Friday Night League – Race 1 Report

Cove SC’s 2012 cruiser racing season got underway in earnest last Friday.  Whilst conditions on the Eastern Bank were less severe than those forecast, the night’s gusty 10-15 knot northwesterly breeze provided some challenging early season sailing and crews enjoyed an occasionally lively first sail of the season.

Serendipity’s Robert Keating assumed race officer duties on the night and established a start-finish line between his committee boat – Smart Lady – and buoy number EF1.  Thereafter, the fleet visited buoy numbers 11 and 13 before turning for home at buoy number 20, off Cobh.  The fleet then retraced its steps to finish back at EF1, via a gybe mark at buoy number 9.

Space is often in short supply on a Friday Night League start line.  However, the fleet had an uncluttered line on this occasion and skippers were able to choose their lanes with ease.  A pin-end start was favoured with most boats initially sailing high off the line and soaking down onto the first mark at buoy number 11.  No Half Measures started her current campaign where she finished her last, and led the fleet off the line.  Re Eile, Jay, Away on Business, and La Chanteuse followed, in line astern of the Sonar.  Jay’s positioning suffered a little as some over-exuberant gybing practice prior to the start sequence meant that she was late timing her run along the line and had to settle for a position well below her favoured lane, and underneath the fleet in general.

The trip to the first mark was uneventful but some stiff northwesterly gusts from Cuskinny kept crews on their toes. No Half Measures dominated this first phase and led the fleet around mark one. Re Eile, Jay, Away on Business and La Chanteuse followed.  Fleet tactics came into play at this point, as skippers sought to work the flooding tide to best advantage.  No Half Measures, Jay and Away on Business tacked at the mark and beat initially towards buoy number 13 on a port tack.  Re Eile, on the other hand, chose to stay on startboard, hardening up and crossing the channel before tacking on the port layline for number 13.  Re Eile lost out in this as Jay, having tacked onto starboard a little before the starboard layline for the mark, crossed in front of the Moody’s track before tacking back onto Port and rounding buoy number 13 in second place on the water.

The beat up to Cobh was predictably testing and sail trimmers had to work hard to maximise boat speed.  However, despite some interesting sailing, fleet positions did not change from here.  No Half Measures and Jay stretched slightly ahead under spinnaker when both Re Eile and Away on Business chose to keep their kites in the bag and some strong gusts again tested race crews as they reached back to EF1, but finishing positions were determined before the fleet rounded the windward mark, at buoy number 20. Crews did, however, have the chance to inspect Air as they passed slightly to windward of the anchored superyacht, on the run to buoy number 9.

Whilst fleet numbers are low at this point of the season, returning crews were greeted by the welcome sight of Bombora slipping into the water at East Ferry.  The Alastair/Cavanagh/Kenny team will surely be keen to test their new handicap in the weeks ahead.

No Half Measures claimed first place in IRC on the night, with Re Eile placing second and Jay third. Re Eile took top spot in the ECHO division, with Jay second and No Half Measures third. La Chanteuse claimed first in the White Sail Division.