The forecast was for a hot, sunny 10-12 knots from the North’ish and I guess that’s what we kind of got. But for most of the race the wind was really light and fickle and although it was a pleasant sail it was SO FRUSTRATING (at times).
As is now normal, Black Mark made the best of the start with White knuckles (freshly scrubbed that morning) and Legend just behind. Winsome also joined the group but having not scrubbed for some time was not feeling too confident about their race pace, and indeed that proved to be the case…. although sticking it into the mud on the way to 23 didn’t help their cause.
By Wilsonians both Black Mark and White Knuckles had started to pull away and with their kites up built a healthy gap to Legend and Winsome But in the fluky wind on the reach down to 26 all were forced to drop their kites in a bit of a panic at some point. And although Legend had managed to overhaul White Knuckles, Black Mark had managed to extend its lead and had what was probably a 2 min gap to the others at this, the first mark of the course.
It was then a short tricky beat to 27 then a beam reach to 25 and from here, a beat down to 23. Which in the fickle wind was even harder but it was Black Mark that made the best of it, keeping to the right of all the shifts, which paid, and which allowed them to extend their lead to over 3 min. A lead they would hold on the way over to 22 but from here their luck started to change.
For example Black Mark was forced to tack its way over to MYA1, where as both Legend and White Knuckles managed to lay it in one. Then on the next spinnaker run back up to 26 a large hole filled in on this part of the river and put a pause on the race for all. However as is the way on a run the wind would fill in from behind, and with Legend now staying on what was the left, favored side of the wind it allowed them to get within 30 seconds of Black Mark at the mark. Although we didn’t realize it at the time White Knuckles also took advantage of the new wind and started making ground into the leaders as well.
From here it was a starboard tack all the way back to the line which sounds dull but in the light and shifty wind it was anything but. By the corner at Mears Legend tried to roll over the top of Black Mark but Black Mark closed the door on them, however as they come out the other side and the wind filled back in Legend bore away and in the extra pressure managed to sail under Black Mark to take the lead for the first time.
It was only then however, looking back at how they were doing in their own race did they realize just how close White Knuckles had got to their battle, and in a race where anything could happen it was now genuinely a three way fight for the lead.
With the Dragons joining us all in heart break reach to mix things up and some even bigger shifts and holes no one could relax and as ever I doubt the finishing times will tell you just how close the race was but at the line nothing changed with Legend just in front of Black Mark with White Knuckles having what may well be one of the best races of the year a close 3rd.
I cant say it was a great sail but on what was the hottest day of the year so far there were plenty of pink, slightly sun burnt smiles on everyone’s faces at the end.