Summer Saturday 6

The Summer Saturday Series, consisting of eight races held over five Saturdays, spans two months and this year has attracted an impressive list of entries. There are nine IRC boats, 20 HKPN boats and a fleet of nine Dragons. That’s 38 boats which, for various reasons, have chosen a Saturday afternoon for their sailing and, although not everyone turns up for every race, it shows the series has earned its place on the Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s racing calendar.

The sixth race in the Habsburg Asia Company Ltd Summer Saturday Series 2023 was held on the 15th of July in what, initially, were favourable conditions for an islands course. Race officer, Carl Wilkinson, assisted by his deputy Sara Houghton, had plans for Courses 47 and 49. Both courses would give the opportunity to shorten if the wind died.

But, after dropping anchor inside Port Shelter and taking stock of conditions, Wilkinson realized Courses 45 for IRC and 46 for HKPN and the Dragons were better options. The wind was blowing 12-13 knots from 120 degrees and, at 1245, he welcomed everyone and announced the courses.

The faster boats would take in a Steep Island mark, North Nine Pin, Basalt, Trio, Bluff and Table Islands, a Ma Tsai Pai mark, and a finish off Little Palm Beach. This would give them a good 23 nautical miles of tactical sailing and an opportunity to stretch their legs. Out of Africa was leading the series with 6 points while Dexter II was still in contention on 9 points. A good result for Dexter II in Race 6 would see some keen competition in the final two races – 7 and 8 – the following Saturday.

The bulk of the boats – the 14-strong HKPN Division and the six Dragons from Shelter Cove – might struggle with a leg out to the North Nine Pin so Wilkinson’s choice of Course 46 appeared to be a good one. Covering 15 nautical miles, this would see them rounding a Steep Island mark, taking in the islands of Basalt, Bluff and Table, rounding a Ma Tsai Pai mark, and finishing with a dash to a line between a mark and the committee boat, Hebe One, off Little Palm Beach.

All set for a great afternoon’s racing. Well, that’s what it seemed like . . .

The five IRC boats got away at 1100 and headed south for Steep Island. Five minutes later, the lively HKPN Division crossed the line and five minutes after that, the graceful Dragons had their turn.

Things went well for the leading three IRC boats and the VX One, Serendipity, from HKPN. Out of Africa made it to South Nine Pin but, at this stage, it was fairly obvious that the remaining 21 boats, parked off Trio Island, weren’t going to make Steep, let along finish their courses. The committee boat was receiving numerous calls from retiring boats and the Observatory issued a thunderstorm warning.

So, in the interests of safety, the RO abandoned racing for HKPN and the Dragons at 1500. The three IRC boats – Out of Africa, Arcturus+ and Dexter II – were given a finish at North Nine Pin. On handicap, Out of Africa took the honours, with Dexter II in 2nd and Arcturus+ 3rd.

With an Observatory’s thunderstorm warning in effect and more than half the boats retired, Wilkinson had made the right call. At 1530, Hebe One, upped anchor and headed for home.

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