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Hurricane 5.9 TT at Starcross Yacht Club

by Graham Buxston-Smith 5 Jul 2013 14:08 BST 29-30 June 2013

The Starcross Yacht Club 2013 Catamaran open this year was simply "Sailing Utopia" and it was a great shame that continuing pressure on personnel finances and some boat damage after the unseasonable weather meant we had no visiting Hurricane competitors this year.

The TT open used an upwind/downwind racing format and this was combined successfully with the Dart SW area championship using a triangular course from the same committee boat start line. It was the best Cat Open for many years with 23 boats in total fighting it out on the water. The 8 local Hurricanes were blessed with Force 3/4 gusting 5 NNW winds on both days with sunny afternoon temperatures reaching 21C. The PRO Russell Gibbs set up very close back to back racing on brilliant courses with no hanging around on both days.

Racing was extremely hard and close in our fleet. Rescue boat crews reported on several occasions that all 8 boats went around the top mark within a 10 second window, and they were really shifting. The upwind racing was challenging, with crews constantly reviewing wind and tidal vectors on these extremely fast craft and then tactically evaluating what the competition were doing. However, the approach to the downwind mark, with Hurricanes absolutely flying with kites up and crews trapezing, proved the ultimate challenge with the slower Darts, who were approaching on different vectors, becoming moving obstacles in a part of the course where the wind was shifting a good 10 degrees at times. Many places were lost and gained in this area with unfortunate crews visibly digging in hard to regain any advantage they could back upwind.

Steve (HSTD280) rounded off the Saturday racing with a superb solo musical performance with the best scenic backdrop in the SW. A perfect end to the day with both cat fleets relaxing and enjoying each other's company. The club really needs to stock up on Doombar for the Dart Netley crews next time... Jon Mile's home reared BBQ burgers were spot on, as was the Sunday breakfast from our excellent galley ladies.

There was tweaking of mast rake and diamond stay tension by some crews in the Hurricane fleet before the Sunday's races which, in the strengthening conditions in Races 5 & 6, resulted in even tighter battles in the fleet.

In summary, Doug & Jamie HSX416 won 5 of the 6 races but were constantly kept on their toes by the SYC fleet. Winds were gusting at times and places changed regularly making racing very exciting. John & Tony HSX454 came second overall with Mike & Eamon HSX457 in third.

Saturday

Race 1 - Mike & Doug's boats took the clear lead downwind but due to wind shifts and gusts the whole fleet caught up and arrived at the leeward mark almost together. Mike arrived first and slowed during rounding. Doug was unable to slow fast enough so had to do his 360 and ended up last around the buoy. John took the lead but was overtaken by Robin HSX346 on the last lap who managed to keep the red boat pinned behind to the finish, while Graham HSX278 manage a 3rd place.

Race 2 - Doug got away early and battled it out with John most of the race. John ended 2nd with Mike not far behind. The rest of the fleet were in very close contention.

Race 3 - Graham spotted a wind change and started on port dipping the fleet close to the committee boat and got to the windward mark 500 m before the rest of the fleet, but his luck did not last long. Doug took the lead from John closely followed by Robin. Unfortunately John had terminal problems with his kite spin lock jamming, capsized to miss a Dart, and had to retire. On the last downward leg Graham came from 7th to third on a huge lucky gust and tacked for the line before Robin could cover him to take 2nd place on the line by a split second.

Sunday

Race 4 - Mike and Doug headed the pack and continuously fought it out for the entire race, with Doug eventually getting the upper hand. Robin stayed a consistent 3rd.

Race 5 - Doug & John fought it out with Doug winning with Mike in 3rd place. Jim HSX207 capsized while in close quarters with Graham – Jim tacked without (allegedly) warning his crew. Alice, Jeremy's HSX276 new crew, was handling the spinnaker better with every race so may they may well be the ones to watch in the future.

Race 6 - Robin took a flyer on the start, but was soon swamped by the rest of the pack. Doug reached the windward mark just ahead of John but slowed down faster than John expected so John had to do his 360. Mike caught up and fought it out with Doug to take 2nd place. Jim pulled through from 5th to 3rd improving throughout in the strengthening conditions.

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