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Sailing Southwest Winter Series - Penzance Pirate pursuit race

by Jonathan Miles on 14 Nov 12 November 2017
Kian Andrews battling winds nearly 40 knots, accompanied by Pierre the dolphin © Lottie Miles / Sailing Southwest

Abandoned Pirate takes on a new Porpoise!

The day started at Penzance SC with a few early birds arriving at 8.30 to be greeted with white water in Mounts Bay and winds gusting offshore at over 30kn. As discussion over abandonment started the wind seemed to drop a little and 11 intrepid sailors including several visitors who braved the weather for the trip into Cornwall, ventured out into the harbour.

The Race Officer gave the all clear to get on the water for the scheduled 10.30 start. Everyone was equipped with a Sailing Southwest GPS tracker to keep an eye on things. As the race start times approached the local Mirror sailors Lloyd and Sebi Williams launched but wisely turned back. The conditions were worsening and the gusts within the harbour were severe.

Nine boats made it out of the harbour braving a gusty exit past the threatening concrete walls and the 5 knot speed limit – broken by all!

Into Mounts Bay and the sole remaining Enterprise of Colin Stephens and Simon Lees blasted off on the downwind reaching start. Touching speeds of 14.8 knots, the Enterprise was moving rapidly to the gybe mark and the first of several capsizes (while racing).

3 minutes later Laser sailor Ben Flower raced off the start line hitting the overall top speed of 18.6kn soon afterward. The D-Zeros and Blazes, an RS100 and RS Aero were all out on the water ready for their starts, when a friendly dolphin, known locally as Pierre, popped in to check on the sailors, giving local sailor Kian Andrews a fantastic show as he danced around the D-Zero.

The wind had increased to over 30 knots and gusting more, so time was called on the race. Ben had demonstrated a masterclass for heavy weather sailing, bombing around the course and putting two laps in before a rescue boat could catch him to tell him the race was abandoned.

The fleet took a few more capsizes as they battled the conditions but eventually a complete group of damp sailors returned to the bar, all grinning from ear to ear!

Well done to the race team and especially the rescue team in gathering up the stragglers and escorting them home.

But the day wasn't quite over for everyone... The rescue crews offered to test their search and rescue skills, as they ventured out once more to locate a tracker that had gone overboard! They were guided to its location using the GPS system, and managed to pluck the tiny device from the ocean. Their radio message of success raised a fantastic cheer in the clubhouse.

The race may have been abandoned, but for fun, the race committee used the GPS tracker results to determine the fastest boats and awarded their Pirate Prizes to some terrifying speeds.

Roll on the Christmas Cracker at Paignton and hopefully calmer weather as the Sailing Southwest Winter Series continues. For information, updates and series standings, visit www.sailingsw.co.uk/sw-series

Fastest recorded speeds:

PosHelm / CrewClassSpeed (knots)
1st Ben FlowerLaser Standard18.6
2ndGreg BartlettRS Aero 715.8
3rd Stacy BrayD Zero15.6
4thAdam Elley / Thomas ElleyOsprey15.4
5th Kian AndrewsD Zero15
6thColin Stephens/ Simon LeeEnterprise14.8
7thC WoodBlaze10.9
8thJ GilbertRS 10010.6
9th Hugh KingdonBlaze9.9

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