Race Report: Winter Series Week 5

After a Saturday evening of Strictly Come Dancing, rugby, beer, wine and general shenanigans (oh and some port and cheese!) It was with fuzzy heads that Team Marta made their way to the start line.

Initially there was some debate as to where the actual start line was, before we finally agreed we were heading in the right direction!  Then we noticed that time was getting a bit tight, so it was time to stow the bacon sandwiches and tea and get all hands on deck and down to the serious business of the weekend.

A little late into the start area, we had no time to check line bias and wind, but to the right looked good. Though, taking the tide into account we headed for the middle with most of the fleet. Light winds and the tides made for an interesting tactical start and coming race.

We had crew members taking on new roles this weekend. As we headed into the first mark, we thought all the lines and kite were well-rigged and ready to go. But as we approached the mark the foredeck crew did their last check and realised we had a major ‘issue’; the lines were not quite as they should be!  Things got a little hectic for a moment, but they quickly and calmly got on with the job, a bear away set and through the hoist.  We were off once more, but at the back of the fleet.

There was a clear divide in the fleet after some stayed on the right, the Calshot side and some gybed early and headed over to the Hillhead side. We stayed on the right and pulled up some places, but found ourselves near the back going into the mark. This time we stayed close to the rhumb line, about mid-tide. On the way back to windward, we came into the mark about 7th.  This time the crew carried out a very slick bear away set and we were off and running. Again the fleet split left and right, the wind appeared fluky in the middle so we stayed to the right and used the shallow waters to reduce the tidal effect.  We came out of the final mark still in 7th place.

Tides were now changing and positioning was vital. We debated tacking early and heading in to the Hillhead side and the shallower water, but at this point the wind was lighter on that side.  We stood on and went over the Bramble bank, keeping the stronger winds to tack back, and headed slightly off the wind. This increased our boat speed (reducing leeway and tidal effect). We stood on down to the shallow waters and reduced tides on the Hillhead side.  On this long tack we overtook Light, Pandanova and With Alacrity, who had all stayed to windward hard on the wind. We were now up to 4th place and could see Zanzara a long way ahead closing on the finish line. Wind was now very light and a little flukey.  Short tacking in the shallow stuff kept us out of the stronger tides in the main channel and we managed to over haul Zanzara, who appeared stuck to windward of us in the stronger tides.

We finished 3rd beating Zanzara by 4 minutes, having come from last by 5 boat lengths in the first downwind leg.  A fantastic display of great teamwork, determination and perseverance from Team Marta.

Written by Rab Mulholland

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