Racing: Sigma Nationals 2006
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Sigma 38 Championships: Inshore

With 3 boats scratching  just before the event this could have been a damp squib – but in the end it was by far the best racing we have yet had in Festina. The short  legs , wind shifts and intensity of the racing meant that it was difficult to follow  what was happening on the other side of the course , so I look forward to everyone else’s accounts.  

The practice race set the tone with a dog fight for the inside berth all the way down the run.  The Project luffed hard  and we broached out,  both gybed and this time it was the Projects turn to do the handbrake turn . One win – but not to count.  Race 2 went much the same way except Light spoiled  our fun by racing past whilst we fought it out down the run, and sailed on for a well deserved win.  

Unaccountably the finish line was set in exactly 2 metres of water , so that when we bore off round the finish mark we hit its ground tackle hard enough to injure half the crew and take a bite out of the keel, and Beefeater went hard aground on the sand.  It was the only blight on an otherwise well run regatta and  for the second year running  we felt nearly as flat as the leading edge of our keel!  

But not for long as Sundays racing was just as tight.  With 12-15 knots , this was full rig weather and the day went to the Project with  3 wins .  We threw everything at them  , but they matched us tack for tack and gybe for gybe and generally made impressively few mistakes.  

Monday dawned  bright and breezy and the offshore wind  brought huge shifts and gusts. The first run  was fairly hard core sailing  - side by side with the Project  at 10 knots with both boats dropping and gybing round the leeward mark together in 25 knots of wind in impressively good order.  The crew spotted another boat to block their  cover , and for the first time in two days we got a shift  and hung on to the lead.

Between races a 30 knot squall came through that we were all glad to have missed , then we swung into the last race . The Project came and match raced us in the pre-start – aided  inadvertently  by Light who blocked our escape. However she made amends by rocketing up the beat and the Project covered her – allowing us to take a couple of juicy shifts and get right back. At the top of the second beat the Project  attempted a slam dunk but we luffed her past the mark , bore off and broke the overlap ,  squeezed round inside  Light and into the lead .  All we had to do was hold these positions and the weekend was ours.  

Down the broad reach the spi pole uphaul came undone , and in the ensuing panic Light sailed through our lee and  squeezed round the last mark ahead of us . We had to beat the Project by two places  so covering her wasn’t good enough , so we tacked off in search of a shift. At first it looked as if we had it , but the others held their nerve and waited for the wind to swing back before crossing. Light was ahead – and the  Project  looked good but just failed  to cross, taking a big dip  below our transom . We tacked on the layline for the finish and hiked like crazy .  Slowly , ever so slowly we inched over her and crossed just ahead with equal points , but less wins . Light with her two fine wins was  only 2 points adrift.  

Well done Andy and crew , well deserved  winners of a fine weekends sailing.
For some action shots of the weekend, click on photo gallery or here.

The offshore leg - Cowes-Fecamp - click here!



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