I was going to post this as a report from the back of the fleet but with Ellie's fearless spinny handling and keeping the boat in one piece when all around were breaking things I find myself near the mid-point! So, while I remember -
Saturday - got the boat out of Batson Creek without incident, tipping down with rain but a very nice steady F4 so went out for a little sail up to Blackstone then back under spinny and gybed it without problems, always good to know it all works.
Sunday afternoon, low water, course 1,7,2,7,1,3 as always a bit swirly in the main channel but with a bit of south in the wind pretty even through the bag, stonking 2-sailer up to 7 and back in the sunshine, we thought the last loop might have been taken out but no, as we popped out of the bag for the last time there were spinnys coming down. Kept upright all round. 28th.
Monday morning, top of the tide. 1,3,1,8,6,4,2,3. Fairly vigorous in the main channel then a LONG run all the way to Kingsbridge, a bit swirly at the top, Peter Male inexplicably fell in with the kite up but then got through again on the beat. Very tricky down to 4 with alternate gusts swinging through 90 degrees, pulled up several places in it though lost one on the line! 28th.
Tuesday back to Kingsbridge but with a bit more wind, 1,3,1,8,1,7,1,3 (shortened) like yesterday very even and a run all through the bag and up to Kingsbridge, gradually reeling in Morgan and Hywel by keeping the power on only to have them just pip me on the line - 27th.
Wednesday still fairly high water in the morning 1,3,2,4,6,7, Getting seriously windy now. Misjudged the tide on the start, lots of flood still, and was well back, nipped over onto the town side coming back from 3 and picked up loads of places, then on 2nd run watched a big gust coming down, got all set for it and it pinged the ring off the mast for the spinny pole and we went in to windward. Fortunately it was the lower one of two so off we go again to chase the fleet. Top end of the bag the wind is funnelling down Frogmore and it's a white knuckle ride with the kite up all the way down to the mark in the panic straps dodging the capsized hulls. 29th.
Thursday afternoon, rain in stair-rods that got steadily worse throughout the race, very little wind and no consistency of either strength or direction. Can't remember what course was set, it had a number of marks in it that we didn't get to, we sailed 1,3,1 finish with a sluicing ebb tide. 25th, surprisingly after having to do a set of turns for a port/starboard incident on the run and ending up almost last, but at least you can see where the wind is and isn't from back there and we crossed over by the ferry to get up to Crossways and there was briefly enough wind to support the spinny close under the town. It was going the other way the next time we got there. 25th.
Friday. What can I say??? I have never been out in more challenging conditions and kept racing. Afternoon race, the washing machine in full force, gusts coming over Bolt Head into the main channel and fanning out after hitting the water. 7,X,7,3,5,X,3. Shipped a bit of water just by the ferry when a gust hit, then eventually got into more consistent wind by the fuel barge but it didn't tempt us to put the spinny up as some did. Up beyond the bag the wind started to seriously howl, we had to make edgy progress to windward with jib and main well eased, eventually got round Gerston still upright, sat on the transom and shot off down a very broad reach under 2 sails. Respect to the leaders flying the kites in that. A bigger gust put the bow down and we were in to windward and not only that the boat had sailed another 20 yards without us. Swam after it, on the board, up we go, off we go, water straight out of the flaps and off like a scalded cat. Next time round the wind had gone round a little to the north and moderated to F6 (!) which felt surprisingly comfortable on full rake with cunningham and outhaul full on and kicker block to block! Just feathering to windward in the biggest gusts we got past John Hollands in the bag, got back to Gerston and back down the reach. We didn't go for the kite straight away after the experience of the previous round but as the 3 boats behind us hoisted, up it went and we flew down the reach and through the bag. Just by Scoble Point I could see a big gust coming down but we weren't quick enough on the drop and in we went letting 3589, 3689 and 3569 through. I was not entirely sure of the course and nor were they, going off to X not 3, should always listen to your crew. And we went swimming again on a slammer by the fuel barge, by which time the 3 that had set off for X were coming back so we went to the right mark this time and then back to 5. A rocky ride but stayed upright, Gareth and Tom got through us both Morgan and Hywel (3689) and John and Ben (3589) close behind. We saw them both hoist in the bag and were about to do the same when an almighty gust gave us cold feet about it so pulled it back in and stayed upright. They both filled up! Gareth and Tom had forgotten about the last X mark but we hadn't this time! 19th out of 25 finishers and the only pre-Winder boat to finish.
What a race, what a week.
Posted: 23/07/2009 18:27:14
By: Andrew M