We had nine teams competing today – and WHAT a day !!! The forecast was a gentle force 3 NW, but in the event we had a strong Westerly Force 4, gusting 5 !! Fabulous, simply fabulous!! That’s the third Sunday in a row with sparkling slabs of breeze on the Datchet Waters – our statistical share for the whole year according to the VC! The water level is still up, too …. The wind was honestly all over the place which made the beats very challenging – more of that in a moment. To be fair to the race team, the direction was hard to pick, but most of us thought the triangle a tad short, the windward leg almost a fetch and too short – each race lasted a blink, and the leeward mark was more or less at the line causing some interesting traffic problems as we three-sail surfed into the cat start….. Some talk in the Bar afterwards about the Laser 4.7 event taking too much of the water. To be sure, it’s easy to wonder sometimes if the Club is run for its Members or for its Visitors… In ‘the season’, we have around three visitor events in every four weekends, and well, the compromise can get a bit wearing for those who pay their annual fees to race there year after year. We seldom seem to use the whole water anymore. You’d get the same racing somewhere half the size… Anyway – the races were a bit short on mileage and despite the late start we were in the bar by 1pm…..
The turnout was good – we had two teams in the loan boats. Janet and John continued the series 3316 and they are starting to put in some very handy performances! In ‘Flouride’ this week, we had two newcomers – Neil Palmer and David Freeman. Neil is an ex-bigboat sailor, and horribly fit looking! David used to dinghy race a lot but stopped for ‘The Family Years’ and is now wanting to get back to it. Could be a useful pairing, actually. They got some speed out of old Flouride today…
Mervyn asked me last week about predicting wind patterns at Datchet. I gave him my tale about recording every race and wind pattern for more than two years in order to build some kind of statistical database. And what did I get after two years ???…. Yes, that’s right – Complete Rubbish. Go right if you are in doubt….. And so it was in Race One today that Howard and Richard, Janet and John shot out of the LEFT hand side of the gate!!! With the rest of the fleet packed to the right, it was harder on the nerves than anything else. Anyway, it gave the wily Admiral something to talk to the VC about as Howard and Richard shot around that windward mark just miles ahead. Mark and Tony were pretty surprised, but not as much as Howard and Richard…. I think Firth senior may have been 7th at this point. The first reach was a bit broad it must be said and 3934 had near a leg lead to squander – which they duly did later….!! Reach two was a sparkler and THE reach to have some fun on! World order was maintained until lap two – Mark and Tony inevitably caught right up and then surfed through Howard and Richard on the run, and on the next beat John and Helen grabbed second place. The first three boats, then well ahead of the pack, shot off down the first reach again – spray everywhere…well, all over the crew mainly…. At the gybe mark Howard/Richard were right up on 3536 again and during the gybe grabbed second place once more – it was pretty breezy now, thrashing sails and fizzing spray all over the place in the huge gusts. 3934 moved to consolidate second place and there was a sudden ‘bang’ – John and Helen lost the mast while lying third. A shroud parted in the excitement (at the spreader tip, I think) and over the side it all went, snapping the mast around about the mast eye. Amazingly, no other damage, but John will now have to get a new mast for the Hayling Championships. God moves in mysterious ways…..
The Admiral and VC were next, probably. Pretty good from 7th, but the VC, being one of these delicate little rower types, pulled a shoulder muscle in the breezey gybe and sadly had to pull out for chip munching during race two. Genuine athletes can be quite fragile machines, the VC says. Pity – they missed a corker…
Race two got away in a shade more breeze possibly. A couple of boats, Howard/Richard included and possibly Janet&John too, were too early at the pin and while extricating themselves from that fell right back. Mark and Tony put a huge stamp of authority on things up front. Mervyn and James sailed brilliantly and looked to be set to take the lead at one point…. Good to see that they are really getting the hang of things now!! The final reach of the triangle that caused the mayhem previously turned into a placid (fflacid?) affair and Mark/Tony and Mervyn/James white-sailed it to the line, with Howard/Richard in third.
Another fantastic day with seriously great racing….!!
(No race results posted online just yet, so apologies for any errors… )