The Royal Dartmouth Regatta is always one of the favourite racing events of the year, with Dartmouth providing a stunning backdrop to some excellent racing. MS Amlin Enigma was racing in IRC Class 3, against a mixed fleet which included various J- Boats (a J97, several J92s, two J80s and a J70), two SJ320s and two Elan 333s. The tight rating band meant that racing was very close on the water, with frequent changes in position as races progressed.
The first day of racing was held in a stiff 18 - 20 Knot SW wind and bright sunshine. Race one was a windward/leeward course and MS Amlin Enigma got away to a good start and was with the leaders at the first windward mark. Enigma, one of the lower rated boats in the fleet, managed to hold onto the faster yachts, finishing 3rd on the water and 2nd on corrected time. So far so good!
With the wind building, a change to the number 2 headsail was needed between races, which put the team behind on their start positioning. Starting away from the favoured end of the line meant that MS Amlin Enigma was burried in the pack by the first mark and struggled to gain ground on the triangle/sausage/triangle course. By the end of the race, the team were 8th on the water and 4th on corrected. It was a challenging first day, with short legs on the courses and a good breeze giving the crew a few aches and pains to recover from overnight. The Salcombe Gin RIB was a very welcome sight as the boat headed back towards the entrance to the Dart.
Day 2 was even windier and the large headsail stayed safely stowed in favour of the number 2. Again a windward/leeward course and a triangle/sausage/triangle were provided by the excellent race officer. The first race saw an extremely close finish on the water, with 4 boats finishing within 10 seconds of each other and another 2 boats only 9 second behind. Again MS Amlin Enigma posted a 2nd and a 4th, which put the team 2nd overall at the halfway point, from the SJ320, Scarlet Jester counting 3 winds and a 3rd. Again the Salcombe Gin RIB delivered some very welcome refreshment.
Day 3 brought a change of course with the longer Bay Race taking the fleets on a tour of Start Bay lasting around 3.5 hours, again in a brisk south westerly breeze. The boat to beat, Scarlet Jester was quick off the line, with MS Amlin Enigma close behind. At the halfway point, the mental calculations suggested the yachts were just seconds apart on corrected time. Scarlet Jester managed to pull away further on the spinnaker reach towards Blackpool Sands and by the finish were 5 minutes ahead, which resulted in a win by 1.5 minutes on corrected time. This being a longer race, it counted twice in the results and so MS Amlin Enigma's 2nd place was very welcome, as were the G&Ts on the way in.
Saturday was again windy and this finally took its toll on MS Amlin Enigma, with the spinnaker end fitting failing half way through the first race, resulting in a 6th place. Undeterred, the team managed to jury-rig the outboard end of the pole between races using a sail tie, duck tape and a snap hook. This at least allowed a spinnaker to be flown, although it has to be said that the gybes were not very slick! The final result was a 2nd place, securing 2nd overall in the regatta series, behind Scarlet Jester, with another SJ320, Seajade, in 3rd.
Overall an excellent regatta, with well organised racing, a fantastic venue and excellent hospitality from the Royal Dart Yacht Club. The fantastic crew on MS Amlin Enigma were Claire, Mary, Carrie, Nick, Mark, James and Harry, proving that a mixture of experience and youthful enthusiasm is a great combination! And perhaps we have discovered a new performance enhancing secret weapon - G&Ts on the way back to the marina!