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Medway Yacht Club 'Pirates Cave' 2017 Autumn Series Race 1

by Aaron Goodman-Simpson on 31 Oct 29 October 2017

Twenty-nine yachts entered the 2017 Medway YC Cruiser Class Autumn Series, which started on Sunday 29th October and will run over five weekends until late November. The event sponsored by 'Pirates Cave Yacht Chandlers' is typically the highlight of the annual cruiser class racing and as such is keenly contested by all participants.

With a northerly wind ranging from 12 to 16 knots, Principal Race Officer Mike Wallis was faced with limited options in terms of finding an upwind leg on the River Medway, but none the less managed to set one, with a short beat up-river to buoy 31. The Class 1 start was very keenly contested, resulting in a General Recall before getting away cleanly on the second attempt.

Once round buoy 31 the fleet headed downriver to buoy's 15, 13 and Blackstakes. Initially spinnakers were hoisted, however, the reach became increasingly tight and as soon as they were hoisted, boats began to drop them as the reach became a fetch. In Reefer x (X99) case the spinnaker was dropped a bit too quick ending up in a major trawl for fish and the loss of significant time and distance on the leading boats. As ever Full Tilt (Ancona 400) was at the front but this time faced with a new adversary in the form of Stephen Hendry's newly acquired Flying Fish (First 40.7), both boats using waterline length to good effect on the various fetch and reach down river. The battle between the two forty footers will be something to watch over the coming weeks.

Whilst fetching and reaching is not necessarily tactical, constant sail trim was very important to all boats if they wanted to be rewarded with speed gains over their close rivals, the reaching conditions keeping the fleet relatively close together. At Blackstakes the fleet had to complete two small triangles between Blackstakes, North Kent and South Kent, before heading back up river (via Stangate Spit, 12, 14 and West Bulwark, 16, 18, 19, 26) to the finish. All marks were keenly contested with on-the water place changes at each turning mark. Whilst not a vintage race – a rewarding sail none the less.

Full Tilt led the Class 1 fleet home convincingly, followed by Flying Fish, Irene (Dufour 34), Reefer x, Big Zipper (Delher 34) and Vegas.

Class 2 boats had a shorter course with Stangate Spit being the downriver turning mark. "Petite Fleur" (Ecume-de-mer Prototype) led the fleet home, followed by "Ynot" (Splinter 21), "Scout" (Int. Folkboat) and "Suntrek" (GK24).

Full Race results can be found here.

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