As we hoisted the sails on Hecate just off the quay, we realised that the brisk breeze was quite cold. We needed the jib to beat into the south easterly and as we sailed down the harbour in the shelter of the docks we saw the committee boat anchored in the middle of the Roads, south of the Vilt. As we approached, the wind became southerly, which, joined by the power of the incoming tide, set up some imposing rollers.
It was the first race of the summer long Hine-Downing series and the three starters in the IRC fleet set the pattern by staying out of the deep water to avoid the worst of the flooding tide. There was a crowded start for E class, where Charley Farley quickly escaped the rest to cross the finish line three minutes ahead of the next competitor. Hawk and Excelle had a good tussle, but Excelle had set their number 2 jib which was too small, so they changed up to the number 1, which as the wind increased was too big. They did enjoy surfing in on the big rollers claiming up to ten knots. On board Jitterbug, they planed down the wave fronts keeping the crew weight as far back as possible to stop the bow from diving into the back of the next wave and they succeeded, just.
The five starters in W class enjoyed close racing. Wild Child crossed the line first, twenty seconds ahead of Fooster. It was good to see a new boat out. Grilled Kipper, a masthead rigged GK 24 which flew a small jib, which under powered them for the run in to the club.
We had a good start in Hecate on starboard, but we soon tacked onto port to return to the Falmouth shore, where the waves were lighter. Gap Year was already pulling away, short tacking close inshore. We made a long tack out to the Pendennis mark where Popincoota, in front of us had to put in an extra one to get round the mark and then we bore away downwind to South Narrows. After the mark and hard on the wind icy rain and flying spray made us thankful for good waterproofs. At last we reached Black Rock and we eased sheets, released the outhaul and the cunningham and we hoisted the spinnaker, but it did not go exactly to plan because we had a massive wrap around. Jack Penty took control and ordered an instant gybe and run dead down wind and then he heaved repeatedly at the large knot in the middle of the sail half way up the forestay. Finally it cleared, we did another gybe and then charged down wind surfing on the rollers as we went towards the docks.
In G class they had a backwards race up the Penryn river, where they escaped from the rough water, but in the strong breeze one competitor unfortunately hit a moored boat, the owner of which was standing on the quay and saw it happen.
Of the five in B class, two did not hoist their topsails, but the other three did and they gained from their decision, looking better and going faster. They were shocked to see a swimmer in the water accompanied by a small boat by the rig, moored north of the Vilt. I don't know whether he was brave or stupid, but he must have been cold! It was Victory's first race of the season and according to witnesses, in a sudden gust, they nearly hit the rig, but not quite.
We all enjoyed the thrill of surging down the wave fronts at over hull speed, knowing that we were only just in control, so it was a relief to get into flatter water in one piece.