Well, what are the ingredients for a really good evening's racing?
1, sunshine and warmth,
2, a nice and reasonably steady sailing breeze and
3. good food and company...
Well, as the song doesn't go, one out of three ain't that great... Thank goodness for Kirstie's Thai food, that's what I say...
Strange thing is its been a reasonable enough late summer's day, and when folk rolled up to the club there was a very decent breeze. In fact, pushing F5 at times, it was enough to make some folks consider carefully... Then a shower rolled through, which wasn't altogether welcome, but the wind steadied a bit so we all went sailing and had a nice blast about as we waited for the sequence to start. Course wise we had a suprisingly long and intricate course for a 20:27 sunset which worked out roughly as beat, close reach, deep reach, short second beat, long run, shy reach back to the start. The wind was dropping a bit more through the sequence - I remember thinking that it wasn't going to be wise to get too far from the line by the time it got to the fast boat start.
We were missing a few of the top sailors, with Gareth Griffiths co-opted onto the committee boat for race crew training, and Mike Curtis missing. I recall seeing Graham Potter getting an uncharacteristically late start from the slow fleet, and Chris Smith getting away well, but Graham soon got back into contention, and by the time they completed the first lap Graham was comfortably ahead of Chris, and both were well clear of the pack. The pack: well, there's a story. A pack it surely was, as even on the first beat a diminishing wind meant most of the fleet were on the same leg, and that was the story of the race really : a tightly packed bunch, many boats within a fairly small area, clear air exceedingly hard to find and a fickle wind coming in patches and providing plenty of potential for big gains for those who could read it right (and big losses for those who didn't, he said sheepishly).
So who was looking good? Dave Nunn's RS600 was getting through the pack well, especially considering it was anything but RS600 conditions. Roy Poole's Merlin started cutting through the fleet well at times too. The distinctive sail of Maggie Futcher's Byte CII was well in evidence, whilst Graham and Chris got somewhat reeled back into the pack early in lap two. Hmm, lap two. Perhaps a lap too many. The wind was still diminishing, and about half way through the lap it nearly completely switched off. The sun was sinking slowly in the west , the drizzle was sinking slowly on our heads, and a sense of depression was, I fear, sinking onto some of the fleet... The last run seemed to last forever, and about half the fleet didn't even manage to finish before nominal sunset. Then the rain started again for derigging. Joy. Don't you love packing up the boat in the rain. And dark. And stinging nettles which you can't see in the rain and dark. Well, the good days wouldn't be so good if there weren't not-so-good days to add a little focus! Still, Dave Nunn had managed to slip into first place on the water by the end, which I reckon was a pretty good trick in those conditions, but Richard Barker's Phantom was very close behind, as was Ian Hamilton's RS400. Fourth on the water was the Byte, having managed to overtake both the Streaker and, very impressively given the relative handicaps, the Albacore.
That was on the water, how about the results? Maggie Futcher in the Byte won the standard handicap race, and by a clear two minutes on corrected time too. Richard's Phantom was second, Kevin Pearson 3rd in the Laser, Chris Smith (Streaker) 4th, John Magrath 5th in another Laser and CJ Cavallari rounded out the top 6. Maggie also did the double and took the personal handicap, this one by over 4 minutes! Tony Sproat, who's sailing is coming on well after moving to a club Solo took second, and Roy Poole 3rd in the Merlin. 4th and 5th went to John's Magrath and Smith's Lasers, and Chris Smith was 6th.
So the series. Maybe Gareth should do a series summary, I've written enough for tonight. I must just mention Nigel Cope: he was on the race team, which gave him average (1st!) points and avoided a discard. Consequently he won the Personal handicap by a country mile. Indeed he would still have won the series had we promoted him to band 4 with the consequent handicap drop.Well done.
What else should I mention? I guess most important of all has to be all those responsible for the catering, Stuart Phelps and Kirstie Johnson in particular, but also numerous others. We've eaten well this year and I for one am very grateful.