Hilton College pupil takes the helm

2011-11-01 00:00

HILTON College pupil Luke Wagner helmed his crew to second position in Sunday’s Royal Natal Yacht Club’s Keeler Pursuit Race that took place in perfect conditions offshore of Durban.

Twenty-nine yachts of all shapes and sizes took to perfect sailing conditions in the race with the lightning- fast BMA, a First 40 skippered by Durban North’s Stuart Ritchie, flying through the course to take victory.

BMA blasted through the field, having started towards the later half due to her handicap. The First 40 stretched her legs on the finishing straight as Ritchie showed what she is capable of, finishing a full three minutes, 58 seconds, ahead of the second-placed boat.

The young racing crew on the L26 SLFC sailed professionally with Wagner­ at the helm choosing to hug the shoreline as they beat their way back to the finish, coming in second. Third was the Farr 38 Majimoto skippered by Jon Marshall who sailed hard. A photo finish separated fourth and fifth place with Graham Rose on the L34 Zap snatching a position from Greg Hurter’s Flying Spaghetti Monster­.

A busy race officer got the slower boats under way promptly at 10.30 am with a consistent south-westerly blowing seven knots as the boats sailed towards Virginia beach for a there-and-back 10-nautical mile course.

The start time for all the boats was staggered according to the boat handicap­ or boat rating. This is scientifically worked out according to the boat weight, sail area, boat design and other factors. The race officer, Rear Commodore Gregg Dobson, got the large fleet across the start line in 43 minutes with no mishaps.

The Pursuit Race is a highly technical race with the race officer’s intention of all the boats finishing en masse so as to make the race as competitive as possible. The first boat to cross the line is awarded the honours.

As the yachts all crossed the start, their spinnakers were hoisted as they surfed their way down to the mark that was anchored off Virginia. Having­ rounded the marker to port, the yachts then had to tack their way back to the finish. The wind gradually picked up to around 12 knots as Durban braced itself for yet another weather front passing through.

The fleet carved their way through small white horses with their jibs winched in tightly.

The popular race saw the magnificent­ BMA, a First 40, skippered by Stuart Ritchie, take the line honours­ ahead of the highly competitive fleet that took to the waters offshore of Durban.

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