Probably the most definitive version of “club sailing” on the sailing calendar is the Club Summer Sailing Series…y’all been hammering it out on the water like this for years, generations! Even in the days before then! This is a pure summer racing series and comes with no sugar coating – like non-spinnaker divisions, twilight sunsets, beers and babes, or such like. It is straight up sailing, fully crewed, and no excuses.
This series is the last of the six contributing series’ in the annual Club Championship*, and it commenced with the first of four sailing dates this last Saturday, 18 January 2014. This fleet has the potential to be a big one, primarily because it is all about racing, and we have set up the capability to have laid courses and a mobile bridge. It really should be as good an offering as any of the principle regattas, but with the advantage of more race days and dates.
As it was, a fleet of 15 yachts across the three club divisions made it to the start area for the first of two races. Most of the yachts on the water are regulars on the club sailing circuit, and there is a good spirit building within this group of regulars. Unfortunatley, for a variety of reasons like revitalizing, rio race, maintenance, etc, a couple of the really competitive and regular yachts gave the racing on the day a skip. We hope to see more yachts on the water next time!
A stiff southerly breeze was building throughout the morning, with the ripples, caps and white horses growing from Paarden Eiland’s Hooligans Corner in the south east and across the bay, with Table Mountain providing shelter across the harbour channel and to the west, and a transition area in the vicinity of the bridge hut / start line.
We are starting racing in this Summer Series at 13h00, to allow for the possibility of more than one race on each race date in the series, and also to enjoy the conditions earlier in the day. As we well know, the wind often builds quite rapidly to unpleasantly strong and blustery/gusty south Easters in the mid to late afternoon in the summer months.
The first race was about an 80 – 90 minute affair with lovely conditions – a flat sea, a stiff breeze, and a clear sunny sky. Perennial club race management stalwart, Ron Keytel, the race officer on the day, decided in the late morning not to have a mobile committee boat bridge or laid marks. For the first race, with an all class start, two courses were set – one for Divisions 1 & 2, and another for Division 3. The courses were basically the fetch from the bridge hut start to Paarden Eilamd, combinations of two sausages to Milnerton or Woodbridge and Paarden Eiland, and then a reach back to the finish at the Bridge Hut. What is nice about sailing the same course across a number of divisions is that you can benchmark performance against more yachts.
It was evident during and after the first race that some yachts that had made the effort to come out sailing on the day were short crewed. As members of a sailing club, all members are welcome and encouraged to come to the club on race days and make your intentions to sail clear, even if the yacht you usually sail on is not participating! We will find yachts for you to sail on, and it’s an excellent way to grow/learn, especially if you are aboard a yacht in a different class to that in which you normally participate, or aboard a close competitor’s yacht. As sailing club members, we should really all be about sailing, camaraderie, and (umm) sailing.
The second race was set after a couple of delayed starts and some radio noise. Divisions 1&2 had a mini marathon from start, Paarden Eiland, Coke Blouberg, Milnerton, Coke Blouberg, Paarden Eiland, finish. Division 3 had an on water discussion before the start, and set themselves a course similar to the earlier race 1 Division 1&2 course with sausages from Paarden Eiland down to both Milnerton and then Woodbridge.
Although quite gusty, the wind did not seem to build as the afternoon progressed, but the sea state had built and there was quite a chop mixed with a rolling side swell the further downwind one went, especially from Sunset Beach to Blouberg. Unfortunately, the division 1&2 fleets discovered first hand that the beautiful new Coke mark is missing in action, and that the only other mark in that vicinity is the mark locating the dangerous waters around the cut down and submerged wreck of the Seli – avoid this at all costs!
The beat back to Milnerton was interrupted by an instruction from the bridge for a change of course, omitting the sausage back down to Coke and instead beating inside Milnerton and up to Paarden Island, before finishing a very enjoyable day on the water with a drink and a chat at the club. The long beat up the beach was fabulous, and the wind, swell and shifts changed constantly the whole way – fantastic learning material in practice!
Thanks to all the yachts who participated on the day, and thanks to the bridge team for your highly valued time managing our racing. The next dates in this series are: 15 March; 26 April; and 10 May.
See you on the water!
* Chronologically according to their start dates, the Club Championship comprises the (1) Club Winter Series, (2) the Lufthansa Twilight Series 1, (3) the Round Robben Island with Harken races, (4) the Overnight Race, (5) the Lufthansa Twilight Series 2, and lastly (6) the Club Summer Series.