Course: Club start, Welbury Spar (P) – Walker Rock (P) – Governor Rock (P) – Welbury (S) – Club finish; 17.5 miles; Overcast, wind variable S to NW 2 to 15 kts, +5 C.
Six boats assembled at the dock for the Walker Rock Race, a 17.5 nautical mile challenge. The course takes the fleet out of the harbour and through Captain Passage into Trincomali Channel, then threads them through the kelp beds at Walker Rock and returns via Governor Rock. It has the potential to be a great race and the sailors always hope for good wind.
Those who arrived early were faced with a fickle wind blowing out of the harbour and a sense of foreboding, but as start time approached the wind shifted and started to build. The absence of starting marks caused the start line to be a transit from the clubhouse roof peak and the diamond marker on the Club dock.
Bob Jones skippering Oasis skillfully took full advantage of this to pull off a perfect lee end start in stronger wind and jump into an early lead. Vincent Argiro on Velica also started down the line, just to leeward of the rest of the fleet with a good conservative start. These two boats led the charge out of the harbour, but soon a very well-sailed Imp slipped into contention. With Greg Slakov at the helm and his crew at full concentration, they footed through the lulls and blasted in the gusts, working their way into a handsome lead when a broken main halyard ended their race.
Oasis lead the fleet around the Sisters followed by Velica and Ole Andersen’s Caliente. Following this group it was Eric van Soeren in Paramour leading our intrepid fleet Captain Keith Simpson in Soul Thyme. The two forerunners were reminded that they must pass Welbury Spar Buoy to port by the fact that the wily Caliente was staying high on the wind. Caliente moved up to second and was closing on Oasis as both these boats cracked off at the spar, hoisting their spinnakers. Velica, as the only non-spinnaker boat, had to be satisfied with just trimming the working sails and hanging on for the downwind leg to the Rock. The wind having freed slightly, the remaining boats hoisted their spinnakers before Welbury Spar. In a valiant attempt to win the broken tiller award, Paramour hoisted her distinctive sail upside down. We will have to wait until the end of the year to see if that feat will stand for the trophy.
Caliente opted to sail a hot angle over to the Galiano shore while Oasis sailed broader, but still edging to the Galiano side. Velica, wing-on-wing, sailed the shifts downwind on a more direct line, a course that had served Paramour very well on last year’s race. At first things looked good for Velica, but then a lifting shift put her in the lee of Saltspring and allowed Caliente to gybe and close reach into a commanding lead. Could this be a repeat of Ole Anderson’s 2008 win of this race? The big red boat certainly looked impressive as it charged up Trincomali towards home. Meanwhile, a battle of gybes and wind hunting ensued between Paramour and Soul Thyme, closely watched by the other boats as they were battling the wind that would soon come down to our sails. Soul Thyme played the Galiano side and slipped ahead.
Caliente lengthened her lead and the fleet spread out far more than usual. Oasis found a hole in the wind and waited for Velica to close in but then found her wind again and kept her position. Building wind hurried the fleet through Captain Passage and back into the harbour. A huge calm captured Caliente just before the finish line, a cruel turn of fate, allowing the rest of the fleet to close. And whispers of mutiny were heard aboard Oasis, who refrained from hoisting her spinnaker for the last run home, raising the hopes on Velica, only to be dashed again as a heading gust picked up Oasis’s skirts and swept her across the finish. The final order across the line was Caliente, Oasis, Velica, Soul Thyme and Paramour. – As seen by Martin Herbert from the deck of Velica
Addendum – As this race is part of the Kibble Cup and we wished to assess the new handicap results against standard PHRF, here are the PHRF numbers. Two boats trade places and spread goes from 26 to 31 minutes. Martin and Vincent are the clear winners and NFS to boot, how about that?!
|WALKER ROCK RACE RESULTS – FEB 19, 2012|