Two hotly-contested yacht races in Brae on Saturday saw Scott Johnson in Mistral eventually manage to hold off the stiff challenge of Joe Irvine’s Cynara to get the win he needed to claim the Trinity Series Cup.
A strong southerly force six, gusting up to gale eight, meant that all six competing yachts had to be tuned properly for what was near survival sailing conditions. Most yachts prepared with double reefs and swapped their genoas for smaller foresails. Only Jim Tait’s Movin On braved the conditions with full rig and, as ever, proved how good the Nordic Folkboat and its crew are in all weathers.
The racing course had the weather mark set south, well down Busta Voe, with the lee mark at the voe’s head, the wing mark at Saltness and, as usual, an Olympic course was sailed.
Unfortunately Milspinda sustained damage to her mainsail before the start of the first race and retired to rig another sail for the second race. Rebellion, helmed by Peter Robertson, emerged as the pace setter, being handled well in the rough seas. Her early advantage was held until the weather mark although the real story was the close racing between the first four yachts.
Roundabout, helmed by Drew Sutherland, Cynara and Movin On were all showing their mettle in the testing conditions. The bigger Roundabout passed Rebellion in the downwind legs and Cynara got past on the next windward leg.
At one point it looked as though the hapless Mistral was going to be lapped by these four yachts as Scott Johnson struggled to find a sail plan that worked in the high wind. The previous weekend’s successes seemed a long time off.
Eventually, with a second reef in, Mistral began to make better progress but was too far back to contend the race. The second weather leg was as competitive as the first with Cynara now holding a slender lead over Roundabout, Rebellion and Movin On.
Cynara rounded ahead and held this advantage in both the run and the third weather leg to finish with line honours followed by Roundabout, Rebellion, Movin On and Mistral. On corrected time Cynara won a much-deserved race on a time of 58.37 minutes followed by Movin On on 58.52, only nine seconds behind, while Rebellion was third on 59.17, Roundabout fourth on 61.91 and Mistral fifth on 63.90. It was Cynara’s first trophy of the season following a number of second and third places.
At this point Mistral and Cynara were tied on seven points each for the Trinity Series Cup, although Mistral held two trophies to Cynara’s one. The last race of the series would decide the destination of the cup and, after the performance in the first race, Mistral’s chances did not look promising.
Wind conditions for the second race of the day were even stronger than for the first. Conditions were so rough that the six competitors (Milspinda had rejoined the fleet after fitting another mainsail) kept well apart during the starting sequence to prevent any chance of damaging and injurious collisions.
Movin On started well but was eventually overtaken by Cynara, Roundabout and Rebellion. Both Milspinda, helmed by Willie Inkster, and Mistral were performing better in the fresher conditions and for a while both looked to be contenders.
Milspinda appeared to be under canvassed for the downwind legs and lost a bit of time while Mistral’s crew were putting in a dogged performance to maintain their chances. Finishing in the same order as in the first race, with Milspinda in sixth position, there was an anxious wait to hear the result.
Mistral won the race on a corrected time of 57.99 minutes ahead of Cynara on 59.47, Movin On on 60.08, Rebellion on 61.32, Milspinda on 62.36 and Roundabout on 62.73. There were only four minutes and 44 seconds between first and sixth positions, making this the closest race of the season, a testament to the sailing skills of all the crews in such adverse racing conditions. Mistral won both the race trophy and the Trinity Series Cup.