Single Handed Race 20/7/17

Three boats turned up for the single-handed race on Thursday evening. The Race Officer, our indomitable President Roger Little arrived and with his brother in law set up the flags and course boards. Rocket Ron Jones came out from the Falmouth side and set his vane self-steering gear up on Deep Purple.

We did not have the launch so I gave Bob and Becks from Jackdaw a lift in my rubadub and they took it on to their yacht promising not to forget me on the way back! As Jackdaw was the sole Q class entry and allowed to sail double handed they set off at 1820 at a leisurely pace with a single reef in the main and what looked like a 100 percent jib.

The Q class course was St Just to port, Trefusis to port, South Narrows to port, Governor to starboard, Vilt to port finish. As Bob and Becks approached the eastern shore toward St Just they managed to round it ahead of the marauding fleet under spinnakers coming from St Mawes.

At 1825 Trifle set off on the line with a full main and No 2 genoa. It was quite gusty and some of the squalls were heavy. Ron Jones followed a few boat lengths behind with what appeared to be a no 1 or a 100 percent jib. As we slid down the fairway and bore away toward the Water Tower our first mark Deep Purple overtook to windward with her greater sail area. A squall came through and we both accelerated, a twitch on my rudder allowed Trifle's bow to fall into Purple's quarter wave and there we were! A free tow most of the way across the roads. Sneaky Ron tried to lose me by sailing close to the speed limit marker at the end of the fairway but our speed was such that the deviation to miss it was inconsequential.

Deep Purple went high on track and I was torn between peeling off from the freebie ride or hanging on. Eventually I could see the St Just buoy inside the Water Tower mark and bore away setting first a gull-winged foresail and the gybing the main. Deep Purple continued into the eastern shore and was a long way back by the time I had rounded the mark. A good beat to Trefusis ensued with Ron pointing a lot higher than me but not making up any distance between the yachts.

Trefusis was rounded and a broad reach to the Water Tower sometimes became a dead run as the squalls came through. The mark was rounded and a gybe onto a port reach ensued to the last mark, North Bank. Trifle was almost at the mark when I looked back and saw Purple just rounding Water Tower. A heavy beat back to the finish was on and I was glad that I had managed to get some more mainsail foot tension as the wind had increased just ahead of the ensuing drizzle and fine rain.

I tacked close into the western shore expecting the lift toward the harbour entrance. Trifle went about and I was set up for the starboard beat when the pesky jib sheet came off the winch cleat. As I went into the forward cockpit to sort it a squall put me about, a quick release of the jib sheet gave a riding turn round the winch and recently placed winch handle. Back onto starboard and sort the mess then it happened again!!!! I was too close to the rocky shore for my comfort and then heard the crack of Ron's sails as Purple came steaming in on port tack. I managed to free off, tack back onto starboard and Purple tacked just to leeward.

The race was back on! Ron tacked early and dipped my stern as he went back to the Trefusis shore. I stood on for a time and tacked onto port and got a lift toward the fairway. There was quite a strong ebb tide so we both wanted to keep out of the channel. Deep Purple was close to the shore as we approached the first of the moorings off kiln quay and I kept a sharp eye out for his impending starboard hitch. I had a good line for the fuel barge on Frigate buoy. He tacked and called starboard. A brief release of the mainsheet and Trifle dipped his stern and continued lifting toward the fairway. A quick glance astern saw Purple initially tacking back to try and follow but then went back onto starboard tack with jib sheets free.

I suspect that he had some similar sort of problem as I had earlier. One of the downsides of single-handing is that you have to momentarily leave the tiller to winch in the jib. This coupled with the yacht being out of balance as both sails are not in sync inevitably means rounding up to windward. Although Ron had his fangled self-steering I suspect it does not perform at slow speeds or with rapid wind direction changes.

Jackdaw had a comfortable sail over and Trifle sped away from the hapless Deep Purple to take line honours. Then the liquid sunshine came in a fine all enveloping drizzle so a wet soggy pack away of sails and sheets followed by a wet chug back to shore. 'Twas a shame the evening was inhospitable, as we could have done with some more competitors.

Chris Jellis