Penrose Sails Champagne pursuit series, 22nd October

An easterly 4 to 5 with gusty conditions gave the 15 yachts a challenging course for the penultimate FSC 2016 race. The wind was not only gusty but there were some big shifts which made the kite run up the harbour toward the finish interesting.

At 1313 hrs we set of on a port close reach, nearly a beat on the Flushing side of the moorings and stayed just ahead of Amneris who filed in behind us. Mary Boon, Sweet Friday and Tomaray had already started and were tacking way down the harbour in front of us. Thirteen had a bit of an early start and was also ahead of us. Soon an empty mooring came up but we had to tack outside of it and make for Caldy and the space inside. There was a small tall ship moored on Frigate, Thor Heyerdhal, and once cleared we tacked onto port to clear the Flushing side moorings. At this juncture I realized that I had not turned on the Go-Pro, on it went and faithfully recorded the rest of our sail.

Trefusis to port, whew we cleared it! And then North Bank to starboard after asking a red sail cruisy boat with all its fenders down to keep out of the way. A short tack on starboard and then a fetch on port up to the South Narrows to starboard. A bear away port pole kite was set and the crew had a few fights with the kite as the sheet was too tight hence the hoist was short and the whole blue mass shook from side to side. After a short run we dumped the pole and did a windward take down before rounding Governor to port.

A nice beat to Carricknath gave us a lumpy ride especially on the shallows to the north of Black Rock. Tomaray was just ahead of us at Carricknath which we rounded to port and then we played chase as we sped towards West Narrows to port and thence to the finish. The apparent wind came aft of the beam and we set a starboard pole kite. Whoosh!! off we went and the nose on Trifle threw of a purposeful bow wave as a firmer grip of the tiller was made.

As we rounded the West Narrows we squared off to the wind and ran deep towards the docks. It got a bit interesting here, as the shifts were 20 degrees, which made us more by the lee at times than I cared for. What to do? Gybe seemed good and so we did, after a fashion. Then the pesky wind backed and we were by the lee lots on the wrong gybe!! After a near perfect attempt at a windward broach it was collectively decided to dump the kite and sail with some control. Meanwhile Vindscreen Viper had powered through us down on the Trefusis shore and Tomaray who managed to hold her kite was pulling ahead in the distance.

As we approached the turn into the final fairway we saw that Audrey the Sunbeam had slipped through us and then Wilkie had unfurled her genoa and also went ahead.

Back in the ops room they had the spectacle of a photo finish with Len Cheshire in Sweet Friday and John Cruise in Mary Boon sharing joint first place. Well-done guys great sailing! Jack Penty has it recorded on his video!

We picked up our moorings and missed the other photo finish of Hawk, Minx and General Khaos in a blaze of colourful spinnakers cross the line together.

A big thanks to Roger the Race Officer ably assisted by Nessie and Inez. Giles for getting us wet in the launch and John behind the Bar. Mandy for great tea and cakes and our sponsors Penrose Sails. Next Saturday is the final race of the season. Donít forget the prize giving on Saturday 12th November.

Chris Jelliss