Sunday 5th May – Match Racing at Datchet… !!!

Match racing at Datchet

Bank holiday and light airs brought the smallest possible turnout for a race, with the big news being the arrival of a new face Hugo MacNulty and 2 long lost friends – Andrew Fairley and Andrew Lawson.  Roger rigged his boat as well (for the first time this year).  Mervyn and Hugo benefitted from going out early to practice because everybody else was put off by the dropping wind and only the Andrews launched (after the first race had started) resulting in a straightforward 1-2.  The second race was far more fun with 2 boats starting at the same time!  The wind bend up near the wall was instrumental in allowing Mervyn and Hugo to build a bit of a lead at the first mark but the Andrews clawed most of this back on the second beat and the boats were close for the rest of the race with Mervyn and Hugo just getting the gun.

It’s great to know that there will be 3 additional boats starting at Datchet over the next few months (with Hugo planning to take up one of the loan boats) and Roger’s return (well almost) to the water.

I’m off to Chew next week but hope to see you the week after




Datchet Racing Report, Sunday 22nd January…..

Wow – what a blast !!  Keel inspections were the order of the day – you just counted how many !

We had a simply fantastic day today!  Positively balmy, twelve degrees (!), partial blue skies and oh, what a breeze!! We had a stonking Force 5 gusting 7, and it was simply brilliant! Most of the Club’s Fleets except the fifteens stayed ashore – there were though loads of kids racing a Laser 4.7 ladder event, which they must have found a bit of a stretch….

Well, the body is aching now, but racing was a delight. We had seven teams competing. We also tried out our brand new jetty for the first time – more of that in a separate blog entry.

We managed to get afloat eventually – we had to pop our baby back on the trailer because of “technical difficulties” as they say on the trains. I thought we would miss the first race but we just about got there on time.  The PRO laid a cracking good course using any old marks he could lay his hands on. The line had an overly strong pin end bias, but it worked out OK. Mark and Tony, Howard and Richard (without timer) both fancied a port tack flyer at the pin – ha, fat lot of use that was !!! A well timed, steady queue on starboard hit the pin locking us out. Tony must have thought that trying to frighten them was the best option. They were faced with a fast tack right on the pin, mast about 20 degs to the horizontal, Tony to leeward nearly falling in to leeward  Bit of shouting there !!!  (We loved this bit…)

Howard and Richard  zipped under the transom of the fleet and put the pace on. By the first mark they had a tidy little lead, and then set about frightening themselves silly with the spinnaker.  Ian and James lost their jib sheets somewhere out here, and were stuck fast in the pack. The second reach was just a honker!!!  Spray everywhere …- as close to flat out as makes no difference, the whole lot of us whizzed down there under full cloth (as they used to say on the Cutty Sark…!!).  Simon and Ben decided to take  a keel inspection just near the bottom mark… Mervyn and Michael had two options – cut them in half or check out their own undersides. So over they went…!!   All very scenic and balletic and quite cheering viewed from 3934….  I have half an idea that Tony might have done it again at this point – and they were bottoms up too!!  (Mark told me it is always the crew’s fault when that happens…  🙂  )   ( I agree, of course…..)

So this was the way it went on – huge squirts of acceleration, and b hard work up the beats.  Heavy weather specialists, David and Richard Stenson, adore these days which call for getting the beef over the sides. They looked for all the world  as if they were out for a casual summer sail !  On beat three they simply powered into the lead.  So at the top mark, they popped around first ahead of Howard and Richard – not all that close it must be said !!  You could feel them grinning from 150 yards away.  Anyway, off we shot on the penultimate reach, Stensons leading, Howard/Richard following…. and the gap probably halved…. Two good gybes from each team  saw the reach  for the finish line. The last leg by common agreement had become a two sailer.  So, only one thing for it, wasn’t there – kites up!!  David and Richard almost immediately did a graceful, even poetic, keels-up !!  And whoosh – magic hands Shawyer was through in a cloud of spray and was gone to the gun. David and Richard took second, Ian and James third and Mervyn and Michael fourth.

Second race – well, second race I thought we had a good start – breeze had cracked up a bit and we were beating into the real nasties. For some reason unclear to me, the Fleet pretty well rolled over us just in the first bit. We hit the top mark in fifth – Ian and James leading, or maybe it was Mark and Tony-Triathlete!!  Anyway, they had a good tussle – sparkling spray was the order of the day. Come the second reach, Mervyn was in third, Stensons in fourth and Howard/Richard in fifth. Howard decided no more of this girlie two sail reaching stuff and up the thing went. I can’t decide if banging it up or taking it down was the more frightening…. We sailed low into the gusts (to stay alive) and the other two teams went high. At double the speed it doesn’t take long, does it?!!…. Howard and Richard rounded third.

Going back uphill, the steady clawing back began. Hardly noticeable at first, then suddenly Mark/Tony and Howard/Richard were crossing quite close. On the final beat, things were “going on” aboard 3860….  Howard/Richard rounded the top mark second I think,  then somewhere along that reach towards the wing, Mark and Tony had a bit of a pop – and the gooseneck gave in. Mainsail down, and end of the race for them?? Not a bit of it – they still got a fourth.  Ian and James sailed a cracker and finished 40 seconds or so clear of Howard/Richard, Mervyn/Michael in third.

Of course in these conditions, we all have our share of woes. On 3934 we couldn’t unjam the pole downhaul, and somewhere along the way we ran over the spinnaker which Howard miraculously recovered – heaven knows how. The man’s a God. The Loan Boat popped its buoyancy bags in a broach and got into all sorts of heavy trouble and will be out of action a while. The Millars got a tidy hole in the bow – from the trailer I think during recovery – basically the front couple of inches of the bow on the port side were lifted clean away by the trailer support during the waves…. Mark and Tony had the exploding gooseneck of course, but hopefully that’s a quickie to fix.

Funniest thing that happened on our boat was during the drop on one of those flat out broad reaches to the bottom mark. I keep my car key on a neck lanyard, normally popped away under the drysuit. Somehow it had slipped out and in the great way of a day like that the spinnaker halyard tangled around it. So all the while H was tugging the sail down into the bag, he was hurling me neck first to the cleat in the bottom of the boat. He can’t half pull hard !!!….. Me shouting “stop stop”, and H screaming “it’s jammed, it’s jammed”…. at 15-20 knots it was extremely funny – afterwards…..!!!!

Michael Airey just posted this on Facebook….

Michael Airey 22 January 18:33
Fab sail today in ff with Mervyn who can definitely be called “merv the swerve” after taking v quick avoiding action to avoid a ff that had broached in front of us. We were so, so close to T boning him!