Yesterday saw the start of the 2nd Cascais Winter Series in Portugal. With two races planed and a wind of around 15-18kts from a southerly direction, the 24 registered Dragons had to deal with some large waves as they gathered momentum towards the shore of Estoril. I had the pleasure of sailing my own boat NOR 282 Finito’, crewed by two excellent “Bavarian” sailors Peter Liebner and Philipp Blinn. We had established that because of a 10 degree line bias at the PIN end it was the place to be and indeed POR 50 made the perfect start and easily crossed the fleet after a short starboard tack. We decided to wait for a few more minutes before taking our advantage and only had to “duck” one boat GBR 648 (Hombre’), helmed by Jens Rathsack and crewed by Mario and Stefan. I was very pleased to see Jens doing so well in my chartered boat, (the sister-ship to Finito’).

After a tough 1mile beat against a small current it was Finito’ who just rounded first ahead of Hombre’ closely followed by POR 55 Jose Matoso and POR 47 Henrik Anjos. With some excellent surfing waves the leading 4 boats pulled away from the fleet to then choose different leeward marks at the downwind gate to set up a thrilling second beat. It’s so important these days to have a “gate” at the bottom of the course because it gives sailors options, instead of having to follow the leader in a single line procession….  At the top end of the 2nd beat it was Finito’ that held onto the lead from Hombre’ then POR 55.. On the final run, Jose managed to gybe inside Jens to snatch 2nd place as the boats surfed side by side.

So 1st NOR 282 Martin Payne.   2nd POR 55 Jose Matoso.  3rd GBR 648 Jens Rathsack.

When the 2nd race started in similar conditions, the skies were much darker. In fact due to 2 general recalls it was now quite late in the day and with sunset around 5.0pm the Race Officer must have been a little concerned. However, Jens Rathsack again made an excellent start and made a huge jump on the fleet as the first “Rain Storm” blew through. Quite often in the Northern Hemisphere, a rain squall will pull the wind right and this is exactly what happened here in Cascais. So at the top mark GBR 648 had the lead from POR 49 second and POR 50 third. Unfortunately the rain continued to come down with such force even “Noah” was considering if he should start building a 2nd boat!  Indeed by the start of the 2nd beat visability was poor and the southerly wind was beginning to die.

Halfway up the 2nd beat the wind not only dropped away but it started to “puff” from all directions as the rain continued to fall with such intensity. Spinnakers were set by some boats as others slowed to a stand-still.. Thus giving the Race Officer no other option than to stop the race… So the Black and White flag was shown aboard the Clube Naval de Cascais RIB and we all turned our boats towards what we thought was the Marina !! It took a while before all boats were finally moored up safely at the club, but the “Happy Hour” soon had the frozen faces smiling again and the “if only” stories getting more and more exciting as the alcohol was consumed..  With 3 races planed for today and Sunshine! we will see Cascais back to it’s best, and the competition really begin…..

Higher, Faster, Longer……………    Stavros. (NOR 282).