by Luke Scott
Race 4 Summary
With racing brought forward by an hour, the fleet were out on the water ready to race by 10h00, but the wind, fickle as usual, was not settled in the south-east corner and ironically the fleet waited 70 minutes before racing got underway.
The course was set up close to the beach in a small band of southerly wind, just strong enough to break the ripple crests on a pretty flat sea. The same two lap windward/leeward course as the first three races was sailed.
The fleet showed their anxiousness to get going with an emphatic general recall!
In the restart, MB were called over and took some time to work their way back. The fleet split immediately, with Scud and Nemesis crossing starboard sterns to go right as soon as possible. MB initially followed them, but some way behind. The rest of the fleet elected to head to the beach before the long port tack up to the weather mark, sailing parallel to the beach, with Nitro, Ski and MB coming closest to the beach.
Going hard right paid big time, and at the weather mark Scud rounded well ahead of Nemesis, with Nitro charging in on port tack and taking the starboard boats TnT and Magic above close hauled. Nitro appeared to be in the wrong as she tacked and luffed up hard in the zone, or hit the mark. Either way, they took a spin. Behind them was CuAl, then Ski and MB languishing in unfamiliar territory for them so far in this regatta.
There was a terrific spectacle of the racing from Lagoon Beach as the boats came rocketing down in fresher breeze just behind the shore break, and then gybed offshore onto the port layline, right in front of the hotel. There is ample attention coming from the beach and balconies at the hotel!
There are clearly different strategies in play as the fleet lined up for the gate rounding – with the question being – which way will pay?
At the gate Scud was well ahead of Nemesis. Both chose the starboard rounding. Magic was behind them and choosing the port rounding. Then came TnT and Nitro on the starboard rounding, followed by CuAl on the port, and Ski on starboard. MB had a big problem dropping their a kite and came limping in on a port reach across the gate to round to port well behind the fleet.
The boats all started up the beat up on a port tack initially, although the far right side looked good. The big question was whether the port rounders at the gate would make up some ground?
Magic completed a terrific beat by rounding the weather mark and offset well ahead of Scud and Nitro, with TNT and Nemesis next. Nemesis spun out on the hoist. Someway back are CuAl and Ski.
MB were way back, having been swallowed up by the unforgiving transition! It’s been a tough race for them!
Magic were first into the transition zone and were beating on port to the line in a gentle westerly. The rest of the fleet held on to their kites longer down the beach, before dropping and squeezing up to the finish. Nitro recovered well to finish behind Magic. TnT pushed through ahead of a resurgent Nemesis, who was followed by CuAl and Ski.
Scud had a forgettable final leg, starting with a twisted kite and ending by hitting the finish mark, for which they took a penalty, but they still managed to finish ahead of MB.
The fleet will wait for the wind to settle again before Race 5.
Race 5 Summary
After another hour long wait for the transition to recede and the wind to settle, the course was moved further into the South East corner, with racing back on track at 13h20.
The wind in the corner is a beautiful mid-teen southerly, on a clear warm sunny day.
MB owned the pin at the start, then CuAl, Nitro, TnT, Ski, Nemesis, then Scud, with Magic starting late at the committee boat, and being the first to go right.
One by one the fleet all tack onto what was a long port beat up a narrow band of wind.
At the top mark TnT led, followed by MB and Nitro, then a gap to the next five of Nemesis, CuAl, Scud, Magic and Ski who were in a compact bunch:
After the hoist Magic and CuAl were quick to come back onto a port gybe and head offshore, with the rest of the fleet favouring a starboard bear-away down the beach.
At the gate, all but Magic and Nemesis took the starboard rounding, in the following order: TnT, MB, Nitro, Scud level with Magic, CuAl, Ski and then Nemesis, who dropped their kite very early. With Magic and Nemesis going far right up the beat it will be interesting to see which strategy pays best as the rest of the fleet first went in towards the beach before the long port tack to weather.
At the weather mark TNT had built a healthy lead followed, in seemingly equal 10 boat length intervals, by MB, Nitro and Magic. Then there was Scud, Nemesis, CuAl and Ski still in a close grouping.
There was all to play for on the last downwind dash of the race. Magic went hard for the port layline at the beach, while MB and Nitro followed TnT offshore.
Magic turned on the afterburners on this leg and their strategy earned them two positions down the run, but behind TnT who took the win!
Race 6 Summary
Race 6 started soon after Race 5 was over. Two boats, TnT and Nitro, were over at the start and both quickly return to restart.
The fleet worked up the middle of the course, and at the weather mark it was all very close.
Magic rounded first, ahead of MB. CuAl decided they could not lay the mark on starboard and bailed out close to the mark, gybing behind a very close bunch behind them. Meanwhile Scud was coming in on port and needed to find a gap. She bore away behind CuAl and Nemesis before a gap opened for her to tack clear ahead of Nitro. Nemesis pinched hard to lay the mark and nearly stalled. Scud, coming in with more pace luffed hard to avoid her to weather. With Nitro directly behind Scud, and TnT to weather of Nitro, there looked to have been some contact?. Nitro took a spin after the mark. CuAl rounded successfully ahead of Ski.
Nitro and CuAl headed offshore, with the rest playing down the beach.
After the bottom gate MB, Magic, TnT and Scud went right. Nemesis and CuAl went left, while Nitro went up the middle. The wind was beginning to moderate.
At the weather mark MB was leading, followed within 10 boat lengths by Magic, Scud, Nemesis, Nitro, TnT, CuAl (who was pinching hard to round) and Ski.
Everyone hugged the beach on the next leg resulting in a drag race of note – what a beautiful sight that was!
As the boats gybed closely together it was interesting to see who had nailed the angles best for the final approach. There was a very close finish between Magic and MB, and also between Scud and Nitro. Exciting racing!