Lack of wind leaves sailors frustrated at ABYC Week

TOUGH CONDITIONS: Wild Thing – a Pacer 27 – ghosts along in the windless conditions at the ABYC Week. Picture: BRENDAN REES
TOUGH CONDITIONS: Wild Thing – a Pacer 27 – ghosts along in the windless conditions at the ABYC Week. Picture: BRENDAN REES

THE Algoa Bay Yacht Club’s end-of- the-season regatta produced windless conditions which left sailors frustrated.

Traditionally, the event has offered mixed sailing conditions and keen competition.

Held over four days last week, the racing was difficult for sailors used to high winds and hold-on-for-survival action.

For the first time in living memory not one race sailed during the ABYC Week was completed over the full courses set. Of the six races started, race officer Ronnie Baer was forced to abandon two and shorten the course sailed of the remaining four.

Compounding the frustration for the sailors even more, the first race saw only one finisher – Jellybaby (Andrew Ward) – as the rest of the competitors failed to complete the course within 20 minutes of Jellybaby finishing, despite many of them being as close as 200m behind.

With only two races sailed on the first three days, sailors anxiously eyed the weather for the last day of the regatta on Sunday.

A mixed bag of forecasts saw some sailors reefing down and preparing for an expected midday forecast of “30 knots west, gusting 39 knots” while others defied the weather gods and sailed out of Port Elizabeth Harbour with full sails and light weather gear.

Difficulties with a swinging wind led to a number of 180° course changes before the first race got under way at 10.16am in a steady northwest of nine knots – a positive gale compared to the previous three days. The fleet managed to complete one sausage only to have the race shortened on the first reach of the triangle as the wind died.

The fleets started the second race at 11.15am and, once again, the race had to be shortened ahead of a massive 180° wind shift to the east.

This last race saw some excitement and close racing between four boats at the top mark. Wild Thing (Russel Morgan) tacked on the lay line and starboarded Orion Express (Kerry Bonnage) who was forced to tack and starboarded Unmatched (Graham Wentworth). Unmatched elected to push Orion up and fouled them in an attempt to make the mark and in the process banged in to Malgas (Tony Bailes).

Unmatched compounded their woes by hooking in to the top mark and extending the course somewhat for yachts behind them as they attempted to entangle themselves. Unmatched had to do three penalties: two 720° circles and one 360° circle.

In Fleet 2, wily campaigner Rob Smith, sailing his 9m Muira, Tikalox II, had it all his own way as he sailed to line honours and first place on corrected time in all four races.

Andrew Blaine on Struan was also consistent with four second places.

Top three in Fleet 1: 1 Jelly Baby (J27 – Sean Wiseman), 2 Orion Express (L26 – Kerry Bonnage), 3 Malgas (L34 – Tony Bailes)

Top three in Fleet 2: 1 Tikalox II (Muira – Rob Smith), 2 Struan (Stadt 34 – Andrew Blain), 3 Fling (Sadler 26 – Morgan Griffiths)


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