Today the 23 boats strong SB20 fleet cast off from the dock in magnificent One degreesFifteen Marina in Sentosa.
The promised north-easterly monsoon conditions had (as predicted by the genius local fleet weather router) re-asserted themselves in Singapore. And re-asserted with a vengeance – on Wednesday a small cyclone had struck near the National Sailing Centre (home of the Singapore Sailing Federation) hurling Optimist Dinghies and Laser Bytes 30 feet into the air.
After sailing to the race area in the shadows of the Singapore skyline marked by the incredible Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Flyer, the race committee took over duties and hoisted the preparatory signal at the appointed hour in moderate NE winds. Office workers in town were treated to a rare view of 23 SB20s jostling for space on the constricted start line. With a few laggards in the fleet, there was sufficient space for all boats to find their holes. The trend became clear from the get-go. If you had a good start, continue on the starboard tack waiting for a shift off the shore. If you had a poor start, tack and head out on port hoping for a big gust out of the right. And gusts there were plenty. While the office workers in town were able to dodge behind awnings and under bus shelters, the monsoon let the hardy SB20 sailors feel its full fury sending lashings of rain down onto the fleet.
As the carnage passed through the fleet the better option was for those boats that were able to hang on to the left enjoyed a lift and led into the top mark. As the leaders decided between a gybe-set and the easier bear away manoeuvre, gains were made and lost. Early gains were to those who selected the easier bear away and extend. The boats rounded the mark in a fine procession and set off up the beat. In one of the cruller twists of sailing tactics, the boats that had the better places and tacked first into the favoured shift were heavily penalized when the breeze filled in out of the right favouring the boats that had a less good first lap and had been strung out onto the starboard side of the track.
Rounding the top mark for the second time, Wallababy leads the race with Glasgow Kiss hot on its heels followed by Tara. Mike Buchannaon (Pocapena) had a crack down the shore flirting with the gusts swirling through the skyscrapers, but this was not to pay off and the lead boats who found the offshore breeze were able to make gains in the ocean. The final finishing order after “le petit admiral” on Wallababy was forced to gybe into a picket of no air was Glasgow Kiss, Wallababy and Tara.
After a leisurely first start, the fleet stepped it up in race 2. While most of the fleet allowed for some tide on the start line, they did not allow for the tide generated by a once in 186-year super blue blood moon that had occurred the night before. With most of the fleet at the boat end and halfway up the beat before the gun sounded, the race committee had no choice but to call the fleet back. On the second start under the U-Flag, the fleet was able to restrain themselves and set out in good order in a 12-15 knot NE wind. The breeze continued to swirl through the buildings and there were many snakes and ladders. By the top mark, Glasgow Kiss was leading with the rest of the fleet in her wake. The fleet raced tooth and nail with tight crosses all the way down from first place to last. Le petit admiral on Wallababy found himself in the unchartered territory of 7th at the top mark in the esteemed company of Pocapena trying another flyer and ending up back in the pack. By the end of the race, the order had started to shake itself out into familiar faces with Glasgow Kiss winning followed by Wallababy, Pocapena and Tara coming in fourth.
The race committee was onto the super blue blood moon tide in the third race, starting under U Flag. The fleet was not and produced another general recall. As black storm clouds continued to threaten the race area, the race committee also brought out the black flag. That had the desired effect and the fleet was tamed sufficiently to get a clean start. The regatta leaders fearing the damage of a DSQ hung back and started in a closely clumped pack at the boat end. Rolf lead to the starboard lay but when the wind shifted right ended up having sailed too far letting some of the local fleet slides around the corner in front.
On the last run of the day the breeze was up and down which caused some confusion between the crews as to whether to “get in the chocks” and plane or take the slow and low lane that led more directly towards the bottom mark. At the end of the run, there was not quite enough breeze to plane and those who had a low mode prevailed. The final race saw Glasgow Kiss winning followed by Pocapena, Wallababy and Tara.
At the end of a great day on the warm waters of Singapore in some fantastic breeze, Glasgow Kiss has thrown up a picket fence (1,1,1) to lead the regatta. Le petit admiral on Wallababy is second with 7 points and the English intruders on Tara are sitting third on 11 points.
In Universade 2018, SMU is leading as Colin Lim’s crew sit in 4th on 15 points. However, in this university boat race, NUS are nipping at their heels on 18 points. Mike Buchannon with a pro crew must be disappointed to end the day 17 points adrift in 6th as would Western Circuit Champion (Captain Rehab) who managed only an 11th spot and didn’t feature in the top spots all day.
Points are tight all the way through the fleet and every race brings places to fight for. Tonight the wary crews will head to Little India for a curry dinner where the local sailors will try to feed more chilli than is humanly possible to consume to those who have come from overseas. We shall all wait with anticipation to see how that plays out on the race course tomorrow.
by SB20 Class