The persistent south westerly over the Easter weekend did not deter the group of enthusiastic Pacer sailors who turned out on Saturday afternoon for Match 8 of the series. The breeze throughout the weekend seemed to maintain at least 20 knots and Saturday was no exception with gusts of over 30 knots and Port Shepstone recording a constant 28 knots. While the conditions offshore took their toll on the dinghies participating in the PYC Easter Regatta the harbour provided a more sheltered option for racing.
The Bridge Crew wisely laid a short windward leeward course in the deep water channel off Pier 2 in the lee of the moored ships. With the windward mark laid about 50 metres ahead of the moored ships the Pacers and the their crews were able to savour the robust conditions for just long enough before enjoying an exhilarating run downwind to the leeward mark. The Bridge Crew really appreciated the comfort of the R B Townsend with the start line positioned midway along the race course in the wind shadow of a large MSC container ship, there were moments when there seemed to be insufficient water in the channel for the Pacers and Bridge Boat causing some concern among the Bridge Crew while a Pacer was momentarily bearing down out of control at the start of the first race. Fortunately with a display of superior seamanship disaster was averted. Andrew Dolloway and the Ladybird crew consisting of Mario da Silva and Ian Bell were allocated Pacer 1 while visiting Cape yachtsmen Galen Salgado, Mindy Long, together with regular local Flyer crew member Andile Zulu and recent sailing academy graduates Douglas Allan and Curtis Rudling sailed on board Pacer 2.
Both crews sensibly reefed the mainsails and the Race Officer kept a careful eye on the boats performance and the ever increasing wind speed. The rugged conditions and 3 minute start sequence caught the crew of Pacer 2 off guard allowing Pacer 1 a clean start. After 3 laps the crews began to get the measure of the frisky sport boats and once they developed their teamwork and boat handling technique the racing became much closer and tactical with the final leeward mark rounding providing much excitement on the Bridge Boat as the boats appeared so close together. The final beat saw Pacer 2 snatch victory from Pacer 1 by less than half a boat length much to the excitement of the crew whose cheers of delight could easily be heard above the howling wind. With the wind speed moderating slightly a second race was started but Pacer 2 missed the start signals leaving Pacer 1 sailing off and round the weather mark before Pacer 2 even reached the start line. In the interests of fairness the race was abandoned and new race started with both boats on the start line together. Pacer 1 again showed their superior starting skill with a clean start however the crew of Pacer 2 had by now realised the importance of weather sheeting the jib on sport boats and with all the crew weight on the weather rail they enjoyed superior boat speed and height only to give the advantage to Pacer 1 on the mark rounding.
Pacer 1 enjoyed a commanding lead on the downwind run only to fall into a hole created by the moored ships allowing Pacer 2 to regain the lead after neatly sailing around the windless patch. With the breeze having peaked at Port Shepstone the Race Officer decided that it was now appropriate to exercise some discretion and shorten the race after 2 laps. Pacer 1 managed to win the final race of the day leaving the score 1 – 1 and the boats returned to the shelter of the moorings with the crews invigorated after an afternoon of strenuous sailing. With the number of new sailors entering the series the accumulated points on the leader board is making the overall results wide open so it is still not too late to enter and secure your place on the ladder. If you are interested in participating and joining in the fun contact Margie Harris in the Sailing Office for more information on Match 9 of the series.