Sunday 16th September 2018
Once again the forecast of better weather after 12:00 with high cloud breaking up provided a great start for the race. It had been decided, after a couple of weeks where the ferries had been late getting away from the harbour, to delay the start until 14:20. This week there were just four yachts starting with Ken sailing solo on Incantation. Phil having had to return home to get his keys was back just in time to finish his crew’s preparation on Rhunbull before leaving the mooring for the start.
From the start Rhumbull flew her asymmetric whereas Flair raised her spinnaker at the knuckle and Incantation, understandably, decided not to fly her spinnaker at all.
The winds were light, varying from around 6 to 10kt south westerly and as the yachts headed out into the open water it was hard to keep the sails full with the waves on the stern quarter. Rhumbull as usual was on her 120° to wind course and Flair sailing dead downwind. As they sailed towards Bolivar the two leading yachts vied for position with Rhumbull crossing behind Flair as she headed out due north and then appeared to stall after gybing. This hole in the wind didn’t last for long and seemed to disturb Flair’s progress shortly after. Rhumbull had a significant lead by the buoy but Flair and then Incantation held a higher line on the beat pulling back some of the gap. Flair tacked first to lay Clipera to the west and was visibly catching Rhumbull as they headed back towards the harbour with Rhumbull tacking next onto starboard to sail south past Clipera. Flair held her westerly course until she could lay Penrhos which was to be passed on starboard; this gave Flair quite an advantage and she was now pulling out a reasonable lead with Incantation following some way back with Hellhound retiring on her way back to the moorings.
At Penrhos Flair’s crew got the spinnaker launched and wondered if they had made sufficient to keep ahead of Rhumbull as she rounded the mark and launched her asymmetric once again. Once again on this leg back to Meath keeping the spinnaker ful was tricky but Flair was still ahead at Meath and started her beat back into the harbour with Rhumbull close behind. Once again Rhumbull tacked early but Flair held her port tack until the last moment to tack into the harbour giving her a bit more lead over Rhumbull as she crossed over towards the Aluminium Jetty.
With her next tack Flair had hoped to clear the knuckle with the wind expected to round close to the breakwater and all was going well with about a 20° lift until right at the knuckle where the wind eddied forcing Flair to put in a short tack to clear and tack back to run parallel to the breakwater.
After finishing the conditions were so good that Flair sailed back to the end of the breakwater to check on Incantation and shadow her back to the finish.
Flair first over the line and wins on NHC by some 3 minutes but on the IRC she loses to Rhumbull by around 3 minutes. Ken gets a special accolade for his solo efforts on Incantation…
What can I say, just another of those fantastic days sailing in Holyhead…
Sunday 9th September 2018
We realised that things were not going to go quite to plan as we approached Holyhead on the A55 as the ferry traffic was solid from Junction 2 in the right hand lane; a portent of things to come when we have customs checks!
The blustery winds and heavy rain had given way to some clear skies as we caught the launch to go out ro our yachts to prepare for the 14:00 race start. The tide was in the 2nd hour of the ebb and the winds, SW 15 gusting 25kt, due to drop a little more during the afternoon. On calling Port Control the two ferries were due out at 13:50 and 14:10 and so the start was delayed till 14:10. This meant that Esprit, out with us to race for the first time this year, had time to rush their lunch before the start. The usual mele of moored boats on the approach to the start line makes getting to the start line at just the right time quite a challenge.
Flair IV and Rhumbull made good starts with Hellhound, Vision and Esprit close behind. As we sailed towards the Aluminium Jetty it became clear that the Irish Ferry was not running to time and we had to circle round for a rolling restart once the ferry had left, no doubt the cause of the traffic delay was the slow loading onto the ship.
This first leg, being pretty much dead downwind from the knuckle had Rhumbull sailing her asymmetric at around 120° and Flair goose winged as they made towards the first mark, Clipera. Once out of the harbour Rhumbull pulled away to the south but suffered a major broach as she gybed back towards Clipera allowing Flair to take the lead as they rounded the mark and headed towards Bolivar. Now Rhumbull took off like a rocket and built a substantial lead by the time she made Bolivar. Esprit was gradually slipping further behind Flair with Vision now bringing up the rear as Hellhound, sailing single handed, retired from the race.
At Bolivar Rhumbull tacked onto starboard and headed on a southerly course while Flair stayed on port tack and headed out to catch the ebb tide on the way to Meath. Flair had almost caught up with Rhumbull as they closed on eachother but Rhumbull still had a very slight lead crossing ahead of but without delaying Flair on starboard. By the next tack Flair was ahead again and maintained her advantage passing Meath to port and Penrhos to starboard before a reach back to the end of the Aluminium Jetty and a beat up to the finish line.
At the end the IRC handicap showed a 9 second corrected time lead for Rhumbull. On the NHC Flair was first, Rhumbull second, Esprit third and Vision 4th. These times are slightly skewed due to the delay at the Aluminium Jetty but the event was just such good fun!
Sunday 2nd September 2018
A disappointing turnout for today’s race but the 3 yachts Rhumbull, Vision and Flair lined up for the start in blustery southerly winds. As usual with our Sunday afternoon races the start is organised from GPS time with a radio countdown from Flair, as and when her crew can, as they circle in and out of the moored yachts behind the start line.
A start for Flair with Rhumbull accelerating quickly in second alongside Vision. With winds from the south it started as a reach, then from the knuckle a broad reach and from the end of the breakwater a run to the first mark, Bolivar. The wind speed varied around 22 to 25 kt with a max apparent wind of 30kt recorded on Flairs instruments. Rhumbull seemingly oblivious to the high winds powered downwind under full main and asymmetric spinnaker roaring away from Flair and Vision who both had fully reefed mains and reduced headsails. At Bolivar Rhumbull had a significant lead but managed to hit the mark and had to re-round the buoy. This gave Flair in second place a chance to reduce the gap with Vision in third. The first two yachts set a starboard beat, as far as was practical towards the rocks off the eastern coastline of the bay, tacking to lay the second mark, Clipera. The upwind leg to Penrhos favoured Flair as she caught and overtook Rhumbull, being able to hold a much higher beat. By the 3rd mark, Penrhos, Flair had extended her lead as they began to run downwind to Meath; her crew hoping this lead would save them from being overtaken when Rhumbull set her asymmetric again after rounding Penrhos.
As Rhumbull flew downwind she was apparently hitting 13kt and seemed to be catching Flair but, as she approached Meath, she had a major broach snapping the tiller extension connection, compromising her chances of catching Flair. Vision called in to retire as by this time she was opposite the harbour entrance taking advantage of an early entrance to the clubhouse.
Flair continued then to make great headway upwind back into the harbour finally hitting the finish line some 20 minutes ahead of Rhumbull.
The forecast had been almost correct, certainly the wind speeds were accurately shown but the cloud cover didn’t fully clear although we enjoyed some sunny spells as we traversed the course, not that we had a great deal of time to concentrate on anything but the sailing!