Sadly no sign this weekend of the flying Dutchman (Rudy), however the eleven sailors who did come to race for his trophy enjoyed almost perfect conditions on Saturday. Despite the harbour moorings beginning their morph from winter to summer, the WSW F3 to 4 breeze allowed the race officers to set a longish course within the harbour. After a short postponement, and what looked like a bit of bumping at the pin end of the line as the breeze backed a tad, the first of the three races got away to a clean start. The fleet soon split tacks on the beat to the windward mark; first to round was Bruce Huber, with Alastair Speare-Cole and Bill Daniels ahead of Mark Downer. On the second round Mark found the extra pace and took over the pursuit of Bruce who was extending his lead. On the final round Mark closed the gap slightly but had to be content with coming in second. Bill Daniels was third and Robin Ebsworth was fourth.
The second race got away to an excellent start, albeit the timing of Bill Daniels’ attempt to cross the fleet on port was a bit out so he ended up having to bear away behind most of the fleet on starboard. It was Bruce again whose lime green spinnaker headed the field as they ran back down the course to the leeward gate. Mark, some way away, was second and Robin was third – positions that remained unchanged for the rest of the race. That said, there was so little between Mark & Robin that at the finish only inches separated them. There were similar close finishes lower down the fleet between Jo Downer, Alex Downer & Alastair Speare-Cole, as well as George Downer & Mike Toogood.
The start of the third race was not quite as good as the previous one, however at least no one was OCS! Mark was first round the windward mark with Bruce clear ahead of Jo, Mike Toogood, Alex & George Downer. By the end of the second round Bill had caught up and taken third place. Although the top three remained unchanged at the finish, Alastair & Jo were only inches apart for fourth & fifth places, as were the next three, Alex, Mike & Robin.
Sunday was another lovely sunny day, however as boats were being readied, there was little sign of the forecasted SW’erly breeze. A slightly depleted fleet of seven Illusions launched and headed out of the harbour in the hopes that the breeze would develop, which fortunately it did. Although at the Committee Boat end for a change, the first race saw Bill Daniels crossing the line too early and having to return. Mark Downer was dominant and lead the way from start and never looked like being caught by the best of the rest, Alastair Speare-Cole or Jo Downer with Philip Russell in fourth some way behind.
With the breeze steadying at around 9 knots, conditions were as good as they could have been for the start of the second race of the day; it was therefore quite surprising to see Mark well down the order at the end of the first round. However as the race progressed he climbed back up the order and finished second to Alastair who had an excellent race having lead from the first windward mark. Bill was third and Jo fourth. Lower down Robin & Philip enjoyed some very close racing and crossed the finish line so close that they were scored as having tied.
For the final race, Mark found his magic touch again and lead from the start. As the fleet was going to have to beat back into the harbour when they finished, the race officers decided to kill two birds with one stone so for the final round the windward mark was moved back into the harbour and became the finishing mark. By that time Mark was well ahead, Bill was second and Jo was third with Alastair pressing hard. Risking all, Alastair went too close to the St Helens shore and ran aground; by the time he managed to get himself off, Jo’s third was safe.
Well done to Mark who, helped by Bruce’s absence on Sunday, won the Flying Dutchman Trophy; Bill was second and Alastair was third. Also well done to beginner Hilary Martin who was racing on Sunday; although last in all three races, she showed by her starts in the second and third races that controlling an Illusion is not that much of a black art!
Next weekend’s racing (8th & 9th April) is for Bill’s Barrel. Early starts (09:30 & 10:00) but hopefully we will see a good turnout for what is always a fun Regatta.
Start of Race 1 on Saturday – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EOLV-iVVJo
Start of Race 2 on Saturday – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWeypZrllug
Start of Race 5 on Sunday – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIONLrz4GoM