Early in the week it didn’t look likely that we would be racing at all on the weekend of the 10/11 of October but on Sunday 11th just two yachts, Incantation and Flair IV prepared for a race in, what looked like, really good conditions.
The race start was delayed as Flair IV had a mast climb to retrieve the Genoa halyard after the last evening race on September 30th. Having checked for commercial traffic the race was started to allow the competitors to cross the shipping lane between the two incoming ferries with a start time of close to 11:20.
As the racers set off, Pastime of Hamble was setting off on her way to her winter destination of Doc Victoria, Caernarfon. See you next season!
Flair IV and Incantation set off abreast over the start line and soon Flair IV had a reasonable lead on the way to Clipera.
Our penultimate evening race for 2020. Again this will be a shorty with last light at 19:47 and sunset at 19:13. We therefore need to back on moorings around 19:30 latest.
Willy Weather Synoptic Chart based on Holyhead. The screenshot is for tomorrow at 19:00
This is the link to Windy.com for tomorrow evening at 19:00:
Basically the wind forecast is for light NNW winds 10kt dropping to 5kt gusting 14kt so we will have to make decisions on likely duration on the evening.
Start sequence run from Flair IV
10min Warning (VHF CH 8)
5min Start of Autohoot sequence
1min (long signal)
Channel Marker east of Harbour entrance (P)
A distance of approx 7.2Nm
As normal comms will be on VHF Ch 8 after 17:40
Prior to 17:40 use WhatsApp HSC Offshore Racing group to register for the race.
Round the Skerries 2020-09-06
In our efforts to keep sailing active as we move into the autumn we decided to run a different style of race. This race was planned to allow an interesting but shorter race than East Mouse and back. To organise the various starts for this race we asked the skippers to test their navigational skills and decide when they should start, providing start and finish times so that we could use the calculated elapsed times for the race results. The race course was set as follows:
There was a big queue for the launch which meant that some of the racers didn’t get to their vessels as early as they had intended, I hope this didn’t affect their planned start times!
With the evenings closing in and the daylight reducing with increasing cloud it was decided to stick to a short course especially as the winds at 17:45 were still light at around 8 to 10kt. The other issue pending was the Stena Ferry change over with Stena Nordica being replaced once she had offloaded her cargo. Having discussed with Port Control I understood that the normal ferry movements would be supplemented by a new Stena ship already in the terminal which would have to move out and take over after Nordica had left, meaning an additional movement at around 18:30. Considering all these issues it was decided to reverse last week’s course having the option to include or exclude the second rounding of Clipera depending on the fleets’ progress.
The 18:00 start worked well with both the incoming ferries both in dock during the countdown.
With a very obvious weather front approaching from the west it was unclear what conditions would be like over the course of the race so the 3 yachts, Incantation, Pastime and Flair IV all rigged with full mains for the downwind start to the first mark, North Western. The AutoHoot system worked well now that I have the hang of it and the 3 yachts all got good starts with Flair closest to the breakwater. By the time we had arrived at North Western mark the wind strength was increasing dramatically with gusts of up to 30kt on leaving the harbour.
On the leg to Clipera Flair IV pulled out sufficiently to get a reef in the main before the mark and remain well in the lead. With the sudden change in the weather the visibility dropped with a fairly dense sea mist developing.
Gybing round the mark and heading for the Fairway buoy it was obvious that a second ree was necessary and again this was done without losing much of her lead. Now the rain had started in earnest providing a good test for the crews’ waterproofs!
On the way back from the Fairway buoy Incantation had a slight lead over Pastime but ran into a spot of bother at the mark leaving Pastime to overtake at the mark. Prior to rounding the Fairway buoy it was agreed to lengthen the course as by this time we had sailed less than 20 minutes, although with all the hard work it did seem to have been longer
With, by now, a substantial lead Flair IV ran into a spot of bother too with her genoa halyard shackle failing causing the genoa to drop to the deck. A rapid recovery by the crew meant that she was still in the lead at the second rounding of Clipera but not by a lot!
As Flair and Pastime headed to Clipera VHF Channel 14 was busy with chatter from the two Stena ferries and so a warning was given to the other two yachts to watch out for Stena Nordica making progress towards her swap over position. Fortunately this had no effect on the racers and we all passed safely into the New Harbour area before Nordica movements became an issue.
Over the lin Flair IV finish time was 18:49:52 with Pastime crossing the line at 18:54:14 and finally Incantation at 18:57:22. Flair as usual had managed to drop her foresail and motor to the finish line to capture the finish times with screenshots from her plotter.
Waiting for the HalSail subscription renewal to come through so that I can input the results and announce the series winner! Will it be Pastime or Flair IV?
I think we’ve had a remarkable Wednesday evening racing season considering the complexities of the pandemic, lockdown, no marina etc.. So thanks to all who have taken part and a couple of special thanks go to Colin, waiting around in the heavy rain to bring the yachtsmen ashore and to the memory of Peggy with some of her legacy to the club being used to purchase the AutoHoot system.
Looking forward to next season but don’t forget we still have a few sailing days before the end of October!
On our penultimate evening race of 2020 we looked set for a pleasant evening after the heavy rainfall overnight and into the morning. I had distributed the NOR updates via the WhatsApp group and the website on Tuesday.
On the night I was well prepared and actually got the whole sequence of the start working well with a 30 minute warning over VHF Ch8 and then a 10 minute warning followed by the AutoHoot sequence… But on checking with Holyhead Port Control it was evident that Stena Nordica was going to be arriving late; this caused me to delay the start firstly for 5 minutes and then for another 5 as I watched the ferry slowing as she approached the end of the breakwater. As it happens we could have gone at 18:05 as the winds from the start to the end of the Aluminium Jetty were pretty fickle and our joint progress to around the end of the jetty wasn’t as quick as I had projected.
Flair IV was the first over the line followed by Incantation, Pastime, Hellhound and Soulmate with Katanya II, not racing but shadowing single handed.
Following storm Francis it was great to get on board to check out the boats and go for a sail. The winds had dropped steadily during the day and we started in a 10kt south westerly. After consultation with the 4 yachts who had stated their intention to race the course chosen was again Course 12. [link to the course card].
Hellhound had asked that all the yachts should start at the same time this week so the start time was set to 18:30. However due to a slight issue over smoke from the engine compartment on Flair there was a 5 minute delay. Eventually the racers set off for the first mark Clipera with a welcome addition of Scintilla to the fleet. The starting system worked well although in the catchup from the smoke issue I was unable to make the normal over the radio countdowns.
Flair and Pastime got very close starts with Pastime getting a slight advantage on the line but Flair covering her to windward and soon climbing past to have a reasonable lead as they approached Clipera.
Our second race for the 2020 season; just great to see more boats on the water with a warm though not quite how I would describe the weather at the time, welcome to club racing for Digby plus crew on Kahuna and Liz and Alan on Soulmate.
Conditions were interesting with variable light winds as we prepared for the race with a spectacular rainbow spanning the harbour entrance, as usual I was too busy to capture this, taking the opportunity to sail round the moorings to check that everyone was aware of the arrangements for the race and that they were tuned into VHF Ch17. As I was attempting to contact the racing fleet there was some annoying radio chatter, all in what I perceived to be Chinese, making me query the choice of Ch17. Fortunately the chatter didn’t last too long and I was able to manage the start sequence with reasonable accuracy.
Without the club mark ‘Penrhos’ being in place and with the SW wind the course selected was the same as last week’s course 12. This would give us an interesting comparison between the states of tide and wind between the two sets of data. The following two screenshots are of Flair IV’s track the first is for the 29th then the second is both the 22nd and the 29th with the 29th highlighted.
I look forward to hearing your views on why these are so different!
Phil could be heard shouting at Flair to say she was going to be over the line, but no she actually got just about the perfect start with her old dacron cruising jib replacing the carbon racing sail that suffered in the previous week.
Gradually as the yachts headed out of the harbour Flair IV drew away from the rest of the fleet with winds ranging from 6kt to 10kt on a broad reach. These pictures are from Sue (Commodore) James who was onboard with Trevor on Kataya 2 shadowing the event.
Before the start with Kahuna close to the line
Just after the start with Flair breaking free from the lea of Incantation as they approach the knuckle.
The usual holes in the wind passing the knuckle made busy work for the short handed boats as they headed for the rainbow. Across to Clipera where the winds were still fickle at 6 to 7kt and interesting differences between speed through the water and speed over the ground; if you can trust your paddle log!
Looking back from Flair IV with Holyhead Mountain in the background with the weather set to change.
The downwind leg from Clipera to Bolivar gave opportunities for the crews to try different tactics with goose winging on port or starboard or going off the dead run depending on the tide and wind conditions.
By the time Flair IV rounded Bolivar the tide was beginning to ebb with a current running in a westerly direction building quickly, rounding the buoy a few minutes ahead she had a better heading down to Meath while the other yachts didn’t manage to point so well. Due to the slow progress between Clipera and Bolivar the race was shortened to Meath (p), Clipera (s) and finish; this was due to concerns over getting back to the moorings in good time to clear up and get the launch to shore before 21:00. However the wind increased to 10 - 12kt as we beat towards Meath increasing boat speeds from around 3kt to 7kt SOG.
This was our view as we entered the harbour so the concerns over timings on the slower boats was still justified.
Results from Hals Racing Results system
Comment from Sue
Hi Mark - good fun. I’ll never make a racing sailor - I get bored at the back but it’s all fine again when We turn round Without having to go round the mark - ahead of everyone - briefly - and then get a second chance to see if we can keep ahead!
With the launch service starting at 17:00 we were hoping that the crews would have enough time to get safely onboard without too much trouble. The launch was running from the slipway as the tide was too low to use the groyne.
3 yachts prepared for the start and I checked with Port Control about the ferry schedule for the evening and posted an update on the WhatsApp group for racing. I selected course 12 from the website course card; which can be found on this link. This would give us a long downwind leg to Bolivar, then a beat back to Meath, a reach from Meath to Clipera and back with a beat beach into the harbour.
Flair IV's track
On Flair with the 20 - 25kt wind we decided to go with the main on the second reef but in making this decision we had not taken note that the reefing line was not yet in place! So as we started the race I was trying hard to get the signals over the radio while my crew were attempting to fix the reefing line through the sail and down to the boom. This was still going on after the start….
Thus we allowed both Pastime and Incantation to get away heading towards the first mark, Clipera.
Things got pretty close at Clipera with Pastime and Incantation going dead downwind while Flair gybed and headed off on port to try and take advantage of the early flood tide. Once round Bolivar Flair managed to get inside Incantation as they rounded the mark and she tacked shortly after Pastime as they headed down the coast. Flair was holding a better angle to the wind and had overtaken Pastime by the time they both tacked to head for Meath. The strong winds and short handed crewing was a little problematic and Incantation struggled to get away from Bolivar as the flood tide increased the resistance to their heading.
At Meath, with the mist becoming quite heavy rain, Flair had a considerable lead over Pastime and Incantation was almost not visible in the reduced visibility. Flair rounded Meath, then Clipera, then back to Meath but as she tacked back onto starboard to head down to Clipera her jib got caught on the spreader and split leaving the crew to furl the ripped sail and continue on the main alone. Once past Clipera she tacked to head for the entrance to the harbour but with only the main now in play she was making little progress against the wind and tide. Incantation called up to retire and fairly soon as they approached the harbour entrance Pastime overtook Flair. As the necessity of taking off sails before the launch service ended Flair was forced to retire and motor back to her mooring.
A great sail and congratulations to Phil for ‘weathering the storm’ to win the first race of 2020.