5th June - Who was that masked man anyway?

Yep, with no third team member booked and Clare stuck late at work Ian Cleaver was in desperate need of someone to gallop over the horizon last night... Andy Barnett turned up at the appropriate sort of time solely to pick up his boat and take it home, and in spite of both company and bookings later in the evening selflessly agreed to hang on just long enough to get the race underway. Thank you very much Andy - and partner: I fear I do know what we'd have done without you, and its not race...

We are also lacking a committee boat at the moment - its going off to have a major overhaul of the control systems, so a bank start was going to be the preferred option. Fortunately the wind direction was co-operating, but unfortunately that was because it was an easterly, which is, shall we say, not our best wind direction. Still, it was warm (honest!) and sunny, and there was a decent sailing breeze about, around F3 at rigging time, so there were a good few blessings to count.

A simple course was the only option in the circumstances, so we got a beat up to my favouite, mark 3, a reach, a long run, and then another reach back to the start. That was the plan anyway, but, as has been happening a lot this summer, we copped an unlucky shift during the start sequence, and the course ended up more like not quite a fetch, not quite a run, broad reach, not quite a fetch. So there were actually two legs that were sort of beats, but both requiring you to spend most of the time on one tack. This should have meant very much reduced tactical options but it didn't seem to me as bad as it might have been in that respect, the long beat especially seemed to have rather more tactical subtlety about it than I might have expected and there was certainly more than one way to the windward mark.

Said windward mark being #3, in the tree and reservoir shadow, and in what was generally a diminishing wind, meant that the approach and rounding of this mark was a very major consideration. Those who got it right prospered, and if you made a right pigs ear of it one time (he said with feeling), it could stuff up your entire race...The course was also one where clear are was at a premium, especially on the deep reaching legs, and again those with the skills and boats to maximise their opportunities did best. Eight classes in the top ten suggests that pilot was a bigger factor than boat though.

So it was definitely a one sided start line, and some minor controversy because there was an inner distance laid a far way back from the line and some sailors went past the inner distance and were some way inside it when the gun went. The fine detail in the Club SIs reads "An inner line mark may be laid. To start, a boat shall cross this line in the direction of the first mark, but shall not pass between the mast and the inner line mark if laid.". So this means that there's no problem with squeezing down behind the line towards the shore after you pass between the distance marks, but I believe if you then cross between the inner and the mast in either direction then you have to go back and cross again, and maybe take a 720 penalty too.

Anyway off the race went. From the slow start Graham Potter's Albacore, Nick Mason in a club Vision and Gareth's Solo were prominent early, and from the Laser start Kevin Pearson was being chased hard by Ben Jones. I think my Canoe and Dave Nunn's 600 were the first round #3 in the fast fleet, as one (or at least we) would hope, but the darn Phantom was a lot closer than we'd have preferred.

Lap two was when I stuffed my race up - 4 tacks within about half a dozen boat lengths of 3 when with a little bit more luck I might have got round without any was distinctly annoying,  but had I put in two tacks earlier instead of pushing my luck I'd have lost far less distance. We learn. This put me in a very complex mesh of traffic involving, at one stage, at least four boats overlapped going round the leeward mark, including one pushing his bowsprit in the mix at a late, but sadly not too late stage! As I say, in spite of an apparently simplistic course there were a suprisingly large number of complex challenges out there, and a lot of ways to gain and lose: I thought it a very interesting evening's racing.

So results: I guess the diminishing wind and the deep reaches maybe advantaged the slower boats - or at least I'd like to think so. Gareth Griffiths took the win - that's two weeks running, with Richard Barker 2nd and Kevin Pearson 3rd. That's also the current 1-2-3 in the series. Nick Mason's Vision took 4th, Ben Jones 5th in another Laser and Chris Smith's (newly built) Streaker 6th. Nigel Cope (Laser) took another win in the personal handicap, his 3rd, with Ben Jones (also Laser, 2nd, Kirstie Johnson 3rd in an RS200 and John Magrath 4th in another Laser. Mggie Futcher took 5th in her Byte and Dave Nunn 6th.

Stuart Phelps was doing the caterng again, and gave us a selection of Pasta bakes. I had the carbonara, with garlic bread, and throroughly enjoyed it! And finally,at the start I mentioned team members: we have few people booked for race duty over the next few weeks, so can competitors (or anyone else who fancies the experience) please sign up. No team: no racing.