Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 4 report

With IRC series leaders – No half Measures – handicapped by a late start and the with the other leading contender – White Knight – taking a break from racing, third placed boat – Jay – had a real opportunity to make up ground last Friday, when another small fleet came to the line for round 4 of Cove SC’s Friday Night League.

ReEile’s Damien Ahern acted as OD on this occasion.  With a sometimes stiff breeze blowing from the Northwest, the OD chose to establish a start-finish line at buoy number EF2.  Starting bang on time and with very little fuss, the OD first sent the spinnaker class fleet to a windward mark at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny, before asking them to run all the way down to buoy number 6, between the forts. The fleet then beat back up the harbour, visiting buoy numbers 10 and 9 in turn, before finishing back at buoy number EF2.  The White Sail fleet enjoyed a similar course, visiting buoy number 5 instead of enduring the long run to buoy number 6.

The start was an unusually subdued affair and caution was the order of the day.  All boats got cleanly away, on the favoured starboard tack.  Away on Business started well and led the fleet off the line.  The usually hard-starting Jay secured their preferred windward lane off the start, but hit the line a few seconds adrift of the Ryan/Tyler owned Formula 28.

Crews had to work hard on the beat to buoy number 13 and boats struggled to stay flat in the occasionally awkward conditions.  Jay’s crew certainly spent much of this phase ‘touching their toes’ and calling the gusts, whilst Sonic Boom’s Brian Carroll, added valuable experience to the afterguard.  The under-crewed Away on Business suffered through lack of weight and dropped a little to leeward in this phase – handing an early advantage to Jay, who seem to have solved, for the moment as least, their pointing difficulties.  The white sail fleet formed line astern, and to leeward, of the two racers.

Jay nearly came unstuck as they approached the layline for buoy number 13 when a shackle gave way and they lost their genoa halyard up the mast.  Some deft crew-work saved the day however, and Jay was able to proceed, in reasonably good order, albeit with an improvised genoa setup.   Jay rounded buoy number 13 in first position, followed closely by Away on Business and leading White-sailers – Mystic.

The long run down the harbour was always going to test the spinnaker class fleet.   Some must certainly have questioned the wisdom of hoisting a kite in the conditions.  Fortune favours the brave of course, and the leading boats had a fantastic, if sometimes interesting, blast down the channel to buoy number 6.  No Half Measures made good ground on this run and quickly passed Bombora in the mid-fleet positions.  The leading spinnaker class boats rounded buoy number 6 within a short distance of each other.  Jay rounded at the head of the fleet with No Half Measures in second place.  Away on Business continued to sail well in third.  Bombora followed in fourth, some way back.

The beat back up the harbour was testing and tacticians had some work to do when choosing which side of the course to take.  Jay and No Half Measures went left, driving on starboard for the Crosshaven side before tacking on the layline for buoy number 10.  Away on Business went right, hoping to gain from the potentially faster tidal stream on the Whitebay side of the harbour.   Away on Business won this battle of wits and gained considerably to round buoy number 10 ahead of the sonar.  Places did not change from there and the spinnaker class fleet rounded buoy 9 in the same order they rounded buoy number 10.

No Half Measures did try to put a move on the two leaders in the latter stages of the race.  Once around buoy number 9 both Jay and Away on Business chose to sail a direct line for the finish at buoy number EF2, and in so doing kept the breeze too far forward to effectively hoist their spinnakers.  No Half Measures, on the other hand, sailed an initially higher line, before soaking down onto the finish under spinnaker.  Unfortunately, the sonar was always going to run out of room here and the manoeuvre proved ineffective.

Jay crossed the line where she had been all night – in first position on the water.  Away on Business finished in a strong second.  No Half Measures recovered from their late start to finish in third position on the water.

The drama did not finish there however, and it was a night of contrasting fortunes for the leading boats.  Away on Business can be very satisfied with their race, placing first in IRC – a result that bodes well for a boat only just getting their 2013 campaign underway.  No Half Measures placed second in the premier category and whilst the Sonar is used to leading the fleet ‘round, this crew must surely be satisfied with their points tally, given their night of incident.  Unfortunately, it was a night of missed opportunities for Jay.  ‘Eagle-eyes’ back in the fleet spotted the leading boats execute incorrect roundings at buoy number 6 and reported the matter to Cove SC’s sailing secretary – Brendan Ryan.  The sailing secretary was obliged to act and, following discussions, the J24 for one, acknowledged their mistake and retired.  Jay was duly classified as having ‘Retired after Finishing’, dropping costly points in the process.   ‘To finish first, first you have to finish’-  whilst (presumably) sailing the correct course.

No Half Measures continues to lead the series in IRC.  White Knight suffered no ill-effects from their decision to sit this one out, and retains second place.  Jay remains in third place.  Away On Business are now fourth.

Jim Buckley’s consistently sailed Wader triumphed in the White-sail division.  Rory Allen’s Mystic placed second.  As OD, ReEile gained average points, and was credited with a third.  The White-sail division is again shaping up for an interesting season’s racing.  ReEile’s decision to sail in whites can only add to this hotly contested division’s appeal.

(by our man on the water – Mr Liam Coakley)