The heavy grey cloud and unusual north easterly force 2/3 did not look very appealing but it was neither cold nor raining as I jumped on board Hecate. The skipper called from the shore and told me to hoist the North jib so I found the North bag and put on the sail. I uncovered the mainsail which we hoisted when skipper Mike Swingler came on board, we cast off and joined the other competitors.It was the second race in the Penrose Sails Frostbite Series and already several of the slower boats were sailing along the line to find the best place to start. The strong outgoing tide would push us down the harbour but it was a close fetch against a fitful breeze which changed speed and direction as it came over the Trefusis shore.
Immediately after crossing the line we caught up with Wild Child but they pointed up into the wind and kept us back until we bore away and slowly passed them to leeward. At the Point we had to tack to get to the Trefusis buoy the first mark of the course and we bore away on a port reach towards the Governor.
At the mark we sheeted in for the beat to the Castle but the skipper noticed that I had put on the wrong jib then he remembered that both the jib sailbags were Norths so it was only half my fault and impossible to change. We saw the earlier starters Deliverance, Sweet Friday, Mary Boon and a dark blue Achilles ahead of us and behind were the later starters lead by Aurora and a line of boats behind leading all the way back to the clubhouse.
At the Castle buoy Deliverance continued straight past so that on the next tack he would avoid the ebbing tide by sailing close to the shore. At the mark we tacked onto starboard going over to the Trefusis shore but Aurora had pointed higher and overtaken us but stayed on the other tack. Close to the western shore we tacked onto port and aimed at passing the Vilt to starboard. Aurora came close but we could not point so high so we bore away. We both went on to the St Just mark where they stayed on port to get out of the foul tide so we tacked to get clean air on starboard.
We were slowly catching up on the earlier starters but we could see behind us the later starting fast boats. Mike helmed very well going north and he took advantage of a couple of powerful lifters which really helped our progress. At the Carrick mark we were already past the Achilles and close to the leading three. We stayed on port so that as we tacked for the Pill buoy we would be on starboard. Just below us Sweet Friday could not tack because they would be on port.
So at the most distant mark we were first but we tacked a little too close to the mark and the foul tide swept us sideways alarmingly but luckily we scraped round and lead the downwind charge back to the finish. Mike poled out the jib as we ran down wind away from a very dark cloud which covered that end of the Roads. We held our position at Messack and at North Bank but Deliverance was closing up pushing a large mound of water in front of the bow but quite quickly Viper appeared — an eighteen foot planing dinghy crewed by four youngsters who crossed our bow and planed away at about ten or eleven knots to win. Off the wind the topsail of Deliverance gave them the speed to overtake downwind of us and without a spinnaker to help we felt vulnerable but we managed to run downwind to the finish coming a good third.
We then watched some of the later finishers and as Gunslinger came to the line they were challenged by a very fast moving Minx who just failed to beat them but it was the closest finish of the season.
The crews crowded into the clubhouse to enjoy tea and cakes and I recommend the jam and cream scones. Everyone had enjoyed unexpectedly good weather which gave excellent racing.
1st Viper, 2nd Deliverance, Mike Stratton, 3rd Hecate, Mike Swingler.