Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sea Series 1 & 2 - Olympic Courses with the Cruiser fleet

Today we race with the cruisers which means if you’re a dinghy on starboard they won’t see you and if you have mark room they'll have nowhere else to go.
There’s also a constant aroma of bacon butties and gin & tonic but they won’t share with dinghies.
No matter; because today I’ll be too busy sliding around the boat like a scalded cat to wine and dine with the keelboat sailors.
"We've run out of gin - summon the lifeboat"
We still call "Triangle - Sausage" courses "Olympic". This is how our club likes to remember Olympic sailing. Dragons and blazers and bearded men smoking pipes. I forgot to mention that Andy's joined Royal Lymington Yacht Club. They like a man wearing a blazer.

The forecast breeze is in the mid-teens. This is more than I’ve sailed on the sea and I’m not confident - in fact I'm downright nervous.

Determined to focus I stand in front of the mirror as I’m changing. “You’re a big sexy bear of a man. You have balls of steel and you’re ready for anything. Now come on and let’s get this done!” 

Suddenly, a toilet cubicle opens. Awkward moment. I dive for cover.

Back at the slipway, Andy has arrived to rig his Finn. He doesn’t speak to me today. Maybe he read last week’s blog.Tony, Steve, Ray and Ginge make up the rest of the Finn fleet. 

Jack Acton is ready with his 4.7. He looks sleepy. Apparently Jack, Drew and Cian had a sleep-over last night and were up till midnight flicking Haribo sweets at each other. Anyone wishing for a more innocent age should join our club. We go all dreamy at the mention of Valerie Singleton.
Who is Valerie Singleton?

With the race planned for 2pm we’ve launched early and by 1pm some of the dinghies have gone out to sea. Ela is at Mudeford Quay taking photos as we depart. Most of the sailors smile. Andy makes his “I’m not earning any money today” face.  Basically it’s a scowl.

I'd rather be selling bungalows

The harbour entrance is tricky – a long winding run along the shore surrounded by breaking waves. I’m catching a motoring Hawk in front but there’s no room to pass so I have to slow down. On a run that’s difficult but I manage to stay out of trouble until we exit the channel.

The short broad reach to the start terrifies me.  It’s gusty and I’m struggling to stay in  control with short steep waves throwing me around. I pass the start line and pause to re-group. Another stern talking to myself and I head upwind for a warm-up lap. Around the top mark and back down the two reaches of the triangle and I’m feeling a little more confident. The wind seems to be easing – in fact it’s going to die away to a whimper later but I don’t know this yet.

Back to the start to watch the cruisers.
"Today we will mostly be flying the leeward hull"
BeasleyCat is on the water again – with Graham helming. We have 5 Finns, Jack in his 4.7 plus me. 

Luke is our man down. “Powered by beer but disabled by shots.”  He’s becoming the weakest link in our RS300 fleet. I wonder whether I might finish as 1st Christchurch boat at the Nationals, simply by staying sober enough to sail some races.

Anyway – our start is uneventful apart from Ginge being OCS and having to return. We plod up the 1st beat in a dying breeze and short chop which really doesn’t suit the 300. I round the windward mark 4th but manage to get through to 2nd by the end of the triangle. The 2nd beat is shifty and I manage to hook into a couple of decent shifts, while avoiding the cruisers, and round ahead. Back down the run (which is basically a reach) and I’m about 30 metres in front of Ray and Steve.

We're off!! Except for BeasleyCat and Darren in the Topper.

Approaching the line on the next beat I see the Race Officer shortening course for the Oppies and Topper just ahead. I cross the line, hearing no sound, and continue upwind. 

Behind me, Andy, Steve, Jack, Tony and BeasleyCat all stop. Ray follows me and Jack re-joins the race. We complete another triangle and the race officer confirms we’ve sailed the correct course.   

By the time I finish Steve and Andy have left for the day and gone home. Fortunately the rest of our fleet stays out for race 2.

Race 2 is held in progressively lighter winds. I get a good start; Ray is OCS, and lead around the 1st mark. Jack and Tony are close behind and I wobble around the course without managing to shake them off. At the end I’m probably a couple of minutes ahead which may be good enough for 3rd but it won’t win the race.

Sailing home is a very long slog up the narrow channel but it’s turned into a warm afternoon and a good way to finish the weekend.

"I'm terrified but if I drown this is the smiley face I want you to remember"
What went well?
I smiled for a photograph
Andy can’t argue about his finishing time because he didn’t actually finish a race.
Gary wasn’t there – he’s still pissing off the Mudeford fleet
The Finns are heading to Greece next week so I may win a race while they’re away
I went home sober

What to improve
Don’t forget beer money next time.
Take more bottles of water – 1 isn’t enough
Fit the tacktick compass – I’m sure the wind shifted.

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