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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 9 report

‘a boat is safe in harbour, but this is not the purpose of a boat’ (Paolo Cuehlo)

Its an old saying.  But, Paolo Cuehlo is fond of re-quoting it for a reason.  It resonates.  It’s a metaphor for life, obviously.  Life is for living – don’t let it pass you by.  However, its literal meaning is equally appealing.  And, it’s this literal meaning that resonates with me tonight.  Although, I admit, not in the way it would have last week, or for that matter, in the weeks previous to that.  You see, a reasonable fleet of 10 Cove SC boats came racing tonight, five of which – imagine it – were spinnaker class boats.  And with them, came a glimpse of why this series has been so successful in the past.

This was the largest Friday Night fleet of the season so far, but more than that, I think, the boats who came sailing tonight enjoyed being out on Cork harbour and not tucked up in their berths.  For isn’t sailing, ultimately, the purpose of a sailing boat and, by extension, a sailing club.  Furthermore, there was a buzz on East Ferry Marina after racing tonight.  Some crew actually hung around and chatted.  Imagine that!  A good-sized fleet creates a racing experience that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Jay acted, somewhat unhappily, as OD on what turned out to be one of the nicest sailing nights of the season so far.  From a start-line at buoy number 11, and confident that the night’s 7-8 knot breeze would hold, we chose to follow a well-trodden path, and send the fleet to a windward mark at buoy number 8, off Crosshaven, before asking them to run back to a leeward mark at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny.  From there, we sent them up Cobh Road, to buoy number 20, before asking them to sail for a finish at buoy number EF1, off Aghada – passing buoy numbers 13 and 9, on the way.

The start was a pretty muted affair.  Skippers, without exception, spotted the bias on the line and favoured a pin-end start, on starboard.  Fergus Coughlan’s – White Knight – led over the line, albeit a conservative five seconds after the gun.

Tacticians had an interesting decision to make, right off the bat.  With the windward mark set at buoy number 8, the fleet was presented with the prospect of a reasonably true first leg beat out the harbour, but with the benefit of a strongly out-flowing tide.  The decision was simple one.  Choose to stay on starboard and beat towards the refinery side of the harbour in the hope of catching a lee-bow off the tide out-flowing from East Ferry along the Aghada shore, or choose to tack early onto port and in so doing stay with the main flow of the tide coming down the channel from Cobh.

The first three boats off the line – White Knight, Mystic, and Bombora – chose the latter course of action.  Third placed Bombora jumped first and tacked onto port ahead of the leading duo.  White Knight and Mystic stayed on a little longer, only to tack in unison a little further up the track.  Gaelic Kiwi, in fourth, chose to stay longer on starboard, as did Deja Vu and the under-crewed Kodachi.  Quality will out however and the slow starting Kodachi made extremely short work of the fleet to establish an early lead.  Even with no spinnaker flying, the Corby 27 had built a massive lead on the water, after only 40 minutes of sailing.  The class two racer inevitably led the fleet around the leeward mark, off Cuskinny.

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White Knight leads Mystic and Bombora off the line.

Two distinct pods developed behind the leader.  Once around the top mark, the generally smaller spinnaker division boats eased ahead of their more ponderous club-mates in the ‘white-sail’ division.  Gaelic Kiwi led the main group of spinnaker class boats on the run to buoy number 13, and rounded the leeward mark in second place on the water.  Bombora rounded in third, whilst White Knight having failed to capitalise on her excellent start, rounded in fourth.  Bright Wings lagged a little behind the other spinnaker class boats, in fifth.  A blanket could have been thrown over the white sail division during this phase of the race.  Mystic, C’est La Vie and ReEile certainly enjoyed some close racing here.   C’est la Vie had the best of it however, and led the white sail division around the mark.  The two Moody 31s followed in close succession.  Wader rounded in fourth with Deja Vu in fifth.

The fetch up to buoy number 20 and the close reach back to buoy number 13 proved uneventful.  But, waterline length certainly came into play as Bright Wings’ 32 ft LOA enabled her to close considerably on the leading group in the spinnaker division – principally, it must be said, at the expense of White Knight, who continued to drop off the pace.

Kodachi crossed the finish line in first position on the water, well ahead of the fleet.  But, the real battle was taking place back further down the track, as Bombora, Gaelic Kiwi and Bright Wings crossed swords on the final spinnaker run to the finish.  Bombora sailed extremely well here and won this tussle to take second place on the water.  Gaelic Kiwi crossed in third with Bright Wings fourth.  White Knight, having gambled unsuccessfully on the tide by sailing a significantly deeper line to the finish than the other spinnaker class boats, placed fifth on the water, some way back.  C’est La Vie, sailing her first race of the season, took line honours in the White Sail division.  Mystic, ReEile, Wader and Deja Vu  followed, in that order.

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Bombora crosses the finish line ahead of Gaelic Kiwi and Bright Wings

Gaelic Kiwi placed first in IRC on the night, with White Knight second.  The first boat over the line – Kodachi – was not classified under IRC. Denis Ellis and crew, emulated Jay and An T’Oileachach’s early season difficulties, and became the third boat this season to sail an incorrect course whilst leading a Friday Night League race on the water. Kodachi was duly classified as having retired after finishing.  Bright Wings took the win in ECHO, with Bombora taking second place.  Wader won the white sail division.  Mystic took second place here.

(Thanks go to Liam Coakley once again and to read more of his views from the water check out the Jay Weekly.)