Portland / Moresby Race – Race Highlights

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The Portland Moresby Race is one of the longest races that the Saltspring Sailing Club runs and at 27 miles it is quite often not completed on the first running. An early start attempts to extend the usable daylight but this was negated by a dying Northerly putting the brakes on the fleet. None the less the starting sequence went ahead and the start proved exciting with all the boats on the line and in the hunt. Electra, who was still sailing out of the docks with two minutes to go, while not having a choice of starting position, still made a respectable showing and so the fleet was off. With Ian and Derrick on the Foredeck the big red Caliente made a boisterous start and soon had the great spinnaker pulling them into the lead. Imp also found a line of wind and filled her spinnaker, walking away from the fleet. Then things turned from ugly to glassy and an hour passed with the racing (floating and bobbing) being stuck alongside the Sisters. The highlight of this hour was when a great plastic motorboat crept through the fleet with zero wake and received the smiles and salutes of the racers with a friendly wave.

Eventually a breeze filled in from the South East and the race began again. Caliente, Imp and Kaitoa lead the charge from the Sisters to the River, our affectionate name for the strong tide flow in a Captain Passage Ebb. Electra and Oasis played the middle ground and benefited from a persistent lifting wind. Both strategies payed off and the top five rejoined for a tacking duel at the Channel Islets, with Caliente still holding the lead. The wind dropped off again and the wind backed as it dropped, bringing Paramour, Wildfire and Kay D up to the dead zone. Justice was served and the wind filled in from the front of the fleet and the leaders sail back into their leads, disappearing around Pelorus Point on Morsby Island one by one. The top five were away again on the leg to Point Fairfax and had cleared the light and were gone from view by the time Kay D rounded Pelorus, leaving her a lonely solo leg relieved only at the last second by a glimpse of the spinnakers of Wildfire and Paramour before she gybed at the light.

From Fairfax Point to Celia Reef it was a tactical battle with no clear victor. Caliente still lead, Imp sailed high to bank distance against the tide but did not get past Kaitoa rounding Celia in third. Oasis and Electra battled hard, having rounded Fairfax within yards of each other, then changing sides with Oasis getting away while Roger, single handed, was busy on the foredeck. Oasis rounded Celia reef in fourth and had her game plan of sailing wide reinforced by seeing Imp and Kiatoa becalmed by Brackman Island. She sailed around them into second place. Imp was able to escape the doldrums and give chase, leaving Kiatoa, soon to be joined by Electra, to play the waiting game.The sight of the fast closing spinnakers of Wildfire and Paramour was softened by the fact that the wind looked strong behind them and had some chance of filling in. Electra and Kaitoa had been caught in the jaws of Brackman Island or the faint Siren calls of the ripples just off her which failed to produce the necessary speed to stem the tide. The new wind rushed the last three boats around Celia Reef and now five boats leap frogged each other vying not to be in last place. Although it was fickle and shifty this new wind was at least strong enough for the boats to make headway and on occasion surge to four knots, a breathtaking speed. Still it was best not to look ahead because the sight of Caliente, Oasis and Imp, well heeled and fast approaching Beaver Point was a heartbreaking sight. At this point Kiatoa bailed, motoring home. Philippe again had a crew of very enthusiastic junior sailors aboard who had had a good day and were now facing an evening of physics homework. Unfortunately for them they were to miss the highlight of the race, the best was yet to come.

Caliente still held the lead and was paying close attention to holes and calms, alerting those behind of the dangers while not falling in them herself. Imps close rounding of Beaver point closed her on Oasis and the two had a grand battle of gybes which saw the larger boat hold Imp off until Batt Rock. The leaders rode the light wind home on a close reach with a long lead over the second group.

Meanwhile, back in the second group, wind settled and it became a close reach to Beaver point with Electra finding the best route in the slack tide just before the change. Roger drove Electra hard and squeezed her around the point very close to the wind. For us just behind it was very exciting and we at one point were holding our breathes as if that would draw the slim blue boat to windward and safety. Yet again Roger proved why he won the seamanship award last year and slipped around, easing sheets for the Prevost shore. Kay D was round next and Wildfire and Paramour, still locked in battle not far behind. Here the wind shifted Southerly and the course for home became a close spinnaker reach with the wind threatening to die out and the sun going down. A heading blast at the Channel Islands force the Kay D to sail between them and then turned off leaving her bobbing to the cacophony of scorn from the local inhabitants, joined by the snorting of two curious seals. The great spinnaker of Wildfire loomed through the dusk while on the other side of the Isle the masthead light of Paramour swept by. Eventually we struggled through and were rewarded by a beautiful breeze flowing down the Saltspring hills, spinnaker up, both crew on the weather rail and Wildfire charging alongside, a fantastic romp for home under the moonlight. As we closed on the Sisters the wind headed, we could hear the cracking of Paramours spinnaker whenever it collapsed. We had switched to headsail at this point and started to gain on those with spinnakers still up, catching Paramour by Rock Point and closing with Electra finishing close on her transom in the dark. Wildfire was not far behind, all four of these boats greatly benefiting from the strong new breeze to close the gap on the leaders.

Thus ended a long race that looked like it would never be finished for the first hour and a half and then provided many exciting challenges and wonderful memories. For the second year running this race has been completed on the first try, a great day of sailing!

from the deck of the Kay D – with some help from OASIS
Martin Herbert

Official Results – Club Ratings

(courtesy Philippe Erdmer – ‘Kaitoa’)

Course: Start – Both islands and Celia Reef Lt. buoy (P or S to be determined by Race Committee prior to race) – Finish

PHRF Rating Club Rating As Sailed Boat Skipper Finish Time Corrected Time
(Time on Time)
213 213 213 KAY D Herbert 19:28:30 08:50:44 1
156 196 196 PARAMOUR van Soeren 19:33:35 09:07:57 2
105 142 142 OASIS Jones 19:03:30 09:23:06 3
144 159 159 WILDFIRE Keating 19:33:40 09:37:53 4
144 144 144 ELECTRA Kibble 19:28:28 09:45:51 5
69 78 78 CALIENTE Andersen 18:32:00 09:49:08 6
162 137 137 IMP Slakov DNF DNF 7
102 108 108 KAITOA Erdmer DNF DNF 7

Official Results – PHRF Ratings

(courtesy Philippe Erdmer – ‘Kaitoa’)

Course: Start – Both islands and Celia Reef Lt. buoy (P or S to be determined by Race Committee prior to race) – Finish

PHRF Rating Club Rating As Sailed Boat Skipper Finish Time Corrected Time
(Time on Time)
213 N/A 213 KAY D Herbert 19:28:30 08:50:44 1
156 N/A 156 PARAMOUR van Soeren 19:33:35 09:40:22 2
144 N/A 144 ELECTRA Kibble 19:28:28 09:45:51 3
144 N/A 144 WILDFIRE Keating 19:33:40 09:50:56 4
105 N/A 105 OASIS Jones 19:28:28 09:56:26 5
69 N/A 69 CALIENTE Andersen 18:32:00 09:58:08 6
162 N/A 162 IMP Slakov DNF DNF 7
102 N/A 102 KAITOA Erdmer DNF DNF 7

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