We boarded the club launch just after four thirty to start the long run down the Flushing shore to get to the committee boat. There were five of us on board and it took us quite a long time to find the correct place to anchor because the northerly/north-westerly breeze kept shifting. At last a suitable place was found and we ran out the very heavy anchor in about five fathoms and with the added weight of chain the Westerly Longbow settled quite quickly. The North West group of courses was chosen but even then the wind direction was changing over a wide arc which gave us continued doubts. Although there was sunshine, coming in from the west were many dark grey clouds full of rain and then the wind weakened. Our forecast was that we were going to get soaked and that because the wind was easing and likely to die soon short courses were chosen. Subsequently we were proven wrong on both counts, there was not a drop of rain and the breeze held up well. I had forgotten just how much kit is needed and how many people are required to set it out, fly it and broadcast it, so that we were very busy until the last class had started. The well oiled organisation ran smoothly until the klaxon packed up: I jumped below and quickly tried to reassemble a working hand held horn from several bits, which to my surprise and relief actually worked. The extra unexpected toot in the sequence was when Jeannette successfully tested my contraption.
One irate Sunbeam skipper called out that he would be able to reach the windward mark in one leg but our thoughts were that if we put up the AP flag and reset the line the wind could change again and make it just as incorrect but in a different way.
Even in such easy conditions the port hand bias made the starts very competitive and as the large B class working boats passed close to our stern we sensed the tension on board Victory between the helmsman and the owner.
Some concern was expressed by helmsmen when they found that in group eight, the North Western courses, we chose 5A, so that it had to be explained over the radio that of the two number fives, 5A was the first one. Crossing the line with class U was a boat flying the wrong flag but then we realized that he was a very late entry in W class which had started five minutes earlier, and he still did not come last.
There was a very competitive start in the IRC class and it was interesting to see the way in which Encore timed their crossing of the line so that they could tack onto port, pass clear of the bow of the committee boat, and get clear air while the rest of the fleet struggled to get away from the close proximity with each other which always disturbs the air flow.
On board Hawk, a powerful cruiser with a very big genoa a visitor was subject to an unintended but violent assault. He stood close behind the heavily built jib sheet handler just as they tacked; the crewman, as is his job, waited until the bow crossed through the wind and then he hauled with all his might to speed the sheet onto the winch before the sail filled. Unfortunately his piston like elbow flying back smacked into the face of the innocent behind him completely demolishing his sun glasses and at the same time embedding several bits of plastic into the offending elbow.
When asked Neil Chamberlain said that he had a good start but it all went wrong after that, but his competitors must have done even worse because he still managed to win.
The wind kept blowing and in this direction the final beat to the finish is always difficult because in the narrowing fairway the mixed fleets have to tack very quickly to avoid collision and to stay in the legitimate channel. It is rumoured that one Sunbeam was forced into the trots.
In spite of the bias and short courses many crews enjoyed good sport in surprisingly pleasant conditions.