Ladies Rose Bowl 2022
Updated: Feb 15
Win or lose to those watching all the ladies were heroines on the day they did something that had not been done in 20years.
For some it was a huge step in skippering a race boat in serious competition and they were all champions in the watchers eyes.
Teams were: “Virginnia Creeper” Layla Muses Haytham Musus Philip Jones “Yellow Deck” Sakina Mustafa David Mackay “Quattro Corzonne” Natasha Haque Evans Simiyu “Chocoholic” Seema Shah-Jones Huzeifa Mustafa Hussein Abdurahmin
The race started a little late as “Yellow Deck” team broke their jib in the pre-start and had to go ashore for some emergency work. For those already on the water it was an opportunity to get some start practice and work out the crew roles in the boat.
By the start gun all four Flying fifteens were on the line ready to go, the wind was a good 14knots with gusts, the sun was dodging in and out of white and grey clouds and it was a typical tropical warmth that surrounded the fleet. The water in the harbour was not flat but a slight swell that would cause some splashing as they picked up speed.
First upwind mark was Mbaraki a short straight beat complicated by the buildings that caused large gusts of wind, no wind, wind, no wind had all the boats on their toes.
“Virginnia Creeper” had the jump on the line and looked good, only to see “Chocoholic” sweep past their outside as they stumbled on the rapid wind shifts. These two battled their way upwind until “Chocoholic” had to bear away to gain speed allowing “Virginnia Creeper” a straight line to the mark.
“Yellow Deck” had gone very wide and were some 150 metres to the side of the mark, they had made good speed and on the tack they were starboard boat as they charged through the fleet, turning “Chocoholic” and “Virginnia Creeper” away from the mark and snatching the first rounding.
Down-wind to Likoni the run turned into a fast reach and “Yellow Deck” were in the lead by a good 50 metres. Chasing hard were “Virginnia Creeper” and “Chocoholic”, “Quattro Corzonne” had made a slow start but closed the gap to the other three so all three boats were spread over less than 100 metres.
At Likoni, “Yellow Deck” hardened up and found themselves having to turn as the ferry was leaving the ramp, next round was “Virginnia Creeper” and they benefitted by being late and not being shadowed by the ferry, instead they were able to follow the ferry and keep wind.
Both Chocoholic and “Quattro Corzonne” were able to get clear wind, the ferry had left the area in front of them as it proceeded to the island side allowing the boats behind to sail straight up past the stern of the ferry. It seemed that the distance between the fleet was down to just 30-40 metres.
“Yellow Deck” tacked first and cleared the wind shadow from the ferry, this brought them once more onto a collision course with “Virginnia Creeper” who were on starboard and had right of way, now the shouting started “Right of Way” ! “Right of Way” !
Sakina held her nerve and nipped past “Virginnia Creeper bows with a hairs breath to spare. All the boats were now on port tack heading to the harbour entrance with the exception of “Virginnia Creeper who stayed on starboard until the middle of the channel. On the tack they were more than 100 metres behind, however, they had tide, good straight wind and they were closer to the island shore where the mark was.
In short time they had passed both “Quattro Corzonne” and “Chocoholic” and were chasing “Yellow Deck”. On upwind but beating away from the mark “Virginnia Creeper had good placing and knew that the others had to come back to them in order to reach the mark. They were clearly trying to put themselves above the others to get between the fleet and the mark so they could control the race.
“Yellow Deck” tacked and came back on the charge on starboard, by now the open waters of the Indian Ocean were having a say as the waves picked up and were almost .5 of a metre high but very short and sharp. The boats were kicking up spray that was blinding crew and helms, the shouting on the boats could be heard over the wind, waves and the creaking of the rigging.
“Yellow Deck” came back on at full speed and once again caught “Virginnia Creeper on port, forcing them into an emergency tack and bringing the boats alongside each other so close they could reach out and touch if they so desired. The spray was wild and stinging the skin and eyes and “Virginnia Creeper had more weight onboard with three crew allowing them to point 1-2 degrees higher so they pushed “Yellow Deck” into a tack that left them floundering long enough to snatch the lead. Round Green Cables and it was down wind for the mile that had travelled upwind.
Racing back into the harbour downwind “Virginnia Creeper had taken the advantage, the tacking error on “Yellow Deck” had let both “Chocoholic” and “Quattro Corzonne” to close up in on their stern, they rounded Green Cables in a tight knit group.
The chasing boats spread out so nobody could be winded by the boat astern and all the boats slipped into a “Goose Wing”*
The ferries once again had a say in the race as “Virginnia Creeper was the first back there and a ferry was just leaving the Likoni side, they skinnied by so close that had there been a protest from the other contestants they may well have been disqualified for dangerous sailing.
It always amuses me when talking to people who watch sailing racing but do not sail, they have the impression that it is a leisurely pursuit, in fact when onboard the work-rate is off the scale in tough competition. Even in these large race dinghies if you lose focus for a few seconds that is one or two boat lengths lost to your competitors. One bad mistake can cost several hundred yards by the time a penalty is done. The name of the game is do not make mistakes!
The nip in front of the ferry gave “Virginnia Creeper a good lead but the following boats were now all together and it was a battle royale going on.
I lost count of the times they changed places as nobody wanted to give an inch. It seemed the three of them were constantly playing a sailors version of musical boats! In the pre-race interviews with the TV companies all the ladies were up for it and wanted a win, now egos were at stake and they did not want to go down. If they did not win they wanted to not be last.
Back inside the harbour up and down the wind three times and the war was still on, “Virginnia Creeper had held their advantage and the gods were smiling as when they made their mistake it was followed by a significant wind shift that lifted them more than 50 metres towards the mark turning their mistake into profit.
“Quattro Corzonne” made a bad error at Liwatoni and collided with “Yellow Deck” late in the race and this dropped them behind so far they could not recover. “Chocoholic” had already pulled out a 30 metre lead on the other two and the collision gave Chocoholic a good 100 metre advantage, thus they were chasing “Virginnia Creeper without the interference of the other two boats.
From that point it was a little processional as the fleet concluded the race with “Virginnia Creeper crossing first, “Chocoholic” second, “Yellow Deck” third and “Quattro Corzonne” fourth.
Once ashore and a time check, a two hour race had been completed in one hour and 39 minutes. The fleet was separated by less than 2 minutes so all in all a great race and a great way to introduce the LADIES ROSE BOWL back into competition.
Congratulations Layla Muses Lady Rose Bowl Champion for 2022.
Written by: Philip Jones. 14th February 2022