by Bob Chapman, 27 Mar 2017.
Race 24 of the 2016-17 Season, Heat Seven of the Autumn Point Score and the final and deciding race of the season. Once again, great to see 9 skiffs in the boat park preparing for the day’s racing and the weather co-operating, delivering warm and humid conditions with a light east / nor’east gradient breeze for the day’s racing, and no rain.
Most skiffs rigged with their no.1 big sail configurations; with the race getting underway from a handicap start off Clark Island on the no.1 NE course. For the early stages of the race the breeze was puffy and fluctuating, flicking around between ENE to NNE until settling down into the ENE.
Britannia was first away followed by Scot and Alruth, then Tangalooma, The Mistake, Australia IV, a gap to Australia, then Aberdare and Yendys off scratch. There was plenty of boating activity to negotiate on the harbour and the beat down to the Beashel Buoy provided a number of options with some skiffs working the eastern side, others to the west and some up the middle.
Scot managed the conditions best to round the Beashel Buoy with a good lead while Britannia edged around ahead of Tangalooma, then The Mistake, Alruth, Australia IV, Australia, Aberdare and Yendys. Britannia, Aberdare and Yendys set ringtails down the run to Shark Island. Scot was first to gybe at Shark Island but took down their spinnaker to do so, then Tangalooma, Britannia also without spinnakers, while The Mistake and the skiffs that followed gybed their spinnaker and made up ground in the process.
Scot continued to lead the way down to Clark Island, now a free angle run, with spinnakers reset with Britannia setting their ringtail for the 2nd time. Unfortunately, Australia had a lee-cloth malfunction during the gybe and succumbed to a fatal fill-up; but upon their tow to Lady Martin’s Beach were fortunate to enjoy the legendary hospitality of the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club’s “rum de jour” to lift their spirits and extinguish some of the pain.
Scot was first to round the mark at Clark Island for the beat to Chowder Bay, but disaster struck off Bradley’s Head when their jib halyard carried away, forcing them to sail into the lee to effect repairs and giving up the race lead in the process. Tangalooma, Britannia and The Mistake rounded the Clark Island mark in close company, then Australia IV, Alruth and Aberdare together, then Yendys.
Half way up the beat to Chowder Bay, The Mistake moved into the lead from Tangalooma, with a gap back to Aberdare now in 3rd place just ahead of Britannia, Scot, Alruth Australia IV and Yendys now close at hand. The Mistake was first to round at Chowder for the run to Shark Island and with smart crew work soon had the extra up and setting, Tangalooma was next but without an extra, then Aberdare, Scot, Britannia, Yendys, Australia IV and Alruth. The Mistake extended their lead on the run to Shark Island and Yendys moved up to 4th place.
The Mistake was first to gybe for the final run where they went on to win by over 3 mins from Tangalooma, then another 2 mins to Aberdare (with ringtail) in 3rd and Yendys (with ringtail) 4th, then another 5 mins to Scot and Britannia (after setting their ringtail for the 3rd time), another 2 mins to Alruth and Australia IV both with ringtails set after various exhibitions of duress and danger, with the A4 team trying hard to catch some prawns to accompany their post-race rum & coke.