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ILCAs in the Frostbite Series 2023/24 at Queen Mary Sailing Club - Week 10

by Tom Nash 29 Feb 09:44 PST 25 February 2024

I suppose with five winter QM series under my belt, the law of averages would at some point lead to Race Report duties, albeit courtesy of a lucky first beat, and OCS awarded to Mark Lyttle and Guy Noble.

An overcast chilly day with a light NE wind on arrival at QM, contrary to the ESE (120° - 130°) forecast, but a healthy turnout of 24 ILCAs for the first BIG Sunday of the year!

Race 1 - 7 to 9 knots pressure was building and seemed mostly to be coming in from the right (as forecasted) but with some flicks back to the left, so I chose to start towards the pin end, reassured to see Mark and Guy making the same choice.

After my usual cautious, late start, in dirty air, I tacked off, ducked a couple, then back onto starboard in clear air, surprised to find after short while, I was holding against most of the fleet to my left, and the other half of the fleet who had gone right, seemed to be losing ground.

Those of us on the left side, stayed on starboard for the majority of the first beat, being lifted in the last third, just a couple of short tacks towards the windward mark required, with Mark L first round, Guy next, followed by myself then Marcus Bird and the chasing pack.

Pressure continued to build during the downwind leg, with the front runners losing ground to the chasing pack as the wind filled in from behind. Finding myself in Guy's dirty air after the leeward mark, I tacked onto starboard early, hoping for a repeat of leg 1, big mistake it transpired, and found myself down in sixth at the next windward, with Mark, Guy, Mark S, Mike Pryer, Marcus, all rounding ahead, Mark Sancken making the biggest gain which he held brilliantly to the end.

Two fast and fun long reaches followed, then more of the same for the next two laps, with right side of the upwind legs paying. With the pressure building, I could see determined looking Tony Woods & Marshall King closing in, and both Marcus and I were overhauled by fourth Windward mark, then Mike P had to fend off hard on the final reach, race ending, Mark S, Mark L, Guy, Mike P, Marshall, Tony, Tom Nash, Matthew Knight, Marcus.

Race 2 - The pressure was really up now (15-20 knots), and the efficient Race Team started the next one without any time to waste. After another poor start I found myself in the more accustomed position, towards the back of the fleet by the windward mark, but it was Mark L and Guy again up at the front along with Tony, Marshall, Matthew, Tim Crook, with Simon Cavey also having a strong first beat.

With the RO setting a decent 750 metre beat and two good length reaches, the advantage of positioning yourself in the gusts for as long as possible was obvious. By the third upwind leg Mark L had established a 350 metre lead, loosing the majority of this by the end as Tony managed to stay in big pressure for most of the two reaches prior to the finish.

Great spectacle from behind as a number of boats went over on the gusty downwind legs, so all still to play for. As the front runners pulled away there was still some great mid fleet racing, with Simon, Mike B, David Surkov, Richard Gray, myself all fighting it out, with a lot of place changes, David S coming out on top.

All told, another great day of racing at QM with a terrific four lap course, 24 ILCA7s and a great breeze.

Although Tony Woods has secured the Series win second place is still up for grabs. Guy Noble, currently 2nd, is being pushed hard by Marshall King (who has a big discard coming up), he needs to beat Guy in both races next weekends final 2 races. The final podium place could go to any one of six sailors.


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