By now the fleet are well into their long inshore. Sorry for the lack of updates but we had no 4G (joys of going offshore!). The race got underway on time in a nice south westerly of about 12-15 knots. Initially tide was against the wind which made for some big chop, but about an hour in the tide turned and the sea has flattened out a bit.
The first two legs were a short beat to a port hand laid mark and then a fetch to the Weststroom Bank buoy, followed by a tight reach out to Middlekirk Bank before then turning west towards the Straights of Dover.
With only a short distance from the line the fleet converged on the first mark in a pack. General Tapioca looked to have small lead as the approached the laid mark, but they underestimated the tide and had to tack over onto port to get round. Behind them Checkmate XV had judged the starboard layline perfectly and Tapioca had to tack back to avoid them before she had really got pace on. Tapioca just made it around still in front but made the mistake of treating it like a windward leeward spreader leg and immediately went low. In fact the tide made the leg a starboard tack beat and Checkmate held high, rapidly rolling Tapioca. Superhero, A+ and Harmony were right on their tail and then a big gaggle of boats including Ballarine (who hit the mark and had to do turns), Red Cloud and Rampage.
Those who spotted Tapioca’s mistake and held high on the short second leg made it across to Westroom Bank in one starboard tack, but those who went low were forced to tack in on port making for plenty of excitement in the final approach. Checkmate had a couple of boat lengths lead and was followed round by Superhero with Tapioca now down to third, Harmony fourth, Per Elisa fifth and A+ sixth.
The next leg was a tight reach to Middlekirk Bank with the building ebb tide making it tighter still and judging the compromise between hight and pace was the key to success. While Checkmate hit the middle ground to defend her position Harmony, Tapioca and Per Elisa stayed low while others went high. As they came round Middlekirk Checkmate had successfully defended her narrow lead, but the decision to go low had paid off and Harmony followed her round with Tapioca third and Superhero fourth. Red Cloud had sailed an excellent leg to pull up into fifth with Per Elisa sixth and A+ seventh.
From there the fleet turned towards the Dover Straights and that is where we has to leave them to wend their way up and down the coast.
We’ll have more for you later.