The Jetstream has moved south and provided us with cooler but average temperatures and “April showers.” I looked on the FHC weather site and saw that the wind was predominately SW 18 to 20 kt at 1600. There had been an 80 kt gust at 1030! A road traffic collision had occurred beyond Treluswell, which stacked the traffic back to Playing Place so I arrived at the club a tad late. Matt and Gaye were there and we discussed the plan for the evening’s racing as the Race Officer team. It was decided due to the strength of the wind and its gustiness that we would restrict proceedings to no open boats and compulsory lifejackets. The appropriate bunting was hoisted aloft on the flagpole and we made our way to John Heath’s yacht, as committee boat, armed with pin end flag, anchor, gas horns etc. We intended westerly courses.
A change of mind was rapidly made, as it was apparent the wind was still in the southwest so we anchored on the eastern shore near to Cream Cornwall buoy. The pin laid and committee boat anchor bar tight against the increasing wind and fetch. The rain came through and the visibility dropped as the racers came to the start area. Two yachts went off in Q class with Scorpion, Geoff Davies powering away underneath Moonshine, Robert Buckley whose mainsail was spilling a lot of wind. The beat to Governor would sort them out!
U class were next off with three boats contesting the race. Mary Boon, John Cruise powered up above Popincoota, Alan Grose (who remembered his watch this week) both toward the pin end while Nigel and Jess Rowe in Kaimana came sizzling past the committee boat intent on getting the windward advantage. They were also heading for Governor as the windward mark.
As midsummer has not arrived and the Sunbeam fleet nestle in their warm sheds W class were moved to start in their slot. Again this week there were 5 yachts with real sailors on board in this ever-increasing class. As they manoeuvred for the off a squall came through. The visibility dropped and the wind howled. We were gobsmacked to see Puffin, Mike Chard wrestling with a No1 genoa. Akamas, Martin and Beccy Leach was approaching mid start line but her genoa was flapping and she had little steerage. Len Cheshire in Sweet Friday was being forced ever lower beneath her and looked like missing the pin end altogether! Elli, Robin Roebuck charged the pin end and went off like a rocket! Shame as he was 2 or 3 boat lengths over before the time and pathetic squeak from our gas horn signified the start.
Akamas was now in irons and Puffin under limited control to windward of her was trying to make best for the pin end and start. It was obvious the two paths were converging and Mike tried to bear away behind Martin’s stern. “Dump your main,” I am muttering, as Puffin looked a sure contender for Teeboner of the century. Fortunately he bottled out and tacked over onto port and I was then looking down the barrel of his smoking gun as he got me in his sights! Again he tacked over onto starboard and John Heath breathed a sigh of thanks that his boat remaining intact. From behind I heard a crack of sails and Levity, Guy English whizzed by our stern going as she was built for in the strong wind. Guy later told me he was a bit late starting as they had put a much-needed reef in the main while the 5-minute warning counted down.
Akamas then managed to get her head through the wind and passed our bow on port tack with Beccy winding the genny sheets ever tighter. Two calls on the radio to Elli were unanswered and she eventually rounded Governor and retired. Robin told me that none of them on board had a watch and he had no intention of turning back after the start as the crew were still trying to sort out which bits of string to pull!
We then had fun and games on the committee boat as our anchor ascended from Davey’s locker with a string and then a lobsterpot attached! Sadly no lobster! It were right difficult to separate the two as the Bruce anchor was intent on keeping its prey. We saw Scorpion on a port broad reach white sailing toward St Just with Moonshine a fair way behind her playing catchup. Anchor freed and pin retrieved we passed Sweet Friday heading to St Just followed by Levity, Puffin and Akamas. U class had disappeared into the misty rain enroute to North Bank.
We saw Q and U class rounding Trefusis with W class beating back from St Just in the distance. The wind had dropped to a more acceptable level and the visibility had improved. Three very wet Race Officers decamped to the club and discarded oilies for beer, food and race reports to Paul, Derek and Roger in the ops room. Scorpion had a sailover in Q, IRC beating Moonshine in Byron. Mary Boon beat Popincoota who was 5 seconds ahead of Kaimana in U class. Sweet Friday beat Levity by 24 seconds corrected time. While Puffin still with No1 genoa was ahead of Akamas. The wind was extremely shifty for the final beat up the fairway to the finish.
So 10 starters, 9 finishers and a retiree were involved in the third race of this series. Lets hope the weather improves and a few more competitors brave the elements. April is fast slipping away! Thanks to a very soggy Giles, Lynn the bar, and the caterers. Paul, Derek and Roger in the ops room and John for lending his trusty steed as Committee boat. See you on Saturday for the start of the Skinners Saturday series. Think of mist and raindrops for any photographic embellishment to this report.