through the minefield...
Nearly head to wind with five minutes to the start and after surveying the approach to the line, Witty calls for a port tack start. Some serious maneuvers to get the timing right and head for the line, as the 10 second countdown began. Crossing the line it's evident that we weren't going to cross the bows of the starboard tack yachts and a tack was called and completed in quick time and in clear water. The closest yacht, Ernesto Echauz's TP 52 Standard Insurance Centennial III made a call, despite being able to sail her course and luffed up, then tacked away and hailed 'Protest'. Everyone proceeded merrily on their way, tacking for the windward mark and reaching for the Barretto mark.
After a powerful 6nm shy spinnaker reach, on the approach to the Shark mark, near the entrance to Subic Bay, it became apparent that the breeze was fading and changes were in the air. Guilty commented "We got through that time but my worry is when we come back here for the second time". Picking the shifts and working all the way back to Berretto, Antipodes extended her lead, as the chasing pack fell further behind and got caught up in the land/sea breeze minefield. Upon returning to the outer mark, Antipodes stops in her tracks, as Standard Insurance Centennial III makes inroads from behind, still sailing in the NE'ly. The Cruising class were stuck in the transition zone for quite a while and were just getting going again, with the incoming sea breeze.
As Antipodes is a heavy displacement boat, she carries her momentum along and effortlessly glides in the big breeze and like a speeding locomotive, takes a while to stop. Three Cruising Class yachts with different sail choices, were spread across the zone and indicative of what they were experiencing. Reading the wind pattern on the water and choosing where to enter the transition zone is crucial and little time was spent cussing in the blaring hot sun, as Antipodes crossed over into the advancing sea breeze. By the time, Shark mark was rounded and spinnaker set for home, what were specs on the horizon, had turned into full blown boats less than a mile behind.
Half way back down the final leg, the transition zone had to be crossed again. Headsail up, spinnaker down, keep the halyard attached, spinnaker up, headsail down, headsail up, spinnaker down, all conducted by the Philippine crew on the foredeck, without any complaints or directions and like clockwork. Back beating into the NE'ly, healed over, fresh wind on the face, heading for the finish line and wondering what went on back there and how the others are faring. As the horn sounds for line honours, Geoff thanks the crew for their great work and one of the best executed races for a long time. Great day, won the race by a country mile and claimed the daily double in the process.
After making inroads, Standard Insurance Centennial III struggled in the zone and settled on second place. Further back, the battle between Anthony Root's Ker 42 Black Baza and Nick Burns Sydney GTS 43 EFG Mandrake began in the prestart and seesawed at every turning mark. Eventually Black Baza ran them down in the zone and extended to slot into third place, leaving overall points leader, EFG Mandrake slipping into fourth place. This result tightens up the overall scores going into the final day, with two scheduled races plus the vital drop race coming into play, will ultimately determine the winner.
The slower Cruising Class yachts arrived at the entrance, after the transitional zone covered the area and sat there trying to make headway for over an hour. Eventually Jun Avecilla's Beneteau First 36.7 Selma Star broke free and first to raise the spinnaker, as they rounded Shark mark and headed home. Despite the concertina effect they sailed off into the distance to claim the daily double again. Finishing 45 minutes latter, Viggo Lisson's Beneteau First 31.7 Selma had to settle on second place and despite making early gains Garry Kingshott's Fusion 40 catamaran Kerida, clocks up another third place.
Final day of racing tomorrow, with two windward/leeward races scheduled for the Racing Class and another point to point race for the Cruising Class. As the NE'ly breeze tends to fade away in the early afternoon, PRO Medy Fidel has announced the Racing Class starting time, will be half hour earlier at 1000hrs. The final prize presentation and Closing Party will also be held on the beachfront, in front of The Lighthouse Marina Resort.
This 2016 Commodore's Cup - Race Reports are kindly bought to you by the following supporters