Keelboat Report – 2nd & 3rd July 2022

Early afternoon on Saturday, seven Redwings made their way to Drum where the Race Officers had set up an inshore windward inflatable in an attempt to find some protection from the SSW’erly F5 breeze.  Despite best intentions it was still quite choppy, but at least they tried!   The start was certainly quite exciting with the bow of Gosling, helmed by Serena with Jonathan & Sarah Nainby-Luxmoore as crew, inches from the stern of Red Gauntlet II, helmed by Joe Robertson with his mother Annie crewing.

Start of Race 1 –

After a very short beat to the inflatable, Joe rounded ahead of Colin Samuelson in Toucan with Gosling just in front of Quintessence helmed by Robin Ebsworth. It was by no means a ‘follow my leader’ on the run to Derek and the subsequent long beat back to the windward inflatable. Toucan, three up had edged into the lead by then; but Joe, two up, did very well to hold off Gosling. The second run and beat back to the line saw no changes to the order with Toucan crossing the line 30 seconds ahead of Red Gauntlet II; Gosling was third a minute later and Paroquet, helmed by Rory Morrison was fourth tweny seconds later.

With the breeze remaining around 20 knots, Toucan decided to head back to the harbour, leaving the other six boats to start a second race. It was a similar course but with the finish moved to Pepe as everyone was returning to the harbour overnight. After a good start, first to the inflatable windward mark was Paroquet, with Gosling and Red Gauntlet II a couple of boat lengths behind.

Start of Race 2 –

By the time they had completed the first round, the fleet had split in half, with the front three close, then a gap and then the back three close. All found it quite difficult to get on the layline to round Drum as the breeze was flicking 15 degrees and most overstood. Although the final beat from Derek to Pepe via Drum was as challenging as always, Rory held his nerve and finished a minute and a half ahead of Serena with Joe third, 20 seconds later. Henry & Rod Thorpe in Redwitch had closed the gap a bit to take fourth with Quintessence fifth and Alastair Speare-Cole in Avocet not far behind.

Meanwhile, for the first One-Design race there were only two takers; Susie & Sid Beart in No 5 and Charles & Lavinia Perry in No 8. Both boats had rigged storm sails and after a short postponement while No 8 sorted out their jib, they followed the same course as the Redwings, albeit only once round. Charles was first over the start line but Susie tacked off quite quickly which paid in spades and put her well ahead at the inflatable windward mark. She maintained her lead for the rest of the race and finished a minute ahead.

By the time the second race started, No 6 helmed by Ashley McLucas, had joined the fray. The start was closer and even though No 6 had normal sails and was three up, Susie was again first round the windward inflatable followed a few boats behind by Charles.

Start of One-Design Race 2 –

On the beat in from Derek to the finish at Pepe, No 8 was trailing last until the last 200 metres when they got a favourable lift and all of a sudden moved into the lead. No 6 was second to finish a few seconds later with No 5 a similar distance third. However No 6 subsequently retired when it was pointed out that they had been using the wrong sails!

If the sun had been shining a bit more on Sunday afternoon, it would have qualified as ‘champagne conditions’; as it was, the SW’erly Force 4 and intermittent sunshine definitely qualified as ‘prosecco sailing’! Eight Redwings were set a simple windward-leeward course starting from Footprint with Pepe as the windward mark and Ruthven as the leeward mark – twice round finishing at Pepe. Sadly there is no video of the start as the Race Officer (Mike) failed to press the video record button! Pity as it was a one of the best this season. Toucan and Plover nearly came to blows in the final few seconds, however the latter subsequently did her penalty turn before setting off to catch the rest of the fleet up.

The first beat to Pepe saw split tacks with Paroquet rounding just ahead of Toucan and Red Gauntlet II. On the long run to Ruthven, the front three initially looked as if they were having trouble locating the mark, but subsequently assured the author it was merely tactical sailing! Suffice to say that by the time they reached the mark, the chasing fleet had narrowed the gap! First round was Red G|auntlet II with Toucan and Paroquet close behind. Sea conditions offshore were surprisingly confused so it was interesting that all bar Redwitch kept out on port tack until they got closer to St Helens Fort. Red Gauntlet II held onto her narrow lead and rounded Pepe for the second time just ahead of Toucan with Paroquet, Plover, Redwitch, Gosling, Snowgoose and Quintessence spread out behind. Red Gauntlet II was still just ahead on the second run to Ruthven, but on the beat to the finish as Pepe, Toucan took advantage of a couple of favourable wind shifts that put them half a minute ahead at the finish; Plover also had a good final leg and took third ahead of Paroquet, Gosling, Redwitch, Snowgoose and Quintessence. There were no One-Designs.

After an excellent couple of days racing, Joe Robertson in Red Gauntlet II won the Fortuna 1950 Medal. Ten o’clock starts next week – Redwings for the Curlew Cup and the One-Designs towards their Off Season Points.

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