(Report by Graham Mitchell)
Wednesday, 1 May 2013, saw a good fleet of 9 boats competing for the first evening race of the season in good but brisk conditions – a W wind. Competition was fierce between the fast handicap boats , with the Hunter 707s, H-boats and Dragon rounding the windward mark in close order. Humdinger’s spinnaker hoist was particularly efficient as she joined the run to Wardie Bay as the wind slowly fell away. Curlew and Eriskay the slow handicap boats were not far behind and joined the run with white sails only.
Then as the slow boats approached the harbour wall a major wind shift to NNE saw them starting to reach whilst the leading fast yachts still carried spinnakers into Wardie Bay and the S buoy near Newhaven. Thereafter the skippers now faced an unexpected beat to windward to the L buoy at the Leith docks entrance with 707s Jetstream and Cacciatore fighting it out in the lead. The Race Officer John Spencely decided to shorten the race given the cold conditions and the likely finishing times of the boats heading back to the H mark at Granton. Up went the shorten course flag S as Jetstream and Cacciatore approached the finish line neck and neck, spinnakers set. Unfortunately the skippers could not make out the flag identity against the western skyline – logic deserted them in that the only likely signal flag that could be flown by the committee boat at this stage of the race was S – and dropped spinnakers before reaching the line. This was very significant (later) as Cacciatore pipped Jetstream by less than half a boat length.
However the two H-boats and Wizz Too (dragon) also fought it out coming up to the line in a row with spinnakers flying (5th photo below). They knew the race was shortened as the 707s headed for the harbour, kept their spinnakers flying and crossed the line with less than a boat’s length covering them. Curlew followed not long after having made up some time and last but least finishing was Eriskay.
Back in the warmth of the clubhouse with refreshment to hand the race officer was astounded to find the handicap corrected results for the fast class the closest seen for years! The first 5 yachts corrected times showed a difference of 2 secs between 1st and 5th – spinnaker drops might have made a difference!!
(Results are posted separately on the racing results pages).
Tom Wilson has produced some fine photographs, a selection of which are shown here: