Shifty winds were the order of this warm overcast day. 7 boats (3 Hobies, 1 Dart, 2 F16s and 1 F18 lined up for a beach start in a single long-distance race. The boats that stayed to the North side of the bay got out quickly while those to the South (Dart and Viper) were stuck without wind, watching the fleet sail a kilometre ahead and fully powered up before they got going. The 2 Hobies of Clara and Gilles were off in the lead with the F16 of Andy Keith/James Ford on their heels. As the wind shifted around Peng Chau, the early leaders started to get headed. David Hopgood’s F18 seemed to make the quickest decision to tack away, which saw it get out to a decisive lead. Tom Nunan’s Viper, still well back, was making up ground and also tacked very early to the Southeast. Andy’s F16 was fighting valiantly on the upwind leg but was losing ground. By Datum rock the F18 was rounding just in front of the Viper, with the pack vying for 3rd-6th. The Dart never really made up much ground :-(
On the downwind leg towards Siu Kau Yi Chau the Viper flew past the F18, which opted for a gybe set around Datum…when later asked why they chose that direction, they honestly replied “because we didn’t expect to be in the lead and we didn’t know the course”. I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere. While Clara maintained her lead consistently among the the Hobies, Gilles and new helm Juan had a real battle going.
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Racing back to the beach, the run became a broad reach. The Viper attempted to drop the Spinnaker early to handle the pressure of holding the boat against the wind. Crew Cindy Chung had to take on the winds whipping the kite as well as a nice little knot that had formed in the retrieval line. While the Viper struggled with the kite the F18 and F16 were closing again. Perhaps David Hopgood’s eyes were a bit too fixed on the boat ahead and not the wind coming down to him, as an ‘unexpected’ gust pulled them over in impressively short order. David is maintaining his unblemished record as the undisputed capsize king. Unfortunately, his mainsail was less impressed as he and crew attempted an acrobat trampoline manoeuvre into the middle of it. Back to the mouth of the bay, of course, all bets are off, never knowing who might get caught up in the infamous DB Doldrums. The Viper negotiated it (this time) and touched the beach just as a big rain squall hit. Andy’s F16 was stuck while the new wind brought all the boats from the back flying into and through the bay to the beach. In a flash all boats were back…except one! The Dart was still out there, so our fearless RO and safety boat operator, Marc Holm, went on a reconnaissance mission. He found them floating about aimlessly with the mast flopping around in the water. A quick rescue and tow ensued with all sailors now safe and sound back on the beach with smiles and beers aplenty.
A cursory inspection of the Dart suggested that a shackle pin had come loose that holds up the forestay (and the mast). “Oh we have tighten those sometimes?” Hmmm. I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.