After a short winter layup it was wonderful to see the Pacer Team Racing series take place again on Saturday afternoon. Once again there were a number of new faces taking to the water for the first time to enjoy the excitement of the most popular racing format currently taking international sailing world by storm. This week our fleet was more competitive than usual with our international visitor and resident sailing coach Lauritz Wasloe from the Royal Danish Yacht Club taking the helm of Pacer 4 together with a crew of youngsters from Durban High School. There is no doubt that we are benefiting from Lauritz’s international experience having been coached by Olympic sailors overseas and as Denmark’s number one Laser sailor his training in boat handling, tactics and the racing rules is a great advantage. We are delighted that through our membership of the International Council of Yacht Clubs we have Lauritz at the Club to share his knowledge and experience with members and by the end of the afternoon there was a marked improved in the standard of sailing from the fleet. The newcomers to the afternoon’s racing all enjoyed themselves and the enthusiastic young sailors from Durban High School seem to have taken to sailing like ducks to water.
It was pleasing to see Anthony McMillan at the helm of Pacer One with Craig Campbell and Rob James on board while Greg Donkin and youngsters Hannah and Gareth Donkin were allocated Pacer Two and made up the Blue team with the Yellow team consisting of Coert Grobbelaar at the helm of Pacer Three with Patrica Kilburn, Cameron Crickmore, Justin Van Blerk, Kyle Johannsen, Chloe and Tyra and Pacer Four consisting of Lauritz Walsøe, Joushua Crickmore, Jeahne Harford, & Chris James.
With a busy schedule of shipping movements in the deep water channels the Port Control very kindly permitted the race course to be laid in the Esplanade Channel immediately in front of the Ndongeni Lawns providing members with a wonderful vantage point to watch the racing while enjoying the live music on the lawns. The only major traffic along the Esplanade Channel during the afternoon was the floating crane Ndlovu which traversed the channel during race two forcing the teams to cover each other on either side of the channel. With the southerly breeze of about 10 knots blowing the Bridge crew did their best to accommodate a windward leeward course with the marks laid outside the channel and a wide start line straddling the channel so as not to impede the constant flow of pleasure boats from Wilson’s Wharf. The passengers on the pleasure boats showed a keen interest in the yachting spectacle and cheers of delight could be heard coming from them as they passed the fleet. By the end of the afternoon the wind died and the direction switched leaving the race course a reach to reach course forcing the Bridge crew to shorten race 3 to only 2 laps before the fleet returned to moorings for some welcome refreshments.
Race 1 started promptly at 14h00 following the customary team racing start sequence of 3 minutes. The race was hotly contested with much excited chatter being exchanged between the skippers particularly at the weather mark. Pacer Four radioed the Bridge with a protest against Pacer One however nothing further materialised and the crews seemed to resolve their differing interpretations of the racing rules while out on the water. Pacer Two lodged herself on the sandbank on the last leg of the race down to the finish line handing the race to the Blue team with Pacer Three finishing first followed by Pacer One and then Pacer Four in third place.
At the start of Race 2 Pacer Three was OCS and had to return to re-cross the start line under the X flag, thereafter the Team Racing tactics played themselves out however the Yellow team could not gain the upper hand and after 25 minutes of racing and 3 laps the Blue team of Pacer Two crossed the finish line in first place followed by Pacer One and then the Yellow team of Pacer Four followed by Pacer Three.
With the score 1 – 1 Race 3 commenced in the dying breeze with some very tactical sailing throughout the race and places changing several times during each leg making it very exciting for those watching from the comfort of the Bridge. The Blue team of Pacer Two managed to cross the finish line first followed by Pacer One then a disappointed Yellow team of Pacer Four and finally Pacer Three leaving the afternoon’s score at 2 – 1 to the Blue team.
Once ashore the teams enjoyed the usual post racing camaraderie and during the informal debriefing all the crew were able to take away some useful knowledge about boat handing, the racing rules of sailing and team racing tactics. We look forward to the next match and hope to see more new faces out on the water, remember to reserve your berth with Margie Harris in the sailing office to avoid the disappointment of missing out on the afternoon’s fun.