From a poor start in the first couple of races, the 141ft/43m schooner This Is Us went on to prove she’s no slouch, recording her first win in a superyacht regatta at Palma. David Glenn was aboard to witness her steady improvement
This is Us part three
Wine cellar at full capacity
Robin Winn explained that This Is Us likes to be sailed with her tanks full and to take full advantage of this theory the owner had made sure the yacht’s wine cellar was at its 1,200- bottle capacity before the regatta – including schnapps. It didn’t stay like that for long.
I could sense the tension aboard for the final race. We had to get it right this time and prove This Is Us could be a winner. Still, down went the schnapps!
Whetter & Co timed the start to perfection at the pin end and we romped away at 9.5 knots heading for a laid mark on the west side of the bay. The opening drag race on port confirmed the big blue schooner’s ability to hold up to weather while hard on the wind as Athos and Adela sagged away.
The top end of this beat always tests tacticians, the key being to hold on into the land for long enough to pick up the lift on offer, but not go too far and fall into a light patch. Going back into the bay to get onto the left layline proved disastrous for some, but we picked a perfect line to the right, missing the southern tip of the rocky Isla de Sech by feet (local knowledge essential)and timing our tack to the mark perfectly.
The comparatively cumbersome but comfortable-looking Reesle (also by André Hoek) was settling down after her rounding and it would have been easy to have sailed over her, but Whetter exhibited his courteous side by sailing beneath her and heading off across the mouth of the bay under all plain sail.
By this stage we were picking off yachts left, right and centre and there in the distance was Drumfire. Could she remain invincible? A check on the angles and up went the A sail.
Personally, I couldn’t see how on earth we’d catch her, but at the turning mark for home Drumfire looked a lot bigger. We had 6.3nm to run, the wind was holding and realisation set in that something could be on. It all depended on gybing angles and where the best ‘pressure’ (wind) was lurking.
Enter once again Ray Dwyer, now well on his way to shedding the mantle of villain. Could he become the hero?
About two-thirds of the way through a dead downwind leg we were showing good speed on port gybe, but at some stage we would have to get across towards the right, but when? Do we go before Drumfire, at the same time, or after her?
Suddenly Drumfire made her move, executing a perfect gybe onto starboard, her kite snapping full and her speed barely dropping. Should we go now, has Drumfire got more pressure right, shall we cross her wake and then go? Ray Dwyer and kite trimmer Jeff Halon sensed better pressure left. Dwyer said to hold the gybe and keep going to the layline.
Tension mounted as Drumfire gybed back. Judging by the bearing on the distant land she was gaining, really gaining!
At this rate she would beat us, but gradually we came into that all important and almost imperceptible increase in pressure. This Is Us picked up her skirts and eased ahead. By now the owners’ party was leaping up and down on the aft deck in anticipation of This Is Us completing an unlikely zero to hero turnaround despite an anxious crew still needing to perform that vital gybe for
the line and glory.
The foredeck didn’t miss a beat, Whetter completed an easy arcing turn which saw the big A-sail barely change shape during the manoeuvre and we pipped Drumfire by the smallest of margins – well, 56sec to be precise which is nothing in superyachting.
All I can say is the crowd went wild and Captain Winn was immediately dispatched below to fetch the ship’s cannon which was fired repeatedly as we made our way home to the dock to the sound of Knopfler and Harris belting out This Is Us. We were 1st on the day, 8th overall in fleet. Just think what would have been the result had Race 1 turned out differently.
But for the time being that was forgotten and the remains of the wine cellar was at our mercy.