I went down to the boat at 1500 on Tuesday 22nd August to effect a small repair to the boom. As I cleared the quay the full force of the wind and rapidly flooding tide hit me! We are in for a lively one tonight I thought. On completion of the job and return to the club I was joined by Lyulph Hesling the race officer for the evening. “Its due to drop” he said with confidence! Hmmm I thought, looking through the binoculars at the maelstrom of white caps in the Roads. Soon various bods and bodesses turned up for the evening's delights and we then made our way to the boat as a crew. What a difference! Wind much less and sea state considerably abated.
The committee boat was placed two cables east of the Vilt and we were warned of three shipping movements which might affect us during the evening. Four M class Firebirds were set loose in the now failing breeze, Steve Hutt in Cornish Meadow playing catch-up on the eastern shore having just come from Mylor.
Eight Q class yachts then had a very orderly start all on Starboard and all dead on time, We watched to see the fleet split and at first it appeared that the port tackers were getting more breeze in the middle of the river?
Nine U class yachts then started and on Trifle we found that as we stood on starboard tack the pressure increased and the breeze lifted us up the eastern shore. The port tackers went into a lull and lagged behind.
One lonely V class Sunbeam, sailed by Nigel Glanville in Ivy, had the inevitable sail over. Four G class Gaffers then strutted their stuff and were followed by four W class white sail yachts. Last but by no means least, competitor number 32 was Cousin Jack a B class working boat sailed by Peter Searle (perhaps the publicans in Fowey bought too much beer and the rest of B class felt obliged to help them out for a few more days?).
As we were forced to tack off the eastern shore the ensuing port tack in next to no breeze and a left-over sloppy sea concentrated the crew's minds and observations showed Q class all but marooned in the vicinity of Governor, the Firebirds agonising at Pendennis, our first mark, the rest of U class behind us all ducked back into breeze near the eastern shore. We followed and lost a lot of our earlier gain so we tacked back over and reached toward Pendennis.
Ron Jones in Deep Purple beat us to the mark but we rounded inside him set a starboard pole kite in breakneck speed, caught the breeze and legged it for North Bank which seemed to be as close as “Milliways” (the restaurant at the end of the universe!). A considerable lead was had and then the puff packed up allowing the boats behind to close the gap. We rounded North Bank and were surprised to see Gulf Kilo, Walter Amos retire, especially as he was lying third place on the water? The Bulk Gasser Kinser was anchored to the west of North Bank and the low throb of her engines and water streaming from the anchor hawse indicated she was ready to depart. The chain was still down so we hiked up to weather and made for home then to be told we were to be finished off Trefusis. Ron Jones came up from behind with shed loads of wind and went past us fast. The wind went on the beam and we hoisted our kite and started to catch but then it died and headed us so down it came. Meanwhile back at the ranch Popincoota, Alan Grose had come from the back of the fleet and was snapping at our stern.
Race over, I put the outboard on and found our nemesis! A massive lump of Bladderwrack had taken a fancy to the leading edge of the rudder and was trailing for a couple of feet behind. I could have unscrewed my right leg and kicked myself!!
Katy, Sue Grigg beat Charm, Nick Bradley in G class, Mirri Alistair Wright won the M class with the other three boats retiring. In Q class Temeraire, Martin Eddy beat Encore, David Cunliffe and In U class Mary Boon, John Cruise beat Deep Purple. Trifle fell back to third place, pesky seaweed! Robin Roebuck in Elli beat Mike Chard in Puffin for the W class honours.
Sunset was 2036 hrs and it was dark by 2100. Yuk! the season has flown by with only two HD series two left. Thanks to helpers all and I will see you on Tuesday 12th for the pursuits as we are off to France to “enjoy” some wobble box time.*
*A chance here for an aspiring scribe to step up and write a report of the next couple of races. What an opportunity! The gateway to journalistic fame and fortune.