As I came down the hill to the clubhouse I could see the flags out straight, shivering in the strong five-six northerly breeze and after a chat with the Ops Room staff the 'N' flag was hoisted over 'B', 'C', 'G' and 'V' to cancel racing for all the open boat classes. On board Hecate we felt the full force of the wind and put up the smallest and heaviest jib. On casting off I was aware of the power of the northerly on the hull as I let go of the mooring ropes. Leaving the jib on the foredeck we went down the harbour towards the committee boat moored near the Governor to give a good beat to the North Bank buoy for the first leg of racing. Some other boats reefed their mains and all the fleet put up number two or three jibs. Manoeuvring without a jib in the irregular seas was not comfortable and we had a lot of spray flying everywhere. Stupidly I had not packed my waterproof jacket but I had put on an extra woollen jumper under my smock and a Life jacket meant that I was warm but wet. The jib was hoisted and we went for the start on starboard passing the committee boat with less than a minute to go, but as we neared the pin with less than five seconds left Outsider on port crossed our bows very closely, not a good idea in such a brisk breeze. I gave him the traditional Anglo-Saxon blessing and we carried on towards the Falmouth shore. Closely behind us were Deep Purple, Wilkie and Quicksilver but before we got too close to the beach they tacked onto port going over to the St Mawes shore as were all the rest in our class.
We stayed on until the water shallowed which protected us from the more powerful seas and gusting wind. At last we tacked and after setting up the rig for the long beat we saw that the North Bank buoy was dead ahead. We kept it in our sights and remained hard on the wind with the boat much better balanced with both sails pulling than we were before the start under main alone. As we neared the mark we saw that by staying in the western half of the Roads we had gained a considerable advantage over those much closer to the more exposed St Mawes shore where rougher conditions slowed progress.
At North Bank buoy, well in the lead, we tacked onto starboard and bore away looking for the Trefusis mark. With the wind coming over the Trefusis hills we found smoother water but less power, so it paid to stand further off shore. At the point we bore away and poled out the jib and this gave a fast but easily controlled run dead down wind to Black Rock buoy. Spinnakers were flown successfully by some but others had real problems which slowed them down. Noon Hi broke their jib halyard and had to retire and the foredeck crew got very wet in sorting out the mess.
At Black Rock we sheeted in and quickly tacked onto starboard to return to the Falmouth shore for a re-run of our first leg course to get to North Bank for second time. As we neared the buoy, Popincoota and Wilkie, the two Gk 24s, chased hard but we still kept our lead, we tacked early to allow Encore in Q class to continue their challenge to Demolition only a little way ahead. For the second time we rounded North Bank and this time headed for the finish so we stayed well clear of the shore to keep in the stiff breeze which kept changing direction as it came over the shore.
On board Encore they launched the spinnaker but it made a tight wineglass so it was quickly dropped. They pursued Demolition hard all the way up the harbour and on the last tack before the line they got through to win their class. We held our position with the two GKs chasing but still behind and we crossed the line first in our class. We did not do this deliberately to overshadow Germany winning 7-1 to Brazil but first in U class at FSC is something different! Actually we came second on handicap.
On board Tresillian they put up their spinnaker but Excelle gybed first and then put up their smaller kite and they finished well ahead enjoying a very exhilarating ride. Len Cheshire on Sweet Friday found the brisk breeze to be ideal for his heavy boat and for once his decks were well washed as we all realised that with no rain all, the flying water (and there was plenty of it), came upwards onto the crew and decks.
Wilkie and Deep Purple had a very near miss when the skipper did not hear Wilkie's call for water when on starboard and so had to do a three hundred and sixty degree penalty turn, but he still came third on handicap. Afrita from St Mawes enjoyed the lively sport but came last but not so far back as before, chasing Excelle who barged in at the start but their brand new dyneema spinnaker sheet exploded under stress. So this breeze tested the crews and tortured some equipment but we all enjoyed good racing on well set courses.
On Saturday because of a rare hiccup in the management there was no OOD but Charlie Choak stood in at no minutes notice and did a very good job and this was well appreciated by all the competitors.