Sunday Racing, 19th May – The Opera Ain’t Over Until…… !!!!!

Really rather a beautiful day – 8 teams on the slip this morning!!  Very light breezes but racing was pretty tense, nonetheless!!  Turned out to get more stunning as the day wore on, with 20 degrees showing on the car thermometer going home!

Plus… we had Vice Commodore Tinsley with us.  Privilege or what !??!! You’d think a long break would have eroded his skills, but it didn’t show – see race one!

We got away pretty promptly for race one – hmmmm,  it turned out that “some of us” did not know it was  starboard handed course and went for the wrong mark!!  First around the wrong mark sailing very quickly, were Dominic and David, with Howard and Richard in hot pursuit a boat length or two behind – once the mistake was realised they rounded the correct mark 7th and 8th !!!!  First around the correct mark and in the lead were Ian and James Linder.  They were strongly challenged by Mike Firth and VC Tinsley, who I think maybe took the lead on the second beat –  Mike doing his light breeze, “Foxy Firth” thing !!

While those two were tussling it out, Mervyn sailed up into third, and ended up in a right old gybing duel with Howard and Richard who had made their way up from 8th.  In the final lap, the Linders popped in ahead of Firth/Tinsley (who later retired to drink tea and talk about old times!).  Poor Fleet Captain Mervyn, sailing with Sophie Singleton,  got sliced out of third just near the end on a couple of gybes by Howard and Richard.  Dominic and David were next in.

Race two was becalmed flat at the start and an altogether tense affair. Howard and Richard thought they might cross the line on Monday, while the rest of you bright things sailed off (relatively!!).  Ian and James going right took to the front, and Mervyn/Sophie sailed blindingly well to round second.  I think Mervyn and Sophie might have wrestled the lead in this race at some point, but coming up the second beat, with the shortened signal given, most of the fleet went right – into the flat bits. Howard and Richard went left and really, really thought they had it in the bag !!  Not to be – after a great beat, straight into a hole they went about 5 boat lengths from the mark, just to watch Mervyn/Sophie, Ian/James waft by and around the top mark and get clean away!!  Well, they were well gone, and those at the top mark completely stationary – needing some unseen tiller waggling (that’s everyone, you understand!) to get around…. Mervyn was about a quarter of a mile away but now also in flat calm.  Yes – you guessed …. Ian and James secured the lead, and rounded just ahead at the last mark.  Mervyn, ever patient, now found himself with Howard/Richard chomping right at his transom.  For the last dogleg to the finish, the big question was to drop kites or not…  Howard dropped, Sophie flew hers around on the inside berth.  It wasn’t really a very kind day for Mervyn and Sophie….!!  Howard and Richard inched away and pipped them narrowly right on the line for second place!!!  Pleasantries and best wishes were exchanged !!!!



The DWSC Club Survey…..

Hopefully you have all replied to the online Club Survey – have you??  Well, actually, I don’t think you all have…..

I checked in with the Club Office after racing on Sunday.  Usually the guidance is that surveys of this kind do well if they get a 3-5% response rate.  This survey, the first I can remember in a decade, has almost a quarter of Club Members replying.  So, for sure, the responses to the survey will gain significant credibility with Club Management.

Is there anything to be alarmed about??  Well, the Flying Fifteen fleet has had 17 responses – out of 135 replies…..  For Pete’s sake, the so called “Cat Fleet” (which is just a menagerie of about 6 classes) has got 26 votes in and is the largest responding fleet.  So, “COME ON!!!”    The Survey  is not restricted to helms or owners, so we should have two votes coming in per boat, so where are you all?  If you have done yours, actively check that your sailing partner has also completed theirs – otherwise we might get what we do not wish for…..

It’s all very well being the strongest fleet in the club, but this is a survey of Members – distinctly different I suggest to “Members who Race Regularly”.  Half the votes cast have come in from just 4 classes – the Cat Fleet (Menagerie) has 26 votes, Flying Fifteens have 17, then about 20 votes are spread over RS100 and Lasers.  About 70 votes have come in from one-off classes – and reflect the very non-class nature of our Club. Yes – the Albacore has voted…!!!   The Menagerie Handicap Fleets have the majority here and are in danger of setting the agenda.  I’d suggest that we need to get of the order of 30 Flying Fifteen votes cast quickly before the survey ends – around double the votes we have already cast. So, come on Guys – get moving. The survey takes 3 minutes max to fill in – two votes per boat ASAP. The survey closes soon….

So what might we find happening not in the direction that we might think appropriate or encouraging Class Racing??

Try this to start…. (Double click on graphs to enlarge them for easier viewing)

Note the depth of responses on whether the Club should run pursuits and “special” courses on Sundays. I see this as an agenda against Fleets, actually.  This is for people who normally have nobody to race against because of the Class of boat they decided to buy.  ….  Note that 10am starts also had their opinion tested….. Winter Training Talks also got a lot of support.

The strength of vote for Sunday afternoon racing is interesting as generally when it is offered by the race team on a Sunday, only tiny numbers turn out. However, what we must consider here is that the bulk of people replying to this survey hardly ever go out racing anyway. I don’t know how the Club can filter opinion for that hard fact – Datchet Race Numbers outside the number of members racing Flying Fifteens is decidedly flakey.

Next possible area which might surprise you, given that 95% of responses are not form keelboat sailors – the importance of Pontoons…

Interesting, eh?  Important to our Planned Capex as a Club….

What needs upgrading in our Facilities.?? Possibly no surprises, but see what you think….

What about the important  income generators???  For myself, I get a very strong feeling that the Club is set up not for the benefit of its members, but for the benefit of its Open Meeting Visitors. I am pretty heartily sick of being crammed into tiny race courses, having to fight for somewhere to park your boat (let alone cars), and queuing out the door for a plate of Chips….  But take a look at what the members who have voted think about Income Generators…

There’s an interesting degree of support for Class Association training though….

So – I think you get a sense that important opinions are being voiced here. The answers too are sufficiently complex that they can be spun by interest groups – so we had better be ready to spin ours too…. Vote NOW please – don’t put it off….

Race Report – Sunday 15th January … Brilliant Sailing !!!

What a smashing day’s racing we just had.  Seven teams turned up, stunning blue skies, 10mph of breeze gently increasing – and water up to the brim!!

I suppose we had a concern that it might have been cold, but on our boat at least we were absolutely roasting … H was threatening to strip off!! (a layer)… As soon as you got in the sun it was frankly magic.

Dom and Non-Dom took their boat back down to the parking – not sure why, but I can say that the other six teams had a treat of a day.  For once, the PRO managed to lay a splendid course – the beat was about as long as you could get for an Easterly. And the wing mark was set at right angles and we even had moments of three sail planing today – white, white spray – how brilliant is that!!

The line though had a pretty stiff bias at the committee boat end. In race one, Mervyn and James did an excellent job (!) of stuffing Howard and Richard out of the box.  Like the Forsyte’s, this becoming a long running saga between them stretching over many years…!!  Ian and James Linder got away nice and cleanly – while Mervyn and James tacked off for breeze in the middle, The Linders found a nice curve, with many of the fleet up to the left.  3851 rounded first and it was all the rest could do to keep up.  Howard and Richard of course were last out of the gate…. so had a whole heap to do. They rounded about fourth, and managed to roll Mervyn/James on leg 2 and then Steve/Simon on leg 3. So at the line, it was easily The Linders, followed by Howard/Richard (celebrating their first result with 120 years in the boat – crikey !!), then I think Steve and Simon racing excellently today.  After this we had a pretty close result between Mervyn/James and The Stensons and very closely followed by Simon and Ben sailing 3904 for their second weekend – keeping up scarily well considering they have just started. I  understand Mervyn/James and The Stensons had a wee altercation causing Mervyn to declare a graceful retirement in the bar!! So all the results click up a notch in the final listings.

So race two kicked off with the same skewed line. This time, 120 years of experience decided they would do a timed run from the wall.  Result ? Hopeless – last over the line again, and leaving it all to do “again”. However, there was another lovely curve in the breeze again going left. The Linders maybe did not reach the top mark first, because right up there sailing superbly, in command driving position, were Simon and Ben in 3904.  Ian/James popped round just behind them, then Mervyn/James.  Howard and Richard just squeezed inside The Stensons at the turn and off we all went.  The Mervyn/James and Howard/Richard Show was a rerun of race one – a bit of ultra aggressive luffing (really, these Merlin Rocket people don’t half go at it..!!), but Magic-Hands Shawyer pulled 3934 through to windward and it was over – Howard/Richard slipped into third.

I think it was half way up beat two, when there was a bloody loud “bang”.  “Ooohh Nooo” we thought. Simon and Ben, in their brand new pride and joy, managed to get a port-starboard T-bone with a University Laser 2. Off to Doctor Dingwall immediately.  I think Ian and James had already grabbed the lead by this time, but ever grateful to Laser 2 sailors, Howard and Richard nipped up into second. The last reach to the finish was a bute, too.  Howard eventually called for the drop as it was all a bit much (120 years etc!!) but Mervyn/James and The Stensons (very close I think) scorched all the way down there with 3 sails up.

The breeze had pepped up a lot – the Club fielded about 24 various boats in addition to the Fifteens, and there were 35 teams in RS Fevas also slugging it out on the reservoir. A stunning spectacle, all round…. If you stayed under the duvet, you missed a treat !!  See you next week !