Last day at the races

In many ways the last race was a regatta organiser’s dream with such close competition at the front of the fleet that no one could safely bet on overall victory and in both classes there was still everything to play for. If ever there was a day when helmsmen, crews and tacticians wanted the consistency of a steady breeze to help iron out the vagaries and of the notorious Solent conditions this was it. But as the fleet headed out of the Medina were confronted with a glassy still Solent once again.

Yet again we all tied up and waited for the breeze which eventually showed signs of filling in by around 11.30am. The Royal Yacht Squadron decided that this was the beginning of the forecasted breeze and began the starting sequences, yet the weather was once again pulling a fast one and seconds before the start of our class the wind died altogether and left the fleet to drift over the line.

The wind remained equally fitful for the smaller boats’ start too and it was only when the first leg of a spinnaker reach had turned into a dead beat half way across the Solent that the breeze showed any signs of building and settling down. Despite 10-15 knots filling in later, huge shifts from separate breezes kept tacticians on their toes with late calls and fast crew work becoming the order of the day as the breeze switched from side to side.

To add to the pace in our class, the race organisers changed the course twice, presumably just in case the navigators’ thought they were getting an easy ride. In the end, Crackerjack took her first victory on corrected time of the week with Island Fling taking second. Neither performance was enough to stop Stephen James’ Jacobite steered by Shirley Robertson from securing an overall class victory for the week by finishing fifth in the final race.

In class G the three main contenders for the overall prize stayed close to each other at the start and it was Menenes who managed to keep her nose ahead for the entire race leading from start to finish. Yet victory in the final race still wasn’t enough to prevent Jean-Michel Carpentier from securing class victory in Xaossa, his Swan 42 and a well earned overall victory for the Swan European championships 2001.

ps. Aboard Eva we had ‘one of those days’, forcing us to carry our previously worst result of 12th. Even so, we still managed to finish equal 4th overall in our class for the week, a result that we were proud of given that few of the multinational list of crew had previously sailed together. Another good result on a personal note is that after a few heated mark roundings I think I can now speak some Spanish, although I’m not sure how complimentary it is.