by Andrew Johnson
RYC member & 3iC competitor
The lead up to the 3iC 2016 was exciting. The Romblon Yacht Club takes this event very seriously and it is the major event of the year. The last few weeks leading up to the event were very busy.
Moorings were checked, a shade roof was built over bar sitting area, a new BBQ and roasting pit was constructed, bottled beer and catered food were organised, accommodation was sourced for visitors and tricycle transport, government permits, security staff, rescue staff and a surprise draft beer setup were all arranged. And this fortnight clashed with Holy Week!
On the Thursday before the 3iC, the moorings were cleared of local boats to make way for the boats coming from Puerto Gallera. And come they did. 7 keel boats. To fit them all in, some had to be rafted together. That evening, the bar facilities were rigorously tested and the draft beer proved very popular. The boats from PYGC prepared their own roast pork evening meal on the new BBQ and the rest of us had delicious sausages in a roll supplied by Gigi’s Meats. The commodores of the PGYC and the RYC exchanged greetings and gifts. The gift from the RYC was obviously made of marble.
Friday the small boats sailed into Romblon harbour to give a display of colourful sails to the townsfolk. Yachtsmen being as they are, an impromptu race was organised and a quick lap around the far side of Lugbung Island was the course taken to return to Bon Bon beach – the overnight stop for the small boats. Yachtsmen then moved to the Marlin Bar for refreshment. Dinner was at the Deli restaurant and so many tables were needed, that an extra row was set up out on the street. It is the custom at the 3iC to award a “brown bag” for the most humorous deed of the day. The 3iC race organiser Dennis Sheppard awarded this to Willi Baumeister for leaving his ignition on flattening his car’s battery and at the same time locking his keys in the car. While we ate, Eric Soulard played his guitar and harmonica to provided a wonderful ambiance for conversation and to assist in our digestion.
Saturday’s event was the sprint across to Tablas and back. The mark for the turn was set well to the north in Carmen Bay and Rod Hergerty’s new blue steel hulled motor sailor catamaran was the mark. The start had light winds but as soon as the boats entered the passage between Tablas and Romblon, the winds dropped and the going became very slow and frustrating. Some boats were becalmed while others moved forward and then the progress reversed. The PYGC yachts followed us out from Romblon and the colourful spinnakers were a sight to see. After about an hour, for Mayline and me, the wind changed direction 180 degrees for a little while before switching back to the North East and steadily increasing to about 8 knots. It was great to be moving again and we soon arrived at the mark. Now for some strange reason, the leading boats took a long detour around Bharingan I.
We dropped our screecher rounded the mark and headed directly back towards the finishing line. It is not often you get to race back and fore with only one gybe but that is one of the great things about this Tablas sprint. Simple and fast – a reach having the best angle to the wind for boat speed and the aim of the organisers was to have a reach out and back. We didn’t quite get this but almost.
The boats settled in for the return leg. We could not carry our screecher on this run home as we were pointing too close to the wind. So we were slowly over hauled by the faster Top Cats still behind us. Maybe next time, we will have a little more wind for a dream run.
Dinner was at the Island Bistro restaurant. Willi got the brown bag award again. He was the first to go the long way around Bharingan I.
Sunday was the big event. We met at the Marlin Bar for the skipper’s briefing. The course was clockwise around Lugbung, anti clockwise around Alad, clockwise around Cobrador or the other way round. Skippers had to confidentially tell the race officials which way around the islands they had elected to go but we all had to cross the starting line in a South Westerly direction. We then left the Marlin Bar and headed for the boats. The wind was up to 10 knots from the ENE. Along the way, a third member joined out crew. New to sailing and unable to swim, I was a little nervous about taking Melissa with us but she has a winning smile. We 3 boarded our little W17 trimaran “Pegasus” and headed off for a 10.15am start.
I elected to head SW and pass Lug Bung Is. To starboard. For some strange reason, I was the only skipper out of the 9 boats electing to go in this direction! So it was a lonely race for us with competitors briefly crossing our path. Away we went and very quickly we lost sight of the others as they headed northwards. Our trip around Lugbung was fairly quick, but our competitors has a shorter route to this point and so they appeared well ahead of us already. We rounded the north end of Lug Bung and sailed halfway across the channel to Romblon Is. before we tacked back again clearing the northern tip of Alad. At this point we could see the race leader the Tornado flying back towards Alad. We appeared to becoming last at this point but it was still hard to tell.
On we went now circling Cobrador clockwise. The wind had been sufficient to keep the boat moving nicely to this point. We kept outside the wind shadow on the SW side of Cobrador and arrived off the north western tip of the island in good shape. We tacked to the east and headed across the top of the island. The shore here was very rocky and uninviting so we gave it a wide berth – or so we thought. As we proceeded, the wind seemed to go up and over the high Cobrador rocky shores leaving us with little wind to drive our boat forwards. Also until this point in the race, we had been protected from the waves generated from the “Amihan” trade winds by the three islands. Now the waves were quite large and began to reflect back off the rocky cliff face and return in the opposite direction. We were sailing through a washing machine! With the big waves pushing us towards the cliffs and little wind to push us forward, we started to drift dangerously close to the rocks. After considerable anxiety, we passed the last rocks with only about 20 metres to spare. Phew.
Now it was down wind to get home. My inexperienced crew were feeling seasick and not in the mood for more drama. So I delayed putting up the big downwind sail. We sailed south around Cobrador’s east coast and ducked through the gap with Alad Is. heading west this time. At this point, we saw two Top Cats who must have got caught in the shadow of Cobrador. We had gained on them considerably and were now ahead of them.
We proceeded anti-clockwise around Alad and as we turned to pass through the gap between Alad and Lugbung we could see lots of boats approaching the southern tip of Lugbung but going the opposite way to us of course. I got excited at this point because we had a straight run on a reach to the finish line and they had to pass under the southern tip of Lugbung avoiding the wind shadow and then tack back to the finishing line.
My blood was up and I urged the crew to allow me to put up the screecher. Eventually they agreed because the end was in sight, the water was flat and we were surrounded by safety boats keeping an eye on us. Up went the screecher and off we went. Wow! Flying along at 12 knots – even more on the gusts. One gust overpowered us and we rounded up with the bow of the starboard float under water and the rudder in the air! No problem, sheets out, got the rudder back in the water, correct the course, sheet back in again and off we went again at 12 knots. We made it to the finishing line without a tack or a gybe. A great finish to a great race.
We did not place on corrected time but except for the finish, we had cruised rather than raced. Our object was to have a good time and not terrorise our “virgin” sailor. After all, we wanted her to come back out in the boat with us again. A really enjoyable day out.
3iC Race Results
Handicap 1st place Cherrie Pinpin 2nd place was Geryl and 3rd place Dennis Sheppard
Line honours 1st place Willi Beaumeister, 2nd place Cherrie Pinpin and 3rd place Geryl
The presentation dinner was held at the RYC bar. The Deli provided a roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings and extra lamb. Eric provided more entertainment with his accordion and got some of us up to embarrass ourselves singing in French and doing comical folk dances.
An auction was held to contribute to the fund raising for the junior sailing program. A skilled auctioneer charmed us all into bidding vigorously for the donated items auctioned. Some of the items included were 50,000 pesos worth of yacht fittings from Broadwater Marine, two nights of accommodation at Club Punta Fuego and flouro T shirts as worn by our safety officers.
On behalf of the RYC, I would like to thank all the sponsors of the 3iC event for their support and in particular, Broadwater Marine and Club Punta Fuego for their really generous donations.