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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 10 report

With Cork harbour enjoying one of the best spells of summer weather in years, hopes of a strong turnout were high, last Friday.  Unfortunately, yet another small fleet came to the line for the first of the weekend’s sailing events – Cove SC’s Friday Night League, Race 9.  Last year’s high of 17 boats now seems like a distant memory, and one that is unlikely to be repeated at any time soon.

Away on Business acted as OD. The formula 28 made the long trip round from their new home in Carrigaloe to establish a start/finish-line at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny.  With the prospect of the night’s light Southerly breeze dying away, the ODs sensibly chose to keep things simple.  From Cuskinny, the fleet were sent straight out the harbour to a windward mark at buoy number 5, ‘between the forts’, before being directed to a gybe mark at buoy number 8, off Crosshaven, and a finish back at buoy number 13.

Some of the difficulties of sailing in a busy working harbour were brought home right off the bat, as the sight of a large merchant ship coming down Cobh Road put pressure on the ODs to either start promptly or postpone.  Jay was certainly shouting for the race to be started quickly, before the merchant vessel could arrive in the starting area.  A late arriving Kodachi, on the other hand, favoured a postponement.  In the end, and no doubt mindful of a potentially dying breeze, the ODs chose to start promptly and all boats were able to clear the start-line and cross the main channel with plenty time to spare.

A pin-end start was favoured.  Jay sought out her customary high starting lane and led the fleet over the line, on starboard.  Fleet tactics were dominated by the need to buck the incoming tide, but tactical choices were limited.  Only one effective course of action presented itself – tack onto port and drive for the Spike Island side of the channel, in the hope of encountering slacker water there.  Re’Eile followed by C’est la Vie tacked first and then one by one, that is exactly what the rest of the fleet did, with Jay tacking late to cover moves being made behind.

Kodachi’s basic boat-speed allowed her to quickly take the lead.  The class 2 boat was not going to be caught from there, with Jay, Gaelic Kiwi and Bombora short tacking their way up the Western side of the channel before putting their keels across the incoming tide as close to the layline for the mark as possible.  Most of the fleet suffered in this phase of the race.  Both Jay and Gaelic Kiwi were pushed off the layline for buoy number 5 by the strongly inflowing tide and had to tack back.  Gaelic Kiwi was doubly unfortunate here.  Kevin O’Connor’s team encountered heavy traffic during their mark rounding and was impeded by a number of Royal Cork YC’s white sail fleet.  Jay rounded the windward mark in second place on the water.  Gaelic Kiwi rounded in third, some distance behind.  Positions and distances on the water did not change on the reach back across the tide to buoy number 8, and Jay led Gaelic Kiwi by some four minutes, at the gybe mark.

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Gaelic Kiwi approaching bouy no.5

Unfortunately, Jay lost out on the run back to Cuskinny.  Struggling to keep her spinnaker flying, the J24 had to come up for height on a number of occasions and drifted off her favoured line, as a result.  Gaelic Kiwi, on the other hand, seemed to be better able to keep her spinnaker flying and was able to sail directly at the more favourable pin-end of the line.  Gaelic Kiwi took huge chunks of time out of Jay in this phase of the race and closed to within 90 seconds of the second placed boat, on the water.

Kodachi finished in first place on the water, as usual. Jay crossed the line in second.  Gaelic Kiwi crossed in third, but considerably closer to the second place boat than they were at the start of the run.  A J24 should, I think, be able to sail faster and deeper than a GK24.  Not on this occasion, though.  Maybe, it was the spinnaker trimmer?  Unlikely though!  We’ll blame the other fella.

In whites C’est la Vie took line honours for the second week running, just ahead of the closing Re’Eile with Wader and Chanteuse some way behind struggling to make the line in the rapidly dying breeze.