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MSC 2011: Aftermath

Posted by sailskkf, 11 July 2011 · 435 views

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Well it's over. At least until next year. And if I'm left with one sentiment ringing through my head it is that the JS 9000 is simply incredible. I went to Durban full of trepidation. A nasty weather synopsis, big swells, offshore winds and statements like; 'your boat isn't built for heavy weather, be careful' (Ron Pett) - 'It's not really a sea boat is it?' (Harry Brehm) - and finally Tielman Burger's response to my question about his last MSC campaign in Agattu...'she handled like a wild horse'.

Well yes, she did handle like a wild horse and our 'survival mode' angle of heel generated significant comment. But the only time we caused her any anxiety was when we tried to reign her in and put in a reef during the 25-30 knot Wednesday racing. She sailed beautifully for most of the first beat, 8 knots cutting upwind like a diamond through glass, far faster than the Pacer 27 in the waves and up with the Mount Gay 30 and Beneteau First 40.1 ahead of the Fast 42's, before the mainsail bolt-rope burst out of its track in a 28 knot gust. We retired, as the Scots say in their anthem, 'ta think again'.

Having learned our lesson (the plastic gizmo at the head is a bit worn and so slips out the track when reefed) we went out on Thursday in 20-24 knots with the full inventory up and were rewarded with the most thrilling day-sail of my life. The boat handled incredibly up the beats, hard over, swell breaking over her bows, no slamming, just an alarming additional heel on the wave crests as the stronger breeze laid her over while, simultaneously, the wave passed under her keel. Then the looming yellow bouy. The turn. Up with the kite and 'let slip the dogs of war..'

The boat's character changed immediately from white knuckle, sh*t your pants, survival mode to a humming, taught, controlled, grooving blade falling down the huge swells nose-up unless caught by the very biggest of the following seas whereupon she would dip like a submarine, the white foam would sweep aft along her deck, over the coach roof and swirl about our legs before exiting via her scalloped stern. The runs were over in what seemed like seconds and we were regularly surfing at over 15 knots but it wasn't until we took the boat for a brief play after the end of racing that we posted a 17 down a monstrous swell. I've done 17 before, inland on the Vaal Dam, but the boat hums out a lonely tune on that flat water. It takes the thunderous accompanying orchestra of the ocean to really make her sing.

Was it worth it to venture 400 miles to the coast? Was the money well spent? Have I a few more grey hairs (or less hair) than when I left? The answer to all these is YES!

Some pics from the calmer bits of the regatta

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