The Sailing Season for 2017 kicked off with the Quinta Do Lorde Regatta in February. It was one of those gloriously sunny days, with bluest skies and a hot sun. Unfortunately for sailing, it was not so good. No Wind!
The Regatta was due to start at 1pm so, at 12 noon we motored out of the marina. We surmised that the wind was not going to appear but, after making the effort to get to the Marina, we wanted to go out onto the water anyway. So, off we went. A few minutes behind us the other yachts came out too.
We hoisted the main sail and the yankee, catching some wind. Where did that come from? Not to be shy in taking advantage, we sailed off into the wind...... For a whole 5 minutes!!
In came the yankee and on went the engine. We then joined the rest of the yachts waiting for the race start, in zero wind, and spent the next hour motoring around the committee boat whilst waiting for a decision. Eventually the regatta was abandoned.
The second Regatta of the season was held in Funchal. At the end of February the skipper and I became proud owners of a new puppy (well a 3 month old puppy) from the local rescue centre. As he was only with us a couple of weeks when the Regatta was being held I decided to stay home with him so it was a 'boys only' crew.
They set off for Funchal in good time and in good winds, arriving at the start line with a little time to spare. Winds were blowing an average of 20 - 25 knots. Perfect for Red Ruth. The team did well at the start (thanks Antonio) and set off toward the first mark. Swing, who was up ahead and approaching the first mark, radioed the committee boat to say that the bouy had moved in the wind and was too close to the rocks to allow a turn around it.
Not long after that a couple of the other yachts radioed in to say that the wind was too strong and they were giving up as they didn't want to damage sails. Needless to say that was the end of the Regatta. Red Ruth and Alf, both with the 'older' crews and both sponsored by CEX were the only two yachts happy to continue sailing. But, once again the Regatta was abandoned!
Red Ruth had a great sail back to Quinta do Lorde Marina and, despite no Regatta, the boys enjoyed the days sailing.
pic: Red Ruth sailing in Funchal bay (pic courtesy of Norberto Nunes & ARVM)
The last weekend in April was the CEX sponsored 3 day Regatta in Funchal bay. As it co-incided with the 1st May holiday there were not as many yachts partipating as hoped for. But, as a previous sailing colleague would say "two boats heading in the same direction is a race". We had 7 entrants in total.
Again, I volunteered to stay home with our puppy as our skipper had to miss last years' event due to health reasons.
The day began with good winds and Red Ruth was doing very well, keeping up with the others and even taking some places. However (there is always an however!) on the last leg, just as they approached Santa Cruz bay, they fell into a hole in the wind. You can imagine the frustration on board to watch the others sail on by and you are going nowhere.
Such a hole in the wind doesn't affect the other yachts as much as it does Red Ruth. She is a very heavy boat so any drop in wind can mean a significant drop in speed. We also are not flying a spinnaker, which would catch any little breeze and pull you along.
The wind eventually filled in, but too late to be useful.
Another day of little or no wind. All the yachts headed out to the start line where once again, no wind prevailed. The committee spent the next 4 hours zooming around in their rib trying to find wind out to the east and to the west of Funchal. After 4 hours it was decided to abandon the days sailing. Well, everyone got to bob about or try out their engines. Some swimming and fishing was done whilst they waited for the committee to make their decisions.
The 3 day event is made up of 4 or 5 races over the 3 days. A minimum of 3 races is required for the results to accounted for in the year's score.
Day 3 heralded the much sought after winds and with 2 races set for the day, the entrants set off early to the start line. Back to back racing with 15 - 20 knots of wind saw some fine sailing.
Prize giving in the evening with supper was most welcome. Red Ruth picked up a 3rd in Class prize so considering the weekends winds, the crew were happy with that.
June so far has been a windy month up our mountain. I always see a trend with a full moon; lots of wind both sides of the full moon. The full moon in June has been no exception. Fortunately on both the first and second Saturdays of June the wind and weather has been excellent for sailing.
On the first Saturday of the month we took out some friends who have not been on a sailing yacht before. The sun was shining, the heat was on our backs and the wind in our sails. Everyone had a go at helming and the men put their muscles to the test with hauling up the sail and tacking. It was a really good sailing day and we had a lot of fun, as well as getting to know new friends.
pic: Red Ruth sailing (courtesy of V. Gorbachev)
The second Saturday of the month was the annual MEO Regatta to the Desertas Islands. We had been watching the wind forecasts all week with increasing disappointment at the lack of wind predicted. However, on the day the wind arrived and sustained at 17 - 22 knots for the whole regatta.
We were out on the water by 9.15 am for a race start at 10.30am. On our way to the start line we were informed, by radio, that the start had moved to the next town along the coast line so we had to increase engine speed to get there on time.
Antonio took us across the line at the start in first place. An outstanding combination of skill and knowledge. Well done.
pic: Out in front at the start line (courtesy of R. Ornelas - facebook)
The leg back to Sao Lourenco point was a competitive run with local knowledge of tide and wind keeping us alongside the other yachts.
Rounding the buoy we headed out toward Ileu Chao, the nearest of the Desertas Islands. We took in the stay sail to allow the yankee to get maximum benefit from the wind and sauntered along at about 4.5 knots until we cleared the Sao Lourenco point when, with a tweak of the sails, no land in the way of the wind, we surged up to 6-7 knots.
pic: Rounding the mark (courtesy of Machico Municipality facebook page)
Ahead of us the other yachts had their Spinnakers flying and as we watched them pull away we suddenly saw one large orange spinnaker fall into the water. The stitching had given way and down it came. Fortunately it was retrieved and they carried on with their Regatta.
Once around the mark at the Desertas we had a fine run back to the finish line in Machico. Sailing alongside us w as Vadio IV, a Dehler 39. It's always great to have someone else alongside you to challenge and rate your own performance against. A pod of Dolphins kept us company along the way for a good 20 minutes.
short video of dolphins sailing alongside us at https://www.facebook.com/antonioornelas.rato/videos/10210993304641482/
Our angle was good which meant that we did not need to tack until we crossed the line.
pic: Just across the Finish Line, (courtesy of R. Ornelas facebook page)
We returned to Quinta de Lorde where we tied up, cleaned the boat and headed back to Machico by car, for the prize giving. En route we received a telephone call to tell us that we had won first prize overall on handicap as well as first in class.
A FIRST!!!! Our first first in Madeira Regatta racing. Well done Team Red Ruth.
A short video of Red Ruth sailing, taken by R. Ornelas. https://www.facebook.com/tininha203/videos/1413019872054845/