A very humid and sultry day with occasional sunny spells on Tuesday 29th led to a windless five o’clock run to the boat. Six of us piled onto Trifle and off we set to sail downstream and out into the Roads where Race Officer Jon Fox and his jolly Pirate crew had placed Noon Hi for the second Choak’s series race. ’Twasn’t long before the petrol headsail came out of hibernation, after a few frantic pulls on the starter cord we chugged off to an area just off the docks. Surprisingly there was a nice gentle easterly breeze which allowed us to sail up and down the extended start line and watch Mirri the lonely Firebird start her race. We all had the same “Race Officer’s Choice” course of West Narrows, port. North Bank, port, Trefusis, port, times 3, and finish on the club line. A clever decision by Jon as the triangular course should give beats, runs and reaches whichever way the wind decided to go. He could then finish us at one of the marks.
Eight Q class came to the start and went off in a very orderly fashion with the fleet splitting a quarter way up the beat as the pressure dropped and they sought the cats’ paws on the water where the remnants of the breeze still blew.
Next away were 9 U class with a reasonably steady breeze at the western side of the roads. We had a peach of a start; going full tilt on the button next to the committee boat squeezing out the opposition behind and above us. We continued on starboard tack following the wind line and saw the boats behind who had tacked off early fall into a massive hole towards the Governor buoy.
It became apparent that the atmosphere had played a naughty trick on us by luring us into a false starting wind, which slowly but surely wound down in direction and intensity. We watched the leading Q class ahead, four of whom had rounded West Narrows and set starboard pole kites heading for North Bank, The back markers were already struggling with shifts and tacks while trying to stem the ever increasing ebb tide in the channel. So it was for us but persistence paid off and we were first around the mark and set off on a now port beat which took us in the general direction of Mylor.
Three Sunbeams started and Saucy Sally had the luxury of finishing at West Narrows as the RO had realised that the puff had all but gone for the night. U and Q were informed by radio to finish at North Bank, which at that moment seemed further than Borman, Lovell and Anders had looked in ’68!
Five W class came to the start – -ish. I am informed that due to the lack of breeze at the line there was a certain amount of confusion as to which boats started in which class as they all drifted toward the east. Somewhere in the melée four G class started and were succeeded last but by no means least by 5 B class working boats.
So there we are an incredible 37 boats came to the start line. Orijin, finished in Q class with John Hicks in Rampage finishing with less than a minute to go. That gave him equal points with Jon Fox for the series and Jon graciously awarded his first overall to Rampage for their efforts! In U class we had the delights of Dolphins and I sung a few bars of Starship Enterprise with dolphins on the starboard bow! It became apparent by now that we were going south with the ebb tide even though we had edged out of the channel. So reluctantly on came the petrol headsail a radio call to the committee to announce our retirement and back for beer and grub. There were no finishers in U class but Rocket Ron Jones in Deep Purple stayed out way beyond the cut off time displaying pretty nav lights only to get a DNF!
M fleet G fleet and W fleet all retired which left two B class working boats as finishers at West Narrows. Their huge sail areas scooping up the maximum number of moving molecules left in the harbour. Grace pipped Endeavour into second place by over 40 minutes! Everybody, with the exception of V class Audrey, announced their retirement, other than the mentioned finishers, so well done! Remember it is a requirement to inform the committee, as the club are duty bound to inform the authorities regarding any missing vessels. You may get an unexpected call in the middle of the night otherwise!
Thanks to all concerned from RO to spotters, Engine room Ops staff, Bar and Launch, Caterers and Computer results buffs. I am off to Jolly Français for a few days so enjoy Saturday and the first of the Hine Downing series next Tuesday