19th SSR – race and spinnaker

Looking back at the 19th Singapore Straits Regatta, it has been an amazing experience all around and it’s difficult to imagine how long it has been since I first put my name down with Keppel bay sailing academy for the race some time late last year.

Before getting involved with racing, I had absolutely no idea what was expected of me. Cut me some slack here, I was only casual cruising about before this.

Turning up on the day for the boat delivery, I met a couple of familiar faces at the Marina with Meng, Wan, Lynnette and Nicki and soon enough, we had the boat prepped and ready to deliver it to Nongsa Point for our 4 days of spinnaker and race training. Delivery of the boat from Keppel Marina was nice and easy with a good breeze of about 18 knots blowing, except that Meng decided that it would be a good idea to take the genoa down and switch it to a jib as we approached Nongsa Point. After switching to a jib as per the skipper’s instructions, we went sailing about the waters near Nongsa Point to see how the new jib handled in the 18 – 23 knots wind. Decisions for the race strategy were made and after Meng and Lynnette were satisfied with the results, we took endeavour back into the marina for the day. That same night, we picked up the rest of the crew who would be going through the spinnaker training with us for the next 2 days.

Heeling over at a pretty 40º

Heeling over at a pretty 40º

Being the bowman is something I’ll never forget. All that scrapped shins while trying to hoist the spinnaker pole with the winds blowing at a breezy 18 – 23 knots every single day of the spinnaker and race training and the boat heeling at 40º made for some exciting moments up front at the bow. Plenty of spinnakers were put up and taken down and the whole execution was done over and over again with Meng yelling at people to get their shit together until one spinnaker take down which in our haste, got snagged by the anchor roller and that resulted in a relatively long tear which was later exacerbated into a major one when we tried drying the spinnaker back in the marina by hoisting it up to the top of the main mast at the end of the day. Thankfully, we had a couple more spare training spinnakers packed up in the aft cabins.

As the spinnaker training came to an end and we headed into the race training, positions were finalized after several more runs with the race team. As it turns out, I was tasked as the port trimmer and port side keyboardist which actually, was pretty damn fun when the spinnaker came up and it was grind grind grind grind grind! Maneuver after maneuver was executed over and over again and to the delight of some, minor but time saving tweaks were slowly being incorporated in the race strategy. Spinnaker hoists, mark aroundings, leward drops, windward drops, letterbox drops were practiced until the crew was familiar with each maneuver and plenty of discussions were had on how to ‘tailor’ it for the crew that we put together this race.

Putting a close to the end of the race training after 4 days, I spent the last night on boat a relatively bare endeavour but nothing really beats the feeling of a gentle rocking boat and the morning sunshine that kisses the marina before delivering endeavour back to Keppel Marina the following morning with Meng, Nicki and Wan. It turns out that the winds were good and we had an asymmetrical spinnaker up to take us all the way back to Lazarus Islands where customs clearance was done before heading back into Keppel and a day’s rest before the race.

Watch out for part 2 of the 19 SSR – This time about the 4 days of racing along Singapore’s coast and the waters off Nongsa Point.

See you guys soon!
- Mark