Strangford Lough and Narrows success

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Katerina' tells the story of her class win in a variety of conditions...

The 2011 Strangford Lough ‘Bar Buoy Race’ and ‘Narrows Regatta’ was once again sailed in a variety of wind conditions. Coupled with the (very) strong tidal currents (home of the world’s first commercial tidal electric generator), racing was at times not for the faint-hearted.

Thursday’s ‘Bar Buoy Race’ kicked off proceedings, with a late afternoon start. The start line extends across the full width of the Lough, with each fleet starting at five minute intervals. The fleet beat their way out of the Lough in sunshine and 10-12 knots of breeze and aboard ‘Katerina’ in PY1 the focus was on staying in the faster tidal flow and keeping clear air on the way to the turning mark. With only two significantly faster rated yachts ahead of them at this point spirits were high. The reach then run back into the Lough with an outgoing tide meant that those pushing furthest into the rock-strewn shallows made the best gains. The wind backed 180 degrees in the closing stages which meant kites were quickly replaced by genoas for the final sprint to the line. Once the calculations had been completed ‘Katerina’ had taken the class win.

The Narrows Regatta is a three-race, no-discard series. Due to the strong tide there’s only one race a day, with the fleets racing around the Lough on the last of the flood before catching the ebb to the finish. With a start close to shore and a tide of up to six knots, judging the final approach was often nerve racking. Friday’s race was sailed in 10-12 knots with a running start. ‘Katerina’ excelled in the conditions to take the class win with ‘Magdylene’ second and ‘Lizete’ third.

With the wind having shifted 180 degrees overnight, Saturday’s race started with a beat into the Lough. With the pin end distinctly favoured the starts were fraught with the tidal current trying to sweep boats across early. An often-heard comment in Ireland is that you often get four seasons of weather in one day, and this was one of those days. The fleet started in overcast 10-12 knot conditions, which deteriorated to a 26 knots and a heavy downpour. However as the race progressed the rain gave way to sunshine and the breeze slowly died. As the boats progressed towards the finishing line, a drifting match developed, with tactics being vital. Did you stay out in the maximum tide and risk missing the line, or head for a safe finish? With no discards allowed, ‘Katerina’ headed for a safe finish and recorded a second on corrected time to ‘Lizete’, while a number of yachts were swept past the finish line and forced to retire.

Sunday dawned wet, windy and with a forecast that it would deteriorate further, a complete contrast to the start of the regatta. Due to the enthusiasm of the previous day’s post-race partying, most competitors were not unduly upset when the race committee decided to cancel the day’s racing. This allowed those needing to nurse bodies the opportunity to do so and also boats to be returned to their home ports. The crew of ‘Katerina’ (Alison and Pete Tyler plus crew) were relieved and also pleased that they had therefore taken the class series win.

‘Katerina’ is a Moody 336, with a main and furling genoa in woven polyester and spinnaker in 0.9oz nylon, all supplied by Hyde Sails. Other ships that featured on the various podiums during the regatta using Hyde Sails were ‘Tiger Lilly’ (IRC1), ‘Whisperer’ (PY restricted) and various Squibs, including the class winner.

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Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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