Sunday 30th September 2018
On the last day of September 2 yachts turned out to face a challenging WNW gusty wind with broken cloud following the passing of a weather front. The start was delayed again for 10 minutes from 14:30 to allow for the traffic situation on the A55 for the crew members travelling from the mainland.
Rhumbull with 3 on board and Flair with 6 set off on a broad reach with Rhumbull flying her asymmetric shortly after the start but at the knuckle the apparent wind went forward of the mast and the spinnaker proved too problematic as she got into the very flaky winds at the knuckle. Flair IV powered away with her no 2 and 2 reefs in the main on the leg to the first mark, Bolivar averaging over 7.3kt. Whenever Rhubull’s spinnaker filled she accelerated rapidly but taking a much deeper line than Flair, finally dropping the spinnaker as she left the harbour.
With the winds blowing at 18kt to 25kt had built a considerable 1.5m swell over the morning which made the sailing pretty exciting as the yachts left the protection of the harbour.
Leaving Bolivar to starboard Flair gybed and setoff back to Meath on a fetch again with some spray breaking over the coach house roof. From Meath the next mark was Penrhos to starboard, this leg was a broad reach with a following swell and Flair was pushing on at an average of well over 8kt as she surfed down the waves. With a reach back from Penrhos to Clipera the opportunities for Rhumbull to raise her spinnaker to catch Flair were very limited and so the order stayed the same as Flair tacked round Clipera to beat back into the harbour.
Another exciting and fun day for the competitors at Holyhead.
Sunday 23rd September 2018
A very varied set of forecasts during the week put doubts into whether the racing on Sunday 23rd would be viable but, on Saturday the forecast had settled to 18 - 24kt NNW with wall to wall sunshine. 4 yachts turned out with Vision deciding not to race having some issues with her forestay and roller furler.
The start was delayed by 5 minutes from the planned start of 14:30 and all three yachts got away in good order on a reech towards Clipera, the first mark of the course. It had been decided to race to Clipera, Penrhos, Meath, Penrhos and finish leaving all marks to starboard to avoid any confusion. As normal for Sunday the race start was done on GPS time called from Flair IV with the finishers self timing.
Both Incantation and Rhumbull started ahead of Flair but Flair had taken the lead by Clipera, Rhumbull second and Incantation a pretty close third. Quite a swell from the NNW had developed with the gusty winds all morning making the leg to Penrhos very interesting on the helm as the boats gybed at Clipera to lay the mark at Penrhos. [click on the image for the video!] stormed past Flair, attaining a top speed of 13.9kt but as she passed to windward Flair lost a bit of rudder control rounding up scaring the pants off Rhumbull’s crew which made them alter course and get into a bit of a fix with her spinnaker. Flair had managed to straighten her course quickly and did not impede Rhumbull continuing on towards Penrhos and without a spinnaker to dowse she rounded the mark still in the lead. Now a beat to windward gave Flair and Incantation a but of an advantage over Rhumbull as they beat back towards Meath. With the tide a couple of days before springs there was a good flow to the north at the harbour entrance and Flair took full advantage of this getting to Meath well ahead of both the other competitors giving her sufficient lead to make it impossible for Rhumbull to catch her before she rounded Penrhos for the second time.
On the final leg back into the harbour flair slightly misjudged the approach to the end of the Aluminium Jetty having to put in a couple of short tacks to clear her lay line into the finish. However she was over the finish line well before the other two yachts with Rhumbull in second and Incantation in third over the water.
Sunday 16th September 2018
Once again the forecast of better weather after 12:00 with high cloud breaking up provided a great start for the race. It had been decided, after a couple of weeks where the ferries had been late getting away from the harbour, to delay the start until 14:20. This week there were just four yachts starting with Ken sailing solo on Incantation. Phil having had to return home to get his keys was back just in time to finish his crew’s preparation on Rhunbull before leaving the mooring for the start.
From the start Rhumbull flew her asymmetric whereas Flair raised her spinnaker at the knuckle and Incantation, understandably, decided not to fly her spinnaker at all.
The winds were light, varying from around 6 to 10kt south westerly and as the yachts headed out into the open water it was hard to keep the sails full with the waves on the stern quarter. Rhumbull as usual was on her 120° to wind course and Flair sailing dead downwind. As they sailed towards Bolivar the two leading yachts vied for position with Rhumbull crossing behind Flair as she headed out due north and then appeared to stall after gybing. This hole in the wind didn’t last for long and seemed to disturb Flair’s progress shortly after. Rhumbull had a significant lead by the buoy but Flair and then Incantation held a higher line on the beat pulling back some of the gap. Flair tacked first to lay Clipera to the west and was visibly catching Rhumbull as they headed back towards the harbour with Rhumbull tacking next onto starboard to sail south past Clipera. Flair held her westerly course until she could lay Penrhos which was to be passed on starboard; this gave Flair quite an advantage and she was now pulling out a reasonable lead with Incantation following some way back with Hellhound retiring on her way back to the moorings.
At Penrhos Flair’s crew got the spinnaker launched and wondered if they had made sufficient to keep ahead of Rhumbull as she rounded the mark and launched her asymmetric once again. Once again on this leg back to Meath keeping the spinnaker ful was tricky but Flair was still ahead at Meath and started her beat back into the harbour with Rhumbull close behind. Once again Rhumbull tacked early but Flair held her port tack until the last moment to tack into the harbour giving her a bit more lead over Rhumbull as she crossed over towards the Aluminium Jetty.
With her next tack Flair had hoped to clear the knuckle with the wind expected to round close to the breakwater and all was going well with about a 20° lift until right at the knuckle where the wind eddied forcing Flair to put in a short tack to clear and tack back to run parallel to the breakwater.
After finishing the conditions were so good that Flair sailed back to the end of the breakwater to check on Incantation and shadow her back to the finish.
Flair first over the line and wins on NHC by some 3 minutes but on the IRC she loses to Rhumbull by around 3 minutes. Ken gets a special accolade for his solo efforts on Incantation…
What can I say, just another of those fantastic days sailing in Holyhead…
Sunday 9th September 2018
We realised that things were not going to go quite to plan as we approached Holyhead on the A55 as the ferry traffic was solid from Junction 2 in the right hand lane; a portent of things to come when we have customs checks!
The blustery winds and heavy rain had given way to some clear skies as we caught the launch to go out ro our yachts to prepare for the 14:00 race start. The tide was in the 2nd hour of the ebb and the winds, SW 15 gusting 25kt, due to drop a little more during the afternoon. On calling Port Control the two ferries were due out at 13:50 and 14:10 and so the start was delayed till 14:10. This meant that Esprit, out with us to race for the first time this year, had time to rush their lunch before the start. The usual mele of moored boats on the approach to the start line makes getting to the start line at just the right time quite a challenge.
Flair IV and Rhumbull made good starts with Hellhound, Vision and Esprit close behind. As we sailed towards the Aluminium Jetty it became clear that the Irish Ferry was not running to time and we had to circle round for a rolling restart once the ferry had left, no doubt the cause of the traffic delay was the slow loading onto the ship.
This first leg, being pretty much dead downwind from the knuckle had Rhumbull sailing her asymmetric at around 120° and Flair goose winged as they made towards the first mark, Clipera. Once out of the harbour Rhumbull pulled away to the south but suffered a major broach as she gybed back towards Clipera allowing Flair to take the lead as they rounded the mark and headed towards Bolivar. Now Rhumbull took off like a rocket and built a substantial lead by the time she made Bolivar. Esprit was gradually slipping further behind Flair with Vision now bringing up the rear as Hellhound, sailing single handed, retired from the race.
At Bolivar Rhumbull tacked onto starboard and headed on a southerly course while Flair stayed on port tack and headed out to catch the ebb tide on the way to Meath. Flair had almost caught up with Rhumbull as they closed on eachother but Rhumbull still had a very slight lead crossing ahead of but without delaying Flair on starboard. By the next tack Flair was ahead again and maintained her advantage passing Meath to port and Penrhos to starboard before a reach back to the end of the Aluminium Jetty and a beat up to the finish line.
At the end the IRC handicap showed a 9 second corrected time lead for Rhumbull. On the NHC Flair was first, Rhumbull second, Esprit third and Vision 4th. These times are slightly skewed due to the delay at the Aluminium Jetty but the event was just such good fun!
Sunday 2nd September 2018
A disappointing turnout for today’s race but the 3 yachts Rhumbull, Vision and Flair lined up for the start in blustery southerly winds. As usual with our Sunday afternoon races the start is organised from GPS time with a radio countdown from Flair, as and when her crew can, as they circle in and out of the moored yachts behind the start line.
A start for Flair with Rhumbull accelerating quickly in second alongside Vision. With winds from the south it started as a reach, then from the knuckle a broad reach and from the end of the breakwater a run to the first mark, Bolivar. The wind speed varied around 22 to 25 kt with a max apparent wind of 30kt recorded on Flairs instruments. Rhumbull seemingly oblivious to the high winds powered downwind under full main and asymmetric spinnaker roaring away from Flair and Vision who both had fully reefed mains and reduced headsails. At Bolivar Rhumbull had a significant lead but managed to hit the mark and had to re-round the buoy. This gave Flair in second place a chance to reduce the gap with Vision in third. The first two yachts set a starboard beat, as far as was practical towards the rocks off the eastern coastline of the bay, tacking to lay the second mark, Clipera. The upwind leg to Penrhos favoured Flair as she caught and overtook Rhumbull, being able to hold a much higher beat. By the 3rd mark, Penrhos, Flair had extended her lead as they began to run downwind to Meath; her crew hoping this lead would save them from being overtaken when Rhumbull set her asymmetric again after rounding Penrhos.
As Rhumbull flew downwind she was apparently hitting 13kt and seemed to be catching Flair but, as she approached Meath, she had a major broach snapping the tiller extension connection, compromising her chances of catching Flair. Vision called in to retire as by this time she was opposite the harbour entrance taking advantage of an early entrance to the clubhouse.
Flair continued then to make great headway upwind back into the harbour finally hitting the finish line some 20 minutes ahead of Rhumbull.
The forecast had been almost correct, certainly the wind speeds were accurately shown but the cloud cover didn’t fully clear although we enjoyed some sunny spells as we traversed the course, not that we had a great deal of time to concentrate on anything but the sailing!