Wow !! What a day we had today !! Just superb…!! Eight boats on the slip this morning, Guys !
At around 8am, I checked all the weather forecasts and they largely said the same 9 or 10mph, cloudy…. Only the BBC held a little candle for a bit more – 16-17mph they said. ( a little inkling of what was to come!…) Funnily enough I checked Heathrow airport, and the Club Weather Service but still the same 9-10mph.
So I rocked up at the Club at 0845 – blimey !! Got the hand meter out, and 22-24mph was the reading – Force 5 gusting 6 !! Even bursts of bright sunshine too (in between a little bit of rain – after racing that was). Anyway, we were in for a stonker….!! After a week of it blowing there was a fabulous swell to the reservoir too ….. real waves!!
It was quite a day for testing kit. Our problems started ashore when the rig tensioner fell apart! The turning block at the foot of the mast just opened up with fatigue! Then once afloat our mainsheet tails started to run free through the splice so we couldn’t pull the boom in! Plus the bowline on the port spinnaker clew walked away (Will Akela ever forgive me!!) – it was obviously going to be one of those days !!
The PRO started a little late for some reason – hardly anybody else from the Club ventured out, but of course the Fifteens went – and started first in the sequence!!! Actually the course turned out to be really rather good. The reaches were totally sensational fun!
Race one tore out of the gate, pin end favoured – I’d swear the PRO wasn’t watching but there was no recall and the leaders typically popped out of the pin end of the gate. The leading group reached the first mark very close together – John and Helen, Ian and James, Howard and Richard. They hurtled down the first reach under two sails – Howard was having none of that. Having packed the Over-60’s spinnaker, he wasn’t going to leave it in the bag was he?!! Booff – up it went only to find that the port sheet bowline had parted. So instead of just taking off,…. lots of recovery to do – Steve and Simon swept up. For 3934, this meant nipping out to the stern quarter and across the bow in force 5 reaching speeds – hilarious stuff. By the end of the second reach John and Helen, Ian and James were well gone. The fleet was closing in, and being still under two sails, Howard and Richard got hammered. Steve and Simon blasted past just short of the bottom mark never to be seen again (good rounding, Guys!!). Anyway, it stayed a bit like that. The Linders and John/Helen were having a right old battle up front and John and Helen very narrowly squeaked in with a first, from Ian and James, the Steve and Simon some way back. Howard and Richard fourth.
Then the breeze really came up!! the PRO was persuaded to start us off before the 8 club boats (from 9 classes!) had finished – great!! Away we galloped, pin end again, Howard and Richard right at the pin on the gun. The line was pretty square though and in general going right was paying – the problem was getting over there. Tightly grouped at the top we had The Linders, John/Helen, Mark/Toby, Howard/Richard. Off we went down that top reach – no hesitation this time – kites up! – spray on !!! Howard and Richard with the OAP’s spinnaker nipped past Mark and Toby and closed in to John and Helen – Ian and James out front.
Those two reaches were really fantastic…. aboard the Stenson’s boat it was, “Hoist” and ….. splash, over the side backwards went David !!! I’d swear I heard Richard shouting, “Sheet in!!” …..but David wasn’t even able to climb in – then came the inevitable broach (ha ha ha ha !!) and Mervyn and David swept by waving cheerily !! Anyway mid-broach, David’s foot found the keel and he flipped himself back aboard – along with about 1000 litres of lovely Thames water !!!
Now over in the leading four, blasting at full tilt down to the leeward mark it was high speed line abreast for John/Helen (inside berth), Mark/Toby, Howard/Richard. It was absolutely dead abeam and at serious speed. Well, you don’t want to be the outside boat and we didn’t want to be there, but pinned down we were !! So going back uphill, you can guess the order. The last two reaches of the race were fantastic as you might imagine. John and Helen made a great job of second. Fighting for third was simply superb boat on boat stuff!! In the end and on the line, Mark/Toby and Howard/Richard were line abeam again – at speed and really horribly close together. Got a bit wild it did for the last 200 yards or so. Right on the line Mark/Toby got it by a nose – three feet probably in it! Simply fantastic racing !!!!
A brilliant day’s race program…..!! We packed under blue skies which was weird – then it tipped down as we parked up!!!! Still – it was seriously good racing today – there will be an aches and pains report in the morning!!