The Fleet Race, for the Dunlin Tub, as sailed on Tuesday evening was the last race before the Class head to Cowes and Cowes Week on Friday. Possibly an inauspicious trophy to have on that particular evening, given that Z15, Dunlin, was lost on a fresh day in Cowes Week 2001. Cowes Week preparation also accounted for the lower than usual turnout, but 6 boats came to the line at PSC racing mark, Z53, 54, 68, 73, 74 and 80. Of those the 4 boats that were heading to Cowes later in the week were anxious to test their boats and their competitive edge!
With race officer Hugh Pringle set up at PSC racing mark, Course 2 was called, with 2 beats to BT followed by two shorter beats to PSC, all with Suffolk Sails as the downwind mark. The breeze was an encouraging SW gusting to 20 knots, enough to get your teeth into.
The fleet were keen on the line, stacked up at the committee boat end with 30 seconds to go. At the last moment a dive down the short line saw them all off the outer end with no one OCS, out towards the west going tide, undoubtedly the way to go. Z54 the leeward boat just squeezing past the buoy with 80, 74 and 68 to weather and behind. As 54 squeezed up from below one by one the others tacked off for clear air, leaving 54 to take advantage of the best of the tide further out. At BT 54 had the lead with 74 and 80 rounding not far behind.
Down the run to Suffolk Sails 54 extended with Heather working the kite hard. 74 and 80 neck and neck behind. Repeat up the beat to BT again, 54 tacking too early for the buoy and allowing 74 to close a little, but 54 first round again and 74 and 80 on top of each other behind.
54 leading round SS and beat to PSC, the lead still comfortable, but you can’t make a mistake in the Victory Class and here comes the first one. 54 gybes to come down the run on port, 80 follows, but 74 holds out on starboard gybe and gets more breeze, storming up on 54, while 80 also benefits from breeze filling from astern after a lull. 54 under pressure at Suffolk Sails, but just holding the overlap inside 74 with 80 behind.
It’s often important to keep hold of the big picture when you find yourself in close quarters. Mistake no.2, 54 allows 74 and 80 to tack first and they foot off under and out into the breeze. An early tack onto Port sees them both cross 54 as PSC approaches, but they were a little early with the tacks this time, 54 holds on and takes a little benefit from a lift into the wall, lifting over 80. Not quite over 74 however, who cross on starboard 1/2 boat length ahead, to round PSC to start downwind to the line first, with 54 second and 80 third. 74 in more breeze off the wall and 54 defending against 80 sees Peregrine take the Dunlin Trophy at the line, to add to a few others waiting for collection at the prizegiving… 54, 80, 68, 73 follow with 53 retiring.
Well done to 74, but all the Cowes bound boats are no doubt happy with their performance! Thanks to Mr Pringle and team for a great race.
Now there apparently needs to be a song in here, so, with Cowes Week approaching, all together now…
“What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor, What Shall We Do……..