Another Grey and Grim old Grimy Day (Weds Series Week 3)

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Boy it wasn't promising, and that was reflected in the turnout I think. After rain for much of the day I packed a selection of inadequate looking vaguely water resistant kit in the bag for what I thought might be a pretty miserable race duty.  However got to the club and there was sunshine reflecting on the water. Sunshine reflecting on, predominantly still, water. And plenty of ominous looking clouds about. Oh well. Somewhere the sun was shining

So Gareth and I got the committee boat out and started thinking about course setting. This took some time. Not only was there near enough no wind - so little I was thinking grim thoughts about possible abandonment - but it went from vagely eastish to vaguely northish, with a forecast of east.  So what do you do? Well what we were not going to do was go anywhere near the east end of the reservoir, and the north bank didn't look that clever either. Trying to hedge bets we decided to get out one of the stick marks, and laid out two potential windward marks. The stick mark was upwind from 8, with a view to the north trend, but well short of the bank, and X was moved to vaguely to windward of 7, with a view to the east trend. But how to join them up? We were worried about an excessively long course (still early in the season). In the end we decided to make it a hopfully beat from 8 up to the stick mark, then a deep downwind leg to 7, a hopefully beat up to X, then a with luck run down to 6, and finally a reach back across to 8. And then crossed fingers.

Well, the first good omen came when Mike Curtis found my missing Moth foils in the Scout container. Thanks Mike, sort of thanks Scouts, thank goodness. The second good omen came when a reasonable racing breeze arrived, and settled, well, pretty much between our proposed beats. Looked like a bit of an asymettric course, though two hoists and drops per lap would slow 'em down a bit, (sorry) and even the most pluvious looking clouds seemed to be diverting around us.

A bit of juggling with the line angle and we sent them off. The first start was very well scattered along the line and things looked promising. With the short first beat and a starboard rounding there was more than a little action at the windward mark, and maybe some things done that shouldn't have been.

Starboard roundings are a bit more complicated rules wise. Consider, one boat coming in from the right and one from the left. The boat coming in from the right is on starboard, so has right of way, and because they are inside boat has mark room. That means if you are coming in from the left, on port and on the layline, and someone appears on starboard you must tack away (ducking them and finishing up under the layline needing to tack is a bad option). However the boat on starboard wanting to tack round the mark also has their problems. As soon as they pass head to wind they are tacking in the zone, lose their mark room and have to keep clear of other boats until they are on the other tack. So if as starboard you tack smack in front of the other boat, and they have to dodge round you then you have to take a penalty (tacking in their water is the common phrase). Interesting times!

So, yes, one or two encounters round the marks all the way round the first lap. By the end of the lap Kevin Pearson had a reasonable lead on the water in his Laser, followed by Paul Playle (Solo), a hard charging Mike & Harry Curtis (RS400), Kim Gavin (Laser) and then Caroline Baldwin in an Aero 7. Thereafter was the pack. much overlapped, much action, appreciable disciussion at the marks! Mike got into the lead on the second lap, but Kevin had one super beat chasing, one of those dream legs where you seem to spot every shift before it gets to you, and he pulled out a considerable lead on the next Solo and Laser. Andy Barnett's RS200 was seen coming through the pack, whilst Harry Phelps' RS300 was seen with a sagginng mainsail, the halyard having given way. He managed to nurse it round to the finish, but the lack of leech tension was bad news trying to point.

So the next decision point for the RC was when to shorten. The main body of the fleet was averaging about 15 minute laps, its still early in the season, and heavy clouds in the west meant light was going to be poor for packing up boats. Mike and Harry arrived at the end of their third lap just after 7, so there was no doubt about sending them round again, and they had a big gap now to the next boat. Kevin was looking like a ten past finish, so that seemed to be the right point to hit the S flag, so (nearly) everyone else got three laps. Mike finished his 4th lap feet behind the last of the other finishers, so we probably got that right.

Here are the results. As you can see Kevin won handily. Mike was second, Paul 3rd, Andy barnett through to 4th Kim Gavin 5th and Ching Wong a very impressive 6th in a Feva. Thet result gave them first in the Personal handicap, ahead of Mike Jones, Andrew Jones in a Solo, Tom Callan and Kiyo in an RS200 tonight (the 29er might have been a struggle!) then Andy Barnett and Caroline Baldwin rounding out the top 6.

All this and hot bolognese pasta with salad and garlic bread waiting in the clubhouse too. And it didn't even rain a drop! 

I suppose my musical taste is a bit obscure for most, but the title came from here and the first para from here. You might have come across John Tams as Rifleman Hagman in the "Sharpe" television series in the 90s.