Hine Downing series, 17/06/14

Last week after a false start we were last to start but first to finish but this week, under crewed, we crossed the start first but came last at the finish. In a light south easterly but with an incoming tide a short course was set by the committee boat because unfortunately the OOD was AWOL.

Before the signal we saw the new Sonata, Outsider, ably skippered by Jenny Jelliss, flying the commodore's burgee over the U class flag and she and her hard working crew did very well to cross the finish line over forty seconds before Nitro to win on handicap. Congratulations to the new boat.

The line was set square to give a good beat to the Castle buoy. We crossed the line immediately followed by Gap Year who was slightly upwind and near him was Nitro so it was impossible to tack onto port but below us and moving fast were the two GK 24s Popincoota and Wilkie. We all went over on starboard towards the St Mawes shore to dodge the flooding tide but most of the others in the class tacked onto port to go over to the Falmouth side. Our group short tacked up the eastern edge in a fitful force 2/3 south easterly but Hecate was slowly overtaken and this was made more difficult when we were passed by the large working boats in B class, with their huge sail area and equally large wind shadow. Rita came very close and quietly passed us to windward and stalled us but eventually we found clean air. Not all went well for them in their class because Grace came close to the coast, tide dodging only to be jolted and shaken as the iron shod keel bumped into even harder granite rock but luckily they lurched clear and no damage was done except to the helmsman's ego. We all correctly passed the Lugo and headed towards the Castle buoy only a few hundred metres away but as we got into the deeper channel we started to feel the full power of the incoming tide. Before we got any closer we were dismayed to see our rivals in U class flying their spinnakers en route to Waterloo, the next mark all well ahead of us. They had found cleaner and more consistent breeze over on the western side than we did on the eastern shore. We neared the buoy and sailing into deeper water we found the foul tidal stream to be very fast as the wind weakened and this combination caused many problems. Atalanta approaching on starboard was swept past and because of upwind rivals he had to gybe onto port to tack away from the mark to gain clean air and speed. Several boats also failed to appreciate the power of the incoming water and we saw Winnie performing an ever closer pirouette in trying to round but not touch the buoy. The problems were made worse as different classes with different speeds and pointing ability converged so that someone failing to pass on starboard forced others on port to fall even further back. At last after several aborted attempts we successfully rounded and we were mightily impressed by the bow wave the buoy set up. We hoisted the spinnaker but we realised that the pole needed to be on port not starboard as originally thought but at least we were off the wind, unfortunately so were several others. With only two on board we were outmanoeuvred and lost a couple of places. At the mark we hardened in with the pole on the forestay we reached to the committee boat for an early finish near the Eastern Arm but we had to drop the spinnaker and reach in under genoa to the finish.

sprayIn such light airs the re-engineered Per Elisa won by nearly eight minutes in Q class, she was always good in gentle breezes but now seems unstoppable. In G class Clementine helmed by Alan Perham had a lead of over one and a half minutes to win easily on handicap. It was good to see Chris Bell in Hawk, well recovered from his winter accident enjoying success in E class. His celebratory beer was nearly sprayed on the ceiling by a mallet wielding amateur barman who bakes better cakes than he fits taps into barrels! Everyone enjoyed the long awaited summer.

Harold Martin