Exhilarating ride for Spring series race

Rod Pearse, skipper of Ultreya writes, ‘The weekend southerly came in at 25-35 knots with driving rain squalls mid-afternoon on Friday. Subsequently,  Friday Twilight racing was abandoned.

The rain stopped mid-morning on Saturday and the wind forecast moderated to 20-30 knots. Mixed divisions raced on Saturday afternoon but only four yachts started  in each of the three divisions. Before the start, the Race Officer radioed the fleet, advising that a squall of 33 knots had just been recorded on the race course.

The race started on time in Athol Bay in 23 knots from the south gusting to 33 knots. Ultreya carried a full main and #3 headsail. We expected the wind to gradually moderate; it didn’t.

Erica led Division 1 around the Double Bay mark ahead of Whispering Kite, closely followed by Utopia and Ultreya. Erica and Ultreya lifted poles and sailed high to improve the angle and assessed the conditions which remained very gusty. Erica and Ultreya both raised spinnakers. Whispering Kite and Utopia didn’t follow but had good boat speed and sailed a more direct course. A long fast downwind leg to Manly followed. Ultreya was buffeted by the heavy 1m to 2m cross swell as we crossed the Heads but thankfully, no round ups. Boat speed lifted to 15 knots in a 33 knot gust, surging on a swell. An exhilarating ride!

Late spinnaker drop in 25 knots as we approached Manly, good gybe and tight reach  to round the third AS mark (west of MW) a little behind Erica. Utopia and Whispering Kite came down the centre and rounded the actual MW mark a boat length or two ahead of Ultreya.

Nothing in it.

Bumpy work in heavy chop to the Eastern Channel mark. No spinnakers on the shorter run to MW/ME the second time. Our boat speed was well above targets on work/reach back to Bradleys and tight reach to Kirribilli finish.

The wind subsided to 20 to 30 knots in the last hour. It was a good call by the Race Committee to start the race and allow it to run the full course. Ultreya was 50 seconds ahead of Whistling Kite on corrected time, 2 minutes ahead of Utopia and 4 minutes ahead Erica. A great day’s sailing.’

Photos by Marg Fraser-Martin