Etchells Race Reports

Paddington Green (by Jamie McWilliam) - 10 April 2010


After a fair bit of shilly shallying about the course to be sailed the assembled team on the YC balcony chose K3. Not an unused course but not one of our regulars (which has a bearing on this story of course...!)  The wind was from 070 and looked light from the balcony but in the far distance the Easterly looked stronger. Course K3 would keep the fleet as far east as possible during the race and the option proved to be inspired. A great race was held in 8 to 13 knots of breeze and despite some of the fleet being away in Subic for big boat racing there were 9 or 10 boats on the start line. The runs were a bit one sided but the beats had a better square feel to them than the thrash up the island wall. A nice change at least and worth repeating in the future.

Making a last minute switch of boats was your author who was press ganged onto 787 when it appeared that they were only 2 up. Jamie McWilliam continued his swapping around the fleet program to assist new owners so he was on 606, which left Patrick Pender and Mark Parker entertaining a guest in the middle of 713 (who it turned out was on his 3rd sail......ever!). David Mead also had a UK guest in the middle of 1046 (although in this case Niall was an experienced 18 foot skiff sailor), and Marty Kaye and Matt Norton had a first time Etchell sailor in the middle of 884, so, all in all lots of new faces in the fleet. 

The start line was pretty heavily biased to the boat end but there was a light and building adverse tide to contend with. Course??K3??has Taikoo Shing as the top mark (so left of the normal place we go to) and not far off the end of the old runway. Several races have been won by big margins from the left so this seemed to influence a few people into looking to the left hand option. Anyway, as the start gun went Pender and Parker on 713 were making life harder for themselves that it needed to be by being late back from a training sail up the beat, they were 30 seconds late and the RO fired an OCS gun for them, and for others.....Denis Martinet and his team on Marianne (788 -later named ?eam Alinghi??on the dock) went back (in outstandingly Cowbuoy fashion nearly slicing 606 in half in the process, earning them the coveted points for the boot) but was the only one. From the top third of the line Marty Kaye (884) and Jimmy Farquhar (787) got way cleanly, while 1046 was early at the boat and had to slow down to allow Marty Kaye a clean line and to avoid being pinned into the committee boat.  After the gun, and further down the line, the bunch were tight and 606 bailed out early to join 713, who had started late and bashed the right hand side of the beat quite hard where she should have met  more adverse tide but was at least doing something different to the pack.  555 led the left handers and was showing good speed at this point. 696 (Meihem) was not badly placed either but she ended up being the OCS. 

The leading three, with 884 to windward of 787, and 1046 behind but to windward streamed off left, being lifted all the time and not wanting to tack off the lift.

787 only just made it round the bow of a moored ship but a glance astern showed 713 making up all of its pre-race lost time, which started to give a hint that right might be best, despite the tide. As the leaders sailed left the breeze began to drop and ahead it looked lighter still. 787 decided a change of strategy was required and tacked over to join 713 on the right.

So, 884 led still going left, 787 had to duck 1046 and then 713, wanting more right hand action tacked onto port under 787. After a flurry of little tacks it settled back to 2 boats heading right (713 just ahead of 787) and two boats heading left, 884 leading 1046. There didn? appear to be many others in it with a bit of a gap to the pack at this stage. 606 was still making progress up the right however.

713 was sailing higher than 787, squeezing up to her line but The Grand Master Farquhar held on for the necessary minute or so while the pair got into the solid right hand pressure, after which 787 was able to tack left but not risk falling out of the best pressure. The boats on the left were in a lot less pressure and they were lifted all the time on starboard so getting back out of that corner was proving harder and more painful the further they went. 713 and 787 battled up the right hand side and thanks to a major overstand by 713 The Grand Master led at the top. 606 had got themselves up to the top 5 and were not far off the race at the top as the previous leaders struggled out of the left hand corner.

713 went for a gybe set looking to secure the inside berth at the leeward mark (E1 in the middle of the harbour) while 787 did a nice clean bear away, set and quick gybe. These 2 had a jump on the rest but 3rd 4th and 5th were line astern as they came into the top mark. Down the run 787 worked hard to sail the best angles and managed to get her bow ahead of 713 who was to windward, such that as they approached the first leeward mark she had a 2 boat length lead. This became 10 boat lengths when 713 got there and proceeded to educate the guest middle man on the delights of trawling rather than dropping the spinnaker.  A rather harsh way to show a guest  ?ow not to drop a chute??but he won? forget sail number 4 at least! Parks was last seen head over the boat to leeward with armfuls of very wet spinnaker. Both Marty Kaye and David Mead got ahead of 713 at this stage but despite turning into the tide 787 was long gone and in general covering mode as the 2nd beat started. 

1046 was forced left, unable to follow directly in Marty Kayes wake and the better pressure right gave Marty the jump he needed to be cleanly in second. At this stage 1046 got a bit out of sync and lost a bit more while 606 got themselves up to third with good speed from this new Etchells team. Things got worse for 1046 when she tried to get right of the group only to find a pretty big leftie coming in. 787 got this right and extended further and the race for first was almost over. The battle for second was truly on though with 4 boats rounding the top mark bow to stern in a great race. 884 had a small lead but 606 was now 3rd, 1046 being harried by 788 (Team Alinghi)who had gone back at the start and recovered very nicely, and 713 who herself was making (another!) great comeback from her fishing trip. This group battled round with Kaye / Norton and Guest pulling away in second which was all well and good, except for the fact that they hadn? really read the K3 course instructions as well as they might have done and while the leader rounded the bottom mark next time round for the 4th trip up to TKS, the team on 884 sailed serenely by, gladly accepting the lead on the way to the finish. Of course it wasn? really the finish, so having seen the group fighting for third behind them drop chutes and round up onto the beat, Team Kaye had a long solitary sail back to an early shower! ("Come back Watty, all is forgiven..." - Ed.) 

The race was over as a contest for 1st  though, 787 was miles ahead (although they had read the course card many many times during the period after 884 sailing past it and before they were joined going upwind by 606 and her pack...!) 

At the last windward mark 606 was comfortably in 2nd (a great result for this new team who sailed cleanly all the way round) and 1046 had fallen back to 5th. David Mead took drastic action as he rounded the top mark however, gybing quickly after his bear away set and heating it up hard to get back to windward of the fleet and line himself up for the inside berth at the forthcoming last bottom mark. This eventually worked out for 1046 as she got there just far enough ahead of the other two to soak down over them, and when 788 went for a luff over 713, 1046 seized her chance to gybe for the mark and get round ahead, which she did to set off up the short last beat to Gate Buoy in 3rd. 787 got the gun with a big big lead, 606 was a terrific 2nd and 1046 locked up third to lead this series with a 1,3 so far. 696 crossed the line fourth on the water but a deafening silence confirmed they were OCS, and so 713 pulled a Lazarus and nipped in in front of 788 to secure 4th by one solitary second.  
There are 2 more races this coming Saturday, be there! The Spring Regatta is the following weekend, 24-25 April, so if you are looking to race or need crew, please get the word out nice and early as it would be good to have all the boats out for our last harbour regatta for a long time. Also please be aware that the next Sailing Forum, with more updates and info on the public works and next year's calendar, will be held on the lawn on the Saturday night of that regatta.

Class Championships (by Jamie McWilliam) - 20 February 2010

Hong Kong Etchell Champs are to be sailed this week off Lamma in Hong Kong Chinese waters with a very aggressive and competitive fleet...

On the eve of the 33rd Americas Cup, Hong Kong Etchells fleet prefer their showdown to played out on the water rather than in the courts, with 17 Boats to take the start line in a 6 race regatta this week end with an extremely competitive fleet.

Recent Etchell Queensland winner Mark Thornborrow, Etchell worlds third place finisher Ante Razimlovic (recently returned to Hong Kong), Jamie Mcwilliam four times National winner (also a 4th in worlds) and Laurence Mead winner of UK Etchell champs this year are all hot favourites. The competition doesn't end there with two times winner Dave Yourieff, three times winner and Commodore Warwick Downes and Match Racing Champion Marty Kaye adding to a compact aggressive fleet.

The fleet also has Fred Kinmonth who has been extremely fast in strong breeze and with 16-18Kts forecast for saturday shouldnt be discounted, with the start line missing x Hong Kong Salty Dog and President of the Etchells Fleet Billy Steele to keep the peace !

Mark Thornborrow is flying in his Aussie Crew Mok and Ante has Nils his brother up from Singapore doing tactics also a formidable sailor with a fourth in the worlds under his belt. Laurence Mead and Ante Razmilovic have just come off a heated battle on and off the water in cowes UK with Laurence pipping Ante by one point with a protest and appeal in the room defining the winner in the UK Nationals. Mcwilliam has his steady eddy crew of Pender (Scottish Nationals winner 89) and Parks on the bow.

Ante is renowned for being very quick in 15+ so will be looking to lock in some good results on sat as the breeze is forecast to ease to 8-10 on Sunday, where Downes, Mcwilliam and Kaye have been renowned to pull good results in lighter air. Downes and Kaye battled it out in last w/e's regatta in light airs with Downes pipping Kaye by 1 point to take the chocolates.

With only 17 boats on the track - it should be fairly clear sailing with boat speed being a critical factor. No spreader marks at top or bottom will make roundings rather crowded and keeping clean will be a determining factor.

Hong Kongs renowned Cowbouy Trophy 'Boot' will also be up for grabs on who keeps the cleanest regatta....

With 8 serious contenders positioning on typically short start lines, clean starts will be critical with a 1.5m chop expected - there shouldnt be much difference in boat speed on a reasonably steady course. Crews have been slimming to get (just in!) on the weight limit and it is set for an interesting battle over the w/e. New North and Doyle sails will be dogging it out too...

Hong Kong Etchell fleet will be carrying Trackers and viewers will be able to download the sailing on line Free from the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club web page on Mon after racing on www.rhkyc.org.hk

19 Etchells lined up for what was to be truly fantastic racing on Hong Kong's 'Gage Roads' Lamma track this afternoon with two windward leewards in a constant 16 Kts with some gusts up to 19Kts.

Commodore Warwick Downes was out early practicing only to break his main halyard and limp home under jib before the racing even started to take a serious contender out of the day.

Racing started at 2:30 with a 15 degree pin start favour and Andy Lam won the pin with Marty Kaye and Ante Razmilovic a boat length up , the remaineder of the fleet were a bit gun shy with Jamie Mcwilliam, Mark Thornborrow and Laurence Mead mid line a few lengths back.

The 16-19 kt breeze out of 80 degree was shifting 10-15 degrees and Kaye took the first shift right ducking Razmilovic and crossing the chasing pack with Andy Lam hanging on starboard to hit the port layline. Ante extended his lead up the first beat with the pack going right in a lifting breeze. Ante, Lam, Kaye, Thornborrow at the top mark and a surfing run to the leeward mark seeing Ante extend further but Kaye jumping Lam to take second spot at the Turn, followed by Thornborrow.

Razmolivic had a good jump on the fleet and sailed away up the second beat with Kaye breaking his Jib Halyard and succumbing to Thornborrow and Lam in the first half of the beat with the chasing pack closing in, led by Mcwilliam closely followed by Nick Burns and Mead. At the final top mark Razmilovic convincing lead was settled with the fleet battling for second place, with Thornborrow rounding just before Kaye who had recovered and taken Lam on the windward work.

An exciting run with Mcwilliam showing great down wind pace to close in and take Lam on the run but Kaye and Thornborrow held off with the result being, 1. Razmilovic, 2. Thornborrow 3. Kaye 4. Mcwilliam.

Race two started shortly after with the breeze maintianing its 16-19kts with a five degree pin advantage.

Mcwilliam won the pin with Kaye one up and Razmilovic, Mead, Thornborrow mid line all with good starts,

Drag race out to the left and Kaye electing to take the first shift ducking Razmilovic and Thornborrow, crossing Mead and Yourieff. - all pretty close quarter racing with Kaye getting the inside shift and on the next cross Mcwilliam, Thornborrow ducking Kaye on Port with Razmilovic a bow ahead of Kaye. 10 Degree left shift, saw Kaye, Yourieff and Razmilovic overstanding and Thornborrow lead into the top mark, closely followed by Mcwilliam. Top Mark, saw Mead and Burns cross Kaye and Yourieff on starboard.

First run saw a few bullets of 20 -21 kts for a screaming run where Mcwilliam gybed first shortly followed by Razmilovic to jump Thornborrow to take the top 2 spots at the bottom mark. Mcwilliam showing continued great pace on the run with his LR Kite to catch a number of waves surfing.

Mead broke his pole uphaul to go into a slow chinese gybe with Kaye and Yourieff having to take avoiding action for what could have been a messy crash. Mead taking his turns and suffering in the close quarters fleet.

Razmilovic and Mcwilliam battled up the last beat with Razmilovic catching the last shift to lead Mcwilliam closely around the top mark, with Thornborrow leebowing Kaye on the starboard lay line 4 lengths back.

Another great surfing run where Razmilovic held of a charging Mcwilliam and Thornborrow with Kaye and Yourieff following close behind.

Standings after 2 races:

1193 Razmilovic/Hammersley/Razmilovic 1-1=2

1269 Thornburrow/Farrell/Mok/Service 2-3=5

713 McWilliam/Pender/Parker 4-2=6 

Day 2: The second and final day of the 2010 Hong Kong Etchells Championships was supposed to be a lighter and altogether more pleasant affair than Saturday's 18+ knots and dishwasher waves. But it didn't turn out that way - if anything, it was windier, constant 18Kts + gusts of 23kts recorded and with constant rain, visibility ranging from 200yds to a mile, and the odd hellish lightning strike, it was more like Europe than the tropics...

Race 3: The left was SO good on Saturday that it was no surprise to see the pin very popular for race 3, with 713 Jamie McWilliam taking it from 884 Marty Kaye and 1046 Laurence Mead. 1269 Mark Thornburrow got a nice one in the middle, but series leader 1193 Ante Razmilovic had a poor one. McWilliam struggled to go fast enough to convert the start into a cross, and after a long pair of drags Mead led into the top mark followed by Thornburrow. Razmilovic and Kaye were both very skinny on the starboard layline approaching the mark and when McWilliam tacked in on top of them the dirty air made their position impossible and both of them had to gybe out. After a run of furious pumping and surfing Thornburrow led around from McWilliam, Mead being unable to get enough vang on due to a repair being blocked out, and after another beat and run this was the finishing order too, with 788 Florent Chapatte nailing a nice 4th (perhaps indicating a resurge in Swiss fortunes just in time for the America's Cup?) with Razmilovic in 5th.

Standings after 3 races:

1269 Thornburrow/Farrell/Mok/Service 2-3-1=6

1193 Razmilovic/Hammersley/Razmilovic 1-1-5=7

713 McWilliam/Pender/Parker 4-2-2=8

Race 4: With no reason to doubt the value of playing the left, albeit you'd want to be pretty fast to avoid getting locked out, Razmilovic got a cracker about 3 up from the pin and worked the left HARD to lead round the top mark from Thornburrow, Mead, and 787 Warwick Downes, back from their disastrous broken main halyard of Saturday. At the bottom mark the front 3 were almost line abreast, but Thornburrow's race ended when he went trawling and got the kite completely under the boat, leading to his retirement. Razmilovic and Mead fought it out up the middle left for the lead, with Mead holding it comfortably upwind, but his vang issues caught up with him downwind as Razmilovic caught a couple of huge surfs just prior to the finish and nipped through to win it by a half-length or so. McWilliam again went very quickly downhill to close right up and nip Downes for 3rd.

Standings after 4 races:

1193 Razmilovic/Hammersley/Razmilovic 1-1-5-1=8

713 McWilliam/Pender/Parker 4-2-2-3=11

884 Kaye/Watson/Norton 3-4-8-5=20

Race 5: As if it wasn't exciting enough already, the day's tension was heightened by the arrival of an ugly low black cloud over Lamma, accompanied by Zeus-like thunder and lightning and near-zero visibility. The fleet got a bit punchy for this start (or maybe the RO couldn't see anything?!) and had a general recall, but second time around they got away cleanly in about 15 knots, McWilliam nailing the pin and working the left into a big lead at the top mark from Downes, Thornburrow and Mead. Razmilovic had a poor beat to be mid-fleet. There weren't a lot of changes after that, with McWilliam taking a much-needed bullet followed by Thornburrow and Downes, Razmilovic's charge having been halted by an incident near the top mark second time around.

Standings after 5 races (discards in brackets):

713 McWilliam/Pender/Parker (4)-2-2-3-1=8 or 12 before discard

1193 Razmilovic/Hammersley/Razmilovic 1-1-5-1-(6)=8 or 14 before discard

1269 Thornburrow/Mok/Farrell/Service 2-3-1-(DNF)-2=8 or 28 before discard

Race 6: So basically it was a simple 3-boat shootout, who beat who. Assuming at least one of the 3 boats was going to finish inside the top 4 in the last race. The breeze was definitely down a bit now, blowing about 13-15 knots, and a clearance was coming through. There was quite a bit of pin bias in this one, and Marty Kaye nailed it from Thornburrow, Mead and Razmilovic, with McWilliam further up the line but well jumped out. As the breeze got lighter and went further left, Razmilovic was first to flip onto port after about 5 minutes, and McWilliam set up ahead and to leeward of him, about 200 yards below the port layline. The leaders carried on into the left, but as the breeze backed another 10 degrees or so they wound up overstanding and Razmilovic got round in the lead with Kaye second, Thornburrow third, and McWilliam 4th. Down the run it was a frenzy of jockeying for position, with McWilliam getting through Thornburrow and then getting re-rolled by an aggressive gybe move. The breeze was down to about 10-12 now and while Razmilovic led around, McWilliam's approach on port to the bottom mark at pace paid off when he sailed through Kaye's lee after the bottom mark and then flipped left. Thornburrow rounded in 4th and carried on on the lifted port tack, and Razmilovic covered him, thinking he was the closest threat in the regatta.  Mead rounded 6th and flipped onto starboard immediately, and was rewarded as the breeze soon started to cave even further left. When Mead tacked back onto port after about 4 minutes, he had made good gains and McWilliam set up on his lee bow, and these 2 and Downes put the hammer down and tried to foot hard back across Razmilovic, Kaye and Thornburrow who were struggling back from the right-hand side. It soon became apparent that Mead now had the lead, and Downes got through into second with some cracking pace through McWilliam's lee. 1235 Dave Yourieff also nailed the lefty and may well have led but overstood a bit. Razmilovic finally managed to get back over into 4th but Thornburrow was out of it, hanging out the right on a huge lefty.

With a run and a beat to go to decide the title, McWilliam and Razmilovic fought it out tooth and nail until one last puff down the right hand side of the run got McWilliam round the bottom mark just ahead. Razmilovic flipped immediately and McWilliam went with him, and there ensued the classic Etchells drag race where one bad wave or one light vein makes all the difference. But there was nothing in it, and after about 6 minutes Razmilovic initiated a tacking duel, but there was not enough runway and once Mead had completed a great 2nd day by winning from Downes (these two were well clear by this stage), McWilliam clinched the title with 3rd just ahead of Yourieff. Razmilovic came home 5th and Thornburrow 7th.

Final Overall Standings after 6 races (discards in brackets):

1st 713 McWilliam/Pender/Parker (4)-2-2-3-1-3=11

2nd 1193 Razmilovic/Hammersley/Razmilovic 1-1-5-1-(6)-5=13

3rd 1269 Thornburrow/Mok/Farrell/Service 2-3-1-(DNF)-2-7=15

4th 1046 Mead/Mead/Collins/Godfrey 7-(10)-3-2-4-1=17

5th 884 Kaye/Watson/Norton 4-8-5-5-(10)=25

Full results at: http://www.rhkyc.org.hk/article.aspx?a=253&c=111

Many thanks to race officers Helmuth Hennig, Frank Van Kempen and JP Churchouse.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ghm4adnWAZY&feature=related

Photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=145581&id=192675872654&ref=mf

Tracker: http://www.tacktracker.com/web/races?rgid=297844569&rcNum=28

Cirrus Series (by Jamie McWilliam)
12 October 2009
Saturday 3 October was supposed to be the end of the Cirrus series, but the previous 2-race Saturday had been abandoned without a shot being fired as the breeze took the day off, so instead this time we just had Cirrus 6 and will figure out when to re-sail the missed races as quickly as possible.
The breeze - a gradient NorthEasterly, fuelled by a big typhoon moving west across the South China Sea several hundred miles south of HK - was quite obviously a straight fight between a Northerly coming over the hills behind Kowloon and an Easterly trying to establish through Lei Yue Mun gap. Those out early watched it phase one way and another, surging as the Northerly gained superiority and weakening when the Easterly had the upper hand. The course was HH start, then TKS-DB 3 laps, finish at Gate. There was effectively zero tide.
The line was square to the average wind but at the gun the breeze was in a big right phase so the fleet was spread along it. 760 and 788 were closest to the pin, with 713, 1269 and 1344 next, no doubt reckoning that the righty couldn't last and starting at the pin would enable them to lead the pack to the next phase which was sure (in their opinion!) to be a lefty. 713 and 760 showed good pace after the gun, and as the breeze increased into a solid (;->) left phase only these two were able to flip and cross the few above by a length or two, and join those who had started further up the line and who had already flipped onto port. The left phase lasted about 5 minutes and then the breeze caved into a right-hand phase again, and 713 was first to flip away, footing hard on starboard towards the next lefty, with only 760 going with them. The other leaders, being 788, 903, 787 and 1344 from the middle of the line, held on on port, perhaps thinking this was the Easterly establishing. Classic harbour stuff leading to a big split from those who had already decided it would be phasing all day.
Sure enough the breeze then built into a solid Northerly phase and 713 just managed to avoid getting squeezed off by 760 who was ahead and to leeward going into the Northerly on starboard, and these two got across to the line of anybody returning from the left corner and flipped onto port, heading at or above TKS... The next time they looked back 713 had put 100m on 760 and this pair were 500m ahead of anybody else. 903 made the best of the middle, getting round in a close 3rd. After that it was a matter of the leaders protecting themelves from being overhauled by the chasing pack in the only passing lanes possible - which were all to the North, but this plan unfortunately bit the dust HARD on the 2nd run when a massive group of about 10 came round TKS about 300m behind the leaders but caught a massive NE gust and popped kites and came roaring up, but they kept heating and heating and eventually got to Kai Tak, where a hole of Ben Hur-like proportions engulfed the entire lot of them. 1235 and 1344 made the best of a bad lot by taking the pain of soaking as low as possible and sliding through below the disaster zone, which led to them claiming a solid 2nd and 3rd at the finish, with 760 doing well to rescue a well-deserved 4th and 1269 managing to claim 5th ahead of 903.

There was some excitement with a ship doing weird things in the middle of the race course at some stage but as there is a protest pending we'll leave that out for the moment.

For what it's worth, the winners sailed with 47" rake and the heel at 17'6", so the mast was touching the back of the gate when the backstay was on enough to snug up the forestay. We varied between zero and 1" of chocks behind the mast during the race. We had a North DC jib on long tabs (we took out the top batten, check attached photos to show difference in top camber stripe when top batten removed, and in the rest of the sail when you have proper heel and rake settings), a North PC main and an Ullman tiny VMG kite. The inhaulers were at 8 degrees when we were on the wind.

Cirrus 3 - 26 SEPETEMBER 2009

Well, if we get many more days of this quality in the Harbour we're going to have a real problem when the Typhoon Shelter becomes a building site...

Although numbers were down due to the seemingly ever-increasing calendar clashes, which is of course not a bad thing - this time being Port Shelter Regatta - the weather turned out in fine style and about 10 or so Etchells had a CRACKER of two loops from Dock Buoy to Shau Kei Wan in 10 to 18knots out of 105-120, and glorious sunshine. The Hung Hom start was neatly boat biased and with a foul tide - bizarrely strong considering it was low water at midday and filling until 4am Sunday (!) - it was a damn tough call whether to flip onto port immediately and go for the tidal relief on the island shore, or to set off halfway down the line and press like crazy for the runway.

Our general rule of thumb in the harbour on 713 is that if there's a foul tide, you go runway if you can head above 80 on starboard off the line, and you go island if not. The theory being that you're probably going to get lifted to something like 90 on starboard by the end of the beat, but throwing only 3 tacks up the mainland compared to 20 on the island shore covers that shift loss, and the tidal gains give you the lead. Of course, the problem with this rule of thumb is that it only really aplies if you are prepared to trust it and set off on a long solitary trip to the runway, which can render you a disappointed spectator for the rest of the race if it goes wrong...

Anyway, it very quickly became apparent that the runway was going to be left alone by the Etchells this day, as everybody who came off the line with a good start flipped onto port asap and booted for North Point. Although 713 Kung Fu Fighting (your cub reporter) was closest to the line at the gun near the boat, 696 Meihem (Mei Han) won the boat end with 760 Sailbad The Sinner (Flemo) very close behind them. Everybody else was a bit late, perhaps underestimating the fierceness of the current.

760 flipped first and along with 696 and 713 led the pack into the wall. 555 Heather (Gavin) was also in a good slot just behind Mei Han and as the leaders approached the wall the impact of the tide became immediately apparent as the boats closest to the wall just came ROUND THE BOW in a massive way. To be honest I had almost forgotten how big that impact can be.

Scary.

760 hung hung hung but went too far and got a bit becalmed, allowing 696 to lead back out and 713 to slot in a weak lee-bow and then be first to flip back in, which gave them the lead. It was unbelievable how the tide impact could gain you a length in about 30 seconds of sailing. Being pinned outside was death, and 713, 760 and 555 were the most ruthless about protecting the inside, with 696 getting brutalized by a couple of very harsh faceplants which pinned them on the outside of the entire pack and dropped them out of the running. 884 Easy Tiger (Marty) also showed their mastery of the priorities by sucking it up from about 7th to get into a challenging 3rd.

One of the fascinating things about the beat to Shau Kei Wan is the transition from the section under the motorway, where the tide impact is huge because of the water slowing so dramatically between the pilings, into the latter section of the beat where there are no pilings, just a wall, on the island shore and the tidal gains are less relevant than being in phase with the shifts. In this case it was obvious who had it sorted and who hadn't, as 713, 760 and 884 picked their own lanes and extended into a clear leading trio in that order - 884 having gone looking for the last lefty which didn't really come in time.

Down the run 760 stayed longest on starboard which came good for them in the end as they rounded having made up some ground on the leader and put 884 away a bit. Fears on board 713 that the two behind would split, one going runway and one going island, fortunately evaporated fairly quickly and the pack trekked on towards the south side, only 1344 Mind The Bumps (in the able hands of Jimmy F) giving the runway a look - and it didn't work out all that well for them.

It was tight as you like amongst the leaders though, with 760 closing up on 713 in the tricky part after the last ferry pier, but as the breeze dropped to 10-12 and the leaders moved into the more open water towards the top mark 713's setup seemed to find its groove and they stepped out to a pretty comfortable lead, assisted by the fact that 884 had sailed a very flash third quarter and forced 760 into some covering.

So it looked all set for a pleasant cruise home but 884 caught a beautiful line down the left middle after an early gybe, and it was going to be a real shootout for second on the last beat to the finish at Gate Buoy, but then the harbour played its tricks and 760 got shafted by a deceptively pretty-in-pink vehicular ferry out of Kwun Tong. Shame, but there you go.
So 713 won from 884 and 760, with a hugely tight bunch behind which was finally led home by 1344, 555, and a sightly fractious finish (any retirement, or at least Cowbuoy Trophy points, yet?) between 696 and 1193 Diva Deux (Mark Y).

713 carried North PC main (soft top batten), North DC jib (short tabs), North 0.5BR kite, and slightly screwy settings of rake 47"/heel 17'6"/chocks Max/Neweys 8.5deg/caps 19/lowers 1 turn below 10 on the Loos gauge, because we were a bit scrambling beforehand to install a jib halyard (thx a million Mick, Mark and Harold for your assistance). No photos as camera battery was dead. Darn! We were 35kgs underweight but can heartily recommend the 56kgs of Gretchen Lennon who (thanks a million Gretchen) did middle for us, her first ever sail in HK and first ever time on an Etchells. Gretchen is here for 6 months so if you are looking to make the weight, she's definitely worth a call.

Cirrus 1 - 5 SEPTEMBER 2009

The global standard for predicting breeze on weekends is that if there's good breeze all week, it'll be gone by Saturday, and if there's no breeze all week, it'll arrive just in time for Sunday night.

Fortunately, this is one of many global standards that has proven untrustworthy recently, and this weekend was ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. A steady 5-8kn on Tuesday developed smoothly into a 10-16kn gem out of just south of east for Saturday, flawless for funnelling down the glorious Hong Kong harbour. It may have been 33 degrees Centigrade, but it didn't feel like it on the water (until the offwind legs, that is). Add in perfect visibility, a brilliant blue sky, a very small tide, not to mention loads of new sails for the new season, and you really couldn't ask for much more. It must be our just rewards for all the clean living over the summer...

Anyway, about 12 Etchells snarled out to a Hung Hom start, course 2 big sausages around Shau Kei Wan and Dock Buoy with a beat to the finish at Gate Buoy at the end of the old Kai Tak airport runway. Some early trials up the beat indicated a typical funnelling day, with the breeze at the start line allowing starboard headings of 060, and the built-in veer lifting you up to around 090 towards the top mark. But it didn't work out that way...

Robert Knight the RO laid a beautiful line with a hint of pin bias and Andy Lam and his gang in Mellow Yellow 903 set out their stall at about a minute to go but were over early and had to go back. Simon Watson on Easy Tiger 884 and Jimmy Farquhar on 3x11 787 got off best from that end, and the bulk of the pack headed on out on starboard. Kung Fu Fighting 713 was also over and had to go back, and along with 903 they headed off towards the island shore looking for the veering bend. Mark Whitehead and the squad on Mind The Bumps 1344 peeled off the pack and joined the trip out to the right, and when the fleet reconverged about a third of the way up, 1344 had a narrow lead from 787 who had shown great pace against the others out the left.

As the righty established itself halfway up the beat, there was a classic period where almost the entire fleet were in line on starboard hammering out towards Lei Yue Mun gap in flat water, sun shine and about 15 knots. RIPPER! Charlie Manzoni on The Answer Is 938 was ahead and to leeward of the bunch and people slowly caved into him as the veer failed to live up to its billing, and 713  and 1344 and 787 bailed out on a nice lefty, and as they approached the top mark 1344 got it right best by coming off the wall and forcing 787 to dip, while 713 scrambled into 3rd after a brutal cover tack by the ruthless Jimmy Farquhar on 713 (although in fairness to Jimmy those on 713 know that the call was based on clear pre-race orders from Viv to "nail her husband at every chance").

Anyway, Russ Parker driving Clem Hill's Lickety Split 1235 and Mark Yeadon on Diva II 1193 (enjoying its first full season in HK) were very close behind this front 3 and rolled over 713 who went very low on the set in order to immediately gybe. This quick set/gybe proved to be a big success, as a bit better pressure and a bit better tide got them down the inside and past the leaders on a long port gybe.

At the bottom mark 713 had it from 1344 and 787, but 1344 was in the unfortunate stuation of being so close behind that she had to clear her air on the leader, and it turned out that every yard on starboard in the first half of the beat was a shocker. 713 eased away into a decent lead but got a bit messed up in some shifty spots just after E2, and 787 closed up. It then became a leader's nightmare, as 1344 headed for the island wall and 787 headed for the middle of the channel. Seeing as we were in a lefty already and SURELY the bend had to kick in, 713 decided to play right centre, but got it badly wrong and wound up coming out of the island wall heading 050 (!) and when 787 came back they were within 2 lengths of the leader, and 1344 was miles back. A "this one's for Viv" cover tack got 713 a bit of breathing room at the top mark, but it was game on...

The breeze was down to maybe 10-12 at this stage, and 787 showed good pace in the latter half of the run ("because Evelyn's a brilliant trimmer", according to an anonymous source) to get to within a length or two, but there weren't a lot of passing lanes on the last beat and the tacking duel petered out after about 8 tacks, it being too bloody hot by half for that sort of thing.

So 713 won, with 787 second and 1344 in third, and if we have days like this for the rest of the season it's going to be all-time.

[We'll try and get this info from the winner each weekend]

The leader used a North PC main with soft top batten (although it was borderline as to whether the stiff one would have been better, especially in the puffs), a North DC jib on short tabs, and a fairly old North 0.5 BR kite. Settings were 17'7" heel, 46" forestay, and 19 (Loos PT-2 gauge) on the caps. The lowers were too loose to register on the Loos gauge, but they were between 1 and 3 turns off from reading 10 on the gauge, and the rig was sagging about half an inch to leeward at the spreaders. There were between 3 and 6 chocks showing in front of the mast upwind, none in behind. The traveler was dead centre all day. The inhaulers were between 7.5 and 8.5 degrees (until the port one broke, twice!). Photos of the sails can be seen at the following site: http://www.dropshot s.com/wanchaibel le#date/2009- 09-06/05: 50:50