23rd November 2014
This blog is in danger of becoming a race report. Without comedy gems such as capsizes, tiller extensions snagged under buoyancy aids and fractured testicles there's very little entertainment happening aboard the RS300 at present. Spoiler alert - I didn't capsize today but you have read on to find the race results...
Pre-race preparation is essential for peak performance. On Friday night I prepared for Saturday's race by drinking several pints of lager with the newly knighted Sir Richard of Beasley. Needless to say, Saturday's result was a DNC.
On Sunday morning the alarm sounded at 7 and I leapt cat-like out of bed and bounded down the stairs. Actually I groaned, rolled over and at 7:35 fell out of bed and crawled downstairs. This pretty much sums up my performance for the rest of the day.
It's damp (raining steadily), cold (less than 10 degrees) and windless (less than 10 knots). The dinghy park is full of Finn sailors debating which of their 4 masts and 7 sails will give them the winning combination for today's races. I get the impression that it's not worth turning up if you have a Finn with just 1 mast and 1 sail.
Simon Fry is joining them today. He's a professional sailor – been to the Olympics and America's Cup and all sorts of big events. But not in a Finn. Jon and Sir Richard of Beasley are coaching from the RIB. Simon will shortly learn how coaching should be done. (Verbal abuse, laughter, inappropriate use of Go-Pro)
The Finns are sailing their own race so the rest of us (Luke, Wire-Haired Terrier, Gary, Glen, Mike, Ann, Julie and myself) will do a single race around the fixed harbour marks. Luke sets a simple course using just 3 marks. He got lost on the race course yesterday and is determined not to repeat the mistake.
The Finns start first. The wind is northerly, which is always tricky, so I look at how they fare on the 1st beat. Ray has the best start from the committee boat end and goes left while the rest of the fleet go middle to right. Ray looks to be leading as they approach the windward mark so I make a mental note to do the same and head towards the line.
Our fleet is hanging back so I head down to the middle of the line with plenty of space. Luke and Sue have a coming together (not the good sort) and I hear shouting from Luke as he closes the door between Sue and the Committee boat. He's a brave man. Size alone won't protect him from her fury but she's in an amiable mood today and does her penalty turns without complaint.
I think I've had a good start but Luke's is better and very soon he's sailing over me. I tack onto port and abandon my pre-race strategy, heading right. We cross again as we approach the windward mark, Luke is 3-4 lengths ahead but inexplicably stays on port and overstands the mark by several lengths, allowing me to round ahead.
The long reaches across to 3 and back down to 6 allow us to stretch away from the chasing pack. Mike Greenland has recovered from a poor start and comfortably heads the Lasers, with Sue not far behind.
As we start the 2nd beat I'm 30 metres ahead of Luke. The beats are tricky and the ebb tide is beginning to have an impact. Luke and I remain separated by about 30 seconds for most of the race. He tangles with a rowing boat on the 3rd beat and loses a few lengths, I park myself at the gybe mark – coming to a near standstill. We're both making a few mistakes today but steadily pulling away from the Lasers.
On the final beat Julie's Topper is a lap behind but just ahead as we approach the top mark. I duck her on port and tack to follow her round the mark. She's setting up for a reach but I need to bear away onto the final run and my only option is to slow for her to round first. This allows Luke to close up and we're only a couple of lengths apart going down the final run to the finish. Luke goes high, I stay low. For a while we're neck and neck but I manage to hang on to cross the line about 15 seconds ahead. A close one.
Mike leads the lasers with Sue not far behind. Further back, Gary leads Glen with Ann and Julie finishing a couple of minutes later.
In the overall results Mike claimed a well deserved 3rd place from the Wire Haired Terrier in 4th. Julie, in her Topper, finished 5th, ahead of Gary, Glen and, finally, Ann in the 4.7.
We head for home with the Finns staying out for their second race. They're squabbling amongst themselves over rule 42. Rule 42 is only understood by Finn sailors. We're not getting involved.
My RS300 and I take a leisurely cruise upriver to Tuckton and drift back down to the Club as the Lasers come ashore. It's a cold wet day, especially for the race team, but definitely worth the early start.
Incidentally, the Big Ginge (Jack) managed a first and a second in the Finn fleet so his dad should be pleased with the boy's performance today.