Some people forgot...but quite a few did have the reminder in their calendar and packed the sails for the start of the Wednesday Series. Considering the dismal drizzle that started bang as forecast on the drive to the Club, the turnout of 21 boats was pretty respectable with a number of faces appearing in unfamiliar boats (Richard Barker in an Albacore, Rob Petit in a Solo and Mike Jones in a RS Vision) and some new faces (welcome all). The wind was pretty much on forecast as well...a light southerly with a large number of holes and patches that seemed to become even more irregular as the evening wore on. Volunteer RO Roy Poole, ably assisted by Paul Playle and AN Other, set a simple short reach quadrilateral - 651F, aiming to get 3 laps in, which turned out to be hopelessly optimistic.
There were quite a few practice beats and a lot of milling around in a decent enough breeze before the starting sequence was fired at 19.24. This year's handicap changes have moved the Albacore into the fast fleet (is it really faster than an RS200??) and with just 3 Solos and 2 Lasers, the early starts were pretty uneventful although the 2 Lasers did conspire to a port/starboard collision soon after their start. Gareth Griffiths (Solo) was quick off the middle of the line and able to slip in a couple of quick tacks before heading off up the right. The line was quite short for 13 boats in the fast fleet but the port bias had shifted right, so all 13 were not fighting for the bouy, otherwise I fear there would have been more shouting than there was. Despite a lot of pushing the line, no-one was deemed over (??) and the leaders quickly navigated up the left side and were able to tack onto a nice port lift after a short while. Those who tacked off right earlier were doomed and there was a loud collision under my boom off to the right side of the course as well.
As the fleet converged at mark 6, Gareth was well clear from the slow start and Mark Heather (RS200) well up on the RS400s from the fast start, but the fleets were well compressed going down the run with pockets of breeze helping the place changing depending which side of the run one was.
With the leaders halfway up the second beat it was obvious that the sunset lull was coming despite the sun being conspicuously absent. Finding what breeze there was became paramount and on the final run Clare James (RS200) rode a private band of pressure down the right that carried her past a great number of boats and into a Personal Handicap winning position (and 4th in the Scratch). As the first boats were finishing the run became a slow, wet torture for those with half the leg still to negotiate. Mike and Uta in the Vision were seen gamely zigzagging across with spinnaker only just filling, seeming to never actually get any closer to the mark.
To no-one's great surprise Gareth won the scratch by a good minute. Indeed he was 5th fastest in elapsed time in the slowest boat, albeit with the best of the conditions. Still a good performance though. The rest of the Scratch Top 6 was Mark and Kate (RS200), Rob Pettit (Solo), Clare and Lucy (RS200), John Smith and John Magrath (Lasers), whilst in the personal handicap it was Clare and Lucy, Harry and Liz (RS200), John S, Gareth, John M and Ian Peace (Solo). Results are here.
A wet pack up was substantially recompensed by Stuart Phelps's chicken pasta bake and much chatter as the rain lashed down outside. It will be sunny and windy next week!!