Cove SC, Friday Night League – Race 12

This blog reports on Cove SC’s Friday Night League.  It is, therefore, a race report – I suppose.  However, it is more than that.  It is a ‘me-piece’.  I’m not sure if that is an actual designation.  But, that is what this is to me.

‘Me-pieces’ generally go like this – ‘My name is … this is what I did … this is what I make of it … it might be of interest to you’.  It’s a bit conceited, maybe.  But, this ‘me-piece’ is always about Jay.  That’s why I write it.  There’s clue in the title, to be fair.  It is called ‘JayJ24’, after all.   And, it does glory in the wonderfully euphemistic moniker of ‘Jay weekly’, in some quarters.  And, this is really important.  Especially, given the reaction to last week’s entry.  For, whilst these entries recount events that take place in and around sailing in Cove SC, they are not official Cove SC race reports.  They never have been official Cove SC race reports.  And, at this point, I think they never will. 

At the risk of laying it on with a trowel, this blog is built on the reflections of a participant – me.  It is based on my experiences on the water (in partnership with the other fella, of course).  All analyses spring from conversations conducted by me, with my crew, my friends and my acquaintances, about incidents that impact on my sailing. There are, you’ll agree, a lot of ‘my’s there.  That, for example, is why ECHO rarely gets mentioned.  We on Jay, don’t take much notice of that handicap category.  That is why the White Sail division rarely gets mentioned.  We only rarely sail in company with boats from that division. ECHO works well and is of interest to many.  It’s just not that important to us.  And, it doesn’t get mentioned, overmuch.  White sail works well and is of interest to many.  Again – just not for us.  And that doesn’t get over-mentioned, either.  I trust that readers understand this and accept that they are listening to my voice when they log on to  This blog does not, and should never be taken to represent, Cove SC.  Which is just as well, for many in Cove SC clearly do not like this blog.

Some fuzziness may have arisen over the last few months, on foot of this blog’s relationship with Cove SC’s official platform  Cove SC’s website administrator has been supportive, I think.   Some entries have been reposted verbatim. Which is great.  Some have been edited and reposted.  That’s OK too.  The edits generally work well.  Some have not been reposted at all.   That’s actually fine, as well.  A submission to is different to an entry in  The two platforms require different voices.  Sometimes, I try to take that into account and keep things ‘centred’.  Sometimes, I do not.  Especially, when I have a strong opinion and wish to make a point – as I did last week. 

Of course, other boats/crews impact on the events recounted in these pages.  Cove SC’s Friday Night League races are fleet races – pretty much.  I’m sure that many of the 40-50 unique IPs who log on to JayJ24 regularly, are attracted by the prospect of seeing their boat’s achievements recognised in this format.  Not by JayJ24, per say, but simply in the format itself.  That’s an entirely appropriate motivation, I think.  And, I try to bear that in mind.  Conversely, no one likes to see their boat/crew’s efforts reflected in a negative light.  That is an entirely appropriate concern.  And, I am mindful of this as well.   And, therein lies the conundrum at the heart of this bloggery.  For, these entries are not descriptive, in intent.  Such writing bores me.  I’m just not hugely motivated to provide a blow by blow account of who went where and when.  I do it – barely.  Rather, I am often more motivated to use Jay’s experiences to make a point.  That, I suggest, is the hoped-for value of this blog.  It starts with Jay’s experiences of racing with Cove SC, it takes those experiences, albeit filtered by a necessarily Jay-centric world view, and seeks to make fair comment about a range of issues that, I suggest, may be of interest to others in the fleet.  Other boats, and other boats’ achievements are necessarily referenced.  But, that is not my focus.  Conceited, it may be, but it is useful, I think.

In this way, JayJ24 exists somewhere on a continuum between two poles – that of ‘balanced description’ (if there is ever such a thing) on the one hand, and subjective analysis, on the other.  For, you see, there really is no such thing as balanced analysis.  And, this can be a difficult ‘circle to square’ –  as I found out over the past week.  You see, last week’s entry caused quite a stir.  In truth, I thought it would.  However, I was surprised by the upset it caused.  That was not an intended outcome.

Without wishing to go back over the ground covered in that entry, in the end of the day, Jay simply should have protested.  The other parties involved would certainly have been annoyed.  But, witnesses would have been called and all parties would have been afforded ample opportunity to present their position.  Something, I think, the others felt unable to do in response to last week’s blog entry.  Here’s the thing, you see – everyone who participates in Cove SC races has an opinion on the events that take place.  That’s normal.  Not everyone harbours the impulse to air those opinions in a forum, such as this.  That impulse is not a common thing.  In seeking to make a broader point, last week’s blog singled out another, albeit unnamed, boat for criticism, in a sphere I command.  The sphere of the written word.  That, on reflection, was an unbalanced thing to do.  Not everyone is motivated to write.  And, I can see why those others, still unnamed, were annoyed.  That said, we did have a ‘sit-down’ after racing last Friday.  Not a Sopranos-style sit-down.  But a ‘sit-down’ nevertheless.  There was no rapprochement.  But, we did agree on that one thing – Jay should have protested.  And, we should have put the incident to bed, with that.  Placing the incident in the public domain was simply not worth the trouble it caused between two boats.  Especially, as pretty-much no one else bothered to comment.  And, the only impact seems to have arisen between the two boats involved.

Of course, that brings me back to the whole point of last week’s entry.   Back to the issue I wished to raise and put out there for debate.  Back to the fact that there is no culture of protest in Cove SC.  Back to the fact that most Cove SC boats do not ‘take turns’ when they transgress the RRS.  And, back to the fact that those who wish to seek adjudication in this manner are justifiably wary of being cast as aberrant by those who do not share the same view of the RRS.  It really is a culture that must change.  And, that is something that is worth putting in a blog such as this.   That remains something worth placing in the public domain.  That remains something worth troubling Cove SC about.

For you see, this is not simply the product of a “sore loser”.  This is not just another “silly blog” – based on nothing other than an unrepresentative view.  This is not doing a disservice to Cove SC.  This is the considered opinion of people who participate in the events under description – every week.  Jay is the only Cove SC boat to have participated in every Friday Night League Race so far this season.  Jay is the only Cove SC boat to have turned up for the two cancelled early season races.  Jay is the only Cove SC boat actively seeking to engage with young dingy sailors and bring them through into the cruiser fleet.  Furthermore, Jay was interested enough in Cove SC to turn out on Titanic race day, when the rest of the club were simply not bothered.   Jay was interested enough in Cove SC to eschew the chance to defend our ‘Cobh at Home’ title and do OD instead – to help the club out   As such, our thoughts on Cove SC represent fair comment, I think.  Whether you agree or disagree with the views expressed – “silly” this blog is not.  Some in Cove SC have been kind enough to offer their support for the views expressed in last week’s entry.   That support is appreciated.   Some have been pretty strident in their condemnation.  That is fair enough, as well.  Most however, have not bothered to venture an opinion.  Forty two unique IPs were logged by last week.  It would be interesting to know what those people think of the opinions expressed.

Of course – there was a Friday Night League race last week.  Whyte Knight’s Fergus Coughlan acted as OD on this occasion.  From Cove SC’s usual start/finish-line in the vicinity of buoy number EF4, Fergus sent a somewhat smaller fleet than usual on a series of triangles between Cuskinny and Crosshaven.


Kodachi, last Friday

Everyone did really well!  Didn’t they? That is, everyone except Jay.  We had an awful race.  Our normally assured start was mistimed and we were 20-30 seconds late for the gun.  And, it got worse from there.  We were massively under-powered for the start of the race.  Whilst conditions were pretty much on the margins of our Genoa’s range, we chose to play it safe and go with our jib.  Unfortunately, conditions abated quickly after the start and Jay simply didn’t move.  We were nearly two full minutes adrift of Bedlam at the first mark.   Our night of misfortune didn’t end there.  We were slow downwind, to boot.  Things improved when we changed up to the Genoa at the end of the first trip to buoy number 13, but by then our race was run.  To add insult to injury, we later lost our spinnaker halyard ‘up the mast’ and dropped the sail in the water.  I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened.  All in all, Jay had our worst race of the season so far and we finished last in IRC.  Some, of course, might hold that this was karma for mouthing off last week.  Maybe, it was. But, maybe it was bad JuJu instead.  That said, the young guys on the crew did really well.  Every manoeuvre was a scramble.  But, the crew scrambled together.

Bedlam won the race in IRC.  Gaelic Kiwi placed second in this category.  Kodachi placed third.  Bright Wings won the ECHO category.  La Chanteuse won the White Sail division.

Jay still leads the spinnaker division in both Handicap categories.  The perennially well-sailed Gaelic Kiwi has now leapfrogged over No half Measures to claim second place in IRC.  The Kiwi only lies about eight or nine points adrift of Jay, when likely discards are taken into account.  Jay may yet be in for a nervous run to the finish of this year’s Friday Night League.  Bombora lies in second place in ECHO, only four or five points behind the leader (again, with likely discards factored in).  The Alastair/Kenny/Cavanagh partnership must be quietly confident of pushing on from here.

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Cove SC’s Friday Night League – Race 11

Some of you may be annoyed by that which follows.  It is occasionally strident in tone.  For, last Friday night’s Friday Night League – Race 11 has left a bad taste in Jay’s collective mouth, and we feel hard-done-by.  And, this report has consequently required a deft touch – not to mention inputs from sailors whose judgement, IMO, is beyond question.  Its front end is pretty anodyne.  Its back end is equally inoffensive, I think.  It’s the middle chunk – the bit between the pictures – that might annoy Cove SC.

“From storm to storm.  So be it, then … … Here’s stout stuff for woe to work on. So be it, then” (Melville, 1851).

And here it goes –

Anyone who has spent any time participating in Cove SC’s Friday Night League will have suspected that we were in for ‘a special’ last Friday.  You see, last Friday, it was La Chanteuse’s turn to act as OD.  And, La Chanteuse has form in this regard.  Friday Night League courses tend to be effective, but more often than not, workmanlike.  ODs focus on the task of getting the race in, you see.  Jay did exactly that when it was our turn to run the racing, a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, this focus on effectiveness can often preclude imagination.  Not with La Chanteuse.  La Chanteuse’s courses are invariably effective but they have something else as well.  Something a little different, maybe.  And, that difference tends to be Spike.  John Doyle’s laconic 2011 instruction to ‘leave Spike to port’ springs to mind, for example.

Crews were certainly expecting something interesting from La Chanteuse, last Friday. And, La Chanteuse did not disappoint.  From a start/finish line at buoy number EF2, the fleet were effectively instructed to leave Spike to starboard – the ‘kites’ taking in buoy numbers 10, 13, 10, and 11 in the process; the whites visiting buoy numbers 10, 13 and 16.  A John Doyle ‘special’, indeed.  And, ‘a special’ that worked really well – for the spinnaker class fleet, anyway.  There were some grumbles from amongst the ‘whites’.  Many in the heavy brigade struggled in the tide.  And, the tide was ferocious in places.  That was a frustrating aspect of the night’s racing – no doubt about it.  But, that said, we sail in a tidal harbour.  It’s part of the package, really.  And, there’s nothing an OD can do about that.

In any case, another large fleet came racing.  Seven ‘whites’ and seven ‘kites’ turned out – to be exact.  The grey early season evenings spent on the eastern bank with only two and three boats for company now seem like a long-distant memory.


Kodachi, leaving East Ferry marina, last Friday

A committee boat start was favoured, with most boats choosing to take the gun on port.  And, most boats were well behaved.  Jay sought out our usual high starting lane.  We over-cooked our run to the line, slightly, and had to go bow down in the final seconds before the gun to avoid crossing early.  In so doing, we left a gap to windward.  A gap that was inevitably filled by some in the chasing pack.  And, therein lay the ruination of our night’s sailing and the source of our current discontent.

The Racing Rules of Sailing are clear in this instance – Jay, as leeward boat, had rights over boats trying to exploit the gap we left to windward.  Rights, we were intent on defending.  You see, one should never, ever, leave a windward boat accelerate over you off a start-line.  Everyone knows that.  Don’t they?  Jay, from our position of strength, was always going to come up and defend our lane against a latecomer seeking to exploit the gap.  And, we were always going to ‘cut up rough’ on a boat trying to sneak over us.  That’s OK.  That’s racing.  That is, as long as everyone knows, and respects, the Racing Rules of Sailing – which are sacrosanct.

Rule 11 of the RRS was the operative rule, in this instance.  And, it is absolutely clear – when two boats are overlapped and on the same tack the windward boat must keep clear of the leeward boat.  ‘Simple as’, you’d think?  There is no room for interpretation.  Proper course is determined by the leeward boat and the windward boat is required to keep clear of a leeward boat calling for rights.  Not by the leeward boat itself – but by the Racing Rules of Sailing!  That, is one of the immutable facts of racing sailboats, you see, and it should be respected.  Always!  Jay sought to point up off the line last Friday but was impeded by a boat to windward.  Jay repeatedly called for rights.  Our calls were simply ignored.  And, that’s a shame.

In actual fact, the incident itself is not what’s griggin’ us most.  These things happen when boats are racing.  We are, I suppose, all of us guilty of such indiscretions from time to time.  I would have expected more of those involved, in this instance.  But, with distance, I can see how a boat might over-step the mark, in the heat of close racing.  But, it gets worse, you see.  When a boat calls for rights, no matter how forcefully – intemperate and abusive language should never form part of a response.  Ever!  Such a response just annoys.  It casts the club in a bad light.  And, it lets everyone down.  Anyone can fall into the moment, especially when people are shouting at you.  But, we’re only a small club.  We should all try to remain civil on the water.  Of course, the Racing Rules of Sailing have something to say about that as well – Rule 69, I think.

I can’t help but compare this experience with a similar incident from earlier in the season.  Jay was involved, again.  But, this time, thankfully, we were tangling with Royal Cork YC’s An T’Oileanach.  Jay led around the windward mark and bore away with the intention of hoisting and sailing a direct line for the leeward mark.  David Lane and Sinead Enright’s J24 rounded on our transom and went high, to cover.  Jay immediately came up, and as leeward boat, called for rights on An T’Oileanach.  Actually, the call was ‘coming up lads – luffing’.  An T’Oileanach responded immediately.  There was no excitement.   No voices were raised – past the first shout.  The two boats were perfectly in sync.  Jay behaved correctly.  An T’Oileachach behaved correctly.  It was good racing.  And, both crews enjoyed that phase of the race.  It’s a pity An T’Oileanach doesn’t come sailing with Cove SC more often.  Although, on second thought, and given Jay’s experience last Friday, maybe that’s not such a good idea after all.

Of course, this brings a thorny issue to mind.  And, it’s this – if Jay was as blatantly wronged on the race course as I make out why then did we not just protest the offending boat under Rule 11 (or Rule 69, for that matter) and get on with our race?  Why indeed?  Well, the answer to that question is simple.  You see, there is no culture of protest in Cove SC.  And, that is a huge problem.    In this regard, this tale extends far beyond a near-coming-together on the race course.  It goes to the heart of sailing in Cove SC.  It’s more of a structural issue really.  And, we need to fix it.

There is a simple solution, of course.  Everyone should know the RRS and do turns when they transgress.  Jay has certainly done turns in the past.  We impeded Bombora in an early season race, last season.  We acknowledged our mistake and did a turn.  Honour was served and no angst arose between the boats.  Alternatively, if boats are unwilling to police themselves in this manner, then maybe Cove SC should seek to foster a greater culture of protest.  Protest is not a personal thing.  It’s just part of sailing.  And, everyone can learn from incidents that take place on the race course by taking note of a protest committee’s decision.  Maybe it’s time for Cove SC to institute a standing protest committee.  There are enough experienced and sober-minded sailors active in the club, I think.  Two such individuals were aboard last Friday’s OD boat, for example.  A few more were sailing in the ‘white sail’ division.  The presence of such a committee would also serve to normalise the process of protest.  As it stands, protest is so infrequent in Cove SC that the impulse to protest can’t but be viewed as an aberration.  And, protests are inevitably taken in an overly personal manner.  That’s a bad thing.  And, we really need to fix it.

Anyway, I digress.

Jay led off the line.  The rest of the spinnaker division followed, pretty much in line astern and to leeward.  Kodachi, as is her wont, quickly assumed the overall lead of the fleet.  There is no countering the Corby 27’s basic speed over the water.  Denis Ellis and crew were not going to be touched from there.

Kodachi duly led around the first mark – buoy number 10.  Unfortunately, the racing fleet encountered traffic at the mark, again.  It’s gas, with a harbour of marks to choose from, that Cove SC and Royal Cork YC tend to converge on key harbour buoys, at key times.  Kodachi got through Royal Cork YC’s ‘white sail’ schmozzle, and sailed on in good order.  As did Jay.  Those behind, on the other hand, often lost significant time and fell back.

The circuit of Spike Island was fun, but pretty uneventful.  No real passing opportunities presented themselves under spinnaker.  Around Spike, Bedlam sailed a deeper, more direct line to buoy number 13 than did Kodachi, Jay and Bombora.  They gained slightly, even though they must have been bucking more tide by going that bit further North than their rivals.  That boat has speed downwind.  Certainly, more than Jay.  But then, we badly in need of a new spinnaker.  Kodachi led around buoy number 13.  Jay followed in second.  Bedlam rounded in third.  Bombora was sailing well in this phase of the race and rounded in fourth.  Gaelic Kiwi rounded in fifth.


Kevin O’Connor’s Gaelic Kiwi making for buoy number 13, last Friday

Skippers/tacticians had a decision to make at buoy number 13.  It’s the same ‘ol story really.  Back on the wind and facing into a stiff tide, boats could simply harden up on starboard and work the left-hand side of the course, in search of breeze.  Albeit, against the main flow of the tide.  Alternatively, boats could hook the mark, tack onto port, and go right – into the slacker water outside the channel, but in so doing, run the risk of losing the breeze as they closed with the island.  Kodachi went left, and flew.  Jay went right, and did not.  Bedlam went left …  Race over.

Kodachi led around buoy number 10 and romped home, at the head of the fleet.  Bedlam, having made huge ground on the beat, rounded buoy number 10 in second place.  Jay, now in third place, struggled in the tide, and fell further back.  A small merchant vessel tooted its horn as the fleet sailed around her on the reach back up the channel.  Most Cove SC boats were well behaved, and stayed out of her way – as we are required to do.

Kodachi took line honours and won both spinnaker division categories.  Bedlam was second in IRC.  Jay was third.  Bedlam and Bombora were second and third in ECHO.  C’est La Vie won the white sail division.

Jay still leads overall in both spinnaker division categories.  ReEile leads overall in ‘white sail’.

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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 10

It was almost like old times on Cork Harbour’s eastern bank last Friday, as July’s balmy summer weather (I presume) brought the largest fleet of the season to the line for race 10 Cove SC’s Friday Night League.   Eleven boats came racing on this occasion, seven of which were spinnaker class boats.  It was particularly pleasing to see the Alaistair/Doyle/Russell team aboard Bedlam make a return to sailing, and for the Impala to be competitive, right off the bat.  Cove SC’s scratch boat from seasons past seems to have suffered no ill-effects from her extended lay-off.  Of course, her sails must still be quite crinkly.  They have not been over-used, in recent years.  ‘One swallow does not make a summer’, however.  Let’s hope that the Bedlam-three were energised enough by the close racing they encountered last Friday to remain engaged with Cove SC’s racing fleet over the coming weeks, and not fly west too soon.  The Friday Night League has been less interesting in their absence.   No Half Measures also made a welcome return to the Friday Night League.  The Dorgan’s sonar has been missing for far too much of the season.

Bright Wing’s Nick O’Rourke acted as OD this time and the night’s light but steady easterly breeze allowed him to buck recent trends and keep the fleet on the eastern bank.  A triangular course was set for both ‘whites’ and ‘kites’.   From a start/finish line at buoy number EF2, in the vicinity of the refinery, the fleet were sent to a windward mark at buoy number EF1, off Aghada, and a gybe mark at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny.  The pin-end of the line – buoy number EF2 – acted as third mark and closed out the triangle.  The spinnaker division were asked to sail three rounds of the triangle.  The White Sail division were to sail two.  Although, the OD did advise that a shortened course was a possibility.



Boats were well behaved at the start and no dramas occurred.  A pin-end start was favoured – again.  Kieran Dorgan picked up where he left off last season, and led the fleet over the line.  Jay followed close astern of the sonar, with the rest fleet funnelling in behind the two leaders.  Damien Ahern’s ReEile started well.  The white-sail Moody crossed the line ahead of Fergus Coughlan’s Impala – Whyte Knight – setting a pattern for much of the race to come.  C’est La Vie, on the other hand, suffered from some ‘finger trouble’, as a lost jib-sheet ruined their speed on their drive for the line.  Declan Murphy’s First 32s5 was eventually to start behind Wader and La Chanteuse in the white sail division. 

Conditions on the beat did not suit the early leader and it quickly became apparent that the second placed Jay was going to benefit from greater boat-speed over the Sonar.  Indeed, Jay quickly drove underneath No Half Measures to assume overall lead of the race after barely one third of the first beat. Jay led, first time round the windward mark.  No Half Measures rounded in second, with Bedlam closing in third and Kodachi beginning to build speed, in fourth.

Tacticians had to don their thinking caps, once around the mark – the vagaries of the out-flowing tide focusing their minds.  Brian Carroll and Red Hallahan were certainly working hard in this phase of the race aboard Jay.  In the end, Jay chose to play it safe and sail as direct a line for the mark as possible, coming up only when pressure dictated.  Bedlam, who had passed No Half Measures at the start of the run, seemed to initially toy with a move to the north, only to recant and settle into a drag race, astern and to leeward of the J24.  Jay, Bedlam and Kodachi led the fleet around buoy number 13 – already a significant distance ahead of the other boats.   The scene was set, and some often intense racing ensued at the head of the fleet.

Friday Night League races can often settle into a processional rhythm.  Not on this occasion, however.  Nick O’Rourke’s choice of a triangular course presented the fleet with options on a number of different legs.  Skippers/tacticians were certainly kept busy – assessing their position and making decisions about which side of the course to exploit. 

Such decisions were to the fore on the beat back to buoy number EF2 and passing opportunities did present themselves to boats who were dialled into the conditions.  Skippers could choose to work the left-hand side of the beat by hooking the mark and driving on starboard for the Great Island side of the harbour in search of potentially more breeze, or simply harden up on port and drive into the centre of the harbour but, in-so-doing, run the risk of bucking the out-flowing tide nearer to the Aghada side.   Jay chose to work the right and harden up on port.  Bedlam chose to work the left.   The error of Jay’s ways quickly became apparent though, as a very obvious tide-line forced the J24 to tack back into the centre of the harbour and lose time in the process.  Bedlam gained considerably on the left and assumed the lead of the race as she approached buoy number EF2.  Jay’s boat speed was not in question though and she kept pace, trading tacks with the bigger boat, on the beat to EF1.  With Brian Carroll – freshly back from the Quarter Ton Cup – and Red Hallahan calling the shots, Jay snapped at Bedlam’s heels on a number of occasions but could not reclaim the race lead.   Bedlam led, second time around EF1, with Jay second and Kodachi third.

The run back to buoy number 13 was frustrating for Jay.  Jay sailed for height, and worked a direct line to the mark – again.  Bedlam, on the other hand, sailed a much lower, and presumably longer, course to the mark.  It looked, for a long time, as if the Impala had over-cooked their course by going too far to the South and would have to buck significant tide as they turned back to the north, on their final approach to the mark.  This didn’t happen however, and the Impala extended their lead over a slightly frustrated Jay.  Things were to get worse for the one-time leader however, as a fast moving Kodachi powered under the J24 to take second place at buoy number 13, a fact compounded by a difficult drop aboard Jay, and a slow recovery.

Jay’s race looked to be run, at this point.  Inexplicably however, both Bedlam and Kodachi failed to learn the lessons of the previous beat to EF2.   Both the first and second placed boats choosing to replicate Jay’s unsuccessful first circuit tactic by hardening up on Port and beating for the Aghada-side.  Jay on the other hand, learned our lessons well and adopted Bedlam’s first circuit tactic by hooking the mark and working the left hand side of the bank, inside the tide.  There were no real lifts in there, just good pressure, and Jay powered up very nicely indeed to pass Bedlam and a gentlemanly Kodachi on the beat to the finish of the by-now shortened course.

Jay crossed the line in first place on the water.  Kodachi crossed in second.  Bedlam crossed in third.  The rest of the fleet finished some 15-20 minutes behind the leaders.  A huge distance adrift, really.  Jay placed first in the premier IRC category with Bedlam second and Kodachi third.  Bedlam won the ECHO category, with Jay second and Kodachi third once more.  The normally strongly performing GK24 – Gaelic Kiwi – had a bad night on the water.  The Aghada-based winner of Friday Night League races 8 and 9 finished well down the fleet, in fourth position.  John Doyle’s La Chanteuse won the White Sail division.  Wader placed second here, with ReEile finishing third.

With 10 of a possible 16 races now sailed, the season is, at last, beginning to take shape.  Jay continues to lead in IRC, some 15 points clear of the field.  Early season pace-setters – No Half Measures – have dropped back into a battle for second place, thanks to a string of recent DNCs.  Only one point now separates the second, third and fourth-placed boats.  Jay also leads the ECHO standings.  Whyte Knight, Bombora and Gaelic Kiwi currently contest second place.  ReEile leads the ‘white sail’ division.

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Cove SC’s Friday Night League – Race 9, The ‘Cobh at Home’ regatta and the SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championships

It’s been a busy weekend.  Jay’s been busy, but so has Cove SC.  And that’s been a good thing.  If you want something done – ask a busy person, or maybe in this context, a busy club.  Cove SC was asked to do a job this weekend and we were very busy doing it.  The results of our efforts were not perfect, admittedly.  But, we got the job done.

It wasn’t an easy ask, to begin with.  As a small club with a small pool of active members, Cove SC was always going to be tested by a sailing schedule such as we had this weekend.  In addition to our regular Friday Night League and Saturday sail training sessions, Cove SC ran our annual ‘Cobh at Home’ dingy regatta on Saturday and our annual ‘Cobh at Home’ cruiser regatta on Sunday.  And, to top it all off, we hosted the South Coast Offshore Racing Association (SCORA) Class 3 and Class 4 Championships this weekend as well.  The club has struggled at times this season and I have, on occasion, been critical of club structures, but on balance I think that Cove SC came up trumps this time.  And that has been a very good thing, indeed.

 2013 will inevitably be remembered as a season of struggles, especially around crew.  It’s a bit perplexing, really.  Crewing-on is inexpensive, informative, extremely social and fun.   But, sailing clubs are struggling in this regard and Cove SC is no different.  Fleets remain small.  There were signs of an improvement this weekend, but not in absolute terms.  Two of the heretofore missing Bedlam trio were active, for example.  And that is also a good thing.  Unfortunately, the general turn-out for this year’s edition of the ‘Cobh at Home’ regatta, and the club’s hosting of the ‘SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championships’ was, it has to be said, dismal.  More Royal Cork YC boats came to race in Cobh this weekend than Cove SC boats – a fact that did not go unnoticed, or un-remarked, amongst the visiting Royal Cork crews.  Our continued inability to mobilise the fleet for these marquee events is beginning to add an embarrassment to the frustration that is already there.

Only two White Sail boats raced in the ’At Home’.  Wader and La Chanteuse should take a bow.  The white sail division have been active so far this season.  But, far too few ‘whites’ came racing this weekend.  Maybe the ‘heavies ‘simply did not relish the prospect of racing in the drifting conditions that were forecast – which is understandable.  Maybe though, Cove SC’s white sail division just weren’t bothered on this occasion – which is a problem.

On the other hand, and somewhat against ‘the run of this season’s play’, a reasonable number of IRC spinnaker class boats came racing in Cobh.  13 boats raced across four classes – IRC 1, IRC 2, IRC3, and IRC4.  Ten of these boats came from Crosshaven.  Which again, is a good thing.  Royal Cork YC members have always supported Cove SC events.  It is understandable therefore, that the Cove SC / SCORA ODs who were on duty yesterday were sensitive to visiting boats’ wishes, even when those wishes clearly ran counter to their own better judgement.  Both Romany and Jay certainly exercised a huge amount of discretion when acceding to some pretty odd insistences about class bands from visiting Royal Cork YC boats.  I’m not sure if this was the correct course to take.  But, this is what we did.  And, we did this in recognition of the effort that individual skippers made to support our event and come race in Cobh.  I’m not sure whether the Royal Cork YC would have extended the same level of understanding to the vagaries of visiting Cove SC boats, if the positions had been reversed.  But, I suppose that’s really not for me to say.

Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 9

With Cork harbour enjoying one of the best spells of summer weather in years, hopes of a strong turnout were high, last Friday.  Unfortunately, yet another small fleet came to the line for the first of the weekend’s sailing events – Cove SC’s Friday Night League, Race 9.  Last year’s high of 17 boats now seems like a distant memory, and one that is unlikely to be repeated at any time soon.

Away on Business acted as OD.  The formula 28 made the long trip round from their new home in Carrigaloe to establish a start/finish-line at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny.  With the prospect of the night’s light Southerly breeze dying away, the ODs sensibly chose to keep things simple.  From Cuskinny, the fleet were sent straight out the harbour to a windward mark at buoy number 5, ‘between the forts’, before being directed to a gybe mark at buoy number 8, off Crosshaven, and a finish back at buoy number 13.

Some of the difficulties of sailing in a busy working harbour were brought home right off the bat, as the sight of a large merchant ship coming down Cobh Road put pressure on the ODs to either start promptly or postpone.  Jay was certainly shouting for the race to be started quickly, before the merchant vessel could arrive in the starting area.  A late arriving Kodachi, on the other hand, favoured a postponement.  In the end, and no doubt mindful of a potentially dying breeze, the ODs chose to start promptly and all boats were able to clear the start-line and cross the main channel with plenty time to spare.

A pin-end start was favoured.  Jay sought out her customary high starting lane and led the fleet over the line, on starboard.  Fleet tactics were dominated by the need to buck the incoming tide, but tactical choices were limited.  Only one effective course of action presented itself – tack onto port and drive for the Spike Island side of the channel, in the hope of encountering slacker water there.   One by one, that is exactly what the fleet did, with Jay tacking late to cover moves being made behind.

Kodachi’s basic boat-speed allowed her to quickly take the lead.  The class 2 boat was not going to be caught from there, with Jay, Gaelic Kiwi and Bombora short tacking their way up the Western side of the channel before putting their keels across the incoming tide as close to the layline for the mark as possible.  Most of the fleet suffered in this phase of the race.  Both Jay and Gaelic Kiwi were pushed off the layline for buoy number 5 by the strongly inflowing tide and had to tack back.  Gaelic Kiwi was doubly unfortunate here.  Kevin O’Connor’s team encountered heavy traffic during their mark rounding and was impeded by a number of Royal Cork YC’s white sail fleet.  Jay rounded the windward mark in second place on the water.  Gaelic Kiwi rounded in third, some distance behind.  Positions and distances on the water did not change on the reach back across the tide to buoy number 8, and Jay led Gaelic Kiwi by some four minutes, at the gybe mark.


Gaelic Kiwi approaching buoy number 5

Unfortunately, Jay lost out on the run back to Cuskinny.   Struggling to keep her spinnaker flying, the J24 had to come up for height on a number of occasions and drifted off her favoured line, as a result.  Gaelic Kiwi, on the other hand, seemed to be better able to keep her spinnaker flying and was able to sail directly at the more favourable pin-end of the line.  Gaelic Kiwi took huge chunks of time out of Jay in this phase of the race and closed to within 90 seconds of the second placed boat, on the water.

Kodachi finished in first place on the water, as usual.  Jay crossed the line in second.  Gaelic Kiwi crossed in third, but considerably closer to the second place boat than they were at the start of the run.  A J24 should, I think, be able to sail faster and deeper than a GK24.  Not on this occasion, though.  Maybe, it was the spinnaker trimmer?  Unlikely though!  We’ll blame the other fella.

SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championships

Cove SC’s Sunday was given over to this year’s iteration of the ‘Cobh at Home’ Cruiser regatta and to the club’s hosting of the SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championships.   Both of which were impacted by the light winds that have been in place for some time now.  Whilst others were happily basking in the summer weather, Cove SC’s race teams were facing into a busy Sunday sailing schedule with the prospect of uncertain winds, and, it has to be said, uncertain fleet sizes.  

The club was keeping a particularly anxious weather watch – in the vain hope of a change.  When it became obvious that such a change was not in the offing, and seeking to give the SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championships the space to run as many races as possible, Cove SC decided to separate the class fleets out and to run two race areas.  Adrian Tyler/Romany took charge of the Cobh at Home Regatta – Class 1, ‘2’ and ‘White Sail’ fleets, whilst Jay watched over the SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championship fleets (incorporating the Cobh at Home regatta, Class 3 and Class 4 races).  Things went as well as could be expected, I think.


Away on Business idling before the start of the SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championships

Classes 1 and 2 were started from buoy number 13, off Cuskinny.  From there, the bigger boats were sent on a broadly tri-angular course between a windward mark at buoy number 10, a gybe mark at buoy number 9 and a finish back at buoy number 13.  Vinny O’Shea’s Yanks and Francs led for much of the Class 1 race.  However, Martin Darrer’s projection 35 – True Pennance  – had a storming spinnaker run to come from behind and claim line honours by about 30 seconds from the Corby 33, after circa 55 minutes racing.  Endgame placed in third on the water, with Exhale in fourth, some way back.  Clem and Wendy McElligot’s Sigma 33 – SeaHawk – took line honours in the makey-uppy ‘Class 2’ race, ahead of Leonard Donnery’s Nicholson Half-tonner – No Gnomes.

The White sail fleet were sent on a similar course, but were asked to beat only as far as buoy number 14, instead of buoy number 10.   John Doyle’s La Chanteuse took line honours in this division.  Jim Buckley’s Wader crossed in second.

The SCORA Class 3 and Class 4 Championship fleets were started a little further south than the others, from the vicinity of buoy number 11.   This fleet raced on a windward-leeward course between a windward mark at buoy number 9 and a leeward mark at buoy number 11.  After a postponement of 1 hr, the SCORA ODs aboard Jay were happily able to squeeze two races of two rounds in, on a generally light South-South-Westerly breeze, justifying we think, Cove SC’s decision to split the day’s fleets.

Whilst fleet positions see-sawed back and forth over the two races, David Lane and Sinead Enright’s – An T’Oileanach  – sailed very well in both and dominated the Class 3 championships.  The Royal Cork based J24 led the fleet off the line and took line honours on both occasions.  Cove SC’s Gaelic Kiwi had a similarly strong championship outing, to take line honours in Class 4 ahead of the single-handed Peter Webster aboard Thistle.


Peter Webster’s Hustler 26 – Thistle

All in all, albeit in a season of frustrations, Cove SC’s organisational effort seems well worth celebrating tonight.  And in that, perhaps, we can suggest that Cove SC may just have started to rediscover its mojo.  All we need now is for more Cove SC members to appreciate that fact and engage more regularly.

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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 8

‘a boat is safe in harbour, but this is not the purpose of a boat’ (Paolo Cuehlo)

Its an old saying.  But, Paolo Cuehlo is fond of re-quoting it for a reason.  It resonates.  It’s a metaphor for life, obviously.  Life is for living – don’t let it pass you by.  However, its literal meaning is equally appealing.  And, it’s this literal meaning that resonates with me tonight.  Although, I admit, not in the way it would have last week, or for that matter, in the weeks previous to that.  You see, a reasonable fleet of 10 Cove SC boats came racing tonight, five of which – imagine it – were spinnaker class boats.  And with them, came a glimpse of why this series has been so successful in the past.

This was the largest Friday Night fleet of the season so far, but more than that, I think, the boats who came sailing tonight enjoyed being out on Cork harbour and not tucked up in their berths.  For isn’t sailing, ultimately, the purpose of a sailing boat and, by extension, a sailing club.  Furthermore, there was a buzz on East Ferry Marina after racing tonight.  Some crew actually hung around and chatted.  Imagine that!  A good-sized fleet creates a racing experience that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

Jay acted, somewhat unhappily, as OD on what turned out to be one of the nicest sailing nights of the season so far.  From a start-line at buoy number 11, and confident that the night’s 7-8 knot breeze would hold, we chose to follow a well-trodden path, and send the fleet to a windward mark at buoy number 8, off Crosshaven, before asking them to run back to a leeward mark at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny.  From there, we sent them up Cobh Road, to buoy number 20, before asking them to sail for a finish at buoy number EF1, off Aghada – passing buoy numbers 13 and 9, on the way.

The start was a pretty muted affair.  Skippers, without exception, spotted the bias on the line and favoured a pin-end start, on starboard.  Fergus Coughlan’s – White Knight – led over the line, albeit a conservative five seconds after the gun.

Tacticians had an interesting decision to make, right off the bat.  With the windward mark set at buoy number 8, the fleet was presented with the prospect of a reasonably true first leg beat out the harbour, but with the benefit of a strongly out-flowing tide.  The decision was simple one.  Choose to stay on starboard and beat towards the refinery side of the harbour in the hope of catching a lee-bow off the tide out-flowing from East Ferry along the Aghada shore, or choose to tack early onto port and in so doing stay with the main flow of the tide coming down the channel from Cobh.

The first three boats off the line – White Knight, Mystic, and Bombora – chose the latter course of action.  Third placed Bombora jumped first and tacked onto port ahead of the leading duo.  White Knight and Mystic stayed on a little longer, only to tack in unison a little further up the track.  Gaelic Kiwi, in fourth, chose to stay longer on starboard, as did Deja Vu and the under-crewed Kodachi.  Quality will out however and the slow starting Kodachi made extremely short work of the fleet to establish an early lead.  Even with no spinnaker flying, the Corby 27 had built a massive lead on the water, after only 40 minutes of sailing.  The class two racer inevitably led the fleet around the leeward mark, off Cuskinny.


White Knight leads Mystic and Bombora off the line.

Two distinct pods developed behind the leader.  Once around the top mark, the generally smaller spinnaker division boats eased ahead of their more ponderous club-mates in the ‘white-sail’ division.  Gaelic Kiwi led the main group of spinnaker class boats on the run to buoy number 13, and rounded the leeward mark in second place on the water.  Bombora rounded in third, whilst White Knight having failed to capitalise on her excellent start, rounded in fourth.  Bright Wings lagged a little behind the other spinnaker class boats, in fifth.  A blanket could have been thrown over the white sail division during this phase of the race.  Mystic, C’est La Vie and ReEile certainly enjoyed some close racing here.   C’est la Vie had the best of it however, and led the white sail division around the mark.  The two Moody 31s followed in close succession.  Wader rounded in fourth with Deja Vu in fifth.

The fetch up to buoy number 20 and the close reach back to buoy number 13 proved uneventful.  But, waterline length certainly came into play as Bright Wings’ 32 ft LOA enabled her to close considerably on the leading group in the spinnaker division – principally, it must be said, at the expense of White Knight, who continued to drop off the pace.

Kodachi crossed the finish line in first position on the water, well ahead of the fleet.  But, the real battle was taking place back further down the track, as Bombora, Gaelic Kiwi and Bright Wings crossed swords on the final spinnaker run to the finish.  Bombora sailed extremely well here and won this tussle to take second place on the water.  Gaelic Kiwi crossed in third with Bright Wings fourth.  White Knight, having gambled unsuccessfully on the tide by sailing a significantly deeper line to the finish than the other spinnaker class boats, placed fifth on the water, some way back.  C’est La Vie, sailing her first race of the season, took line honours in the White Sail division.  Mystic, ReEile, Wader and Deja Vu  followed, in that order.


Bombora crosses the finish line ahead of Gaelic Kiwi and Bright Wings

Gaelic Kiwi placed first in IRC on the night, with White Knight second.  The first boat over the line – Kodachi – was not classified under IRC. Denis Ellis and crew, emulated Jay and An T’Oileachach’s early season difficulties, and became the third boat this season to sail an incorrect course whilst leading a Friday Night League race on the water. Kodachi was duly classified as having retired after finishing.  Bright Wings took the win in ECHO, with Bombora taking second place.  Wader won the white sail division.  Mystic took second place here.



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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 7

The French have a phrase – ‘fin de siècle’.  It means many things.  Most literally, it is taken to mean the end of a century.  However, it encapsulates far more than its literal meaning and is often used as a short-hand for the passing of an age and with that, for the yearning for something new.  The prospect of a rebirth, maybe.  Forgive my hubris when I apply it to Cove SC’s Friday Night League tonight and state that all things must pass.  It’s a truism I know, but tonight this feels like the most appropriate point at which to start.

Everything has a life-cycle and in that, everything changes.  That is an immutable fact.  However, it is equally immutable that things can change for the worse.  For, if managed incorrectly, with change comes decline.  For decline is an inevitability of change unmanaged.   And this, it increasingly seems to me, is where Cove SC’s Friday Night League is at.  You see, tonight, for the umpteenth time this season, there was a dire turnout for the Friday Night League.  Jay was there, of course.  As were some of the usual ‘whites’.  But again, there were simply not enough boats out racing.  Many boats were missing tonight and in their place was something new.  Something, I think, we have not felt before on a Friday night.  For the first time, there was a sense of the ‘fin de siecle’, at East Ferry Marina.   Maybe its boredom.   Maybe its cynicism.  Maybe its pessimism.  Maybe it’s all three.  Whatever it is, the phrase – fin de siècle – seems about right to me.

Some of the usual suspects did turn up.  The White Sail division seems reasonably buoyant.  ReEile and Mystic went out again.  The two Moody 31s are enjoying their local rivalry.  They were joined, on this occasion, by Chanteuse and Maximiser.  Add the night’s OD – Wader – to the mix and Cove SC can justifiably claim to have had five Whites out on the night.  Again though, Monkstown Bay SC, a less significant cruiser club than Cove SC, had seven White Sail boats out on Thursday night.  The White Sail division is trying, but even here, we are falling behind the curve.  And it gets worse.  Only two spinnaker division boats went out – Gaelic Kiwi and an increasingly disgruntled Jay.


Nothing stirring on East Ferry Marina’s northern pontoon

ReEile won the White Sail division.  Jay placed first in IRC, again.  The J24 has now won four of the last five Friday Night League races and has a win rate of nearly 60% over the season so far.  So what!  Nearly 60% of nothing is, just that – Nothing!  And that, unfortunately, is what Cove SC’s Friday Night League spinnaker division is rapidly becoming.

As it stands, Jay is the only spinnaker class boat to have participated in all seven Friday Night league races, so far this year.  No half Measures and Whyte Knight turned out for the first few races of the season but have been missing for a number of weeks now.  Away on Business, Bombora and Gaelic Kiwi were late launching, but have been reasonably regular racers since.  Kodachi, on the other hand, has not budged from her berth.  Whilst Bedlam has not launched yet.  Things are indeed dire amongst Cove SC’s spinnaker class fleet.

There are always things to blame, of course.  There are always excuses to make.  Blame the weather.  Blame the difficulties finding crew.  Blame both!  Blame the demise of the Marlogue Inn, even.  Cove SC has certainly been unable to fill the void its closure has left in our Friday Night social pattern.  But, what about this – maybe we simply need to look at ourselves?  With a few honourable exceptions, Cove SC’s recent focus seems to have moved away from husbanding its sailing programmes, and its sailors.  And, here’s another truism -you reap what you sow!

Of course, no matter what your opinion, these in themselves, do not account for the apathy that Cove SC members clearly now have towards what was, for a time, our flagship sailing event.  Maybe, it is time to fess up and consider that Cove SC members may simply be bored with the format.  Maybe, they’re cynical about the process.  Maybe, indeed, they are pessimistic about the potential for change extant in the current club structure.  Whatever it is, it seems that many have simply given up in the Friday Night League.

Maybe a time of accounting has finally arrived in Cove SC.  It may be a fin de siècle, you see.  And, we may indeed be in need of a rebirth.   Maybe, at many levels.

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Cove SC Friday Night League – Race 6 (rescheduled)

Our unpredictable summer weather must have given some Cove SC members pause for thought again this weekend and many boats must have been keeping a keen weather-watch in advance of Cove SC’s rescheduled Friday Night League – Race 6.  Weather forecasting services were certainly predicting 25-30 knot gusts in the harbour for later Friday afternoon and for a time it did look as if Cove SC’s  Friday Night League fleet would be in for a lively sail on Mid-Summer’s day.  In the event, whilst conditions were occasionally testing, they were by no means troubling, and the Friday Night League fleet enjoyed a great sail in Cork Harbour.  Jay was certainly never under pressure in the South-westerly breeze.  It was wet though.  Temperatures were a bit cool – for June.  And, red and yellow oillies provided the only real colour on an otherwise grey grey longest day.

The evening started inauspiciously enough.  There was very little early activity on East Ferry marina and Jay and Away on Business were the only boats to be crewed up and ready to go by 18.00.  However, seven boats turned out in the end – a reasonably-sized fleet for the season that’s in it.  Having said that, 10 boats turned out in Dunmore East on Thursday last, and it is a shame that more Cove SC boats are not regularly sailing in what one experienced Waterford sailor enviously called our ‘fantastic sailing ground’.  Cork Harbour remains a massively under-utilised resource, even among those who live on its shores and sail on its waters.


Bombora making her way out of East Ferry, last Friday

Kevin O’Connor’s Gaelic Kiwi acted as OD on the night.  It was no surprise therefore, when the Aghada-based sailors opted to establish their start/finish line between the end of Aghada Pier and buoy number EF1.  From there, the fleet was sent on a broadly L-shaped course – reaching to a leeward mark at buoy number 13, off Cuskinny, before beating to a windward mark at buoy number 8, off Crosshaven and running/reaching for home via buoy number 11, off the refinery.

Even on a falling tide, you would think that a start line stretching between buoy number EF1 and the Aghada shore would provide ample room for a fleet of seven boats to start without incident.  Not so on this occasion however, and things threatened to ‘cut up rough’ between Jay and Away on Business, on the line.

Jay’s preference for as high a starting lane as possible brought her to the committee end of the start-line and with it, a realistic intention of bearing slightly away onto the first mark at buoy number EF2.  Away on Business had other ideas, however.   Starting to leeward of the J24, the Ryan owned Formula 28 quickly moved to windward in an effort to close up underneath the J24.  Voices were inevitably raised and an interesting discussion developed about Away on Business’s desire for two boat-lengths of room to windward.   Bombora, stayed out of the shmozzle and led the rest of the fleet over the line – well to leeward of the bickering racers.  This, as it happens, proved to be a wise and sensible decision.  Both Jay and Away on Business massively over-cooked their starts and were adjudged to be over the line early.  Both were called back by the ODs.  Bombora and the whites sailed on.  The only course of action left to the bickering racers was to crack on as best they could and attempt to pick the whites off, in turn.  That, is exactly what happened.

First up was Alan Bardlsey’s HR29 – Illauglas.  With Sonic Boom’s Richard Marshall calling the shots, the heavy Hallberg was enjoying the breeze and making light of the conditions.  Jay lost some ground here as the white-sail boat came up to defend their place in the fleet on a number of occasions.  The J24 had to wait until the mark rounding at buoy number 13 before they could put a move on the bigger boat.  Maximiser led the fleet around buoy number 13, with Mystic, ReEile and Bombora in close attendance.  Illaunglas approached buoy number 13 in 5th position on the water with Jay sitting on her transom, in sixth.  Jay was finally able to take the position at the mark.  Entering wide to exit tight – the higher pointing J24 finally climbed over the more ponderous HR29 and moved ahead.  One down – five to go.  Meanwhile, Bombora sailed serenely on, at the head of the spinnaker class fleet.

The fleet chose to stay in the tidal stream on the beat out to Crosshaven and Jay and Away on Business quietly applied themselves to the task of working their way through the White Sail fleet.  Both Mystic and ReEile were passed during this phase of the race.  Only Monkstown Bay SC’s Maximiser was able to stay with the racing boats.  Away on Business sailed particularly well here and led the fleet around the windward mark.  Maximiser rounded in second place on the water, with Jay in third.  Bombora, who had been sailing well encountered difficulties on the beat, and fell back.

As is so often the case, races are won and lost on a single decision.  This was indeed what happened on this occasion.  Rounding first, Away on Business chose to stay on starboard, and reach for the refinery-side of the channel under main and headsail.    Jay, on the other hand, chose to gybe onto port and reach for the Spike Island side, before hoisting their spinnaker and gybing back onto Starboard.  In so doing, Jay was able to run straight at the mark under spinnaker and made significant gains on the Formula 28.  Jay rounded buoy number 11 in first place on the water, some way ahead of Maximiser in second and Away on Business in third.

Once round buoy number 11 and reaching once more, Maximiser’s 40 foot LOA enabled her to make good the ground she lost on the run, and take line honours.  Jay crossed the line in second place, with Away on Business in third.  Jay placed first in IRC with Away on Business second.  Bombora placed first in echo with Away on Business again in second.  ReEile placed fourth on the water, but claimed first in the white sail division, on handicap.


Mystic and Away on Business returning to East Ferry marina, after racing, last Friday

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