Sunday 27th July.
My Club needs me.
If last week's encounter with Luke was “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, today Luke and I stand shoulder to shoulder like Leonidas and that other guy in leather pants from the “300” movie.
Yes, it's the Interclub event. Our reputation as the biggest, baddest most kickass dinghy fleet in Christchurch harbour rests on these 2 races.
“Spartans, what is your profession?” We reply” Nurse, IT Manager” We're ready for battle.
I leave first and head down the harbour. The wind is northerly and fitful. There's going to be a lot of kneeling action today (and I don't mean the good type of kneeling action)
Feeling wobbly and nervous I reach the bay. There are a couple of boats heading out but I'm one of the first to arrive. Time to throw in a few tacks and try an upwind leg towards the shore. Wind off the land is all over the place but not swinging wildly so no crash tacks.
Strategy for today will be to look for the puffs and try to stay in the pressure without hitting the corners.
Sure enough, that strategy will backfire later...
I think there's a spot of pin end bias on the line but the fleet disagrees. Happy with that – I've lots of space to myself and I think the wind looks better on the left anyway. Luke is mid-line and front row. Soon enough we pop out ahead. There are Finns and an RS400 going fast but at the first cross I'm narrowly ahead. Round the 1st mark and a short reach across gives me a gap. The runs are wobbly – I'm staying forward in the light breeze but watching out for gusts that could upset me. Fortunately I make it round the 1st lap unscathed with a 50 metre lead over Luke. Apart from one very wobbly gybe the race is uneventful and I finish 25 seconds ahead of Luke. The Finns were never far behind and later I discover I finished 3rd on handicap – pretty good though.
Race 2 – another pin end start – no dramas.
Luke has gone right so we have a big separation early. Half way up the beat I think we're level but the wind shuts down and starts spinning around. There are 4 or 5 of us in a raft up near the top mark. Luke gets the breeze first and rounds ahead. I'm trapped behind a Finn and the RS400. While Luke stretches his legs along the top reach I'm trying to overtake slower boats. Finally I'm through and back into 2nd – Luke maybe 30 metres ahead.
2nd beat – Luke rounds up and stays on port tack. I think the wind will come from the left so I tack away. Big mistake. The wind goes right...and more right. Finally I tack back – Luke will cross nearly 100 metres ahead and the Finn and RS400 have got me again. It feels like race over as I round the top mark back in 4th with Luke halfway down the reach.
Once again I dive under the two boats and pop out ahead – still trailling Luke but in clear air and slowly catching as we start the 3rd lap. No splitting tacks this time – doing something just for the sake of it doesn't make sense so I'll sail fast and see if the gap closes. It does. 40 metres back at the top mark but a short plane across the top reach closes the gap to 20 metres as we go down the run. Running by the lee I almost draw level but Luke manages to stay clear ahead as we reach back to the Committee boat. There's no flag – will they give us another lap? I hope so – confident that I've got the speed to catch him. No passing opportunity on this leg and with just a few metres left before the bottom mark up goes the “S” flag. We finish about 5 seconds apart. Luke has held on to win the race and finishes 2nd overall in the Sea Interclub series – a great result for him. Later we find that CSC managed to retain the club trophy so I'm happy with my contribution (I didn't sail the previous 4 races but 3rd & 2nd counts towards our score)
What did I learn today?
Not to bugger up the Sailing programme by allowing those sneaky Laser gits to race in the harbour while the real men are fighting for the Club at sea.
Buy Luke a beer and don't gloat about being 2:1 ahead. When the wind comes up (it's raining and gusting 24 knots outside today) I'm going to get my ass kicked by the boat and lapped by Luke (also, not in a good way)