By Chris Wren
Saved by the OMR!
We have all seen the speeders race away from the start and looked with envy at their larger more sophisticated boats or worse still the flimsy little boats that disappear in a cloud of spray but they all present equal challenges. All have to cope with the intricacies of the Bay, tides and the fickle wind and keep the boat pointing in the right direction, while dealing with various gear failures but that is what makes sailing frustrating and delightful. It adds to the mystique of the sport and the stories of survival, the amazing bursts of speed or close calls, that are talked about in bars across the world.
In my relatively short time sailing multihulls, the thrill of sailing fast is a joy but even more so, the determination of multi-hullers to do as well as possible and win. Whether it be a WAGS or a more serious races, the multihull sailors never ease up and accept a loss. Above all, in these mixed fleets, the OMR evens things out and gives everyone a chance to do well. It is possibly the rating system above all else that keeps us all engaged.
Good crews make all the difference!
While I would like to believe that skippers are race winners, modern racing needs a team and the less the skipper does the better. We did not believe this in the old days, skippers were tyrants and controlled everything, usually with colourful expletives but today to be competitive a good team is essential. More can be lost around the marks than in all the minor gains playing wind shifts and tides, particularly in fast multihulls. I understand that the recent Nationals illustrated this well, with some quick boats losing through poor sail changes and poor roundings at the buoys.
The above proved to be the case in the Combined Clubs race held on Sunday 9th March 2014 in 15 to 20 knots ESE, plus some healthy gusts.
Starting the multihulls first was great and with a healthy fleet of 9 boats, the start was all important. (But, where were the 14 multis that started WAGS the Wednesday before?) The boat end was favoured and Rushour had almost the perfect start sailing fast but left a small gap, at least by catamaran standards, to allow frequentflyer to slip through.
The rest of the fleet hit the line virtually all together but spaced along the line with Boss Racing at the leeward end. The first 100 metres set the pattern for the trip to Peel Island, with frequentflyer in clear wind and pointing well, able to make Lochyer Light without tacking. Boss Racing had to tack but most of the rest of the fleet were able, with some judicious and some ill-advised pinching, to make Lockyer.
Once heading out to Hope Banks, the fleet was hit by the predicted slight easterly change which could have easily been a temporary shift. Hence some, including Boss Racing and Renaissance, tacked to ensure they made the most of it. Frequentflyer continued on as it appeared to be a significant wind change that could swing further. Both were probably wrong, as the wind stayed fairly steady but perhaps the easterly most course won out.
Nearing the eastern end of Peel Island, Boss Racing made up some ground as frequentflyer over fetched one of the navigation marks in the gloom and then at a crucial time had to jury rig the broken jib sheets which took the crew's focus off sailing to make the repairs. Boss Racing slipped through and hit the front which was probably inevitable and with a large mast top spinnaker sailed deep around Peel to Cleveland Yellow. It looked very comfortable on Boss Racing which handled the large sail area well, while frequentflyer had to use a small spinnaker to keep the bows above the water, well most of the time.
No doubt the larger multihulls were enjoying the conditions, probably putting on the kettle or opting for other sustenance. However on frequentflyer, it was quite different with four very wet crew hanging on and working the sails hard to stay afloat and go fast. The speed on the larger boats is awesome but smaller boats are like go-carts, going a similar speed but being close to, or in the water for much of the time, it is exhilarating.
Renaissance and Rushour had a close tussle, with Mike looking like he was going to overhaul Rushour at one stage, only to follow him home to the finish, ahead of Attitude, Spook, Kestrel and The Cats Whiskers. Hasta La Vista (baby) did not finish as it no doubt had some teething problems to overcome on its first serious race outing.
After the race Boss Racing headed home to Sandgate, frequentflyer went into RQYS to enjoy lunch on the boat and examine what was left of the jib system, Rushour similarly headed for the marina with its numerous crew, while Renaissance and Attitude rafted up in the Bay to enjoy a pleasant afternoon, notwithstanding the few showers.
Tony Eppell once said that there should be a season prise for who ever outperforms their OMR rating the most but in a sense the OMR results are a good indication of this.
The race took in the order of 2 hours which is not bad for a course that involved Hope Banks, circumnavigating Peel Island, Cleveland Yellow and back to RQYS.
While Boss Racing took line honours, Gary slipped to 3rd place on OMR some 10 minutes behind frequentflyer. Renaissance was second just under 2 minutes ahead of Boss Racing, Rushour just missed 3rd place and was 9 seconds behind Boss Racing, Spook was 5th just under 10 minutes behind Rushour, Attitude 6th approximately 3 minutes behind Spook and The Cats Whiskers was 7th some 5 minutes back. Kestrel unfortunately does not have an OMR. Given the speed of these boats, where one error can change the results by several minutes, ten minutes between the first three boats is great and proves that the system works well.
Renaissance has continued on with its consistent good form and Mike must be looking forward to a good showing on OMR in the Brisbane to Gladstone.
On the Performance Rating System the places were 1st frequentflyer, 2nd Boss Racing, 3rd Renaissance, 4th Rushour, 5th Attitude, 6th Spook, 7th Kestrel and 8th The Cats Whiskers.
While the results are an indicator of the day, there must be a dozen, well at least nine, stories to tell about the race, what worked, what went wrong and who did what to whom.
The progressive Bay Point score on OMR is as follows. 1st Renaissance, 2nd frequentflyer, 3rd Boss Racing, 4th Spook, 5th Rushour, 6th Attitude and 7th The Cats Whiskers, with the first four having completed the two races to date. On PRS frequentflyer and Renaissance are tied, followed by Boss Racing, Spook, Rushour, Attitude, Kestrel, The Cats Whiskers and Hasta La Vista.As in other years, the results will depend on who turns up and sails consistently well.
A Personal View
It is easier up near the front!
On frequentflyer we had the luxury of 3 skippers, who could predict the opportunities and problems and were prepared to give it their all.
Zebb Peters called the tactical shots (if only he did not usually sail that other very fast boat) and was quick to address any problems. Kriss Dellit who kept the boat safely flying a hull and revelled in trimming our new Ullman jib (which despite appearances is not a storm sail) and using the Selden CX Top down furlers that worked well and easily compared with the last year of struggling with an earlier iteration of the design. Lee Murray who is not used to multihulls enthused about the speed which just reached 20 knots and I held onto the lump of wood and kept the boat generally pointing in the right direction. It was as it should be after months of frustration with our spinnaker furlers, other gear failure and OK, skipper failure too.
Congratulations to the Manly Combined Clubs Sailing Committee
The Committee has done a great deal of work to simplify the sailing instructions and reduce the 30 or so Bay race courses (with many duplications), down to just 5 for our division, plus the triangles and the longer special events to the north and south. It is also great to have the multihulls start first, as it avoids us sailing through and annoying the monohull fleet. Sunday's race was very well run.