"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods …"
Race 4: 15 knots; Race 5: 3-7 knots; Race 6: 15-25 knots; Race 7: 1-6 knots – can’t help but think that the weather gods are playing with us!
There were plenty of challenges in Race 7, the first being that another club, East of the Bridge, had chosen our starting line navy buoy to be one of their rounding marks. This didn’t bother those on lower handicaps, but proved interesting for later starters, and for Cap’n Charlie and crew on Wherever which had yachts traversing our starting line in both directions.
With Clonnie, Celete and Intro II not starting, Cap’n Richard on Sapphire had nearly a half hour to get away before being chased down by Megisti Blue, Breva and Crooz. However, with an incoming tide and little wind, many found themselves caught in the doldrums around Middle Head, on their way to the Manly West mark. Cap’n Duncan on One Mo’Time was warned of that danger and managed to stay in what little wind was available, while keeping generally to a western track. Cap’n Paul on Breva took a slightly more eastern approach while Cap’n Richard went well East and found another hole there, as well as some Manly ferries with which to play. Cap’n David on Martela , the last to start, appeared to ignore the tide and stuck to the middle passage heading for Manly, and for a while looked like he’d be first there.
But though he was passed briefly by Cap’n Carl on Blue Sky, Cap’n Duncan on One Mo’ Time was first to round both Manly West and Manly East marks. At this point, the wind seemed to freshen, and hopes rose for a less frustrating return leg. However, it was a false dawn, and in fact the wind became even more erratic as well as lighter again. At one point, between the Heads, One Mo’ Time tacked when heading South, only to suffer a 180 degree wind shift that caused it to head back to where it came from.
A decision to shorten course had to be made. But where to set the shortened finish? Shark Island had seemed possible when there was slightly more wind, but by 3:30pm with most yachts barely moving, and the deadline for racing of 4:30pm in mind, it was decided to shorten the finish to the Lady Bay mark so there wasn't a fleet DNF. Cap’n Charlie and crew on Wherever took up station there, and the broadcast was made.
For a while it looked like only the biggest yachts, One Mo’ Time, Blue Sky and Martela, were likely to finish despite the shortened course. These three drifted across the line in what was one of BPYC’s tightest finishes for a long time, with only 22 seconds separating first and second (One Mo’ Time and Blue Sky), with Martela coming in only 5 seconds later. Cap’n Duncan was asked what would be the sweeter sound: that of the engine finally coming on, or the sound of the beer being opened. “Beer!” was the answer, as well as the command.
Breva, Megisti Blue, Crooz and Sapphire followed over the line in that order, with the last mentioned having raced for nearly four and a quarter hours. If the aforementioned wind pattern continues, we can only hope that Race 8 – our last for this season – will provide better conditions.
The results from this race mean that One Mo’ Time and Martela are now tied on 14 points to lead the Autumn pointscore, with Breva in third place on 16 points. With one race to go, a tie for first place is still a possibility. If this happens, a secondary or tertiary ranking of results over the series is implemented to break the tie.
In the Club Championship pointscore (Spring plus Autumn Series combined), with only Autumn Race 8 left to sail, Breva leads on 38 points, then Megisti Blue on 41 points, Martela on 42 points, and One Mo’ Time on 43 points. Methinks the respective Cap’ns will be doing the maths and cleaning their bottoms.