Back in the marina from our holiday trip it wasn’t long before we were out on the water again, this time in race mode. Wednesday night is twilight racing night at BYC during the daylight savings months. Races begin just before 6pm, meaning you can leave the office, fight the traffic, and have a mini-midweek-break on the water. All your working week thoughts fade into the background and it’s back to the elements: wind and water.
Now sail-racing is traditionally a man’s domain, and yacht clubs can be bastions of male dominance, so I applaud our yacht club for breaking the mould and encouraging women to get involved in the sport and to take the helm. We now have a series of 3 twilight races especially for helms-women. Unfortunately the first race in the series, set for just before Christmas, was cancelled due to forecast strong winds – and did they blow, peaking at over 80kmh!
The conditions for this race were challenging enough – averaging around 20 to 25 knots, which is a good strong blow. During the race one boat in our division, Talisman, shredded her headsail from top to bottom, and had to withdraw.
In our pre-race excitement, trying to get a good position for the start, we managed to miss the announcement of the course letter. I got a great start, and began following the division one boats, but soon realised other boats in our division, who were hot on my heels, and soon passed us, seemed to be heading in a different direction! It was too late to look back at the letter displayed at the start box, as they were already in the countdown for division 3. After a bit of hypothesising and a few red faces, Derek rang the start box. We were set course ‘B for Bravo’ – a triangle first heading downriver with the wind more or less behind us, to Punch’s Reef off Tranmere. Here we rounded the mark and headed back to Howrah mark, then into the wind it was tacking all the way back to the finish.
I had a boat full of young and enthusiastic crew, including two young women out for their first sail, and a very focused tactician. We kept up, sailed pretty close to the ideal course – Derek was pretty happy with my VMG I think… – and crossed the line in 58 minutes and 9 seconds: 4th in elapsed time and 3rd place on handicap! For our efforts we were rewarded with a fine bottle of bubbly, and enjoyed a meal back at the clubhouse with our crew.
Best friend Dawn, helming Ciao Baby II (our marina neighbour) also gained a third place in division one, so we’re equals. Roll on the next and last race in our series!
Crew: Me!, Derek, Tim, Alice, Jess, Willem, Paul, Nick, Sarah and Jana. Thanks to Jana Petersen for today’s photos. Jana is on a working holiday from Germany, and will be off to New Zealand soon. This was her first race and she may be back…