Thunder to right of them, Thunder to left of them (Wednesday Series 2016, Week One)

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Thunder  to right of them, Thunder to left of them,

Lighning behind them Volley'd and thunder'd;

Well, if you're going to steal, you may as well steal from the best. Apologies to the shade of Tennyson for plagiarising his most famous work. But lets face it, no point in raiding from Dan Brown is there?

So yeah, being the first week it was only a very short race, but it certainly delivered up a smorgasborg of different conditions. Come arrival at the reservoir half of it was glassy calm, but there was drama in the sky, especially upwind. Come rigging time, and more important perhaps course setting time, well, there was quite a decent breeze, but to be honest the wind was oscillating more than a polictician with two contradictory focus groups, and all the race team could do was set a course for somewhere vaguely in the middle and cross extremities. No doubt this had a great deal to do with the huge rain clouds passing to the south. There were huge cumulo nimbus lining up for both the south and north sides of the reservoir by this stage, and winter clothing was the order of the day.

Come the start sequence the wind was diminishing. Indeed it practically switched off for the first (>1060PY) start and such was the lack of wind that not all the first start had really fully cleared the line before the next start gun when, which considerably complicated the start sequence, especially at the port end. What wind there was had gone left too, so making it round the pin was a real struggle for some, indeed at least one boat had no choice but to bail out.

Wind came in a bit after the fast boats started, and the paucity of lead the Solos had left was so scant that Mike Curtis RS400 actually made it round the windward mark first. This gained him the privilege of being first into the calm patch round the second mark, the course being roughly a square. The first lap was dire frankly, and the fleet compressed up round the second mark in minimal wind. Some breeze came in for the third leg, which turned out to be a longish deep reach, and the boats stretched out a bit again. I was expecting an S flag at this point, but the RC somewhat optimistically sent us all round again. 

So, the wind picked up some more, and, yes, this is where the Tennyson came in. There were literally thunderstorms and lightning each side of us, but the reservoir was in a valley of, what shall we say, light perhaps, and the electricity was all at a safe distance. Spectacular though, and distinctly worrying. But the clouds had brought the wind, and we all stormed round the second lap at a very decent speed to finish when there was still (barely) enough light left to pack up. Well, all stormed round. The two leading RS400s, I think, managed to storm off in an unwise direction, and somehow lost a huge raft of time. I didn't see the detail.

Anyway the results are here

A special note for Kyo and crew in the 29er. The 29er is a fine boat I think the best one design of the last 30 years, but boy, this was not a night that suited it. There will be better ones!

The win went to Gareth in the Aero 9, Evan Cairns 2nd in a Solo, Andy Barnett 3rd in an RS200, Paul W/A 4th in another Aero, Clare James 5th in her RS200 and Paul Playle 6th in a Solo.

Clare took the personal handicap, with your scribe 2nd in his newly rebuilt 45 year old International Moth. The Moth quite likes the drifters once I remember its best sailed upright even in the very light and get off the startline...

For those of you who are new to the club, I should explain the results. We dual score the Wednesday evening (and the Anniversary series) using a personal handicap system for the second set of scores. This Personal handicap probably should be named the Improvers series. The way it works is that we take everyone's results for the last few seasons and divide them into 5% bands. If you averaged between 0 and 5% of the race winners time you get put into band 0, if you averaged between 5% and 10% then band 1 and so on. In each band the handicap is increased by 5%. So in theory everyone finishes within a narrow range of corrected times. However in practice the series will go to those who are sailing much better this season than last season.It also gives a measure of progress, because over a few seasons you can see people progress from raw beginners in band 5 to the lower numbers.  You may wonder how we work out a personal handicap band for people who are new to the club. Well, I have this dartboard... Seriously we'll take a look at your early results and make a judgement, but its definitely going to be subject to change...