There was a little less excitement as this year’s Mango Bowl regatta, but that’s not to say it wasn’t great fun. With no mid race collisions or man overboard the excitement was produced purely by sailing.
It had been decided by the committee that Cruising One and Two would be combined to make the race more fun as the number of boats in each category was small. We would be up against yachts that we had seen at regattas but never raced against.
The winds had been light leading up to the weekend so we were hoping for a bit of a break as the sun was out and it’s no fun baking on a boat with little breeze. Saturday’s racing consisted of 3 races, one long and two shorter.
The upwind parts of the course were fun but as we headed on the downwind the apparent wind dropped off and we sizzled. It is not Papagayo’s favourite course and we goosed winged toward the buoy and tried not to gybe as we played with the wind. No one else was faring much better in our class, we were all in the same boat, so to speak! We came third after the first day of racing, and took home a bottle of Chairman’s rum.
Sunday started with rain, lots of rain and dark clouds. The clouds gave a respite from the heat and the sun, but with the rain came squalls and some big gusts of wind. It kept us a little more on our toes.
With novice crew you have to expect mistakes and we certainly made a considerable one of the first of Sunday’s race. We had a great start across the line and were in the lead with other boats coming alongside. As we rounded the first markers we went to release the jib sheet to find that it was wedged hard around the winch and when I say hard, I mean it was going nowhere. Without realising the person on the winch had got a riding turn (when the line is wrapped around but not neatly so that it twists around itself and gets knotted). The person had then winched it down hard and there was no way we could release even a little of the tension. As all the boats in our class sailed on by we battled with the wind and the line. The J24 class was now rounding the buoys and launching their spinnakers so I just hoped that they would all stay clear, although I think it was pretty obvious that we were in a bit of trouble.
The skipper fastened a rolling hitch around one of the sheets and hoped to winch some of the tension off of it, but this did not work. We then fastened the other job sheet around another winch and put as much tension on that so as to release the other one. Somehow this gave a little slack and we were able to loosen the line around the winch. Everyone’s fingers were left intact however the sail suffered a rip as it was caught on the spreaders. We continued on our way. The whole episode had taken well over 10 minutes but we managed to catch the back markers of the pack, but it was a dent to our overall score.
Again we got a great start on the second race and we neck and neck with one boat on our port with another coming up behind on our starboard. Sandwiched between the two the port side boat kept trying to knock us down, but we held our course being the leeward boat. There was nowhere for us to go anyway with boats either side of us. Eventually the starboard boat tacked and we had some clear space. A little later this boat passed us and shouted aggressively that we had messed his race up (I’m being polite here). We couldn’t work out what we had done as he complained with should have done a 360 turn as a penalty. The only thing we could think of was that he felt we were knocking him away when we were sandwiched, however he was windward of us and was trying to overtake so as far as we can tell, we were the stand on vessel. Did he not see the other boat on our port side pushing down onto us? We all felt a little upset by this as we like to race for fun and wouldn’t intentionally mess someone up. On arriving back to the marina, the skipper came and apologised for their rudeness and realised it was the heat of the moment scenario. They obviously realised that we were also not in the wrong.
With the mess up we had made with the riding turn we were not expecting to place very well, but we must have clawed some points back on the second race because we came in third overall which we were more than surprised at. Two more bottles of rum to add to the collection, we won’t be going short at Christmas.