What could go wrong?
Seaya signed on to the final race of the Midweek Mariners Spinnaker Series with eight on board (Jim, Alan, David P, David , Joanne, Keith, Doug and me) in 15 to 25 knot winds with gusts to 28.
On the run out of the pen through the one, to two-metre waves to practice with the kite, Jim was heard to mutter: “Well, don’t rip it … we’ll need it for the race.” Once we’d hoisted the kite, everyone shifted up a gear as Seaya jumped to over 10 knots.
The first gybe was proving that today the kite would be a handful, and the suggestion was to get it down immediately, but a couple more gybes and a fancy windward douse on the foredeck restored our confidence.
At the C mark we a beat up into the waves and foredecky Keith secured the spinnaker bag to the rail.
As Seaya rode off a two-metre wave into the back of the next wave, water washed across the deck and swept the spinnaker bag over the lifelines and dumped the whole spinnaker into the sea, where it promptly filled and dragged the boat to a full stop. Hoping the whole bag didn’t explode Keith released a clew and half the water spilled. Then everyone leaned over the side and dragged the half full kite back on board.
Seaya immediately returned to the chase with Jim calling for the next chute to be taken forward and “properly clipped to the rails!”. Keith took the bag forward but saw the clips on the bag would not close properly and didn’t fit the rail slots. With a few waves sweeping over him Keith decided he could only tie the webbing into loops and clip the second spin bag to the loops.
Then he sorted the spinnaker sheets and brace for the pole to be lifted. Joanne then warned that the second bag was about to be swept through the lifelines as it too had filled with water. Slipping quickly across the deck towards the disappearing bag and me with a leg either side of a stanchion – ouch!
Doug, Jo and David dragged us all back on board. Then with great composure we launched what looked like sodden spaghetti out of the bag and the second kite was set, pulling Seaya along at 11 knots.
Jim judged that Tigris would finish behind Seaya and decided to not gybe the spinnaker or even pull down the number three jib. ‘Play it safe, we’re going to win anyway.”
Two minutes later Jim reassessed Tigris, which who must have been doing better than 14 knots and said, ‘Do you reckon you can “gybe that thing? And you’d better pull down the jib!”.
Pulling down the jib caused Seaya to gallop to over 13 knots. Rounding the final mark with Keith on the bow with the lazy brace in hand, me ready to fire the pin and Alan ready to let the topping lift go and drop the pole through the forestay; what could go wrong?
Nothing went wrong on Seaya – a perfect gybe, as we ran down Mistress on the line.
Meanwhile Tigris and Matador, who went from first to last; both suffered a broach as the wind overpowered them on their race to the finish.
Seaya won the second race, too, a white-sail race – no spinnakers.
Excellent contributions from the entire Seaya crew. Winning the Midweek Mariners Spinnaker Series consisting of 10 races.
John Bade for Jim Holroyd/Seaya