Dear Sailors, Amakati and avid followers of sailing
This past weekend we sailed the RNYC’s annual Memorial Regatta, an event in two parts, comprising of Dinghy’s sailing their Pursuit Race on the Saturday afternoon and the Keelboats sailing their Pursuit Race offshore on Sunday. This event is sailed in memory and celebration of all our deceased/lost friends, family and loved ones, all mainly from within our sailing brotherhood and community. A lot of effort goes into running this event, leading up to, then on the race days both onshore and on the water. Many prizes were sponsored by companies, families and friends to the event and Gail Dickerson excels in whisking up support to this end. Below this article, we list our sponsors to whom we are grateful. We urge you all to support them as they do us.
I’ll try and be succinct in describing what the Pursuit Race format is about. This is racing where we start boats of different designs, characteristics, speeds and crew capabilities in a staggered start time sequence based on the known slowest starting first to the progressively faster later, to the fastest last. To calculate starting splits, a suitable base boat is chosen and a fixed course length with various wind/sailing angles is selected. Then, based on the predicted speed/performance of the base boat in any given wind strength and the time taken to sail the selected course, all other boats surrounding the base boat have their starting time either before or after the base boat extrapolated essentially on recognised performance boat handicaps, then subjective inputs based on whether certain sailors or boats can actually sail consistently to their handicap, and so the starting sequence model/s is derived. In a nutshell, we start boats at staggered start times as stated to above with the aim of trying to get all entered boats to arrive at the finish line at the same time at the end of the race. This is almost impossible to get perfectly right every time, as ideal conditions need to exist that are as uniform as possible, sailors have to sail the course perfectly and the Race Management must have started each category of starters as perfectly as possible on time and on the line. As things never run as planned, it favours certain boats/individuals as the wind either builds or moderates from forecasted/predicted, with always interesting outcomes. This makes this sort of racing different, exciting and really a lot of fun. (Viva la difference!)
Dinghy and Catamaran Memorial Pursuit Race (Saturday 10th March 2018):
So, back to the event, Saturday was forecast to blow 25knots. This must have scared a lot of people away. So we only had the hard-core go sailing comprising of 3 Flying Fifteens and 2 Dart 18 Catamarans. Commodore Graham Rose was the Race Officer for the day with his chosen assistants. He got racing off in “way below” the forecasted wind strength of 25knots with the wind blowing between 10-12knots, less at times, then with intermittent massive gusts. The course length was 4.1 nautical miles and the Flying Fifteens started a good 3-4 minutes ahead of the Darts. Patrick Harris and Jeremy Kriek led the fleet for 75% of the race, where after the Darts started closing, then overtook. The wind suited the catamarans with the big gusts as their acceleration through gusts is dramatically more substantial against the Flying Fifteens which just can’t get speed bursts as catamarans do. The end result is that I (Rob Samways) won this event followed by Carl Zimmerman, both of us on Darts. Patrick Harris and Jeremy Kriek got the WKO Flying Fifteen trophy, donated by Sandy Samways, made by Jeremy Kriek, for award to the wining team of the Flying Fifteens. (So Jeremy gets the trophy he has just made!)
Keeler Memorial Pursuit Race (Sunday 11th March 2018):
On Sunday, the forecast was bleak insofar wind was to be light, around 6 knots, according to various Weather Forecasting applications. A total of 14 keelboats entered with the first start for the slowest boat at 10:30, then the fastest boat on the schedule, being Southern Storm to start last at 11:18. I performed the Race Officer duties for Sunday, with Alec McNamara in charge of mark laying, entrusted with ensuring the two course marks were set 5 nautical miles apart, to give a course length sailed of around 12.1 nm with tacking. We got the whole fleet away at their individual start times, but then the wind literally disappeared. The sea state had rolling and at times confused wave patterns, causing yachts to roll around with the little wind pressure available being rocked out of the sails. The only boat seeming to benefit in these conditions was my J22 “Running with Scissors” being sailed by Martin Zimmerman and my 2 crew members Carl Zimmerman and Taine Steytler. They perfected an interesting technique of sailing through the rocking wave action coming side on to the boat and they moved and stayed ahead to round the windward mark first, which is the halfway point of the race. Boat after boat retired until only a “hard core” of 5 boats remained in the race, those being: Running with Scissors, Bellatrix with Greg Hurter, Southern Storm with Warren Clark, Zap with Commodore Graham Rose and Pacer 3 with Lauritz (our Danish Viking who has been part of our club on a sabbatical for over 10 months now.)
Normally, this race would have taken around 2 hours to complete for the average boat from their assigned starting time to finish, but this race one took over 4 hours in the very light to no breeze. It was a killer for the Bridge and Mark Laying crews who had gone offshore that morning to set the course at 09:30, then remained to finish the last boat at after 16:00, more than 6.5 hours out on the sea at anchor, in the heat and rolling waves. (Some fed fish). We were all buggered from this marathon session of Race Management. But, what made this all worthwhile was the epic battle that arose between the smallest and slowest boat left in the race(Running with Scissors) against Southern Storm, the fastest boat, with Bellatrix the 2nd fastest boat on their tail at the last mark rounding, some 150m from the finish line. At this the final mark rounding, Southern Storm caught and crossed/passed Running with Scissors with Bellatrix right there as well. At that stage, I thought the race was lost for Running with Scissors, as she in theory doesn’t stand a chance against the bigger and faster boats. But, it all came down to the spinnaker hoist and short run left to the finish in very little wind. Running with Scissors did a perfect spinnaker hoist, hot’ted up to increase apparent wind and got her kite flying. Southern Storm didn’t get her kite up as quickly, bore off too deep and never filled their kite fully, a defining moment in this race. Bellatrix came around, got her kite up and drawing. Running with Scissors overtook Southern Storm to take line honours and overall victory, a brilliant race and superb tactical finish. Bellatrix closed to within a boat length of Southern Storm as Southern Storm crossed the finish line to take 2nd and Bellatrix 3rd, all within seconds of each other. This after racing for over 4 hours. The 4th boat, minutes later, was Pacer 3 with Lautritz and team followed shortly after by Zap with Graham Rose. This made the day for me, it was the most entertainment we had all day and to have such an exciting finish was amazing and definitely made it all worth it.
Back ashore we got the prize giving done with many elated sailors, especially Martin and “sonny” Carl Zimmerman with Taine Steytler. It was a brilliant win. Well done to you all and also to everyone who stuck it out to finish the race. Southern Storm’s tactician and sailing consultant, being our charismatic and soon to be missed emigrating Richard Potgieter, was absolutely devastated at their loss, stating: “they never listen to what I say. They threw it away!”
On behalf of the Sailing Committee and RNYC, I wish to extend our thanks to:
To the many sponsors and the donations made to this event.
The many club members who gave or their time to run and help in this event.
To the competitors who entered.
Thank you to the staff and management of RNYC.
Our thanks and appreciation to Gail Dickerson, who once again worked tirelessly to get amazing prizes for this event.
The following companies and families must be thanked specifically for assisting with prizes.
Skiport Supply/ Nick Hastie.
PheZulu Safari Park/ Leo Kroone
SA Maritime School
Lookout Bar & Grill/ Stuart Ritchie.
Kloof Country Club
Royal Natal Yacht Club
Yours in sailing
RNYC Sailing Committee member.