Hine Downing series

Tuesday 16 7 13

Fifty boats turned out for the sixth race in the Hine Downing series under clear blue skies and a surprisingly brisk northerly, as the heatwave continued.

The start line was set just east to west across the Carrick Roads just south of St Mawes' Castle.

In Falmouth there was little breeze to ruffle the leaves on the trees in Kimberley Park, so I was surprised to find the surface of the water rippled by the gusts and occasional white water, a sure sign of a force four.

As the fleets gathered and manouevered for position before the starts, the sea surface was confused.

With the line set a good beat was possible for all classes and the bigger boats came to the line at a good speed to get away on starboard.

In U-class, Gap Year, helmed by Lennie Trenoweth, came in from the docks on port in clean air, got a flying start and crossed clear of the rest of the fleet who were on starboard.

Wilkie, helmed by Bob Chapple, chased hard and powered by a very larg genoa had a very close tussle all round the course.

A little further back David and Mandy Owens in Aurora had another boat-for-boat battle with Popincoota, and in each case the Folkboat beat the GK24.

In W-class Neil Chamberlain also started on port and won his class so that solitary on port won two classes.

On board Hecate I checked the foot of the spinnaker in the bag on the fore deck before we left the moorings, and I hoped that the rest was also well packed.

After the long beat we bore away at Penarrow, and with only two on board I hoped for the best as I hauled on the halyard and spinnaker went up, hidden by the jib. But there was a terrible wrap around that was impossible to sort out, so I had to drop the sail and we went backwards through the fleet.

As the different fleets came into the harbour for the finish at the club line congestion became very dense, with different styles of boats competing for space and demanding the right to tack as they approached the limits of the narrowing channel.

For us on the water the last three metres were very hectic, needing constant vilgilance and quick action to avoid trouble because it is always difficult to judge the next tactics of bigger and faster boats as they overtake.

In one unfortunate incident 'starboard' was called, and the boat on port reacted correctly but not quickly enough, meaning the stem fitting on the bigger boat collided with and damaged the pintle holding the top of the rudder on the smaller one.

Happily no-one was hurt and the skipper of the damaged boat thought he would be able to repair the problem himself.

After the race the various skippers stated how pressurised they felt, but all of those watching on the quay said how much they appreciated the exciting spectacle.

It was also very demanding for the Ops Room team as they timed and recorded the finishes of all the competitors.

Harold Martin