The fair weather has allegedly set in for a couple of weeks. John Cruise, as Race Officer ably assisted by Paul Evans and John Heath set group 5 courses for a southerly wind. A sensible move as the sea breeze would modify the SSE wind as the afternoon moved on.
First away were Q Class with a three-boat fleet of Tai Mo Shan, Neil Chamberlain, General Khaos, Ian Jakeways and Atalanta, Stuart Higgins. As they tacked down the fairway we heard Paul’s dulcet tones informing Atalanta they were over the line at the start. Two more calls were to no avail so the boys had a sail and OCS to finish the day! “Didn’t hear the double beep and the radios down below,” said a despondent Stuart in the Dukey on the way back for tea and cakes.
Next away U fleet on the same course Vp, BRp. We set up for starboard pole kite thinking that the wind would ease on the beam as we cleared the moorings. The reacher kite was attached! The first three tacks were Wilkie, Kizzy, Kaimana and Trifle, all swapping positions down the narrow fairway. It’s sometimes better to get out of phase with your competitors when short tacking and that is what we did on the 3rd tack. Cleared Wilkie and Kizzy above and behind and saw the angle to clear the damaged lifeboat and Vilt beyond. We led the pack and saw Nigel struggling with boat speed at the back.
Len Cheshire has gone back to his old aftershave and did a solo W class course Vs, Gs. He was shadowed by a very shady Noon Hi but as Jack does not appear on the results I assume he did not start. Where have all the W class gone? Long time passing! Good riff for a folk song there!
G class fielded a good 4-boat fleet and sailed the same first leg as Len. Winnie* came out to show B class that the sun was shining and the wind fair for sport. So there it was a 13-boat entry on the anniversary of the same number of years since I retired! Where did that go?
On the close reach to Vilt we expected the wind to come on the beam and fly our spinnaker, as did the rest of the fleet with their poles already set for the hoist. It was not to be and I became aware that Bob was pointing Wilkie higher than the rhum line and sneaking up and over us to windward. His slight increase in apparent wind just teasing out an extra micro knot. Trouble is if I leave him there he will have an inside overlap at the mark! So Trifle went up ever so gently to play luffing and as we forced him up just a degree or two we managed to sneak our bow past and get really clear air. A quick glance behind saw Kizzy and Kaimana diving off to leeward on track for Vilt. So we bore away in clear air, eased the kicker and left Wilkie in a big hole in the wind. The three Q class had rounded Vilt and were all on starboard tack going over to the eastern shore. There certainly seemed to be breeze there as cruisy boats on the western shore were upright and slower. Not always correct but a good marker this time. We rounded and hardened up and were followed by Luke Godden in Kizzy who was sailing solo. Wilkie rounded and tacked off onto port back toward the docks while Kaimana stood on with us. We approached Black Rock port hand mark and saw Atalanta and Tai Mo Shan with bright blue port pole kites coming toward us. We rounded and set our blue kite to add to a royal flush.
The run back to the club turning mark was very pleasant with the wind playing games in direction and intensity off the docks. Luke was doing a great job behind solo flying his spinnaker and embedded with Wilkie and Kaimana. We rounded and set off for Trefusis to Starboard, Governor to Starboard, finish. Nigel and Jess had several boat lengths on the others and chased us, as we kept tight to the Flushing shore to avoid the ever-strengthening flood tide. A good beat to Governor on rounding the mark and a port pole spinnaker run back to the finish.
G class looked resplendent with their very large balloon spinnakers catching acres of breeze as they followed us in. Clementine, Alan Perham, was first by a Cornish mile followed by Charm, then Delilah and Mike Rangecroft with Miss Agnes completing the G quartet.
Neil in Tai Mo Shan beat Ian in the General in Q Class.
Trifle crossed the line ahead of the others in U class and took 1st place, with Kaimana ahead of Wilkie at the finish. Alas for Nigel and Jess Wilkie beat them by 4 seconds on handicap. That’s close racing chaps. Later at the pub Nigel said, “It was my fault! I should have listened to Jess and let her ease the spinnaker”. Hope Mr Wong delivered!
Tea and cakes care of Sue Clark, ably assisted by Gaye, were very much appreciated with pear cake to die for! Thanks to Giles, The battery has been on all night and is still taking ’lectric, for delivering us like a band of marauding pirates onto the Flushing Ferry. John the rusty stake for the bar and the ever present ops room staff. The club was buzzing with tales of derring-do and what ’appened was. See you on Tuesday for a tee shirt and shorts sail?
* It's Winnie's 120th birthday. She was followed to her finish at the Club line by Florence who cheered her in customary Working boat style, and then sang Happy Birthday.
NB: Areas that are obstructions: Straight lines between the course side of the mooring buoys on the outer line on both sides of the fairway are designated as continuing obstructions. In other words, you must not dip between the mooring buoys.