Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Racing for a mysteriously named trophy and a curious result



I’ve never been much into conspiracy theories but the recent allegations of aliens tampering with Scows and moving Finns 20mm aft has got me a little spooked. Today the aliens moved the same Finn 20mm forward and removed 5 seconds – read on…

On Monday the weather finally gave us a break as we prepared for our 1st trophy race of the season. The trophy we race for is named the “Founders Folly” It’s a strange looking little plastic obelisk with a silver bird perched on top of a ball. I’m sure some of our elderlies know its history but they’ve neglected to put it on Wikipedia.

Most of our Finns are on their way to Greece for the Masters or at Mengeham Rythe for an open-meeting. Sneaky Laser sailor has gone to race with Mudeford. (Mudeford will never forgive us) but we have an encouraging turnout of 9 boats in our fleet. Class 5 (our slow handicap fleet) has done even better with 10 boats and we also have a handful of grumpies in Scows.

The wind is light and swinging from South West to South East, making for tricky conditions in the harbour.  It’s warm and sunny, however. Vicky & Ela are our enthusiastic race team and come armed with flags and whistles. One of the grumpies asks if they’ll use the “auto-hoot”. “No” replies Ela. He wanders off, muttering about Polish immigrants coming over here and not using our auto-hoots. Another vote for UKIP, I fear.

The start line is short and the presence of Sir Richard of Beasley in a catamaran has everyone worried.

We suspect Beasley is secretly plotting an America’s Cup challenge and getting in some early practice. The hydrofoil capable of lifting him and his crew several feet off the water has yet to be invented. The laws of gravity and physics aren’t on his side. By the time he’s Commodore the scientists will have figured it out and we’ll fund our America’s Cup campaign using the proceeds from the coffee machine.

Expecting start line chaos, I’m shocked to find myself crossing an almost deserted line as the fleet follows at a respectful distance back, a few seconds later.

Poor John Ridout, on port tack, almost manages to cross the leeward hull of Beasleycat before deciding to bear away behind it. There’s a loud crash and the sound of splintering gunwale but fortunately nobody is hurt and both boats continue racing.

Andy and Rory are close behind and just to leeward. We have a beat across to number 4 and after tacking onto port we’re lane-holding for a couple of minutes. I manage to stay above Andy’s Finn (pointing high isn’t easy in the RS300) As we near the mark we split tacks and I round about 20 seconds ahead. A couple of promising reaches don’t really deliver the gap I was looking for and by the half way stage I’m probably no more than a minute ahead. Rory is joined in his pursuit of Andy by Tony’s Finn while the assorted Laser 4.7’s, Solo, Wanderer and Beasley the Cat remain in close formation a few minutes further back.

The harbour is busy today with other fleets racing and a lot of traffic in the channel. I’m nearly washed overboard when a large motor launch decides to throttle up to pass in front. Although the water drains straight out the back of my boat it doesn’t encourage me to smile. Making a frowny sex-face, I continue.
As soon as boat-handling happens I revert to "scared sex-face grimace"

47 minutes and 19 seconds after our start, I finally cross the line. I hang around for a few minutes, watching the fleet, before sailing off to chat with my rowing pals in their Australian surf boat. Andy’s about 3 minutes back so the result could be close. Rory lost contact with the Finn somewhere in the 2nd half of the race and trails in about 3 minutes behind Andy.
Working on my "look like you're having fun" pose

Ela and Vicky work out the results on the way up-river, while I practice grinning for the camera. It makes my face hurt.
Grinning is a painful business

Initially, it looks as though I may have won but Andy queries the timing and explains that he was actually 20mm further forward than he appeared because of the aliens.
How come Andy's Finn mysteriously gains 20mm and loses 5 seconds?

Suitably impressed by his claims, and knowing that estate agents never lie, Vicky sympathetically subtracts 5 seconds from his elapsed time and he wins the race by 3 seconds.  
"Watch and learn, kid" Chris impresses young Jack with his trademark "dropping the mainsheet  and diving to leeward" move

Rory finished 3rd with Tony back in 4th. Beasleycat is still sailing back up the river, as far as we can tell.

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