Tuesday August 19th 2014
After a short break for the RS300 Nationals (I didn't take part but I did look at the photos online) it was time to return to competitive action.
I was fired up and feeling mean, fit and focused when I arrived at the Sailing Club. My spirits were briefly raised by the absence of Luke but the presence of the big ginger kid with the Finn (Jack - he's my nephew) reminded me I would be in for a battle.
Jack is very fond of his weird Uncle Chris and enjoys nothing more than match racing him to the back of the fleet. To escape his attentions I often have to employ boat handling skills such as spinning in circles and running away. I don't have these skills any more.
Joey has rigged her Splash. If the wind is light she'll be a threat. She's very fast and quite clever.There's also a Solo, a couple of Radials and a couple of keen looking youngsters in the RS Feva who could make life interesting. I think this race will be between the Finn, the Splash and the 300.
The wind looked menacing with reports of 20 knots plus gusts and some ominous black clouds lurking overhead (where else would a cloud lurk?)
10 minutes before the start I launch. The wind seems to be easing but a sharp gust capsizes a Radial. Need to stay awake today. Jack is throwing his Finn around as if it's a bath toy. He's a big lad. He could kick-start a Chieftan tank but he doesn't have a driving license yet.
Pre-start, I hang back behind the line. With 20 seconds to go I sneak forward but I'm distracted by the large black genniker the Feva boys have hoisted. My timing is slightly off and I'm behind the Splash and the Finn as we reach towards the first mark. I extricate myself from the bunch and follow the Finn downriver on a run. Not really where I wanted to be – Jack is going to make life difficult for me now.
The Feva boys have done a good job and start well. They're nattering away, doing teamwork. Every 3rd word is “Jonny” One of them is called Jonny.
A large bunch of boats drifts lazily down the river. I take my place in the procession and wait patiently.
Slowly I move past the Finn. I stay to leeward – if I go high he'll luff me all the way to France. Jack moves to cover my wind so we remain in tight formation down to number 3 mark. I'm on the inside as we approach the mark and Jack throws in an early gybe in an effort to come back over me. I was born 50 years ago, not yesterday – I gybe too and the RS300 accelerates away.
Finally into clear air and on a reach – the Finn isn't going to catch me on this leg and I stretch away. On a reaching leg the 300 is a delight and the gap opens to 30, then 50 metres. By the time I reach number 10 buoy at the bottom of the harbour my lead is out to a minute. We're close on handicap but I'm in clear air and sailing my own race.
The Splash is going well – ahead of the Solo and close to the Radials. Joey is still a threat and the Feva boys are making a decent effort, using the genniker at every opportunity and still chatting like a couple of old women in a supermarket who've just spotted Judith Chalmers.
The wind never really materialised. A black cloud threatened something but apart from a couple of depressing windshifts and a few spots of rain the weather was uneventful. I crossed the line 3 and a half minutes ahead of the Finn which was enough to win the race.
Joey finished 3rd in her Splash while the Feva boys (Jack and Jonny) managed a decent 6th place in the dying breeze. They head back down the harbour with the big black genniker. We see them paddling back to the club about 2 hours later just as darkness falls. I guess they don't have homework this week.
Sailng gloves work – no bloodstains on the boat today.
Racing is more fun when there's someone you really want to beat (Jack, Luke, sneaky Laser sailors)
When you feel more relaxed in the boat you don't expend so much energy (for the 1st time I felt comfortable and didn't come home exhausted)
Upwind there's a groove and I'm struggling to find it. Need to work on this.