreement! As they beat over to the windward mark the strong tidal current swept them sideways towards the buoy so they just accepted their fate as they rolled around the mark. They completed their 360 degree penalty turn and chased hard but this might explain their gallant seventeenth position. The last leg was a long downwind charge but with Teresa on the side deck poling out the jib Lennie Trenoweth kept his lead and crossed the line first but chased by a very fast moving Black Dog flying a huge white reaching spinnaker. The finishes were very exciting as the fleet surged past the docks with the fastest late starters catching up and passing the opposition. Vindscreen Viper, Daring and Ivy all crossed the line within a couple of seconds. Minx just overtook Midnight Cocktail on the line to win by just a second. At the very back of the fleet the last two boats Nitro and Quicksilver fought to the finish with Nitro only just winning after a long close tussle. There was a forty five minute difference in the starting times but only twelve separated the first finish from the last so everyone enjoyed an exciting evening's sport.

Harold Martin