8 boats on the line on Thursday night for race 3 of the Puffin trophy. A fine mix of the Victory Class at its best, with 4 wooden hulls and 4 GRP ready to go, covering 66 years of Victory builds, from Z54 (1949) to Z80(2015). The wind was in the ENE (again!) 15 - 20 knots, but a steadier breeze then we might have seen of late, and with the promise of moving up the scale to the 20 knot end as the evening went on.

Z74 ‘ in the chair’ for the evening set a course from a start line at PSC…… SS - BT - Liningtons - BT - SS. At the start the fleet were keen, too keen in some cases, Z54 and 69 early and ducking back down the line, and 67, oh so close to not being OCS, but the ’X’ went up and back they went after an almost! perfect start.

Going left to the wall for too long on the first beat did not pay. Out to the right got you to the right side of the curve as the wind shifted. Z78, Z80, Z54 first around SS with barely a 1/4 of a length between them. A gaggle of boats behind. Z78 low off the mark, Z80 up the middle, Z54 high and up over Z80. Down the long run to BT the wind swung just a little to the east, allowing the windward boats to hold a good line to the buoy and make the most of the gusts. At the mark its Z54, Z80, Z78, with 77 and 69 right behind. Still nothing in it.

The east going was running. Off the buoy on Port was the way to go, racing down the tide, but 77 and 69 tacked left at the buoy for clear air back towards the wall. A bit of a header on port half way down the beat and 54 and 80 tacked left for a distance and then back on to port down the middle. The middle seemed a good place to be. Z77 and 67 hard out to the right, and 69 and 77 to the left were losing ground. 54 extending on 80, and 77, giving up early on the left hand side, closed on 80 to cause some distraction. By Liningtons 54 had half a dozen boat lengths clear, with 80 and 77 behind, and the rest of the fleet close. The gusty breeze had a surprise for 69 just after the mark, pushing her into an unexpected broach, quickly recovered.

Places basically unchanged at BT. One beat to SS to go. Most of the fleet off on Port, down the tide again, trying to judge where the corner was for a tack to SS. Z54 covering, Z80 holding second. Z54 tacks for the buoy, still some 3/4 mile away, looking good. Z69 has gone early however. Up the middle. Z54 watching closely. Are the lifts going to get him to the line first. Looking ok for 54, but 80 is a little further to windward and at risk. Z54 across the line first, the oldest boat of the night still has some legs, but Z69 is second, a great recovery, leaving Z80 with the third gun, a few seconds and 66 years behind!

Honourable mention for Z9, great to see them making progress on a breezy night (but despite the number the boat is a relative youngster), and many thanks to hardworking Mike and our third generation Victory sailor Vicky Metcalf on 54 for the effort ( I won’t mention your age!)

Photo: ©Chris Smith

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