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Saturday, November 18, 2006

November 18, 2006-High Speed Chase

Beach Party

The day seemed to hold a good prospect for a nice sail with a bit of breeze and plenty of sunshine. The race was going to be one long beat up to Reclamation Bay followed by a rendezvous and beach party with the other competitors and several powerboats.

We were certainly ready for the party with our regular crew and plenty of guests and family members plus we had a load of beer and lots of food. We were also ready for the race. I’d spent a busy morning sewing on our tired old jib and it was all patched up. We even had time to clean the boat and test the BBQ. When the crew showed up we had the boat rigged and the motor was running. We had high expectations.

But there was no way we could have expected the day to turn into a high speed chase with all the boats on the edge of control for a five mile reach up the Johor Strait.

Our start in 8 knots of wind was good; we hit the line right on time and going fast and quickly put most of the competition behind us, except for the 30 ft flyer Roo. But we weren’t watching Roo, we were focused on Frangipangi Girl, Dave Ross’s Swan 53. They were struggling some as the conditions quickly grew light and fluky and we covered them well over to the right side.

Meanwhile Roo went off to the left and that was where the new breeze appeared.

First there was a zephyr that filled Roo’s sails and got them moving, but we hardly noticed. Then someone pointed out the big dark patch ahead and Roo was right in the middle of it. We all saw that, and we saw them heel sharply and take off. Well, they’re gone but we’ll be next we thought and soon we had the breeze; a solid breeze with a big left component. The beat had turned into a reach. We climbed to the high side and eased the sheets and we were off in chase of Roo. We were happy to see Frangipangi Girl still floundering quite a ways back.

Well, the wind built, then held, then built some more. Soon we had 18-20 knots and we were seeing over eight on the speedo. The main was flagging continuously as with every attempt to trim it in the boat simply rounded up. The jib was well out and the lead back to twist it off, and still we were over powered.

Sailing in Singapore

But we were flying!

We kept expecting the gust to pass but instead it just got stronger. Behind us Frangipangi Girl had the wind and was coming on strong.

By now we had a big bow wave and even some spray that reached all the way up to the crew perched on the high side of the steeply canted deck. It was exciting; real sailing now! I knew the crew was loving it, but Judy was worried. So was I. The wind was obviously too much for the patched up jib; way too much.

I considered a change to the three but wasn’t the finish just ahead somewhere? We didn’t know.

Soon Frangipangi Girl was right on our tail. All I wanted was for the jib to hold and for us to be able to keep Dave and his crew behind long enough to get to the finish line.

They headed up to sail over us and we went up too, keeping ourselves between them and the finish. The inside tell tails on both boats were lifting but the wind was too strong for us to sheet in to close hauled with the big jibs we were both carrying.

Now we were getting really close to the Singapore shoreline just to windward of us and it was flying by. We’d never sailed here before and we didn’t know the contours of the bottom. Right then we had 40 feet, but would the depth hold? Judy was urging me to go down. I didn’t. Why doesn’t somebody go check the chart? Nobody moved.

Frangipangi Girl

Frangipangi girl tried again and I went up even higher to hold them off again. The shore was closer and, the wind was stronger; now 25 knots. There was an air of tension among the afterguard of Wings although the crew probably didn’t feel it. They were having too much fun.

Suddenly Frangipangi bore off and easily sailed though our lee. We bore off too and things got a little less tense on Wings.

As Frangipangi passed us both crews hooted and hollered at each other. Even a water balloon or two was tossed, but no hits.

A little bit after that we passed the buoy marking the finish and I called for the jib to come down. Somehow it had stayed together. We broke out the beers and sailed to the rendezvous under main alone. It was a good way to chill out after a hard sail.

The rest of the day was simply fun. We anchored in Reclamation Bay, swam ashore and had a good afternoon of volleyball and BBQ, and later sailed home with the small jib and the stereo playing nice tunes.

All in all it was quite a day.

Click HERE for all the images including several of the crew members and guests.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Singapore

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