Ahoy CROCS Sailors!
When a sponsor is as loyal as Crocs have been to us for the last decade, you can deduce that there is a very good partnership and product on offer. We leave this year’s edition with a very happy sponsor, who has given a verbal commitment already for next year…happy days…and a bunch of sailors who can be content they got a great end-of-year sail in.
After the incessant windward leeward racing of last year, and the accompanying bleats from many club sailors, the format for this year was revisited with one eye back on the fun dial and the other on the variation button. There was also further effort to develop the coastal cruising division, which really has potential. (At FBYC’s Spring Regatta, this is usually the biggest division – ironically boosted by a significant number of RCYC yachts.)
A decent entry list of 50 yachts (up from 43 last year) prepared for a thrilling weekend with an enjoyable rum registration party at the club on Friday evening. This marked the opening of the regatta and the Crocs pop-up shop in the Crocs Chill Lounge, with a large number of positive comments from members about the new outdoor lounge furniture on the deck. Bring it on! These are here to stay and to be enjoyed by members.
Saturday, Day One, brought with it a really nice westerly breeze in the mid teens. Even before the start, there were casualties with at least two yachts hitting a large semi-submerged plastic cable cover in Duncan Dock (beware of this – it was about 80m off the Eastern Mole about half way down from the entrance to Duncan Dock) causing proper damage.
After a wait for the breeze to fill in and direction to stabilise, two weather marks – a long and short – were laid together with a wing mark off Mouille Point, with a variably positioned committee boat (its anchor would not set!) resulting in a heavily favoured pin end start-line.
As the wind filled in from the west after initially coming in as a very gentle northwest, racing was on. With the IRC classes setting off last in the first race, it was interesting to see how the other divisions interpreted the start-line and favoured tack – usually the IRC bunch set off first, and with a vastly experienced fleet of racing sailors in this fleet, they will typically pick the correct side, which others then follow. No doubt they were very pleased that most before them sailed right and that left an open race course for them to ghost through. Politically speaking, this was a left of centre race track and generally, the right wing cost heavily. The first race was a triangle sausage for the racing divisions, with the coastal cruisers setting off for a bay sail to Dyang Family and back. The breeze built for the second race and moved slightly north, favoring port tack as the distance leg upwind, but with careful attention to position oneself left of centre and centre. Right was a real killer. This race was a sausage sausage using combinations of the two weather marks for the different divisions.
We then enjoyed a brief late lunch break in front of the port control tower, before the most enjoyable race of the day was announced – start, Barkers Rock (p) and back, leaving the top weather mark to starboard on the return leg. A slight variation of this saw the division two fleet sail around a laid weather mark off Queens Beach instead of Barkers. The beat up was fantastic, with multiple tacks onto the safe depth shoreline giving big advantage in inshore lifts.
Then the drag race back, where amongst other things, there were close encounters with shipping, whales, dolphins, and actual encounters with an unfortunate sun fish in one instance. Then, to top it all off, imagine a tanker actually coming through the finish line in all it’s glory, apparently outside the marked channel… Well, many yachts lived it on the day, and it seriously affected their finish! Bring on gung-ho shipping – we couldn’t have paid for that kind of action! I hope the bridge gave the tanker a finish time and finish sound.
The racing on the day was incredibly close :-
In Division One, less than three minutes separated 2nd from 6th in race 1; four and a half minutes separating 2nd from 10th in the second race, and two minutes separated 2nd from 7th in race 3. Running away with it in all three races in this division was After You.
About one minute separated 1st from 3rd in all three races in Division 2, with an almighty scrap between the two L26’s and the J27 (great to see you back on the water, Hillbilly!). Great to see very competitive entries from the sailing academies of HBYC and RCYC…the good work is paying off. We also note with pleasure that there were a number of graduates of RCYC and FBYC sailing academies on other yachts too.
In IRC 2, about 90 seconds separated 1st from 4th in all three races. That is really competitive racing, and it was a lottery who might take this fleet…
IRC 1 was a little more decisive with bigger spreads, but the duel between the two fastest yachts, Cape Fling and Vulcan, was unfortunately cut short by tiller damage to Vulcan in race 2, forcing her to retire for the day.
After racing, at least half the fleet made the planned stop off in the Waterfront, very well organised by the club catering department, but why more yachts did not come to this is anyone’s guess- it was on the regatta program. We hope those who came enjoyed it. The club was full and buzzing later.
Day Two of the regatta saw all forms of racing cancelled to observe and respect the laying to rest of Nelson Mandela. A memorial and tribute fleet of over sixty yachts made its way under sail to Robben Island in a WNW wind, with the vast majority anchoring in the lee of Murray Harbour after paying their last respects in offerings to the sea, and standing to attention for the national anthem. A very special day on the water, covered in more detail in a separate article on the club website.
Day Three was a big blow from the south east, and cans racing was set aside in favour of a round Robben Island race for all division but the cruisers, who sailed to Dyang Family and back. All divisions started at the normal Bridge Hut, leaving Paarden Eiland to port before leaving their respective next marks to port and finishing back at the Bridge Hut. It was a day of massive excitement, wipe outs and inevitable breakages. Vulcan clocked a burst of 24 knots, and even our little Simonis 35 clocked a top speed of 18 knots according to two GPS’s on board, minutes before our spectacular Chinese gybe and accompanying swim close to whale rock. From what we’d already observed, we were one of the last wipe outs, but some managed a safe blast without any spin outs. Others were multiples spin out artists…you know who you are(!)…and there are some crazy GoPro videos and still photography capturing the action.
The beat back was quite a lottery, but the right side seemed to pay, carefully dancing along the lifts on the transition of the lighter wind to the west, but being super careful not to bury too deep into the light stuff!
A pretty full-on day, and a challenge settled out on the race course for sure. Well done to all who finished, and bad luck to those who had to retire or had breakages. An expensive, explosive, and fun day. (My mind is still stuck on 18 knots!)
With race 4 complete, the regatta came to its conclusion without the luxury of a discard (which I think is quite lekker), and it was back to the club for a final drink, chat and prize-giving.
All in all, a highly enjoyable and memorable regatta. Special thanks to the entire fleet for your participation. We acknowledge and welcome the visitors from GBYC, HBYC and FBYC, thanks for making the effort to join us!
Thank you to the bridge and mark laying teams, and to the sailing office for efficient processing of results. A point here to improve on for next year, is that we as a club definitely need an extra mark-laying/press boat. Marketing these regattas to the media is more and more important, and one cannot understate the importance of additional mark laying capability in support of good solid racing. Thanks also for the loan of the committee boat by a club member, Ines de Beer.
A very special thank you to Ron Keytel, our perennial race officer! Thanks for stepping up to the plate once again.
Well done to new race chair Robbie Van Rooyen, and your team of Greg Thijsse and William Crockett as the race organising team – you can build on positively from this one for next year guys..! I think these guys use the motto “if you leave it to the last minute, it’ll only take a minute” to its full intent.
Well done and thanks to Toni and Adrian for delivering a top drawer product once again.
Wow those trophies are very sexy!
Finally, thank you to our regatta partners Crocs. The feedback on the products and on the sailing was very positive, and the shoe-inspired divisions was a clever idea. Dom, you did a great job running the pop up shop and Tim, all the hard work and smart thinking seems to have paid off. There were a number of really excited prize winners trying to get their hands on their favorite styles…
It was great to see the the high level of camaraderie on and off the water. Proud to be a Royal Caper!
Photos by Trevor Wilkins https://plus.google.com/photos/+TrevorWilkins/albums?banner=pwa