J & A Forteith Trophy 2002

(Copied from my Flypaper reply to Iona’s account of the same race)

A great little race marred only by the lack of competitors and ultimate disappointment when a fantastic chance to beat Farr Out off PY (even tougher than IRC or CYCA!) dissolved with the wrong headsail and a rapidly fading breeze towards the end.

It was blowing old boots at the start so we loaded everyone onto Fly rather than trying to split seven between two boats. With Farr Out undercrewed at four and down to a double-reefed main and no.3, there seemed a real chance that we could beat them to the first mark (Bach Island) and hang on as best as we could when she inevitably passed us downwind. With Fly fully powered up but not overpressed under single-reefed main and our lovely new no.3, and sailing higher and faster for the whole of the beat (a good F5 but gusting at one point to 29 knots over the deck), I’d have to admit to enjoying the spectacle of Farr Out sliding sideways and falling further behind with every tack. Some tidy work by Steven and his crew, however, in halving the gap by sailing daringly close to Rubha Seanach at the bottom end of Kerrera and getting the kite up and drawing very smartly as we rounded Bach Island, meant that we lost the lead shortly after the start of the run. With both boats neck and neck on handicap as we approached the Creag Island/Pladda Island combination under kites and full mains, hindsight says that we should have changed up to the no.1 for the leg home as Farr Out did. Halfway back to Maiden Island it still looked like we might have made the right decision, but an ever more painful last couple of miles saw us increasingly underpowered with the no.3 set in the wrong track for a peel and debating whether we’d lose more time by changing up or sticking with what we had.

All in all, a disappointing result for us but Farr Out’s performance at the three crucial moments listed above was ultimately smarter and that’s what wins races! Some consolation can be taken from our performance on the beat, which confirms that the Impala is still a force to be reckoned with upwind in a breeze, and any lingering doubts over whether Fly might have emerged from her big winter refit a faster or slower boat can surely be laid to rest. Hopefully our new crew members will stick around, come out to practise manoeuvres and sail changes sometime and become regular members of the team, so Fly’s reputation as a fast boat will continue to grow!

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