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By JC Knobel

As everyone knows, a worldwide pandemic hit us two years ago & pretty sure it is a swear word by now known as COVID, it was decided back then that it won’t be feasible to plan an event for the future as nobody knew for sure what the future will hold for us. It was decided to move the event to April 2022.

The long awaited event took place over the long Easter weekend from 15 – 18 April with 7 boats that consisted of 3x non-furling & 4x furling entries which was successfully hosted by Port Owen Yacht Club in the awesome sailing waters of St Helena Bay on the West Coast.

The program consists of welcoming on Thursday evening followed by racing on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. No racing was scheduled for Monday as we had the prize giving buffet brunch for all competitors to end the event on a high. The tides made sure we could enjoy all our nights till late as high tide on all the days was only later in the afternoons. For those that are not familiar to Port Owen, a 30 minute motor is required to reach the Great Berg river mouth into St Helena bay from the main marina basin.

The first night was a welcoming dinner at POYC where each skipper had to introduce their boat & crew. One of the local entries Seaweed entered a all ladies crew. The first meal of the event set a good standard for all the meals that follow for the rest of the event. For supper we enjoyed Caribbean chicken thigh bake, rice & veg. Granadilla pudding & cream for dessert. Beautiful.

Friday morning we were greeted with a breezy SE. Breakfast was served at 09h00 & the skippers briefing took place at 09h30. Another well presented meal consisting of muesli & yogurt, bacon, eggs, toast, pork bangers & a mix of baked beans with bacon pieces & pineapple, interesting yet tasty. At the skippers briefing it was discussed to have the distances races instead of the round the cans for that day.  At 12h00 the race officer made the decision to cancel racing for the day as the wind was strong SE at 23kn gusting 25kn+. Some crews made their way to Charlie’s Brewhouse, a local restaurant with a brewery & Gin distillery located within walking distance from the marina where we were moored. Of course some fun chatter with beers & cocktails made to set a lekker vibe to grow some comradery between crews. Some of the conversations I unfortunately cannot repeat LOL. During our spontaneous conversations, a whatsapp on the event group appeared to say the clubhouse bar is now open & we made our way back along the marina on a relaxed stroll. Supper was at 19h00 & on the menu was traditional Bobotie & rice with Malva pudding & cream as desert. Another great meal.

Next was Saturday morning which means race day! In the morning there was a light Westerly which means some tactical racing was on the cards. We had a downwind start due East to the bottom mark followed by a laid mark in Slippers Bay after keeping well clear of Doctor’s reef. First at the bottom mark was Maximillian followed by Barato & GP Joy all within seconds apart, Bernoulli was also in close proximity with the rest of the fleet making their way to the mark. Maximillian stayed high, with Barato in pursuit & GP Joy decided to hug the coast. Soon GP Joy moved into 2nd as what appeared to be more pressure closer to shore then with the breeze going light on the beach the roles was reversed & Barato reclaimed 2nd again. At the laid mark the wind completely died changing the race course into a parking lot. Barato just managed to drift past without touching the mark & avoiding a penalty turn. A game of cat and mouse for 2nd & 3rd started as both was seeking where to find the breeze on the next leg to make headway the quickest. Bernoulli & the rest of the fleet approached the mark at this point.  Within 15 minutes or so the wind picked up from SE and the spinnakers was hoisted for a downwind dash towards the finish line at Sandy Point harbour breakwater. Race 2 was also a distance race with same course already set as race 1 but in reverse. The countdown for the next race commenced soon after the last boat crossed the finish of race 1 when the breeze started building to 23kn & some boats have made headsail changes. Leg 1 made for a good upwind beat to the top mark at Slippers bay then to the leeward mark which then became the finish mark as the race officer instructed for a shorten course. Maximillian crossed the finish line 1st , GP Joy in 2nd & then Barato in 3rd.

Everyone made their way back to the marina when a call over the radio from the bridge boat stating they have experienced engine problems and that they have anchored halfway up the river. Without hesitation Barato left their mooring to assist and retrieve the bridge boat just before sunset. After the rescue mission we all made our way to the clubhouse when dinner was served from 19h00. On the menu were Hake & chips with chocolate tart for dessert.

Next was Sunday morning for race day 2. After breakfast we had the skippers briefing at 09h30.“Round the cans” was the flavour of the day. It was also decided to have the GM in the morning while we wait for the tide instead to have it that evening. We all got together from 11h00 to discus some issues the class was facing at present & would can be done about it. A new WP committee was proposed & elected to revive the class locally. The individuals are Heidi Burger, Mariska Coetzer, Darian Liprini & JC Knobel. Soon after the GM was concluded the new team had their first meeting to start planning events & have a general discussion about the class.

At 1pm we all started leaving moorings to make our way down the river to the bay. As Ronnie exited the harbour mouth they announced that they lost steerage as their bottom rudder bracket had broken off from the rudder box. They managed to limp back to the marina under motor steerage to support the pub for the rest of the afternoon. The first race got underway in a stiff 20kn SE breeze with a windward leeward course with all boats crossing the start within moments with 1 lap & then races with 2 laps followed. Obviously some tactical decisions were coming into the mix as where to go, who to follow & when to tack. As this is one design racing, these factors are very much relevant. Good starts are key to position yourself well in the fleet. Thankfully there was no incidents of “hard contact” on the start line between anybody as there was some pretty tight starts, well done everyone. In the 3rd race Maximillian was over with the start & had to tack around to restart and then continued on port while the rest of the fleet was on a starboard beat. First around the top mark was Barato, followed by Maximillian & then GP Joy, all within seconds of each other. Maximillian reclaimed the lead as Barato had a gybe problem but still managed to keep 2nd. After the first three boats rounded the bottom mark, it would be interesting to see what the gaps would be. Maximillian opted to stay on port & tack on the layline for the finish as Barato was tacked on starboard halfway on the upwind leg with GP Joy tacked as soon as they cleared the bottom mark. This made for close racing. Barato was on starboard, tracking well on the beat & GP Joy on Port tack. GP Joy had to tack as they couldn’t clear & opened the door for Barato to have a clear tack to finish 2nd. After racing we all headed back to the clubhouse. On the menu for the last night was Beef Stroganoff pasta & salad with ice cream & hot chocolate sauce for dessert.

The next morning  we were welcomed at the clubhouse by a huge variety of tasty dishes served for the prize giving brunch. Fruit salad, yogurt, quiches, peri-peri chicken livers, haddock bake, muesli & yogurt, Mimosas just to name a few. After everyone enjoyed the feast provided, prizegiving was under way with thank yous from Commodore Ian Mackintosh, Vice Commodore Derek Robinson & the handing out of prizes in the hands of Mariska Coetzer from Seaport Supply & JC Knobel.

The overall results were a follows:

1st Maximillian – Kevin Webb

2nd Barato – JC Knobel

3rd GP Joy – Ralph Thomas

4th Bernoulli – Heidi Burger

5th Seaport Supply Umoya – Bernard Farmer

6th Seaweed – Sharyn Robinson

7th Ronnie – Darian Liprini

On behalf of the Holiday 23 Class Association I would like to thank Port Owen Yacht Club for hosting the event, Port Owen Marina Authority for free mooring 1 week before & after the event. Port Owen Boatyard for free lifts from & onto trailers for entries that travelled by road. Thanks to our sponsors Ullman Sails, Seaport Supply & Quiver for the prizes provided.

Apologies as I did not mention much of the other boats as I was not sure what was happening to the rest of the fleet when racing. Well done to all & see you at the next one.

For more info about the class, classifieds & updates, please visit www.holiday23.co.za or alternatively on Facebook - Holiday 23'ers group for event photos & updates.

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