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An early start for a long race saw five boats come to the line on this foggy morning. A gentle breeze blowing out of the harbour had the fleet rigging spinnakers and poles during the pre-start jousting and the big sails bloomed as the downwind start horn blew. The wind had been shifting through 40 degrees before the start and favoured the starboard tack at the horn and Kay D was away clear. Wildfire and Oasis were in a broadside battle all down the spit, looking like men of war locked in combat, yard arm to yard arm. Kaitoa took the port tack into clear air and played the Goat Island side of the harbour.  Toon Time, our visiting yacht, who had been talked into flying spinnaker at the last moment was busy sorting out lines, temporarily at the rear of the fleet.

By the time the fleet was abreast of Deadman Island the wind swung and a gybe was in order for the starboard tackers.. Kay D gybed but the other two, still locked in close combat missed the shift, and sailed into a lull. Kaitoa, ably steered by a Nordic Tug Captain, pulled into the lead, harried all the way to Nose point by the little Flying Fifteen. In the wind shadow of Nose point Kaitoa lost the lead for a moment then proved her course right by coming out on a good puff. Oasis noticed the trouble close in and sailed a wide course then set herself up for a romp over to the Galiano side for the beat up to Walker Rock. Despite sailing into what looked like less wind the tide relief payed off and Oasis crossed the fleet in grand style. Kay D noted this tactic and resolved to be further on the Galiano side as the fleet tacked up the side of Parker Island. This worked and the Kay D regained her lead for the third time. Then Toon Time found her grove and claimed the lead as Wise Island dropped astern. The wind was still shifting wildly and was now starting to drop away to less than was necessary to stem the tide, so that Walker Rock would get closer then drop back again. Visibility was also varying wildly, with the Rock looming then vanishing. Kay D played the Islets beyond Wise Island and regained the lead again but Toon Time was not to be kept back. She stoically ate a series of headers to get over the the Galiano side and made her final approach to Walker Rock on a great starboard tack lift, rounding in the lead. Kay D was next about a minute behind and rounded the first mark of the race at hour six and a half. Oasis was right on her tail. Kay D hoisted her spinnaker and romped on a close reach to the next mark. A quick look under the boom revealed that Toon Time was still without spinnaker and had her jib reefed, a second looked showed her gybed and motoring for home. Oasis also did a great hoist in the puff that had got us around Walker Rock and was in hot pursuit of Kay D. Then the wind headed, the Kay D retrieved the chute and hardened onto a beat to try and avoid getting swept by the second mark. The big sail on Oasis took more time to get down and a dying wind settled her fate as she was swept to leeward to face a difficult beat back to windward against the tide. Kaitoa and Wildfire were having the same problem trying to get around Walker Rock, but they were saved this second battle by observing Oasis’s struggle. The Kay D was around and away with the spinnaker back up and a knot and a half of tide pushing her for home. But the time and the wind were against everyone and as the light faded so did the hopes of finishing in time. One by one the sails dropped and the motors started up and as Oasis swept up to the Kay D, she lowered her spinnaker and accepted a tow home.

A pretty great day on the water and eight hours of intense racing, who could ask for anything more. That and the fleet tied for the lead with a chance to do it again, just about a perfect day on the water.

from the deck of the Kay D
Martin Herbert

Official Results (courtesy Philippe Erdmer – ‘Kaitoa’)

Course: Start – Welbury Spar (P) – Walker Rock (P) – Governor’s Rock (P) – Welbury Spar (S) – Finish

PHRF Rating Club Rating As Sailed Boat Skipper Finish Time Corrected Time (ToT) Place
213 213 213 KAY D Herbert TBD TBD TBD
102 108 108 KAITOA Erdmer TBD TBD TBD
144 159 159 WILDFIRE Keating TBD TBD TBD

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