White Wash!

Vice Commodores Race 6 June 2012

MSC fleet White wash

The Vice Commodores race on 6 June 2012 was close to abandonment.  The wind strength would have suited a cycle race or the D-Day landings.

The Flag Officer series is an ‘average lap time’ (ALT) race format with a mass start and every boat completing a whole number of laps.  The number of laps that each boat achieves after the minimum time (52.5 minutes) is recorded and the average time per lap is recorded.  In this race, some boats completed three laps, others just two.

The standard course for an ALT race is a reverse or mirror “P” shape.  This provides for a windward beat, two reaches and a run.  The boats go round anti clockwise and have two gybes to perform.  Thus, in theory, it tests the tactical skills of sailors without too much mayhem at the marks.  On the beat, boats must pass through the “gate” on each lap and the gate is also the start and finish line.

On this occasion, the gate was defined by two Dhan buoys.  Their orange flags give the clue to the wind direction and their reflection was clearly seen in the water.

Eleven boats were cajoled into the event which was accompanied by light rain.  (This is a physical attribute where water suddenly becomes less dense.)  The start line had a starboard bias although we were actually lucky that it was a windward facing start at all.  So the best end to start was the right hand end.   So that explains why those at the left end romped off at racing snail’s pace leaving the tacticians throwing away their “Dinghy sailing tactics” book.

“Le Shed” snailed away and led the race.  Some excitement (Editor: exaggerated prose!) was had by the four Merlins.  Left end man Blue Malcolm keeping ahead of the others for some time only to be overwhelmed by the Yellow Mike A (crewed by Dave Biddle who was heard to refuse to rig up in the rain).  Special mention for Keith G who assisted setting up the P course in the P ing rain.   Three Solos launched, with two of them having a combined age of about 100 years more than the youngster. And 100 Kgs too.

Accusations of blatant breaches of “Rule 42” (improper propulsion) were met with excuses of cramp, shaking the rain off the sail, tactical necessity to gybe several times, standing up to see where the wind was and checking whether sail numbers had been washed off.  A useful guide is that it is OK to respond if the mast moves first but likely to be an infringement if the helm/crew moves first.

At the specified time, Jan the Phan completed his two laps, received the gun honours but  got confused about the nature of the finish, came back across the finish line then proceeded to do a third lap that did not count.

The wind then came in giving those with the third lap a much reduced ALT which significantly altered the race outcome down the fleet.

Robin Dalton launched his Miracle for the first time and completed the race.  Well done.   Gave rise to some good puns in the bar later. Much later.

The winner on scratch and handicap was our own Tom Gun who cruised to an impressive victory with Jayden Wood in a National 12.  The Merlins of Anslow and the Homers interchanged the scratch and handicap positions for second and third.

The next and last in the series will be on the 4th of July where we hope for fireworks.  Leading contenders are Tom White and Richard Adams.