Well, you can't have champagne every day, sometimes you have to settle for a pint of bitter. Come to think of it, this is a silly analogy, because there are people who can and do have champagne every day, and in any case I'd much rather have a decent pint of good bitter than that fizzy stuff anyway. If only King and Barnes were still brewing... a pint of Sussex of a lunchtime with bread and cheese and a game of cribbage was a refreshing break from the work routine without rendering you less than effective over the afternoon... disappears off into a fog of completely irrelevant nostalgia... Oh yes, where was I? In the Leathern Bottle probably, and that's gone too. I wonder what happened to the photo of a Hawker-Siddeley Kestrel in the pub car park with a patient airman standing guard beside it?
Ahem. Well. Yes. Well, the point, before I distracted myself, was that last night was not really a champagne sailing evening, but you can't expect one every time. It's half term week, and [thus?] the weather was miserable, having been drizzling most of the day with a flat calm in the Kingston area in the late afternoon. All in all a huge turnout seemed unlikely. Even so it was disappointingly thin. With a shifty and variable northerly there was a long run down to the start - very long, I suspect for the last arrival whose spinnaker was just coming out of the chute up by the clubhouse jetty as the Solo two minute gun went. Still, they made it with about a minute to spare. The revised course was a simple quadrilateral: beat back up to mark one, up under the bank, a shy reach, a run back down the pond and a beam reach back to the start which was kiteable for the RS boats, if sometimes requiring an early drop.
I believe that from the slow fleet start Gareth Griffiths' Solo just managed to cross the fleet on port tack starting from the port end, but otherwise the start sequences were, I believe, unremarkable. The best of the wind was probably on the first beat and the fast boat seemed to be snapping at the heels of the Lasers by the time both were approaching the windward mark. That area seemed to have (and remained so right through the race) notably light, swirly and inconsistent wind, even for a windward bank area, so maybe there was an element of illusion about that closeness. Certainly it seemed to take a very long time to actually get past them.
Negotiating a good approach to the windward mark seemed to be a crucial part of getting the race right. It really was exceptionally difficult round there - usually its only that complex when the windward mark is mark 3 under the trees at the winward side, but every time you got there this time the wind seemed to be eddying differently. On the last lap, for instance, Mike Storey (Laser EPS) took a very radical path, going hard to the left and risking the eddies and light air in the lee of the clubhouse. At first this looked like a disaster, but in the end he found a quick path through whilst others of use were stuck in a series of headers and other confusion, and he gained a couple of places and an immense amount of distance on the water.
Thw wind tended to drop through the race, even though it had only really appeared at about half past six, and the run on the last lap was particulary painful. This run was sufficiently one sided that the downwind gybing boats were more or less making it on one gybe, which meant that trying to get into wind lanes was going to involve a big diversion. However Gareth managed it, and completed the last run in a private piece of wind no-one else could get near, which did his race no harm at all.
When the results were calculated Gareth Griffiths took the win from Mike Storey with Mike (last minute) Curtis and Julie Harrison 3rd in the RS400. Graham Potter's Albacore was 4th, Roy Poole (Solo) 5th and Ian Cleaver and Clare Overstall 6th in their RS200. The top 6 in the personal handicap had many of the same faces, being Mike Storey, Mike C and Julie H, Roy, Ian and Clare, and your scribe tieing for 5th with Gareth.
Series wise Gareth is the first person to knock up two wins, and currently leads narrowly, but you can look at the results as well as I. One thing to beware of with the results is that so far I am being lazy and not combining the results where one sailor has sailed different classes (it makes calculating results so much quicker on the evening). This makes a difference at the top, as Mike Storey is actually half a point ahead of Richard Barker, and further down Roy Poole should have on place in the top twenty, not two in the top 30.
Supper, by the way, was Lasagne, salad and garlic bread courtesy of team Smith. We really are eating well this year. Even if you don't fancy sailing (and why on earth not) I should think many people will be having worse evenings than they would have if they turn up, watch the racing with a beer or two, enjoy the food and save on the washing up at home.