Sunday September 7th 2014
Nursing sore balls and a hangover following a long bike ride and an encounter with a bottle of Polish vodka the previous evening, I drove through the early morning fog towards the Club. I don't know how you get vodka from a Bison but it tastes distinctive.
Highcliffe anemometer informs us there is a promising 4 knot breeze which ranks somewhere between “perilous” (2 knots) and “out of control planing” (8 knots) on my RS300 comfort scale.
The girls are out in force today. Mike and I appear to be the only chaps taking part in the race. No sign of the big ginger nephew, Luke, or the sneaky laser sailors (although one of them arrived just before the start, loudly announcing his intention to join a RIB flotilla to the Isle of Wight).
Anticipating a friendly, relaxed race, I write a course on the blackboard, at which point the ladies transformed into an angry frenzied lynch mob. I bravely suggest a shortened course then hide in the toilet until they launch.
In a light northerly breeze we race from the Club down into the harbour. The wind is fitful and I manage to park myself at the “wrong” end of the line at the start. Mike chose the right end of the line and leads in his laser as the girls and I give chase.
Because Mike is a true gent I elect to pass to windward and manage to glide by without incident. Mike slips back into the pack and we drift slowly down towards the harbour.
On our way to the first mark a large flotilla of RIBS surges past. The Isle of Wight rally has begun with an experiment to discover how easy it is to wash an unwary sailor out of his RS300. Muttering rude words about overweight twonks with BMW driver mentalities I regain my composure and wobble downwind through their wash. Feeling sorry for the citizens of Yarmouth, I head down the harbour as the mist clears.
Ela has started well – ahead of the girls she chases down the Laser and follows around number 6 buoy about a minute behind. The beat is tricky, though – light northerlies are a tactical minefield and we all struggle with some big shifts and holes in the breeze on our way back up to number 5 buoy. I manage 2 tacks in quick succession without actually steering. By the time I get moving again the fleet is closing in – any notions of an easy win are quickly dispelled – I need to sail better than this.
To my delight I see our windward mark is not only capsized but also in the middle of Mudeford Sailing Club's line as they launch into their start sequence. I sneak through the fleet on port and wobble downwind to number 7. Finally able to stretch away, I notice that Sue is leading the pack in her Radial. I'm not sure she knows it's a Radial – she entered the race in a Laser. She's a wire-haired terrier of a woman and sailing fast today.
Marion is also going well in her Radial. Marion has great qualities for sailor – she nursed my brother following his arse transplant a couple of years ago – which means she's unshockable and resilient. She's also a nurse, which means she was probably the world's best first date back in the days when she was dating.
Ela and Anne are battling it out just behind the Radials. Anne's 4.7 is pretty much identical in speed to Ela's Splash and Ela just leads by a few lengths. In the light winds both boats are seriously underpowered and struggling to match the bigger rigs for straight line speed today.
Around 45 minutes into the race, Rollo the Race Officer shortens the course. The rest of the fleet cross the line over the next few minutes with Sue in 2nd place on the water and on corrected time.
Mike, Marion, Ela and Anne finish in that order, separated by just seconds on handicap.
As we sailed home the sun finally broke through and a September morning felt like Summer again. Far off in the distance we hear raucous laughter and the rattle of badly maintained 2 strokes as our RIB flotilla finally leaves the citizens of Yarmouth in peace.