3 Races in strong breezes and the fleet goes right to the cliffs
Day 4 started sunny but hazy with the threat of late thunderstorms. However the Ora started faintly just before noon and the fleet were called out to race. The Race Committee had agreed with the fleet that we would again sail 3 races as the forecast for Friday was poor and might mean no sailing that day.
Race 7 started with the usual general recall, This was addressed by adjusting the start line and the fleet got away to a good start with most learning Wednesday's lesson and avoided flirting with going left. In a strengthening breeze, the first run saw quite different tracks taken to the the leeward marks, with inconclusive results. The reaches of the second lap varied from extremely tight at the end of the first leg to nearly a run on the second, the search for shafts of heightened breeze being the main method of advancing positions. The race ended with the winners being the first in the regatta to get more than one pole position with Steve Goacher/Tim Harper (GBR4021) taking the honours followed by Ian Cadwallader/Steve Graham (GBR4055) and Greg Wells/Andrew Jameson (GBR4030).
Race 8 saw the committee flatten the start line even more to attempt to reduce the crush at the committee boat end of the line (the alternative idea was to introduce a queuing system!). This time the race got away cleanly with yet again a brave group of boats attempting the left side of the course yet again. Serial offender Dave Tabb recorded his two poorest results in races 7 and 8 with this tactic. Battles for positions in the second rank of boats proved just as hard as with the leading boats with small cross tacks on the way to the cliffs sometimes benefitting and sometimes penalising those taking them. A similar race to race 7 unfolded with Simon Kneller/Dave Lucas (GBR4024) taking line honours after bagging the prime starting slot followed by Hamish Mackay/Andrew Lawson (GBR4059) and Charles and Charlie Apthorp (GBR3957).
Race 9 (and what may yet prove to be the final race) followed after yet another adjustment to the start line. This did have the desired impact of spreading the starters more down the line, but a very impatient fleet incurred some individual recalls. The leading boats all went close the the cliffs on the right hand side of the course and were rewarded with an unimpeded tack into the windward mark.
The run was mainly uneventful but with a few boats taking either a direct line to the bottom buoys or even trying further the right to locate the wind shafts discovered on previous races. This did not give the hoped for improvement on positions. The final beat produced no surprises but the leading group of 8 boats did open a gap on the rest of the fleet and were not troubled by following boats all the way to the finish with Hamish Mackay/Andrew Lawson (GBR4059) taking the gun followed by Greg Wells/Andrew Jameson (GBR4030) and Steve Goacher/Tim Harper (GBR4021).
The fleet headed then home into very dark clouds over the mountains behind Riva and the occasional clap of thunder. The wished for fast journey home with the wind behind us rapidly descended into the usual paddle or tow back to base as the Ora switched off when deprived of the sunshine that fuels it.
The provisional results after Race 9 show Steve Goacher/Tim Harper as regatta leaders just 3 points ahead of Hamish Mackay/Andrew Lawson. If as expected we do not race today then that will be the final positions with Greg Wells/Andrew Jameson in third place.
If this is the end it has been an enjoyable regatta with varied results for many and no dominant leader until the last day. We will never forget the Race Committee's magnificent lunches with wine on the table in the clubhouse before they departed for the race area each day, giving us a friendly reminder of three toots that we should shift ourselves and get there as well.
Your foreign correspondent (and now determined go-righter!)
Simon Thompson GBR4044