There was a great weather forecast – strong breezes!!… but that was for Monday 😦
Instead at Datchet we had a nice gentle westerly probably around 6-10mph – but cracking good racing! Ten flying fifteens on the slip, including John Watson’s fabulous woody. Brett decided to “do” wheel bearings, so that was him out of play. A net nine boats faced some pretty serious racing.
The PRO had set a handy sized course, using the bulk of the lake. The wing mark wasn’t well placed, but we still knew we’d been out for a good sail. After one false start from the committee boat, the FF’s went out of the gate on the third sequence. Race one kicked off with the bulk of the fleet fancying the pin end very strongly. Steve and Simon executed a very good pin end flyer and pretty much crossed the whole fleet on port. The rest of us charged out of the bottom half of the line – all with a bit of an urge to go right. Did it occur to you that Mark and MattFirth ought have the family name “Walker” as between them they weigh the same as a box of crisps…. anyway, they steamed away up the left and had fabulous boat speed in the light airs. Carved out a huge lead which they held till the finish. There was stacks going on behind them though. The battle for 2nd and 3rd was a constant tussle between The Admiral and the VC, and Howard and Richard. I can’t count the number of times places were changed – then John and Helen went sharply right on the second beat and leapt straight from fourth into second. John says it was their “DFL Strategy”…. when asked , the ‘L’ stands for last, and you can work the rest out yourself!! Anyway, John and Helen consolidated that, but the battle for third was just superb. At the last wing mark, Mike and Phil rounded third, with Howard and Richard really hard on their heels – and it was a fine spinnaker reach to the finish. Generous blasts of air were sweeping across the reach and 3934 was inching up to windward – there was nothing in it and only a few feet abeam. Then one super little puff, a tweak and a pull aboard 3934 and Howard/Richard were through into third – in the nick of time too – just five seconds in it at the finish line….
For race two, there was quite a bit going on at the start. I think maybe the Millars had been over, but in the results John/Helen were given OCS. (might be wrong!) Bit of aggressive push-over was at the heart of that – tut tut!!! The PRO had announced for two laps only, so we were off. Blow me down, Mike and Phil ran a superb first beat and slipped around in the lead. Plenty of chasers though including John/Helen and Howard/Richard. These three boats pulled away from the pack and I must say that Mike/Phil were sailing really well given that Phil was still rumbling about the Boat Race fiasco on Saturday. The beats were quite tricky and once again there was a fair bit of shift picking place changing going on. It seemed that the right hand side was the way to go, but it seemed awfully hard when you got over there. Anyway, popping up the last beat, Howard/Richard picked the inside of the curve and found themselves just ahead of John/Helen and Mike/Phil. It was really horribly, nail bitingly close though. Super aggressive John, pushed Richard and Howard up the left of the leg – leaving Mike/Phil to choose their own course. Very dangerous stuff!!! Maybe there was more breeze out left though, and Mike/Phil slipped back a bit – seemed to be an awful lot of noise coming from the boat – not about the rowing umpire I don’t think. The odd double gybe seemed to feature in there somewhere. Phil just doesn’t realise how hard it is at the back of the boat – said Mike in the bar afterwards!!
Anyway, John/Helen set about closing that gap. It was a tense leg the full length of the lake. Both teams ended up way to the left of the mark, and suddenly Howard called the gybe, slung in another quickie at the mark – and they were gone for first. (Nothing tough about double gybes, Phil!!?!) There was about 8 seconds in it, but John/Helen had to face an OCS ruling – boo!! So Mike/Phil came in second after all, the Wrights came third and the Millars fourth.
Hot stuff…. and Great boat-on-boat Racing.