Hamble Winter Series Race 8 Blog: Sunday 1st December
The final race of the series promised similar conditions to last week. Light Northerly winds but with the addition of a stronger tide, it had all the ingredients for a good race.
The start was at East Bramble and a course was given nice and early with the warning of a strong tide taking boats over the line. We decided to start around the middle of the line on Starboard to have some clean air and tack early to hopefully get some stronger tide.
We decided to play safe due to the strong tide and hit the line at full speed but 10 seconds late. Light and Gambit were OCS (on course side or over the line) at the start and had to re-cross the line, Miefisto tacked early and we split Kindred Spirit and Marta. We simply could not keep up with either of them and we rounded the first mark in 7th just a few boat lengths behind Marta. During our spinnaker hoist we got a twist and it took a minute to sort out. Once we got our spinnaker flying we managed to match Marta for downwind speed and rounded the leeward mark still in 7th.
We really struggled sailing to windward, we could not get Rho sailing nicely at all and soon lost ground on the boats in front. Thankfully the windward legs were short due to the tide and our down wind speed seemed reasonable.
It was a close race all the way through the pack, with the battle for the lead continually swapping. The next downwind leg saw Light, who had managed to overhaul us on the last windward leg, and Miefisto sail to the left of the course while most, ourselves included sailed to the right. A couple of clean gybes and we were making the mark, we decided to be aggressive with the spinnaker drop as Gambit, who had to re-cross the line at the start, had steadily been catching us on the upwind legs. Disaster- the feeder on the tuff luff had decided it had had enough so while we hoisted the jib the sail didn’t stay in the track. Jib half up we were at the mark still flying our spinnaker, we dropped the spinnaker letterbox style (pulled between the mainsail and the boom) while the jib was sorted.
This let Gambit get past us and we lost a lot of time. There was a short windward leg followed by a short reach under spinnaker, we hoisted our jib early in case we had any more problems but all went well.
For the final leg to the finish Gambit had decided to sail to the left of the course so as we were behind and had a healthy cushion between us and 10th and 11th we decided to go to the right, hoping the wind would back as we got closer inshore. We tacked as we got headed to come back toward the middle of the course around the same time as Gambit, we would now find out if it paid off. As we came together Gambit tacked off so we did the same, we seemed to have made some gains, but this was mostly because we managed to get the boat sailing well up wind. The wind had increased from 8-9 knots to 10-11 knots and those 2 knots of wind seemed to make all the difference as nothing else had changed.
We finished 9th and 45 seconds behind Gambit and we had a good race bar a few issues. The Sigma 38 Association is having its annual dinner in January so I will be asking a few of the other skippers what we could do to get the boat set up for the slightly lighter airs.
It has been a mixed bag of weather throughout the Hamble Winter Series – with very strong winds at the start, lighter airs toward the end. This is only the second Hamble Winter Series for Rho, and the Sigma 38 class is very competitive, but roll on the Spring Series so we can put a few of the lessons learnt into practice.