Saturday 27 May 2023

Second Saturday Series (Presidents Shield) Race 1

A beautiful summer’s day encouraged 7 boats to join the fight for the coveted Presidents Shield. The breeze was a light North Easterlyas we exited the harbour for the racetrack, but became more fickle in bothstrength and direction as the boats congregated at KB. The race was postponed whilst several courses were deliberated, and wind forecasts reviewed. After 20 minutes the breeze settled in a Southeasterly direction and the course was broadcast as GL(p)-SS(s)-GL(p)-SS(s)-GL(p)-SS(finish).

The gate opened with Z76 attempting to enter early but the majority of the fleet waiting at the outer end of the two-minute line, to take advantage of the east going tide. Z69
continued to the south, the rest of the fleet slowly finding places to tack to get back to the east going tide. Z69 held out until the layline, a huge call, with most of the fleet tacking below Z69’s line. At the first mark, Z69 first, with a significant gap, Z54 in second, with Z78, Z70, Z73 following closely behind, slightly further behind was Z53 and Z76.

A deep run down to Suffolk Sails, with no changes in positions. Z69 keeping the lead. The next beat to Gleeds dictated the fleet’s desire to go south again for the east going tide. With the starboard rounding of Suffolk Sails, it meant threading through the fleet after the mark. This helped Z54 in second place, as they managed to extend into a different wind pattern and gained an advantage at the start of the second beat with Z78. Z69 tacked first for the mark, with Z54 crossing in front, and Z78 dipping behind.Z54 then tacked and Z78 continued out further south to the East going tide. Was the wind going to shift enough to allow Z69 to make the mark? Alas, no! Advantage Z78, but even they had to tack again for the mark in the light and shifting conditions. So, at Gleeds, Z78 led, followed closely by Z69, and Z54. Z78 had a little trouble launching the spinnaker, the gap then closed, probably only 3 boat lengths from the stern of Z78 to the bow of Z54. Due to the light and shifty conditions, the OOD then shortened the course.

The unstable conditions made spinnaker trimming difficult, especially with the light chop on the water. So, the boats were in a line, led by Z78, followed to leeward and behind by Z69 and again, leeward and behind by Z54 all trying to sail deep for the layline to the finish, but the conditions didn’t allow. 20 boat lengths out from the finish, Z54 made an aggressive move to windward of the leading boats, pulling the leaders to the north of the rhumb line, requiring the boats to gybe to the finish. Z54 extended to windward and in front of Z78, had they done enough to cross his bow? Unfortunately not [for them], and with Z69 now on the inside, controlling the situation outside of 3 boat lengths to the mark. Z69 dragged the fleet past the natural gybe layline, to the extent that they now had to beat back to the finish in the light and tidal conditions at Suffolk Sails. Z69 was first to gybe, followed closely by gybes on Z78 and Z54. Z69 managed to squeeze round the buoy to take the victory. Two boat lengths behind, Z78 came into the mark close and gybed slowly to the finish, but a gap inside appeared, with the fast-approaching Z54 taking a chance to cross the line inside Z78. Coming down on the rhumb line behind a further distance away, was Z70 and Z73, an impressive performance from Liz with her all-female team. And then slightly further behind, was Z53 and Z76. It was a glorious day for the first of the President’s Shield. In the words of the Great Tina Turner; “Simply the Best”.

Maxine & Nicky

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