Hine Downing series, 5/08/14

As we cast off from the mooring in a brisk southerly the grey overcast sky promised rain, which it delivered in several heavy but local showers. On sailing down the harbour a large naval supply ship moored against the northern arm made a huge wind shadow. We saw the committee boat anchored south of the Vilt just off centre of the Roads with the line going due east to give a good beat south for the first leg. We sailed towards the Governor, bore away, hoisted the spinnaker to run down to the line and make sure that it had been packed properly. We arrived early and so had time to check the line, which had a slight pin end bias. With low water at seven there was no tidal movement but there were surprisingly large lumpy rollers marching north powered by the steady force four southerly breeze.

We got out of the way of the early starting fleets noting that most of them stayed on starboard to go right over to the St Mawes shore after crossing the line. Q class made a good start with the first four crossing the line near the pin end lead by Per Elisa closely followed by Demolition, Encore and General Khaos. When they reached the eastern shallows they all tacked onto port and then they all had to squeeze very close together to go under the stern of Jackdaw still on starboard, who had started much closer to the committee boat and pointing very high into the wind had already established a lead which lasted all through to the finish.

In B class it seemed that the best tactic was to be late for the start because Winnie, helmed by Arthur Williams crossed the line more than twenty seconds after the rest which at least allowed him to study their progress and find clean air for his own boat. Grace and a gaffer got very close and it is reported that in avoiding the smaller boat Grace touched the buoy and in doing their three hundred and sixty degree penalty turn they fell to the back of the fleet.

On board Hecate we did not have a good start because of bunching on the line so that we tacked onto port to get clear of the group but the lumpy seas pushed us even further back. On reaching Pendennis towards the rear of the fleet we hoisted the spinnaker on starboard and went over to the St Mawes shore chasing Wild Child. We passed Outsider who was clearly having trouble hoisting the spinnaker and it was interesting to hear the tone of the instructions from the cockpit to the fore-deck man who was trying to sort out the mess. At first they were technical but they gradually became more heated as the poor crewman struggled with a wrapped spinnaker bouncing around on a wet foredeck. After gybing we went to the Vilt where the spinnaker was dropped and we beat to the Governor while I tried to untangle the wrap-around in the spinnaker bag. After passing the mark we bore away and hoisted the spinnaker for a shy reach to the finish but the warship stopped the wind and we all struggled in the shadow where many spinnakers were dropped because the now saturated sails stuck together and refused to fill.

In M class on board Mirri with Margaret at the helm for only their second race they found the squally weather to be difficult because when the rain came it blocked the view which is not so good on a fast moving multihull.

At the finish we accepted that Mike Stratton the Race Officer had chosen the right length courses for the evening because soon after crossing the line the wind slowed and then died almost completely leaving the last two G class boats in a difficult position riding to the line on the tide.

Harold Martin