I will be the first to admit that the Halman 20 is hardly a racing thoroughbred. Its high PHRF rating is evidence that finish line victories are few and far between (if in existence at all). Never the less we take solace in the fact that from time to time the wind, wave and water gods pool their collective senses of humour so that we do not become utterly despondent.
Monday Night white sail races at the Charlottetown Yacht Club are marginally less competitive than the spinnaker races on Wednesday Night but they are still contested avidly. Last Monday saw a downwind start and for once Ebony crossed the line in a relatively favourable position. With the light wind almost dead astern and the tide responsible for most of the movement of the fleet to the first mark on the triangular course Ebony was well back in the fleet. However, deploying the whisker pole on the large Genoa wing-on-wing we blanketed a number other boats and crept up on them from behind. To our delight we began to overtake large racing boats such as a Beneteaus, a J-29, a J-30s and a J-35. There was a considerable amount of loud observation about the phenomena as all the boats were bunched were closely bunched in preparation for the first mark rounding. Slowly, slowly, slowly we crept up and passed boats to the post and to the starboard. We were clawing our way to the head of the fleet. Had the race ended at the first mark we would easily have taken the white flag of victory Ebony was in its glory and even though we knew the pleasure would be short-lived as we rounded the mark and started on a beam reach. We had a good rounding and started across the harbour. However, we were now fighting the tide and the tubby hull and long keel changed from being an advantage to a deficit. Soon the boats were strung out ahead and the only boat behind us was one that had drifted early across the start lion had had to go back and re-start.
By the time we reached the second mark even he was set to overtake us. Then, as so often happens, the little wind there had been began to drop and we found ourselves becalmed and drifting with the outgoing tide to the harbour’s mouth in the setting sun. A magnificent first leg had ended with the ignominy of having to motor across the finish line to a disqualification. Still – a wonderful way to spend an evening!