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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 7 report

Our unpredictable summer weather must have given some Cove SC members pause for thought again this weekend and many boats must have been keeping a keen weather-watch in advance of Cove SC’s Friday Night League – Race 7.  Weather forecasting services were certainly predicting 25-30 knot gusts in the harbour for later Friday afternoon and for a time it did look as if Cove SC’s  Friday Night League fleet would be in for a lively sail on Mid-Summer’s day.  In the event, whilst conditions were occasionally testing, they were by no means troubling, and the Friday Night League fleet enjoyed a great sail in Cork Harbour.  Jay was certainly never under pressure in the South-westerly breeze.  It was wet though.  Temperatures were a bit cool – for June.  And, red and yellow oillies provided the only real colour on an otherwise grey grey longest day.

The evening started inauspiciously enough.  There was very little early activity on East Ferry marina and Jay and Away on Business were the only boats to be crewed up and ready to go by 18.00.  However, seven boats turned out in the end – a reasonably-sized fleet for the season that’s in it.  Having said that, 10 boats turned out in Dunmore East on Thursday last, and it is a shame that more Cove SC boats are not regularly sailing in what one experienced Waterford sailor enviously called our ‘fantastic sailing ground’.  Cork Harbour remains a massively under-utilised resource, even among those who live on its shores and sail on its waters.

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Bombora making her way out of East Ferry, last Friday

Kevin O’Connor’s Gaelic Kiwi acted as OD on the night.  It was no surprise therefore, when the Aghada-based sailors opted to establish their start/finish line between the end of Aghada Pier and buoy number EF1.  From there, the fleet was sent on a broadly L-shaped course – reaching to a leeward mark at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny, before beating to a windward mark at buoy number 8, off Crosshaven and running/reaching for home via buoy number 11, off the refinery.

Even on a falling tide, you would think that a start line stretching between buoy number EF1 and the Aghada shore would provide ample room for a fleet of seven boats to start without incident.  Not so on this occasion however, and things threatened to ‘cut up rough’ between Jay and Away on Business, on the line.

Jay’s preference for as high a starting lane as possible brought her to the committee end of the start-line and with it, a realistic intention of bearing slightly away onto the first mark at buoy number EF2.  Away on Business had other ideas, however.   Starting to leeward of the J24, the Ryan owned Formula 28 quickly moved to windward in an effort to close up underneath the J24.  Voices were inevitably raised and an interesting discussion developed about Away on Business’s desire for two boat-lengths of room to windward.   Bombora, stayed out of the shmozzle and led the rest of the fleet over the line – well to leeward of the bickering racers.  This, as it happens, proved to be a wise and sensible decision.  Both Jay and Away on Business massively over-cooked their starts and were adjudged to be over the line early.  Both were called back by the ODs.  Bombora and the whites sailed on.  The only course of action left to the bickering racers was to crack on as best they could and attempt to pick the whites off, in turn.  That, is exactly what happened.

First up was Alan Bardlsey’s HR29 – Illauglas.  With Sonic Boom’s Richard Marshall calling the shots, the heavy Hallberg was enjoying the breeze and making light of the conditions.  Jay lost some ground here as the white-sail boat came up to defend their place in the fleet on a number of occasions.  The J24 had to wait until the mark rounding at buoy number 13 before they could put a move on the bigger boat.  Maximiser led the fleet around buoy number 13, with Mystic, ReEile and Bombora in close attendance.  Illaunglas approached buoy number 13 in 5th position on the water with Jay sitting on her transom, in sixth.  Jay was finally able to take the position at the mark.  Entering wide to exit tight – the higher pointing J24 finally climbed over the more ponderous HR29 and moved ahead.  One down – five to go.  Meanwhile, Bombora sailed serenely on, at the head of the spinnaker class fleet.

The fleet chose to stay in the tidal stream on the beat out to Crosshaven and Jay and Away on Business quietly applied themselves to the task of working their way through the White Sail fleet.  Both Mystic and ReEile were passed during this phase of the race.  Only Monkstown Bay SC’s Maximiser was able to stay with the racing boats.  Away on Business sailed particularly well here and led the fleet around the windward mark.  Maximiser rounded in second place on the water, with Jay in third.  Bombora, who had been sailing well encountered difficulties on the beat, and fell back.

As is so often the case, races are won and lost on a single decision.  This was indeed what happened on this occasion.  Rounding first, Away on Business chose to stay on starboard, and reach for the refinery-side of the channel under main and headsail.    Jay, on the other hand, chose to gybe onto port and reach for the Spike Island side, before hoisting their spinnaker and gybing back onto Starboard.  In so doing, Jay was able to run straight at the mark under spinnaker and made significant gains on the Formula 28.  Jay rounded buoy number 11 in first place on the water, some way ahead of Maximiser in second and Away on Business in third.

Once round buoy number 11 and reaching once more, Maximiser’s 40 foot LOA enabled her to make good the ground she lost on the run, and take line honours.  Jay crossed the line in second place, with Away on Business in third.  Jay placed first in IRC with Away on Business second.  Bombora placed first in echo with Away on Business again in second.  ReEile placed fourth on the water, but claimed first in the white sail division, on handicap.

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Mystic and Away on Business returning to East Ferry marina, after racing, last Friday

By our man on the water – Mr Liam Coakley. For more of his views from the water check out the Jay Weekly.