Sunday, 12 June 2011

12 June

So, as flaming June gets into its stride, the Fireball fleet turned out once again to do battle, and if they were put off by the persistent rain then they didn't show it.

All my hats have now been blown off and sunk, so I was wearing a fetching rubber balaclava which works well with the baggy drysuit look, and has the added benefit of keeping the rain off my head.

Pre-race fettling
I found five jibs in my shed the other day, and I reckon that four of them are better than my current heavy-weather jib. So I used shed-jib no.1 today. It turned out to be a flat-cut Alverbanks which didn't do anything particularly well, but didn't do anything particularly badly either. The black logo matches the duck tape on the mainsail quite nicely.


Only half the lake due to a load of Fevas doing summat up the other end. There must have been around 10 Fireballs aiming for the pin end of the startline, so we got ourselves in pole position, ducked beneath Pete/Serena who had parked up in front of us, powered up and then just failed to lay the pin. Gybe round, start on port behind everything, 7th round the windward mark as a result. Up front, Pete & Serena are showing everyone the way round, which went fine for 'J', 'OL','K' (where we overtook a few boats) and 'T', but not so good when Serena read her 'F' as a 'P'. By this time we were in 3rd place, no, make that 2nd as the lead boat heads off to 'P'. So we chased Peter & Mike round for a bit, then got ahead of them somewhere or other, can't remember where but they were definitely behind us when we got to 'F' a lap later. There was a Miracle there too, and in the confusion Peter drove his boat into the back of mine on the bearaway round the mark. Cue 720 penalty turns, and we were able to cruise round for a win, with Peter & Mike 2nd and Cap'n Bob & Paul 3rd.

On later inspection, the damage to my boat was a tiny scrape on the transom, and Pete had a bit of a gouge under the bow where it got friendly with my rudder. Considering the speed we were going, that's remarkably light damage - I was expecting gaping holes. Cheers for Winders and their big pot of kevlar.

All the lake this time, and a bit more wind too. The Fireball fleet had turned up as usual, but for some reason there were only about 3 other boats on the water. This time we started a bit better and after a blustery beat were 1st round the windward mark at 'J'. Kite up, zoom down to 'S' and gybe for the 3-sail reach to 'C'. Digressing briefly, 3-sail reaches from one end of the lake to the other when it's windy are a big item on my sailing agenda, so I was particularly looking forward to this one. And it didn't disappoint either. Big lumps of raw unpasteurised pressure turned up at regular intervals, and the boat hurtled across the lake with the crew only vaguely in control and catastrophe waiting on its next victim. Which, oddly, wasn't us this time. Peter and Mike bottled it first after a brief spell in hyperspace where they gained a load of ground on us. We got a good way past 'D' before the shoreline started looking a bit imminent and we bagged the kite. Then smartly round 'C' and another hard beat up to 'K'.

Peter & Mike arrived there and tacked for the mark before us, then promptly capsized for reasons which never became entirely clear. We sailed at the wreckage, tacked smartly before hitting it and were on the lay line for 'K'. Now for some reason there was a Sea Cadets rowing boat up by the mark, and it is a well documented fact that my boat is a strange attractor for all things with the row-boat gene. So the rowers duly started rowing the thing into the space between us and the mark, and we had a bit of a shout (cos we knew what would happen next, after last time). So they stopped rowing but that old momentum thing carried them onwards, and I luffed up a bit more and shouted 'row backwards' at them. And we'd just got close enough to the bow of their boat that I could read the small print below the boat name when they stuck the oars into reverse and backed out of the way. Woohoo, disaster averted, round 'K' and off for another lap.

By this time the tape which held the super D12 kite halyard taper-point together had succumbed to the water, so the kite was definitely on it's last few hoists before the fluffy end came loose and jammed it. So we flew it down the runs, but bottled out of the long 3-sail leg to 'C' - and I have to say it was harder work without the kite than it was with it, albeit we arrived at 'C' rather than the nondescript shoreline between 'C' and 'D' this time. Peter and Mike positively had us for breakfast up the last beat, following our route while pointing higher and going faster (I blame my jib for that. And my mainsail. And the crew, hell, anything). So up at 'K' we were only a few boat lengths ahead and a bit low of the mark, but managed to squeak round it, nearly capsizing to windward as we went. Then a short but very hard leg in the gusty stuff under the clubhouse shore to cross the line, whereupon we looked back to see that Peter & Mike had capsized again. Pete and Serena came in third, which is pretty awesome considering that Serena weighs less than my sailbag.

Anyway, that was enough for us, so we and the rest of the posse headed for the bar via the changing rooms, and a well deserved rest 

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