Hine Downing series

Tuesday 6 8 13

As we left the shore there was no wind over the town but when we reached the committee boat moored well down the Flushing shore we could see a gentle southerly coming in over the docks and there was more in the Roads. The anchor was dropped just downstream of the Sunbeam buoy to give a good southerly first leg. Soon a fleet of forty six boats arrived and moved about waiting for their starts in the Hine-Downing series.

Seven classes got away with Q giving a master class in crossing the line immediately after the signal at full speed with David Cunliffe in Encore showing the way. We were worried by the large dark grey cloud which hovered over the town and we feared a soaking soon. As each class left the starting zone so the wind died with G hardly able to get out of the way of B class who started five minutes later and they drifted south on the falling tide. We could see the breeze at the mouth of the Roads but we had nothing. It was decided to finish all the classes at the Eastern Arm of the docks to save them trying to go up the harbour against an accelerating foul tide.

We lifted the anchor and dropped it again on the new station and while we were doing this various crews radioed in to inform us of their retirement. As we looked at the water we could see a new breeze setting in and so boats hoisted their spinnakers for the early finish. The first to appear was Victory, helmed by Nick (the owner's son) advised by Arthur Williams who was riding with the opposition and it was a real pleasure to hear the wash under the transom of the winning boat. Chris Bell in Hawk retired but he helped two Sunbeams who without engines would have suffered trying to go against the falling tide. Two other Sunbeams crossed the line running before the wind with their kitty gear out.

From our position we could see the tops of approaching spinnakers before we identify the boat under them because they were hidden by the Eastern Breakwater. The heavy cloud disappeared and we had bright evening sunshine to cheer us up. The job of spotting all the entrants is not made any easier by the size and obscurity of some of the class burgees. Neil Chamberlain made a very good attempt at colouring in his own as he came near and we could make it out even if it was very very small. We admired the energy of the gig crews as they trained vigorously powered by bulging biceps and triceps, and you then should see the men. It was interesting to see the way in which G class flew their spinnakers which contrasted strongly with other classes. From close quarters Temeraire was seen to respond to every fluctuation in wind power and change of direction and Jitterbug gave us a near perfect example of spinnaker cut with their all white sail.

In the clubhouse everyone had enjoyed their sport and Esther from Valencia was most impressed with the skill on the water and the friendly atmosphere in the clubhouse afterwards.

Harold Martin