Monsoon Winter 1

With 20 boats expected to turn up, and Force 4 to 5 forecast by the Observatory, Race 1 of the Monsoon Winter Series 2023-24 was looking to be a good one. Boats venturing out into a wind-swept Port Shelter on Saturday, the 11th of November 2023, were soon into choppy conditions and many were putting in reefs as they approached the committee boat.

Race officer, Queenie Ho, chose Course 59 for all divisions and sent off the support boats to lay marks. After passing a windward mark, the boats would leave Bluff Island to starboard, Steep to starboard, then a club mark off Ma Tsai Pai, rounding Table Island before finishing off Little Palm Beach – a distance 13 nautical miles.

With the wind blowing 18 knots consistently from the east, it was a wise decision to choose a shorter course as, with white horses all about, the smaller boats would find the going tough, in particular the sportsboats and J/80s.

At 1250, the RO welcomed the competitors and announced the course. Five minutes later, the two IRC entries and five sportsboats entered their starting sequence. As the Magic 25, Ironman, crossed the line at 1300, one of its crew fell into the water but, apart from that, it was a clean start and very soon the four-minute signal went for the 13 PHS/ORC boats. Again, another clean start, although many boats held back in the boisterous conditions.

Very soon the boats had passed the windward mark and were heading out of Port Shelter for Bluff and Steep Islands. Hebe One, the Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s big catamaran, upped anchor and attempted to follow the fleets although choppy seas and big swells meant the RO didn’t want to go too far. The leaders were already well on their way to Steep and would be approaching the finish in under two hours.

And, with the wind holding its strength, Dexter II, Patrick Pender’s Serendipity and Talkinghead all finished before 1400, Dexter II claiming overall line honours and winning IRC on handicap. Serendipity won line and handicap honours in the Sportsboat division.

In the PHS/ORC division, Bridget Chan’s Minnie the Moocher was first home, but with a stiff handicap, had to settle for 8th place on handicap. The division was won by Zoe, with Marmalade in 2nd and Mat Brummer’s Serendipity in 3rd. Lazy Piggy, sadly, and despite a reefed main, had to retire. So did Windrush 2.

The competitive Sportsboats saw Baring Asia 1 in 2nd and Jive, 3rd. Ironman and Jelik had to retire.

The next race in the Monsoon Winter Series 2023-24 – Race 2 – is scheduled for Saturday, the 18th of November 2023.

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