As events will make clear Catriona was, unusually, not well placed to observe the race and asked Teal’s skipper to report. Perhaps as a penance for inflicting the wounds.
And so, given Euro 2016 (a football championship for those wisely unaware of such things), it seems apt to invoke a football style commentator to suggest this was a race of many halves.
With the wind from the NE, the RO selected course H2, sending us on a close reach to C to start. Catriona led in to the line early with Teal following with good speed, but not quite close enough to force her over. The rest a little late, lower and closer to the Y mark end of the line. Catriona defended against Teal taking the inside overlap and sailed to near the layline. Teal only just avoiding having to gybe on to port to make C. Which was good since the rest of the pack were approaching on starboard. Zoe leading. Teal had to politely remind Zoe of the need for mark-room – perhaps due to her skipper’s penchant for sitting sideways and not looking at his blind spot to windward.
And so a beat to the F mark (closest to Faslane). Catriona tacked at the mark but soon tacked back to cover Teal and Zoe who stood on up Clynder shore. Teal however climbed out in front and high enough to tack and pass Catriona on port and then tacked to cover. Catriona in turn tacked to break cover and headed across the loch to the Shandon shore. Teal followed and covered her across. Despite fearing getting too close to the east shore and lighter wind. At this point the fortunes of our class split as the rest continued up the Clynder shore. Catriona eventually tacked and started to head up the shore to F. Teal tacked and covered. So well that Catriona tacked and headed back in to shore again. At this point Teal demurred, deciding that cover or not, that was not the way. She could also see the others, now crossing the loch. And how they had prospered! Zoe leading strongly, followed by Thalia, with Ceres, Thia and Athene all close. Teal could do nothing but duck and tack in behind them. At least close. Which was more than could be said for Catriona who had found a personalised hole near the Shandon shore.
And so round F and a long run – the longest in any of our courses – to B off Silvers. Zoe with a good lead followed by Thalia. Zoe followed the rhumb line and the rest followed. Teal raised her spinnaker fast and headed high in to the overtaking lane and soon rolled Athene and Thia and caught and slowly overtook Ceres. Thalia getting shadowed by the fleet and slowed. Catriona eventually tired of her hole and rounded F too. Teal was thinking ahead of the port rounding and, facilitating a late spinnaker drop (aided by not having to drop the pole to harden in for the beat), gybed on to port ahead of Ceres to round B just behind Thalia. Teal’s wide port rounding paid off against Thalia’s slow gybe and she instantly broke through on top to get back in to second. Now eyeing Zoe ahead.
And now we enter our third ‘half’ (!) on what turned out to be the final beat to Z. A wise decision to shorten course from the RO as the wind dropped. And become fickle. Zoe heading towards A and the moorings. Thalia tacked away to head up the loch. Teal decided to tack too – no point in following Zoe. The wind was not kind and Teal was headed. While also watching Thalia going along in good wind. Zoe too tacked to cover and her win was now secure. Other places were not. Thalia and Teal trading starboard advantage which neither could make stick. Further back Catriona made inroads to pass Thia and close on Athene. Nearing the line Teal tacked to head to the line and failed to see Thalia coming in for one last brilliantly timed starboard attack. Agonisingly close to being able to cross, a late duck did not look appealing for Teal, and she tacked hoping to lee bow Thalia. Light fickle wind did for Teal though and Thalia tacked off with greater speed and headed for the line. To add insult to injury Ceres also profited and squeezed in below them both with good speed. Zoe safely over. Thalia shot the wind to the line to beat Ceres and take a well deserved second. Both beating Teal who had snatched defeat from, if not victory, a very satisfying come-back. Catriona’s cannot quite be described as a come-back but her skipper never gives up and knows how to limit damage, and himself pointed head to wind to shoot the wind and snatch a place from Athene.
1 Zoe, 2 Thalia, 3 Ceres, 4 Teal, 5 Catriona, 6 Athene, 7 Thia