PENROSE SAILMAKERS SERIES Wind shifts are the bane of a race officer's life. All that effort trying to get the start line at 90° to the wind direction in order to give racing boats a fair start, then, just at the critical moment, the wind changes direction and his work is wrecked.

In a championship, he'd stop proceedings and reset the line, with some delay for the competitors. In club racing, when all people want to do, after a hard day's work, is to get going and race, that approach would cause a mutiny, writes Chris Davis.

So it was that, in the fifth and penultimate race of the Penrose Sailmakers series on Friday evening, the E class start ended up with a 20° port bias as the wind shifted two minutes before the start: the race officer had no choice but to live with it. Those competitors who spotted it had an immediate advantage; those who didn't … well, perhaps they need to sharpen up a bit. One or two boats lurked in the middle of the line as the start time approached, in itself a strategy not without risk, and headed off to the favoured end of the line when the shift took place. Thus the Dehler 36 Noon Hi (Jack Penty) and the GK33 General Khaos (Ian and Jenny Jakeways) took an early lead, crossing the line going fast on port tack, but the others chased hard and recouped some of the early loss as the race progressed. A particularly good performance came from Andrew and Sue Nancarrow and their young family in the Oceanis 311 Gazelle, who came second. There was a fascinating spinnaker duel on the first downwind leg between the Contessa 28 Tressa of Lymington (Alex Davis) and the Sundream 28 Adelie (Chris and Jane Horn); Tressa eventually won this part of the race and built on this to came third, both on the water and on handicap. However the race belonged to General Khaos, taking first place by a healthy margin.

The skippers in U fleet, the next fleet away, had watched all this with interest, of course, and the boats getting places this week all took port flyer starts. The wind, 10 knots or so from the north-west, suited the Sadler 25 Tomaray (Jon Myers) and he steadily built up a significant lead on handicap, eventually taking first place. The conditions were also pretty good for the Hawk 20 Khamsin (Richard Chart), which came second, and the Contessa 26 Mary Boon (John Cruise) took third place.

In Q fleet, Clive Hoyle, sailing his Hunter Europa Rococo single-handed as usual, showed how it should be done. He built up a huge lead over the MG Spring 25 Mara (Martin Wilson), in second place, and the Westerly Merlin Chalonnaise (Steve Pendray and Fiona Pascoe), who took third. Unfortunately, two of the boats in this class had to retire when the wind died away as the light faded.

Seven boats raced this week in H fleet, which is an encouraging sign: it is to be hoped that this class will grow further as the season progresses. Line honours were taken by the Cape Cutter Nettie (Richard Rickard, also sailing single-handed) and he also took first place on handicap, but the margins were slim in this class. The two Shrimpers Grace of St Just (John Benge) and Henrietta (Michael Wilson), slower boats than the Cape Cutter, were close on his heels, crossing the line within a couple of minutes of him, but Richard just managed to hold on by six seconds on corrected time. Close racing, after 80 minutes or so on the water. Results. E class. 1st: General Khaos (I and J Jakeways); 2nd: Gazelle (A and S Nancarrow); 3rd: Tressa of Lymington (A Davis). U class. 1st: Tomaray (J Myers); 2nd: Khamsin (R Chart); 3rd: Mary Boon (J Cruise). Q class. 1st: Rococo (C Hoyle); 2nd: Mara (M Wilson); 3rd: Chalonnaise (S Pendray and F Pascoe). H class. 1st: Nettie (R Rickard); 2nd: Grace of St Just (J Benge); 3rd: Henrietta (M Wilson).

SKB SAILS FOWEY RACE Thirteen boats raced in the SKB Sails Fowey Race on Saturday, which was an excellent turnout in the indifferent weather. Perhaps the sun and blue skies will return eventually. Mylor YC is never afraid to try innovative and unusual race formats and, in this race, skippers cross the start line at a time of their own choosing and make best use of their boat's performance, tide and wind to get to Fowey first on handicap. The wind, a decent force 4 or 5 from the west, made this race a reaching course and so favoured the larger, heavier boat: the laws of physics mean that a decent waterline length equals good speed, and higher momentum means a steady good speed through a choppy sea. High water on Saturday was at about 3pm, so most boats started at about noon.

The Biscay 36 ketch E'le May (Ian and Lyn Horne), certainly a large, heavy boat, started at 12.34, took just over three hours to get to the finish in the entrance to Fowey harbour and so won easily. The story may well have been different had there been a few tacks to contend with, but such is yacht racing. However, the boats in the next three or four places were very evenly matched and were each separated by only 20 seconds or so on handicap. Second place was taken by the Island Packet 32 Dolly (Simon and Lynne Fleming), another heavy boat. A very impressive performance came from the Roxanne 29.5 Roxanne of Restronguet (Charles and Gillian Taylor), which is not a particularly large boat and is certainly not heavy: they took third place. Charles now seems to have the correct sail plan for this boat and it is definitely sailing well. The Rustler 31 Alias (Trish and Brian Adams) came fourth and it was extremely pleasing to see the GK29 Growling Kougar (Tim Lukes and Jackie Cutler) take fifth place. Tim and Jackie have been boat owners for less than a year and participated in the MYC Simply Sailing initiative, an educational and developmental programme for those new to racing, introduced in 2013 and continued last winter. Perhaps the scheme is producing the goods: there were a fair few very capable and more experienced sailors lower down the listings today. Results. 1st: E'le May (I and L Horne); 2nd: Dolly (S and L Fleming); 3rd: Roxanne of Restronguet (C and G Taylor); 4th Alias (B and T Adams); 5th: Growling Kougar (T Lukes and J Cutler).

SKINNERS BREWERY PURSUIT SERIES A record 18 boats sailed in the second race in the Skinners Brewery Pursuit Series on Sunday morning, in ideal conditions for yacht racing: a steady force 4 from the south, sun, and no rain. Perfect.

It was pleasing to see three Shrimpers start at 11 am exactly, leading the fleet away, the rest of the fleet following as their start times came and went, with the fastest boats starting last. The aim for all was to overtake as many boats as possible in front of you, and hold off those starting later. If the handicapping team had done its job properly and the skipper sailed their boats properly, all the boats would finish exactly together at 12.45 pm. I have no doubt that this is theoretically possible, but it is very unlikely.

All but two boats had good starts, and it was a shame that those two had time penalties imposed for starting early. The first beat sorted the wheat from the chaff, and those boats which did well here tended to hold on to their places for the remainder of the race. The fleet certainly made a fine sight on the first downwind leg towards Pill Creek, in the sun, with spinnakers hoisted or genoas poled out.

The fleet sorted itself out into two or three distinct groups, with some close mark rounding situations as the faster boats inexorably overtook the slower ones. General Khaos (Ian and Jenny Jakeways), the last boat away, had a daunting task as they started 32 minutes after the Shrimpers: 32 minutes is a lot to make up in, for them, a 75 minute race. And they almost made it. Race Officer Bob Shearer first boat away, Henrietta (Michael Wilson), just held on to take first place, with General Khaos crossing the line forty seconds later and Aura (owned by Euan Beattie, but helmed by his son Charlie Beattie) coming third. Most of the remaining boats finished close together, perhaps ten or twenty seconds apart, but even the back markers turned in acceptable performances, once the statistical analysis was complete.

Results. 1st: Henrietta (M Wilson); 2nd: General Khaos (I and J Jakeways); 3rd: Aura (E Beattie).