This weekend was the 10th Ambassador's Cup race
hosted at our club. The event is a lot of fun and basically our signature race
. The Peruvian ambassador sends out invitations to all the foreign missions in Singapore
and an ambassador and his/her party or the embassy's representative is assigned to a boat. We had 31 boats this weekend in 3 classes
Class 1 are boats with an ambassador on board. Class 2 are boats with a consul or other embassy representative and class 3 are the beach cats. This works out OK but it means that same boats could be in different classes
. For example we had 3 J24s but they were split by class.
We had the Deputy Head
of the Russian mission on board with 2 other officials and a 10 year old. The boy had sailed in the cup before on other boats and came well prepared with water
balloons! Which the crew used throughout the day to harass our competition.
Having a consul on board put us in class 2 which turned out to be fortuitous in the end and class 1 had all the big boats. We started at 1:05 with a 5 hour time limit. There had been thunderstorms all morning and most of the energy was pulled from the sky by the time the race started. During the pre-race we had a fair bit of breeze but we ended up starting in 3 knots or so on an outgoing tide. The course was an out and back, passing the club and then turning for the home stretch. This gave the committee the option to shorten the race at the club as last year many boats didn't finish. We ended up towing a beach cat home last year.
I didn't have a great start (3rd last) but with a 5 hour race I definitely didn't want an OCS. Most of the boats drifted past the first couple of buoys and we closed in on a few of the tail end class 1 boats. Drifting is not a lot of fun but with our handicap is good for us. About 1 1/2 hours in the breeze picked up and we were in the high handicap group of about 6 boats at the tail of the race. With constant and careful attention to trimming we were pretty good at catching the breezes and accelerating so we managed to get to about third in this tail end group.
We ended up close hauled for 15 minutes reaching up to the mark in about 13 knots and had a great rounding. The breeze held for another 1/2 hour on the reach coming back against the current
About 2-3 km from the club as we rounded the head
, we saw a parking lot of boats - we had regained contact with the herd - this is also good for a high handicap boat. Until we got to the parking lot. Then it was a painful 1:15 to get the last 2km to the club lline. We made the line with 1 1/2 hours left and about 5km to go - the good news was we picked up another place and only one high handicapper was ahead of us. We still had a long reach in almost calm conditions to get to the bottom mark. The boat ahead of us gave up and that put us in the lead of 5 tail enders but there was only a few boat lengths in it between 3 of us.
Then we looked back and the last 2 of the tail enders packed it in. We were about 300 meters to the bottom mark with 60 minutes left and 3 boats. The crew was confident - We had seen J24s and some faster boats rounding on this leg. We knew if we got around the mark we would have a fast close hauled beat to the finish. We also knew that the boat in 3rd in our gaggle had a OCS, although the skipper
didn't. He was a group 2 boat and had started with group 1 at 1:00.
We finally made the mark rounding and in light conditions of about 6-7 knots we got the boat moving. After about 3 hours or reaching against the current
in light breeze it was exciting to have the boat moving at around 4 1/2 knots. We had 40 minutes left and knew at this point we were going to finish.
The best part was after 4+ hours we were 4-5 lengths ahead of the boat behind but he is a faster boat in these conditions. We trimmed and leaned to leward and he kept getting bigger in the rear view mirror. As we came through the club moorings he was a boat length back with 200 meters to go. The bigger faster boats all still had crew on board as they enjoyed their cocktails and viewed our drag race finish. They cheered and hollered for the two tail end Charlie's (the OCS boat finished about 4 minutes behind) - At the post it was 5 seconds between us in a 4:48 time. Pretty amazing. Even at the back it's still racing
We then dropped sails
and proceeded to harrass the big boats with water
balloons and water cannon - Sort of our signature...
The Russian consul drove for about an hour or so in medium conditions and enjoyed that but he was skeptical when I told him our handicap could place us well in group 2. As it turned out it was better than I could have hoped for - We ended up with a 3rd place trophy!
Sometimes last isn't last!