Generally summer here finishes at the end of Falmouth Week but this year it finished early because the steady gentle southerly breeze was cool. Len Cheshire the OOD set the start line near the water tower to give a long beat south towards the Pendennis or Black Rock buoys. Over fifty boats raced in ideal conditions with the IRC fleet starting 5 minutes after the multihulls on the long beat south, which spread the fleet, to the turning mark where they hoisted their spinnakers and ran north lead by Encore in the seventh race of the Hine-Downing Series at Flushing Sailing Club.
Five minutes later the ten Sunbeams started and they short tacked south staying close to the eastern shore although it was nearly slack water. The lead changed several times as the leader struggled to find clean air undisturbed by their competitors. At the mark the leading six had got away so immediately after rounding they poled out their fore stays and played the kitty gear to increase their lead over the trailing four.
Other fleets followed similar courses but their progress was hampered by the long dark blue hull of Coralwater the bunkering ship which quietly zig-zagged down the Roads following the deep water channel.
In W fleet there was an enormous difference between the pale blue Sonata Puffin, the Achilles 24 Red Gauntlet and Cleda Mur who seemed to be as big as the other two put together but who could only slowly pass them on the run.
As three G class approached the mark a local fishing boat passed only a few yards away going in the opposite direction and its wash hit the nearest gaffer causing it to hobby horse and almost stop but it had protected the other two from the broken water and they gratefully accelerated away
In B class John Peters in Rita had the best start and stayed in clean air chased by Winnie, Victory and Abigail Rose. After the turning mark they eased the foot of the mainsails and goose winged down wind with Rita in the lead going over to the St Mawes shore but Victory, close behind came well over to the opposite side. They seemed to benefit from this tactic because at the clubhouse finish it was not clear until the last one hundred yards who was going to finish first. Rita crossed the line ten seconds in the lead but this was not enough because Victory won on handicap by one and a half minutes. Sam Heard flying a new topsail also went well off the wind but it did not help him to catch up with the leaders.
In the quiet airs the fore deck crews enjoyed easy conditions for flying the spinnakers running and reaching down the harbour before squaring off for the final north westerly run to the line. This last two hundred metres was very crowded with boats in different classes sailing at close quarters. In one group Moonlighter from U class, Puffin in W and Sarah Martin in G class were all abreast eighty yards from the quay. A light gust allowed Moonlighter to pull away followed by Puffin and then Sarah Martin followed closely giving problems for those recording in the Ops Room.
In E class Gary Hughes in Charley Farley finished well clear of the fleet followed by Excelle. Playing a cunning game at the rear Hawk finished last but came third on handicap helmed by a refreshed skipper Chris Bell recently returned from holiday. His new hat clearly protected his brains from over heating in the intellectual hot house that the cockpit became as the fore deck crew encouraged him to make even greater efforts as the race progressed.