Michael Clough Trophy – Pollensa
The Windward-Leeward Cup was presented by Michael and Melvyn Clough, and is sailed each year on or close to Michael’s birthday – hence its more familiar name. As the donor, Michael sets the regatta rules, which are designed to test seamanship and sailing skills as much as raw boat speed. Above all, the day is all about having fun in flying fifteens!
This year’s instructions included the usual windward leeward courses, both with and without jibs (mainsail only). As usual, spinnakers were not permitted for most races. Also mentioned in the Race Instructions: “Penalty for infringements of Part 2 rules and touching marks is an obligatory round of drinks for the offended boat at the bar afterwards. Otherwise DSQ without a hearing AND an obligatory round of drinks for the whole fleet. (changes every racing rule that ever existed)”
New this year was a triangular course - with a difference! The two turning marks were laid as a traditional windward leeward course, but the start was well offset to the right side of the course. A further complication was that competitors could choose to sail the course either way – in other words Start-1p-2s-1s-Finish, or Start-2s-1s-2p-Finish (it might be easier if you get a bit of paper!). The impact was that boats could sail: a close reach, run, beat, broad reach, or beam reach, beat, run, close reach – and that they’d meet up at some marks going in opposite directions.
We were joined for this by Steve Lee, visiting from the UK and sailing with John Leaf, and Bridget Shear & Irni Georgien, who had responded to an invitation in PYA magazine, sailing ESP (Michael’s #2 boat). Finally, opera tenor Jose Montero was here for his annual break, and would sail his boat Kiwi, with Diego Riera.
Michael decided to kick off with the special course, setting the start well to the right and slightly below the midpoint. The bulk of the fleet gravitated to the committee boat end, and made a traditional start to the windward mark. However, Teresa had spotted that the bottom mark was closer, and so the reverse course shorter. The reaches were also a bit tighter, which should be faster. So fuego fatuo shot off downhill at speed, rounded mark 2 and were halfway up the beat before the fleet had arrived at mark 1. After a contraflow at the top, they followed the others down the run, but at the bottom had only to gybe, harden up and speed for the finish well in the lead. Triffid came second with ESP third. Everyone enjoyed this so much that Michael kept this course for race 2 (and actually two more after that).
Unsurprisingly, many decided to try the downwind start for the second race. fuego fatuo was second at the bottom, just behind ESP and ahead of Ffiel Good. Up the beat, they tacked out early, and picked up the first of the Embat shift, which saw them first at the top, closely followed by Triffid and ESP. This lead to a great battle all the way down the run, where they arrived in the same sequence. After a close tussle along the final leg, the results were unchanged. The two boats who had gone uphill first finished at the back.
For race 3, Michael moved the committee boat well in and to windward, lengthening the line considerably and favouring the uphill first course. Nevertheless most went downhill first, one exception being ESP, who saw the Embat continuing to swing in, and returned to the uphill course. fuego fatuo had a problem with rig tension, and dropped to last down the reach to mark two. They recovered some positions, but finished only fifth. ESP had read the wind and course right, and finished first, although only metres ahead of Ffiel Good who had sailied the other way round, as had Triffid who finished third.
To liven things up, Mike now decided to shorten the line, with the committee boat almost to windward of the pin. This split the fleet, with ESP, Kiwi and fuego fatuo – who stared very late – going for the windward mark first, everyone else downhill. Again ESP pipped Ffiel Good at the finish, with Triffid beating fuego fatuo to the line.
Race five used the same start, and the first two legs of the “downhill” course, so that the fleet would finish at mark one. The twist was that this was to be sailed under mainsail only. Ffiel Good took this race, with John and Steve in Spanish Fly second, and Triffid again third.
Having positioned the fleet at the top mark, it was time for the final race of the day, and the only one where spinnakers would be permitted. This was a race downwind to the port entrance, under either main and job or spinnaker (only). Unfortunately, the wind swung north, making the leg a beam reach, so we were able to compare the two sailplans. Consequently, the results weren’t counted in the overall points, although for the record; Dragonfly won, ESP second and Spanish Fly third.
Winner Michael Clough Trophy: fuego fatuo – Stephen Babbage / Teresa Parry