Given that it was pouring and windless as I left Kent this morning, we have had a simply fabulous day’s racing…. Early breeze was around 12knots westerly, maybe less. It was a bit stronger in the rigging area than down in the bowl. Eight boats rigged for racing and seven made it around. The forecast was for gradually increasing breeze and Force 6 gusts – and that’s what we got!!!
We all went for the pin in race one, and the whole thing got away very well – the fleet looked good actually – loved our start!! There was a bit of a “go right” tendency, and it was all about the shifts of course. First round were Howard and Richard, ahead of Mark and a pierhead-jump crew, and then John and Helen, Dominic and David really chomping at the transom. The first reach was pretty inspiring – some two sailed it and went high – Mark and The Humes, I think. Howard and Richard opted for the three sail and honked straight down the leg. Not much in it at the wing mark though. The next leg was a shade broad, but the gusts were starting to get promising – a bit of FF surfing was there to be enjoyed…. Anyway – order held up the first half of the beat …. Howard and Richard called the shifts badly and both Mark Firth and John/Helen whizzed through (John leading), leaving Howard/Richard third…. and The Humes a worryingly close fourth. That’s probably the way it finished – the Club Results page is still stuck at 25th September, so it’s difficult to know!
And then the breeze properly set in…. For race two we again all voted for the pin end of the gate – a good clutch of very fast moving boats went left. Mervyn and James made the most brilliantly placed port tack start down at the pin, but regrettably their watch was ten seconds ahead of the PRO’s timepiece (!) ha ha ha ha !! – leaving the rest of us momentarily puzzled, but ultimately pleased! John and Helen, with Mark picked to go right early – we had maybe a good 18 mph of breeze by this time. John had let his jib halyard off and fairly shot upwind – moving really terribly quickly!! Mark in second, Howard/Richard in third – The Humes a tight and close fourth….
Was it to stay like that? Really great gusts started to move through the racecourse on the downwind legs – the boats were planing fast on lots of occasions. As we entered the last beat, we were all mainly going left… with a bit of right in it… There was usually good lift available along the north wall, but once you’ve got it, what do you do then?!! About three quarters of the way up the beat, Mark put in a very smart tack, really good it was – and promptly fell out of the boat !!! (thinks… “His poor crew!”…). This gave Howard and Richard a chance to close right in, and of course they would have been very sympathetic and concerned for Mark’s safety – if they weren’t in stitches of laughter!! Pity is he scrambled in and made off at his usual rate. Meanwhile John and Helen were on a horizon job – floppy jib halyard or not, they sailed superbly through the day – whoosh – they were gone. So Mark, Howard and Richard, Dominic and David nipped around the wing mark in close formation – The Humes terribly fast under spinnaker as usual so piling on the pressure. Mark was maybe 50 yards clear of Howard/Richard when huge great slabs of wind swept through the course. The Club anemometer hit 29.6mph…
Well, the boats simply took off in great clouds of spray. Mark decided one wash wasn’t enough and did an A1 spectacular broach – well maybe, it was something more – a spinnaker sheet wrapped around a mark maybe…. Anyway, they were flat a good while. Now all this happened dead ahead of the Humes who had to luff up to avoid the carnage and almost went over as part of a matching pair !! What of Howard and Richard? – they bore right off into the huge wall of breeze and the boat simply exploded away… and took off like a scalded cat…. Really fabulous stuff, blasting past Mark and away from the Humes.
The breeze kept up – the major issue for 3934 was to get a bit of height back to fetch the lay line to the finish – but blasted across the finishing line going flat out in second place in a huge cloud of spray – and almost lost it all completely for a moment right on the line! The Humes were next over in third, and Mark I think got clear to take fourth.
A brilliant day!!….. Open Meeting Next Week – first race not before 1pm Saturday. Three races Saturday, two Sunday. I think you’ll find John’s NOR on the blog page listed under “Interesting Links”….