The sun shone from a clear blue sky and a warm northerly force three made ideal conditions for the third race in the Hine-Downing summer series. The start line was laid across the Roads near the Governor to give a beat to the first mark half a mile north of the line against a strong ebbing tide. As the boats arrived the area south of the line became more and more crowded and the wide variety of boats from 28 feet working boats to Flying Fifteens all wanted to inspect the line, close encounters did occur. On Hecate we were invited to move out of the way by the large Jackdaw who was winding herself up for the charge to the line and as it was in their five minute starting time we did as asked. Over the radio came a message from Nitro, who had dropped all their sails, asking for assistance and the radio operator on the committee boat asked if anyone was hurt but they were all well. After the race I found out that as they were turning the lower pintle holding the rudder snapped and so they lost steerage. Happily the inflatable safety boat was there to tow them back to their mooring. So only forty nine boats, in their different classes started racing.
Soon after this the large fast Q class came to the line and Per Elisa helmed by Robbie Tregear did a text book start crossing at good speed next to the committee boat leaving the rest of the fleet behind but they were chasing hard and fortunes changed.
The seven Sunbeams formed a tight bunch as they started close together on starboard at the pin end for the first beat and they were still grouped at the windward mark. After rounding the buoy the fleet split in two with one group going to one side and the others going to the opposite shore but after a run of about a mile there was only a gap of a couple of boats lengths between them so they all enjoyed close tactical racing to the finish.
On Hecate we had a good start half way down the line pointing higher than Outsider but not footing as fast as the GK24s Wilkie and Popincoota. Ron Jones in Deep Purple soon tacked onto port and went right over to the St Mawes shore followed by Abbi Cook in Midnight Cocktail. As we were beating north we were passed by Q class now running south lead by Per Elisa just ahead of Encore, Demolition, Temeraire and Macavity but all of them were far behind Jackdaw, whom we had helped to start so well.
At the Vilt, Gap Year turned first and headed on a shy reach to Trefusis followed by Wilkie and Deep Purple who came in from far to the east to make a good turn to chase the leaders. As we neared the Vilt on starboard an M class catamaran approached on port and tried to barge in so we called starboard and instead of passing under our stern he seemed to stop dead and as we rounded he drifted backwards and slid round the buoy with one hull each side of it. At Trefusis we gybed and after a struggle hoisted the spinnaker to chase those ahead but nearing the Castle and upwind of Outsider we had a disagreement with them. So for the third time in one race we had a close encounter with another competitor which we generally try to avoid.
On board Sweet Friday which is usually crewed by two they had on board two young girl students working for their Day Skipper certificates and their presence upset the skipper's concentration which explains their last position across the line.
In Q class, on their second lap they had just finished the beat and they were running on port when they saw in front of them a long line of eight large working boats all on starboard hard on the wind. So they had to perform all sorts of subtle manoeuvres to thread their way through the other fleet who had complete right of way and who were busily chasing each other. At last they got through unscathed but they found themselves well upwind of the mark a small price to pay.
The wonderful weather gave us all perfect conditions to enjoy our sport, weren't we lucky!