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First Race of the 2023 Season

Mark Collier

17 Jun 2023

A Race of Two Halves

With both a delayed launch behind us and airs too light to have sailed previously, as we head down to the start area for our first sail and race of the season there is a feeling amongst the crew of  "at last we are ready"!

With Malc [skipper and tactician] on helm, Ian [James] and Brad on staysail and foredeck, Chris and Mark on jib and runners and Gavin on mainsail we are all set to compete with 10 other Class B Working Boats in the Falmouth Classics Saturday race.

Because the forecast and reality of light southerlies, which during the course of the afternoon ranged between 6 and 10 knots, the Classics Race committee decided on a shortened course for the afternoon.


This was to be from the start line, positioned mid-way off Trefusis Point and Pencarrow Point, a beat up to Black Rock Buoy then on a short broad reach over to Carricknath, followed by a downwind run to Vilt, with a final beat up to the finish line close to Governor.


The Class B Working Boat start was scheduled for 11:55 and we arrived in good time  aware of the start sequence of a 5-, 4-, and 1-minute signal sequence prior to the starting gun. And with Ian counting down the final seconds on his racing watch we made an impressive start high up on the starboard end of the line with the rest of the fleet, apparently, in disarray behind us.


But drama. With Malc's ears tuned to VHF Channel 77 we had mistakenly started on the 1-minute signal and so a swift course correction back behind the start and a new count down and approach was needed. All was well as our second start was equally as good with close hand racing to the first tack with our nose edging ahead of both Moon and Endeavour close on top of us.


The long beat up to Black Rock buoy saw us at times loose contention with the leading boats, as well as recovering our position, as some clever tactical helming by Malc in steady, but light winds, kept us in touch with the leading boats. We reached the first mark in 5th position behind Winnie, Moon, Victory, and Mabel, having overtaken Helen Mary firmly aground on the rocks below Black Rock.


The short broad reach across to Carricknarth in slack water again saw Evelyn perform well as we held our position slightly closing the gap between us and the leading boats.


So as we came around Carricknarth, in an excellent position to start the long downwind run to Vilt, and with a 100 metres or so in front of the following boats, we were expecting to hold our position in the light breeze. However as we went down wind frustratingly our jib and staysail seemed not to be setting well and fairly swiftly Grace, Endeavour, and Mildred passed us close by as we struggled to find downwind pace. And at Vilt, having to give room at the mark to a classic yacht Florence to came down inside of us as we hardened up for the final beat up to the finish line just off Governor.


Winnie, also 125 years old this year, took the line honours in a time of 1 hour and 13 minutes with the first 4 boats all finishing within 3 minutes of each other. A close race.


On handicap Evelyn came in 8th out of 11 in a race which for us was one of two halves. The first half a competitive first two legs with us in touch with the leading 4 boats and the second half where our down wind performance left us towards the back of the fleet.


In conclusion Evelyn had an encouraging first race and one enjoyed by all members of the crew. Our task now is to figure out how to improve our downwind performance because if we can do that then the '23 season holds great promise.

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