Our Sixth and Final Race Day – A Day of Disasters
The winds were forecast at 14 to 16 knots in the morning building to 18 to 21 by early afternoon for what was to be our last race day this spring, so the officials and competitors were keen on getting an early start to the first race. Considering it’s the time of year when many members have returned to the UK for the summer, enough people turned up to get two Balaton boats, a Shoestring dinghy and two independent boats out.
The Balaton members set out for their boats in their rib and the race crew readied the Whaly, loaded the buoys and left to set the course when the first disaster was discovered; one of the Balaton boats, Sirocco, was missing from her mooring. The Balatons returned to shore and set out to walk south along the paseo to look for her while the Whaly went north.
She was soon spotted up against the jellyfish nets a short way north. Martyn took the Whaly alongside and Steve Crane went on board and fastened a tow rope but, no matter how hard they tried, they could not budge her, she was stuck fast.
Martyn was returning to CTD when it was agreed to get him to set the course so the dinghies at least could race before he went to assist recover Sirocco again.
While he was doing this Bob Miles, Robert Hudson and Robert Langdon launched the old rib for the slow journey upwind to Sirocco and, on arrival, Robert H climbed onto the nets to discover that she had turned a full 360 degrees and wrapped the net around the keel. With super-human effort (is Robert the latest Super-Hero?) he managed to twist her round by hand then force the net down while the Rob L and Bob heaved on the tow line. She suddenly broke free leaving Robert on the net and Steve on Sirocco. While Steve set the jib and sailed back towards CTD Robert was collected by the rib which followed but, with only a 4hp engine could not catch up.
While all this was going on the dinghy race, with just three boats Shoestring Cuatro with Vernon O’Byrne, Jack Moss and Janice Penning aboard, the Laser of Norman Vener and the RS Quba of John Down, was started with the wind at about 12 knots.
The second disaster happened at the second mark when Norman capsized after his main sheet looped under the boat as he jibed. It lifted the boat up and over as soon as the sail powered up and she completely turned turtle. Norman could not get her up so the Whaly had to assist, effectively disqualifying Norman, and this took a long time. We now had just a two boat race and they both completed their first lap without incident and were neck and neck on the second.
Now for disaster number three. As the wind had increased quite a bit, the crew of Cuatro decided to tack round mark two, rather than jibe. In the process they lost their bearings and headed for the fourth mark, missing out the third. Despite valiant efforts of the Race Officer to attracted their attention they ignored his shouts and gesticulations and blithely carried on, chased by John who thought he had victory in the bag.
The Whaly was asked to go and inform Cuatro but could not as they were towing Norman back. They had eventually managed to right the Laser only for Norman to find he had damaged his tiller and could not sail back.
Cuatro finished their incomplete second lap and, despite more shouting, arm waving and jumping up and down by the Race Officer, carried on. John was a long way behind but sailing well when his disaster struck. He tacked to cross the line for the start of his last lap only to get it wrong and capsize.
He was soon up but as he tried to continue sailing was seen to go over a second time. He got the Quba up again but with the wind right behind the sail so over he went for the third time. His final attempt to right the boat resulted in another swim by which time he was completely exhausted.
While all these dramas were going on the Balaton boys had got Sirocco back on a spare mooring and were returning to shore. They were passing John as he got the Quba up the second time and asked if he wanted help but he said no so they carried on. Luckily they kept an eye on John and saw him go over twice more and now getting dangerously close to the jellyfish nets so they returned and helped him get upright again and towed him back to shore. John later explained that his problem was due to his outhaul failing so the clew slid along the boom allowing the sail become over powered.
Cuatro duly completed their final lap but were summoned back by the Race Officer giving 5 blasts of the horn three times before they finished.
The Race Officer checked with everybody to see if they wanted a second race but the wind had built as forecast and the answer was no so the Whaly crew went out to collect the buoys. The final disaster was then discovered, the mooring of the Balaton Mistral had failed un-noticed sometime while everything else was going on and she was on the jellyfish nets about half way to Los Alcazares marina.
The Whaly quickly returned all the buoys to shore then took Robert and Bob down to recover Mistral; she is now on one of the old ferry moorings so will need to be moved soon.
We had organised the race day as an extra to try to make up for some of those lost to us during the season but two escaped boats, two capsizes and a crew who got lost meant we finished the season with only 7 races completed out of the planned 16.
Let’s hope we have a better Autumn season which is scheduled to start on September 10th.
Have a good summer everybody
Total Bedlam – Fifth SAMM Race Day
When the competitors and officials arrived at CTD for the fifth race day in the SAMM Spring Series 2017 they were greeted by a scene of total bedlam. Hoards of disable children were being treated to a host of water sport activities generously provided by various organisations. The was loud music, kids dancing, playing ball games, shouting, screaming whilst the various water craft were being launched and readied.
When the buoys were being laid to mark the course they had to be moved three times to avoid the ever enlarging area being used by the jet skis for joy rides.
Eventually the first race got underway at a late 11.45am in gentle 6 to 8 knot winds with six boats in contention. All other than Sirocco had a leisurely sail of four laps, except for having to avoid the jet skis, kids in Optimist dinghies, kids in kyaks, groups on large ribs or in Gamba dinghies and none of them paid any attention to the fact that there was a race going on and used the start/finish line to play around. Then, as a finale, they were joined by a guy performing stunts on a water jet flyboard right in front of the channel as the boats came ashore for the lunch break.
But everything was over, except for a couple of jets skis, by the start of the second race which again was fairly leisurely but in a slightly increased wind. There were some close tussles going on, especially between Norman in his Laser Radial, John in his Quba and George and Jack in the Gamba Shoestring Cuatro, who all finished within a minute of each other. The Areaz 20 Levanter, a new boat to the fleet led all the way and finished first on the water but was placed 4th after the handicaps were applied.
A good day that was enjoyed by all, the next race day will be the last of the season.
A Day to Remember
On arriving at CTD the Whaly helm found that the new prop guard, that had only been fitted the day before was broken. The race was inevitability delayed whilst it was examined but a decision to use the Whaly at low speed was agreed upon by those around the rib. This meant a much slower laying of course during which time the winds started rising to an estimated 10 knots.
A few minutes before the Balaton’s 10 minute gun Bob reported he could not steer Mistral and she was crabbing sideways down the course towards the start line, he took decision to retire dropped the sails and went back to the mooring under power. This has been a re-occurring problem all this season and the Balaton members need to get it fixed.
Robert, Janice and Ernie crossed the start line in Sirocco, if a little bit confused by the start signals due to the visual starting boards being a few seconds behind the start horn, a (slight malfunction in the Race Officers role as he couldn’t be outside and watch the clock at the same time). This was rectified quickly by Carol doing a 10 second count down for the dinghy start, which is the usual practice.
Eventually everybody was away and the Whaly took station at the first buoy. Within minutes the first of many capsizes happened when one of our most experienced helms, Julian aboard his Topaz was hit by a very sudden gust of about 16 knots whilst out on his trapeze and went over in a flash. He was clearly seen working energetically to right the boat, which he did within a minute or two, not needing the support boat which had started to make its way towards him.
Everybody was around the windward buoy when a request by the Mistral crew to be ferried to shore came over the radio and the support boat went over to pick up its passengers. This proved to be one of those decisions which sometimes goes against you and did so when the wind suddenly gusted again and caused the second capsize whilst the support boat was off the course in the channel alongside the jetty.
The crew were notified but seemed to take ages to get back on station meantime another capsize, the third, had occurred. George and Dianne had gone over but could be seen to be quickly getting things into order so the Whaly went to assist Norman, who was sailing solo on his Laser radial, and had also capsized, the forth, on the far side of what now looked like a very large course. Again the response by the Whaly was being hindered by the need to keep the revs down and everyone in the race office expressed relief when the Whaly got to Norman and stood by as he battled to get the Laser back upright and sailing again.
Meantime those who could stay upright were flying along. Sirocco was proving a handful for its crew in the gusts, whilst Tug on a Quba, Julian on the Topaz and Brian and Jim on a Laser 2000 were enjoying the stronger than forecast winds.
Next it was George and Dianne who went over, the fifth capsize, and were in trouble as the rudder pintle pins, which had been modified some months ago, snapped leaving the boat helpless. Vernon on the second Quba went over; sixth capsize, whilst the Whaly attended to George, Dianne and the rudderless Laser 2000. After much effort Vernon got back aboard but came upright with the wind fully behind him which pitch rolled him again into the water and separated from his boat which drifted away to the direction of the rocks.
Meantime Norman was back in the water again; seventh capsize, on the downwind leg on the far side of the course whilst the Whaly was towing the Laser2000 off the course and towards the shore. With so many boats in trouble at once, a quick call was made to our friends at “Pro Vela Sailing” asking if they could assist with their rib to give support to Norman, who was still fighting to get upright on the Laser Radial. The Whaly managed to pick up Vernon, who by then had been in the water for more time than he would have liked, while his Quba had come to a stop up against the rocks. Realizing this could seriously damage the boat; the lads from Pro Vela, having sorted Norman out went after the Quba and brought her safely off the rocks and back to the slipway.
Freak gusting of the wind and the lack of full power to the Whaly led to the “Abandon Race” decision after 2 of the proposed 4 laps. This didn’t put too many sailors off wanting a second race, and although the second race didn’t go ahead many of the dinghies went back out an hour later when the gusting winds had dropped to a still very strong but steady blow.
Sorry if I got some of the capsizes in the wrong order, after all it was a very eventful 2 laps. Well done to those who stayed upright in very gusty conditions.
John Down, Race Officer on the day
Perfect Racing Weather
Sunday May 7th, 10am and the race officials and competitors arrived at CTD for the third race day of the Spring 2017 season. The sky was blue, the sun warm but where was the wind? Don’t worry, the forecast says it is coming and by the time the first race was due to start it had arrived at a gentle 7 knots.
The two Sailfish 18’s were first away at 11.45am followed 10 minutes later by one two man and five single handed dinghies for the planned four lap race. The Sailfish maintained their lead for the first lap but were passed by three of the dinghies during the second lap. Due to the conditions the pace was slow and unexciting so the Race Officer shortened the race to three laps.
The wind was up to 9 knots by the start of the second race at 2.30pm and gradually increased to 12 knots, which produced the excitement missing in the first race. The Sailfish were again away first. Mistral got the best start but was soon overtaken by Sirocco. The Laser 2000 and RS Quba Kiwi had the best start of the six dinghies and these two and the Topaz Duo were soon fighting for the lead. The Skipper 12 was struggling especially when trying to tack to get through the gate and lost so much time in the process that she retired after three laps. The finish was difficult, requiring a tack to finish up-wind. The RS Quba Kiwi got it wrong and hit the finish mark requiring a 360° penalty and re-finish. The RS Quba Lola almost did the same as did the Sailfish Mistral.
A bit of fun ensued when the Sailfish Sirocco twice dropped their boat hook overboard when trying to pick up their mooring under sail because the outboard would not start. Thankfully it was recovered both times by some skilful manoeuvring and they eventually were safely secured.
A BIT OF A BREEZY DAY
After three cold days of high winds, cloud and rain the weather forecast for Sunday April 30th looked good, other than the wind strength increasing to 19 knots by about 3pm, so the second race day of the SAMM Spring Series was on.
12 competitors in eight boats arrived at the beachfront of CTD Los Narejos at 10am to glorious sunshine and a nice 4-5 knot breeze but at 11.30am the wind suddenly increased to 15 knots which is the maximum it is considered comfortable to sail in for what is supposed to be fun club racing. As the start time approached it had increased to 17 knots and Don Clarke, single handed in his two person Hartley 12.2, decided not to compete.
All other seven boats got away safely for the scheduled 4 lap race although there was some confusion over the start time and two boats went early. By the end of lap 2 the wind was gusting at about 20 knots so the race officer had to decide whether to abandon the race on safety grounds or continue. He decided that, as all boats had been trying so hard in the conditions, he would shorten the race to 3 laps.
Two boats retired, one because they got lost and the other because they missed a mark, but the other six all finished safely and there were no capsizes, a tribute to the skill of all the competitors.
When the results were calculated on handicap it was found that between 21 and 42 seconds separated each place, a superb achievement in the conditions. The winners were Tug Wilson and Vernon O’Byrne in their Laser 2000.
Many thanks went to the crew of the support boat who, despite getting very wet, did a sterling job monitoring the competitors to ensure every ones safety.
With no lessening of the wind strength it was agreed by all to abandon further racing for the day.
SAMM Racing Re-Starts
The St. George’s Day racing was the first of the racing season for The Sailing Association Mar Menor (SAMM). The start of the season had been delayed by unforeseen circumstances and also to allow the Junior Laser 4.7 European Championships to take place at C.T.D. Los Alcazares where over 330 juniors sailors took part over 9 very windy days many suffering broken masts or lost sails.
By Sunday the wind had dropped, thank goodness, to a challenging but pleasant 17 knots and eight boats arrived at the start line. The two larger Sailfish were sent off 5 minutes before the dinghies, to avoid any clashes but were soon caught up by the first of the dinghies, the Hartley 12.2 helmed by Don Clarke, closely followed by Julian Singleton, a new member, on his Topaz Uno. The wind overpowered Norman Vener on his Laser Radial who paid a heavy price by losing his rudder to the depths of the Mar Menor. The support boat quickly took GPS Readings and hopefully will recover the rudder another day.
For the second race the course was shortened, by removing the third buoy to make a triangular course, as the wind appeared to be stiffening. The gusts didn’t last long but enough to cause havoc going up to the first mark with the larger Sailfish boat with Leon, Janice and Derek suffering most.
The dinghies all crossed the start line together with only Bob and Geoff slightly off the pace, but it was clear that Dianne with Vernon and Ingo meant serious business aboard the Gamba.
Meanwhile the support boat crew spotted a kite surfer in difficulty with the lines wrapped all around her, decided to offer their assistance and brought the young lady back to shore.
The back markers fought hard for their places with Mick winning out over Bob and Geoff , only thing left was to work out the results on handicap which were as follows.
First race winner Topaz Uno – Julian Singleton,
Second race winner Shoestring Cuatro – Diane Hardwick, Vernon O’Byrne, Ingo Wilson