Early this morning the air was still so that I thought the Met Office was wrong in forecasting a coming gale but later I found that they were correct.
It was the fourth race in the Penrose Sails Pursuit Series and by 12.30 the forerunner to the gale was arriving with gusts between force five and seven which surged across the water and heeled all competitors studying the start line. Only eleven boats turned out and two of the bigger ones understandably retired because it was no day to go out under crewed or with worn or dodgy sails and sheets.
Sweet Friday set off first followed by Mary Boon, both good heavy weather performers. After several years of reefing the main in a blow John Cruise had decided that for his boat it was better to take in six or seven rolls of the furling jib which meant that with the main sheet traveller eased to the end of the track going to windward was much easier with little loss of performance and in any lulls in the breeze it was easy to unroll the foresail,it was clearly the right decision because he won by a wide margin today.
On board Hecate there is no way of reefing either sail so the helm has to go to windward on the jib and dump most of the power from the main, a crude system, but it seems to suit the design. Immediately after the start we beat for the first two hundred metres and then we eased off to a reach and then as we passed Trefusis to port we ran square to North Bank. With four on board it still took a long time to pole out the jib as the wind increased when we left the protection of the shore.
Just south of North Bank a coaster was anchored but as we approached it a bunkering vessel silently overtook us but happily it slowed and stopped beside the anchored ship leaving us to sheet in both sails for the close fetch towards the South Narrows. We became more exposed to the raw gusting south westerly as we neared and passed St Mawes Castle looking for the South Narrows buoy which we passed to starboard. We close reached across the Roads to the Governor where we tacked and bore away for the broad reach to Carricknath. On the way towards the lighthouse we met the roughest and most irregular seas being ever more exposed to the power of the south westerly which was forcing the seas into the narrow mouth of the Roads and the boat jumped and lurched throwing spray every where. We think we found the buoy and with relief we turned and reached towards West Narrows.
The now following seas picked us up and we surfed to the buoy at great speed as we accelerated down the wave fronts. At the buoy we sheeted in for the beat up the harbour being chased by Amneris but happily they did not catch us.
At the clubhouse we all enjoyed tea and cakes where the skipper of Socrates served us. I had already told her that her bottom needed scrubbing because it was covered in weed.
1st Mary Boon John Cruise; 2nd Sweet Friday Len Cheshire; 3rd Hecate Mike Swingler; 4th. Amneris David Layton; 5th Vindscreen Viper Duncan Adams et al; 6th Dancer of the Dart Simon Roebuck; 7th Deep Purple Ron Jones; 8th Gunslinger Tony Cook; 9th Atalanta Stuart Higgins. Incite and General Khaos retired, the latter having poked a spreader through the main sail.