Thursday, July 2, 2009

FHC Day 4 report

“Give us a course of 4 or 5 hours please to give us some chance of catching Azza and the Dog” was the plea from the assembled Pirates, Pimps, Poofters and Prostitutes during last nights fancy dress to the letter ‘P’ party.
Another race of 2 hours like yesterdays would not have provided such an opportunity so a new course, #9, was devised starting off sailing to the north along the eastern coast of Ovalau Island and then round a turning mark to sail back the same way thus avoiding the light winds in the lee of the mountainous terrain.
Slight delay to this morning’s start – who took the mark boat to go fishing yesterday afternoon and left it anchored too close to the shore and thus high and dry!?!?! Fish!!!!!
A break in the clouds gave a brief spell of sunshine as the teams rigged and headed off after an all clear running start which was very keenly contested. Only half a mile after the start Nicole and Kerli Corlette, who were second overall going into the day, capsized and were relegated to DFL as the fleet beat to windward through the Moturiki Passage and out into the open ocean swells.
After an exciting beam reach with 16 knot winds along the edge of the breakers our combatants gybed twice running through Gava Passage, with breaking surf on either side, to emerge into the flat calm lagoon within.
The barrier reef runs half a mile offshore with waters of 60’ depth, except there are some Bombies per the Fish (really….?) , and Levuka town gybe mark was to be placed within the lagoon somewhere between Levuka and the NE tip set at a position such that the leaders would be rounding it at 10:30 Hrs thus allowing the length of the course to be adjusted on the water.
“Boring” – Aaron Worral and Bradley Wilson were yet again first round the turning mark and hardened onto a twin wire beat past the town quay with a two minutes lead over Philp and Dugdale with their slender 5 second lead over Engwirda and Wilson.
Last minute entrant and Hobie newcomer Stephen ‘Irish’ Breem and Xiaomara Rosenbaum had erred on the side of caution and retired before running through the Gava Passage. Gybing into the narrow strait however had been easy compared with beating back out and passage claimed one victim, the Aussie partnership of Geoff and Rose Rowden, who dismasted just as they were clearing out.
They drifted back through the gap, thankfully clear of the white water either side, and after passing their sails and mast into one of the support boats they were taken under tow and back to Leleuvia – a sad way to curtail sailing in excellent conditions.
The remaining 13 Hobies successfully cleared out to sea again and went back past the Moturiki reef and through a gate set to the north of Leleuvia – except Moape and Ovini, the Fiji Youth team, who were sadly later disqualified for missing the gate  completely.
A 7 nm run to the WNW and starboard round Qata island leaving only a 7 nm beat back to the finish. Worral had had a 5 minute lead over second placed Engwirda after almost three hours of racing when they passed through the Leleuvia gate.
By the finish, though, Worral had extended his lead to just over 16 minutes, now over local sailors John Philp and Charlotte Dugdale, who had in turn squeezed in just ahead of Engwirda & Slater.
You had your chance to catch up on Azza and the Dog guys, but instead he’s now extended his overall lead to 1 Hour, 1 Minute and 24 Seconds – only a disaster such as a dismasting would snatch overall victory from this team.
Nicole Corlette sailed a steady race after her early capsize picking through the fleet recovering to 6th place today but she dropped to third overall, 2 minutes and 40 seconds behind Matt Sheppard and Altaire Mandell. Only 3 minutes ten seconds behind them however Engwirda and Slater are hot on their heels and in the hunt for a podium position, themselves struggling to claw back having gone right on the Tuesday!!
38 nm back to Suva tomorrow – the south easterly trade winds are allegedly forecast to hold for tomorrow so the leaders could be home within 3 hours. It should be a blast home and fingers crossed that we do so in sunshine!!!

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