Tight finish in cruiser race

Race Series: Pocket Cruiser, race 5, Sunday September 27, 2015
North East Wind, Force 4


  • Annecy
  • Helena Anne
  • Lady Jane
  • Mallard
  • Mystic Sky
  • Roxanne

Committee Boat:  Limbo Girl

This was an unusually early start for races in Rye Bay so clear skies and warming rays from a sun still low in the sky were a welcome start to what we anticipated being an exciting day on the water.  The first confirmation that the wind was to be stronger than forecast was delivered by the wind turbines on the marsh, rotating at pace whilst bathed in autumn sunshine.

With the wind from the North East and off the land the sea was not unduly choppy for 15 knots of wind.  A high tide and a fresh breeze indicated there would be no need to shorten the course today. With the required buoy for the start of course 3 not on station, the race was started from buoy W1 rather E1 and the start time delayed by ten minutes.

The start line brought the first excitement of the day. No boats made a perfect start.  Mystic Sky, only recently back on the scene after some time out for the fitting of a new engine, was first over the line taking the first advantage of the day. Next approaching the line was Mallard closely followed by Helena Anne and Roxanne further down the start line.

Roxanne, a 38 foot sloop rapidly bearing down on the 22 foot committee boat at the end of the start line, was a daunting sight.  She was clearly not going to make the line.  With an averting manoeuvre, she tacked before the line, heading directly for Mallard’s amidships.  Mallard seemed to take the necessary evasive action, whilst Roxanne had to turn to duck behind Mallard, only to again be forced to steer away from the line further to go behind Helena Anne.

Annecy and Lady Jane had kept well clear of the action with Annecy last over the line.As the first boats had rounded the Rock Channel Marine buoy sited off Winchelsea Beach, Patient Grisselda, a classic wooden yacht, had anchored close to the committee boat due to engine failure, and was being attended by the lifeboat.  As Patient Griselda was being towed to the safety of the river, this was a potential obstruction to the leading pack of yachts.

The leading pack of Mystic Sky, Mallard and Helena Anne were in close proximity as they headed for the committee boat to round the ODM (Outer Distance Mark of the start/finish line) on their way to head back to the Rock Channel Marine buoy.  Mystic Sky rounded first and clearly ahead on handicap.  The yachts now on a dead run, gull winged towards Fairlight cliffs, all falling shy of flying their spinnakers in wind conditions where only the very brave would dare.

Mallard chose to head for the line on a different tack to the other leading yachts and was first over the finish line followed closely by Mystic Sky and Helena Anne. Mallard was leading the Pocket Cruiser series, but Mystic Sky had put in an excellent performance to clearly win the day’s race on handicap.

Photo: David Preston

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