Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Battle of the Kites

J/122e sailing off Mumbai, India (Mumbai, India)- The “Raja Maharaja Talpade Cup” is a combined class regatta that saw a variety of new sails sported by many of the boats; including the unfurling of the new spinnaker for the J/122E SKADOOSH!!

The Mumbai sailing club’s Race Committee planned a “butterfly course” around the harbour for the fleet.  The race handicap system was designed for a close racing day. The small boats all started and went off onto the shorter Under 22-foot course and the larger keelboats went onto their long and fun course. The boats all started with their given timings.

According to Sunil Lobo sailing aboard the J/122E SKADOOSH, “We were the last boat to start. After a close bow to stern rounding at the next mark SKADOOSH started to hoist the “doppelganger” A3 sail and introduce it to the fleet sailing off Mumbai Harbour. With the girl’s team working smoothly to make sure it was flying beautifully, we were steadily catching up to the top of the fleet.

Harbour sailing always has its moments with ships moving in and out; make (or cross) one ship, then you sometimes have to drop everything and go for the duck on another! We were one of those unlucky few that had to drop our spinnaker and head up to clear the ship!  Ugh! However, we were somewhat lucky and others were not so lucky.  The Beneteau First 35 tried very hard to cross in front of one ship, but the ship had to slow down almost to a dead halt and alter course to avoid a collision!

J/122E sailing off Mumbai, India- rounding markAt the second mark rounding (actually an enormous oil rig), we had fun as we executed the rounding well and were on the inner most position gaining ground to the next mark. We realized that with 4 boats right on our wind, the only way to shake them off was to roll them!  So, we powered up and went for speed and before we knew it one by one they fell in behind us!  Thank goodness.  But, we still had a long way to go to catch up to the J/24 helmed by Shahid Basher leading the entire fleet!

The third mark was a clear rounding for us (no boats around), with kites going up and heading downwind on our next leg. The wind was slowly dying away and coming in patches, it was to our luck that we found a nice wind patch and caught yet another competitor called Tengi.  We decided to pass them to leeward since we didn’t want our enormous kite to cover their rig!

The 3 “big boys” were now in the battle for Mumbai offshore supremacy.  It would take shrewd tactics on the final leg of the race to the finish.  With the J/122E rapidly over-hauling the leaders, the J/24 SHEIKIN was next boat to fall into our cross-hairs. The J/24 ELMO, which had been in the lead for most of the race, was thrown off course by another ship and lost his long lead over the two of us.

Before we knew it, all three boats were neck-to-neck, lunging for the finish line. This kind of struggle for the finish line at the end of a nice “cruising race” is always heart-warming. The J/24 ELMO crossed first with their crew smiling.  Then, the J/24 SHEIKEN and the J/122E were closing quickly for 2nd place boat-for-boat; the honors going to SHEIKIN’s bow crossing ahead of SKADOOSH by a mere 2 meters! Rajan, our race officer on the committee boat, had a huge smile on his face, happily giving the finishing whistle to each boat as they passed by in quick succession.

The race was a lot of fun and left everyone eager to see what the verdict was on the overall results. Everyone sailed well.  However, in the end the J/24 ELMO came out with their second win of the season in the keelboat class, followed by SHEIKEN and then TENGI. Even though we didn’t place for various reasons, we look forward to the next pursuit race coming up!”