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Race Report: Helmsmans Cup 4 18th May. The very best of very little!

You might think that Saturday racing in the Victory Class is a bit low key, a Saturday afternoon stroll with tea and cake. Oh boy would you be wrong. Case in point this Saturday 18th May, Helmsmans Cup 4. At least no rain in the forecast for once, but no wind either, 4 – 8 knots or less from all points of the compass, with the only common theme across the weather forecasts being ‘not much’. Nonetheless, it was the decider for the series, and with 3 boats in the frame to take the trophy it was going to be a hard fought afternoon regardless! Only a point between Z75, Z70 and Z54. The three of us were delighted to be joined by Z68, sailed by ‘The Hartleys’ this fine afternoon, and with a tiller now helpfully reattached to the rudder.

Photo: MC. (p.s yes it is 75 and not 69 really!)

Course selection was frankly tricky, with little wind in places on the race track and swings from south east to south west as gate boat Z54 scratched their collective heads just outside the harbour entrance. Dare we go far afield? Clearly not… even BT and Gleeds, out in a solid east going tide, were fraught with potential disaster and the chance to be very late back to the bar. So then, start at PSC, to KB, Suffolk Sails, PSC, Suffolk Sails, PSC, and finish at Suffolk Sails…plenty of scope to shorten.

The wind was light at the start but with a bit of concentration it was just possible to get a respectable ‘gate’ sailed. Z75 was keen and the first one out of the gate, while 70 and 68 held on to go a little later. Come on, come on…….the third boat cleared the gate at 1 minute 50 seconds and Z54 was pleased to be free to tack out towards KB… and out into the east going that was set to push them away from the buoy. It was the same for everyone of course, and 75 crossed ahead of 54, as the wind held just enough to allow progress against the tide. It seemed to take a while, but 75 slipped round the buoy with 54 following, several lengths behind already. Spinnakers up for a very slow run back towards Suffolk Sails….

A look behind as we approached the downwind mark revealed a sad sight, the wind having deserted 68 and 70 somewhat before rounding KB, and a large gap had opened up between the first pair of boats and the second pair.

At the front 75 had some half a dozen lengths on 54 as we started back up the beat. Where was the wind? 54 took an earlier tack for the wall, where what there was of the breeze seemed to be clinging to the granite. 75 followed, but as the lay line for PSC approached 54 had edged ahead while closing the gap to windward. What would 75 do, tack on the lee bow of course, could we roll him, could he lay the mark? No and yes respectively, and 75 rounded PSC with a couple of boat lengths clear from 54. It was getting closer, although behind us we could see that Z70 was having no luck with the fickle breeze and 68 was opening the gap..

Down the run to Suffolk Sails again. At the mark 54 was on 75’s transom, but a better rounding saw her pull away again. Once again 54 tacked first for the wall. The wind had other ideas, as we headed south west it started to swing south, then south east. 75 and 54 both lifted. Now we were both overlaying PSC. Sails were eased, could 54 to leeward power out and break the overlap before the buoy. No again! Now neck and neck at the buoy 75 had control to get the tack in first and round on the inside. Feet only between us….

Now the run to the finish at Suffolk sails.. but its no longer a run of course… the wind is almost from the East. 75 takes a decision not to hoist, 54 hoists and foots off under 75 with Heather hanging on grimly to a tightly sheeted spinnaker! Picking up pace… 75 looking worried…half way to the line ..is he going to hoist?… he is going to hoist.. there it goes. With 75 briefly distracted 54 sheets harder and climbs across 75’s transom. Clear to windward, line bias in 54’s favour now, but can she gain the couple of boat lengths needed. 75 footing off for speed.. its close, its very close, its half a boat length…

To be honest, with no one on the line, both boats likely felt they had the win, but 75 certainly had the benefit of the doubt, to take the race and the Helmsmans Cup. Congratulations on a great race and series to Z75, and a great race and series for the Victory Class, half a boat length and 49 years of boat age separating the first two boats shows the best of the one design racing that the class offers.

A very honourable mention for Z70, MC and Matt cruelly abandoned by the wind gods on this occasion having had some great results in the first 3 races of the series….. next time….!

Thursday 16th May

Weather- easterly force 2 and dying, overcast

Tide - outgoing

OOD - Z78, Jim D and Stretch

Course - start at laid mark near PSC - Gleeds p - PSC p - Laid Mark p - PSC p - Laid Mark p - PSC - finish at laid mark

At the start 80, 74, 77, 54, 75 all start mid or pin end of the line

67 to windward of the fleet with 70,48 and 9 on the second row. The game was clean air and decent lane to the windward, which meant a few tacks leading to boats trading places with boats making gains in different places.

On the first beat 77 and 67 went right before a big left hand swing meant that they made big gains. 77 tacked off leaving 67 on the right alone with 74 slightly above on the way to Gleeds. The rest duly followed.

67 rounded just a couple of boat lengths ahead of 74, 54 and the fleet followed.

The committee made the wise decision to shorten the course as the first beat took 50 minutes, finishing between PSC and Sapristi. 74 and 67 traded places during gybes downwind, 54 and the following pack gained slightly. 67 misread the tide and 74 got an advantage through a gybe. 67 went on the hunt with tight cover, feathering to 74 in the zephyrs as they floated downwind.

With two boat lengths to go at the finish, 74 tried gybing for the line but couldn’t clear 67 who were on starboard, this resulted in penalty turns and 67 took the gun.

The final results -

67

74

54

80

77

70

75

48

9

Debut races of the season for both 48 and 9!

Thanks to the race officers, see you on the water soon

Joppers, Z67

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 18-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing

14/05/2024 Race 5 of the Tuesday Shield.

Course (13). Start between Sapristi & KB. Gleeds (P) PSC (P) Gleeds (P) PSC (S) Finish Suffolk Sails.

Six boats turned up on the start line for the 5th race. All clean away in the rain, good boys keeping back from the start line.

First to round Gleeds Z79 then Z54. Back to PSC nice run for them but it has stopped raining. 1st round PSC Z79 in 23min 48sec then Z54 only 9 seconds behind so we have Nick and Ian plus guest crew Jane - not sure what’s happened to Clive in a fiberglass boat then a wooden boat with Geoff, Heather & Chris. 3rd round Z74 1min 4seconds behind. The rest of the fleet followed.

Back to Gleeds lots of spray according to some of the crew. Z79 still in the lead with Z54 following closely. Then run back to PSC drop kite reach down to Suffolk sails. Z79 crossed the line 1st in 52min 40 seconds 2nd Z54 52 min 55 seconds.

Very close between fiberglass & wood.

Well done Nick & crew.

Finish results

Z79. Z54. Z74. Z67. Z80. Z78.

Hopefully they all enjoyed the race.

Liz, Z76

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 15-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing

Saturday 11th May

‘Race’ report -

The Gib fleet were due to visit but unfortunately the plans fell through, therefore the class captain decided to take advantage of a Saturday with no scheduled race to do something a little different. At a Victory 1230 (read: 1250…) four Victories mustered at Z1; Z48, Z53, Z67 and Z70 with not even a hint of GRP in sight! The tide was flooding hard up harbour and the wind was easterly(ish), the course was pile 98 to port to finish at the Hardway pontoon. To inform the captain - pile 98 has those yellow and black stripes with some triangles pointing down, turns out this is a south cardinal!

The loose start signal went with Z48, Z53 and Z70 going south into the main channel, Z67 went north towards Port Solent and had to dodge some pleasure motor and sailors before realising they were heading in the wrong direction, Zircon promptly tacked back and got lifted above the UHAF (Upper Harbour Ammunitioning Facility) and seemed to be in the lead. The rest of the fleet realised they were in the strongest tide and headed towards Z67. A few knocks meant Zircon was not making it past the UHAF, had to tack and Z53 was catching them up! One short hitch north, Z67 was still in the lead but had to contend with the Brittany Ferry who was inbound, before tacking round pile 98 and heading downwind to Hardway.

The spinnaker was hoisted… the usual helm Joppers was crewing…. the spinnaker was twisted, the helm had no idea where the pole uphaul controls were, the second crew was gently napping in the spinnaker bag. All contributing to a slow hoist !

Meanwhile, Z53, Z48 and Z70 rounded the windward and were trying to catch up Z67. The spinnaker finally flew but the tide was rushing us down to the finish, a quick gybe then drop of the kite before deploying fenders and lines and dropping the white sails.

The results of the ‘race’ -

Z67 - Zoe, Joppers and Hector

Z53 - David, Ron and Chris

Z48 - Jim D and Mike S

Z70 - Salty and MC

We all moored up on the Hardway pontoon, found a bench in the sunshine and enjoyed a few pints (and pizza!) before heading back home. A lovely afternoon was had by all, a shame that more boats didn’t join in the ‘racing’ fun!

See you on the water tomorrow!

Zoe, Z67

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 13-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing

Thursday 9th May

Thursday S1, R4, the view from Sapristi

Faced with a light easterly breeze threatening to drop further, Scam, the OOD set station by PSC and dropped a windward mark a third of the way to Linington and set a modest course to ensure a full race could be completed before sunset. WLM(p) PSC(p) WLM(p) PSC(s) SS(fin) 6 boats contested a close start, the majority selecting pin end, Z74 leading the pack. Meanwhile, starting nearest the committee boat, Z54 elected to tack off after the start into the east going tide. The main fleet pack eventually tacked onto port but by this time Z54 had taken the lead to the first mark. Pursued by Z74 and Z78. Only 10 minutes before kites were popping up, clearly the breeze was holding. Fearful the race would be too short, the OOD decided the pull the laid mark to extend the distance from PSC. At the leeward mark Z54 had surrendered the lead to Z74 with Z78 following hot on their heels. Z74 and Z54 continued on port tack for main channel tide, but what’s this? Z78 tack, had they spotted more breeze? Due to the decreased wind strength the race committee decided on a change of course. With a radio announcement, flag Charlie flying and (deafening) continuous sound signals the course was revised to remove the second rounding of PSC and proceed direct from WLM to SS finish. Lo and behold, Z78 takes the change of course first, comfortably in the lead. Perhaps there was an increase in breeze on the northern side of the course? Z74 rounded the laid mark second, followed by Z54. Z77 followed in fourth place with an interesting kite hoist. Z67 following behind were more slick on the hoist but didn’t manage to catch Z77. The next dilemma for the race committee was how to get to the finish in time for the leaders when they still had to wait for Z80 to round the laid mark, somewhat adrift from the rest of the fleet. Perhaps an ideal time break out the Whisky flag? Let’s try all the flags available in the box! However, there was a sufficiently good view of the finishers at SS from our vantage point by the laid mark.

Final positions: 78, 74, 54, 77, 67, 80.

Thanks to our new race assistants Jed and Gabriella.

Max, Z75

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 10-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing

Tuesday 7th May

A race report in limerick form for Tuesday 7th May

There once was a race on a Tuesday,

With boats lining up, oh so sprucely.

But the course proved too long,

Only five boats stayed strong,

And Z79 claimed the win, oh so boldly!

The sun beamed its warmth from on high,

But the wind barely whispered a sigh.

Yet they sailed with great cheer,

Till the sunset drew near,

Painting skies with a vibrant goodbye!

Salty, Z70

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 10-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing

Saturday 4th May

3rd Saturday Race

It’s not over until it’s over.

With 3 boats having raced across the last 2 races - it was a really a race between 54, 75 and 70 all with the trophy in sight on the penultimate race of the first Saturday trophy

Two more boats joined including 78 and 53.

78 set the course and was gate boat. PSC/ gate, LT, BT, MR, SS, LT, SS

Sun was shining, it was officially shorts and t-shirts for those brave enough.

The start was competitive, as we fought for the Pin end to gain the advantage of the tide to take us up to LT rather than being sucked into the harbour.

70 had a good start above 75, as they followed eachother toward the channel, before tacking towards the leading lights north of LT.

54 tacked early to follow 78 towards the channel. They key was judging the strength of tide on LT. Lucky for 54,78 and ,75 the tide was in their favour as the braved it to LT, 53 and 70 being more careful and baring down onto the mark.

The 3 leading boats played cat and mouse down the BT with their kites up, they were zig- zagging down to the mark with z70 behind followed 53 trying to complete a windward hoist.

When rounding BT, the boats headed out to the channel to benefit from the tide out of Southampton to round the Mary rose with ease.

Kites up - 78 in 3rd - heads to the left of SS while 54 and 75 continue to play cat and mouse.

The beat up the LT had the added challenge of a parked Ferry but certainly wasn’t too difficult to round LT in the tide.

The final kite leg was again a cat and mouse between 75&54 - 78 stayed out the way using the channel to escalate him down to SS - sailing above and over 75&54 !!

Finish order was : 78,75,54, 70,53

All that and the race was over is just over 1h50mins! All in glorious sunshine - see photos!

MC - Z70

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 08-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing
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Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 05-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in

Thursday 2nd May 2024

1 st Thursday, race 3.

The evening started with launching, (yes we are, no we aren’t, yes we are) Z80 and it was good to see the block and

pulley system in use on the camber slip. Heads were scratched as to how it was all to be rigged as its been a while…but

we got there and it was a graceful slip into the cold water with Russell on board..

By that time, we knew we had a race as both 54 and 77 were on hand, we knew that 78 was going. We were also

hopeful that 74 had found a crew. Sure enough, as we were entering the harbour entrance, we heard the dulcet tones of

74 requesting permission to cross the harbour, so we had 4 boats for the evening.

OOD for the evening was 73, with Liz driving Sapristi and your correspondent aboard as a guest (the charge being to

write this). Interestingly, Jim had brought refreshments…what would be in the flasks? As we set out from the harbour,

the wind was a good 16 knots, and with 90 minutes to high-tide, the Solent was quite flat and a good wind from a

direction just north of west. We headed for KB as PSC was just too far north to set a start. The line was established

between Sapristi and a laid mark, just South of KB, and before long the 4 boats were milling about, it was evident

where the windward mark would be, and we watched as the boats set off in that direction to see how tight it would be.

So, having decided on the course: Sapristi-LM, Baker Trayte(BT) (P); Linnington (LT) (P); LM (P), LT(P) and finish at

Suffolk Sails, we watched as the wind started to get up (and more annoyingly, moved north by about 10 degrees), but

we started on time, with Jim almost hanging over the side to get an eye on the line (he was filming too…don’t tell

Angela), but we had a clean get away and after a couple of tacks the lead boats were at Baker Trayte within 8 minutes

(ooops..had we set too short a course?) 77 was first round, followed closely by 74, 54 and 78, but it was 54 that got the

speedy hoist as the others seemed to struggle. The black peregrine was next up, followed by 77 and 78, who was

struggling. The crew must have all been to Pret before sailing as they had a monster wrap. (they obviously went for the

full 3 course…read on ) and she ended up white sailing for a good stretch of the first run. As they passed Sapristi, it was

evident they were having to work hard as it was dead down wind and the gusts were increasing. There was plenty of

rolling taking place as they proceeded, and 78 almost lost it as she pitched from one side to the other, but they caught it

with a harden up. It was 74 that reached LT first, with the lead 3 very close together after 20 minutes of racing. All

opted to take a tack on the rounding and headed out towards the central Solent, with no-one taking the alternate route

(Apparently this is using “the drain”...for more info ask Liz) all stayed on this tack until the rhum line and as they

approached the LM, 78 had made a miraculous recovery having closed to within a boat lengths to 74, with 54 and 77

also in touch, you could almost have thrown a blanket over them all. And off they set again for LT, this time with a

split, 78 taking a starboard gybe, but it was again 54 that stole the march on the hoist as they all again, managed the

gusting conditions. We lost track of which boat was which as they disappeared in to the gloomy sky, having dropped the

kites on the approach to LT and so we motored to SS to await their return, with all 4 boats still within shouting distance

of each other, it was 54 leading to the mark, followed by 78, 54 and 77. After a 49 minute race, all 4 finished within a

minute of the winner.

This was Victory racing at its best; competitive, close and unpredictable. And with 80 now in Haslar and 67, with a

mast fitted, on the trots it bodes well for next week as more boats join the racing list.

And for Jim’s refreshments…..well, it wasn’t rum after all.

Clive, Z79

Zoe Whittaker’s avatar 03-May-2024 By Zoe Whittaker in Sailing & racing