Typhoon Series 8

The club flags ashore were barely fluttering. Crews waiting for sampans looked about anxiously for signs of a breeze. Would the forecast Force 3 be blowing outside Port Shelter? Was it going to be a drifter or, worse, would Race 8 of the UK Sailmakers Typhoon Series 2021 be abandoned? For some, perseverance would be rewarded; for others it was going to be a long, tiring day.

The committee boat, Hebe One, came to rest between Shelter and Jin Islands and race officer, Lesley Anderson, and her management team got to work preparing for the islands courses. In light drizzle, low cloud but excellent visibility, 47 boats appeared and made ready for their seven divisional starts.

For the nine IRC A boats, Course 51 was chosen. This takes in Basalt Island (s), East Nine Pin (s), Bluff (s), Steep (s), a Ma Tsai Pai mark (p), Table (s) with a finish at Cascade Bay – an approximate distance of 23 nautical miles. The RO chose this course as it was one easily shortened, given the light conditions.

For IRC B, C, the three J-80s, HKPN A and Short-handed divisions, Course 52 was selected – a distance of some 19 nautical miles. Marks of the course include Basalt Island (s), East Nine Pin (s), an Inner Port Shelter mark (p), Steep (s), Ma Tsai Pai Mark (p), Table Island (s), finishing at Cascade Bay. Again, this course would allow shortening at various points.

On schedule, IRC A got away at 1100 in an improved 5 knots from the south. The two TP52s, Alpha Plus and Phoenix, were soon heading for the horizon with Zannekin in hot pursuit.

Then came IRC B at 1105 in a slightly increased breeze. Outrageous had a cracking start with H30 not far behind. IRC C started five minutes later with Talkinghead and Ding Dong getting a little close near the pin end.

Next up were the three J-80s at 1115, followed by HKPN A with Good Vibrations in clear air followed by Crystal and LoTech closer to the committee boat as the breeze died to less than 3 knots. Minnie the Moocher hung back but later improved its position.

The sixth start was for the eight-strong HKPN B division. Foxzhead led the fleet in 3.5 knots with Baby Beluga and La Vida Loca in close contention just off the line. The RO had chosen Course 53 – a distance of 14 nautical miles – for these cruisers. They were headed for Bluff Island (s), Steep (2), Ma Tsai Pai Mark (p), Table (s) and a finish at Cascade Bay Mark. The unfortunate Ma Cherie 2e and regular campaigner Pepper & Salt did not comply with the 4-minute rule and were both scored DNS. Gecko looked to be OCS but no objection from the top deck of Hebe One.

Last away, at 1130, sailing Course 52, was the single entry in the Short-handed division, Miss LeVa.

As the boats sailed their respective courses, there were moments when the breeze, particularly near East Nine Pin, rose above 6 knots but, for most of the day, crews had to work hard to stay focused in the light airs. As the afternoon drew on, the breeze died even further and many didn’t make it.

First home in IRC A at 14:31:40 was the TP52, Alpha Plus. The crew can be rightly proud of their line honours and 1st on handicap in the challenging conditions. Twenty-one minutes later, arch rival, Phoenix, crossed to claim 2nd on handicap, with Zannekin 3rd. DEA III Fire did not finish and Rampage 88 retired.

Thanks to improved crew work, line and handicap honours went to H3O in IRC B. This puts the MC31, now lying 4th overall in the series, in a favourable position for the final, Race 9. “We’re hoping for a triangular course to show what the boat can do,” said crewman Rowan. Now lying 1st in the series, Nightshift filled the 2nd spot with Kingsman 3rd and Kiasu! 4th. Juggerknot, with a long return journey home, retired early. So did Tipsy Easy.

Only three boats finished in IRC C. They were Dexter II, line and handicap honours, Blu in 2nd and Ding Dong in 3rd. Newcomer, Juice, a J-99, threw in the towel after five hours. “Going around Steep was really a struggle. They could have finished the race at Table,” said helmsman, Peter Baer.

All three J-80s retired.

In the HKPN A fleet, Bridget Chan and her determined crew on Minnie the Moocher, stuck it out and finished at 18:02:30 to claim line honours and 2nd on handicap. Tim Ridley’s Scintilla, finishing at almost six thirty, emerged victorious, while Jibulai placed 3rd and Temujin 4th. Eight boats retired.

The day was a lot less frustrating for the HKPN B boats sailing the 14nm Course 53. The ever-enthusiastic La Vida Loca finished at 14:09:04 to claim line honours and 2nd on handicap. Baby Beluga came out tops on handicap with Foxzhead 3rd The only Short-handed entry, Miss LeVa, retired at 1516.

Sending boats out to the Nine Pins in light airs was a bold move despite the “options for shortening”. Some felt a finish at the Inner Port Shelter Mark should have been considered while others questioned why Steep Island had to be rounded.

Forty-seven boats entered, 18 retired. A test of patience, strength and endurance for all.

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