Yep, much as I hate to lay it on with a trowel, today was great and you missed it
Firstly I turned up (late) to find that Badder's boat was wearing Martyn's rig, as Martyn's taking it to the Nationals. Then my luff wire wouldn't go into the jib, making us a bit later still. But it was still a surprise when we saw the red flag go up when only halfway to the start line. And a bigger surprise when, having started about 90 secs late, we looked back to see Badders in Martyn's boat and Martyn in Badders' boat and some other boats all starting even later. Game on!
So we all zoomed up the wrong side of the beat to 'N', close reach to 'K', broadish reach to 'P', short beat to 'Y', scary reach to 'T', beat to 'OL', broad reach to 'E', close reach to 'S' and start again. Up the wrong side of the beat again, and Badders and Martyn are getting too close for comfort. By the time we got to 'E' again there were only 2 boats still ahead of us - all the others had capsized or gone astray somewhere. So we watched Colin/Karen and Mo/Holly approaching 'E' and noted with interest that they'd left their kites up (we were planning on bagging ours). Colin gybed and promptly capsized, Mo gybed and then discovered that you couldn't fly the kite on that leg, and then lost a spinnaker sheet into the bargain, so we did the gentlemanly thing and zoomed off and left them to it.
There then followed a long race, loadsa laps, where we watched Martyn/Richard getting closer and my blood pressure went up, then some good reaches where got away a bit (we at one point doubled our lead), blood pressure back to normal, and we eventually ended up winning the race by about a minute, cheers cheers.
Then lunch, and 'ho' for race two. It was perhaps a bit predictable, although still a complete surprise to me, that this race also started while we were on our way to the start line. As Mo pointed out later on, it's a bit of a poor show that someone (ie, me) who lives about 100yds from the lake can't get to the start on time, particularly when he (ie, Mo) has to drive for about 5 days to get here and can manage it quite nicely thank you.
Anyhoo, once again the fleet had a bit of a headstart - 2 mins this time, and once again the forces of darkness (Martyn/Richard) were even later than us. So we all set off in pursuit of the seven (yes, seven) boats that had started on time, beat to 'N', reach to 'K' (at which point the leaders were pretty much at 'D', then 'D', beat to 'Y', awesome reach to 'H', beat to 'OL', reach to 'E', reach to 'F'. We passed a few boats on the first lap, and then had a lucky reach to 'D' where we started the leg as the leaders were about halfway there and finished pretty near their transoms. Quick beat to 'Y' where we overtook Colin/Karen and were duly overtaken by them again, and then the awesome reach to 'H'. Bob asked me later how we managed to overtake everyone on that leg, and I think the most honest answer is that we picked up a huge gust and just rode it all the way. Then another lap and a half of trying not to let Martyn catch up, where the only notable occurrence was that the spinnaker pole attacked the jib when we tacked on the last beat and poked a hole in it and wouldn't let go. Small pause to sort that out, zoom up the beat, and woohoo, we won that one too. Although I should mention that we started about 2 mins ahead of Martyn and finished only 1 min ahead, so you can see how that one should have gone.
Then Paul went home and Tom leapt aboard for the last race - a 2 horse affair between me and Tom in the red corner and Martyn and Richard in the borrowed boat corner. We weren't late for this one, and even had time to read the course, look at the line etc. Then off we go, zoom up the beat, Martyn gets there first but not by much, 'N','T','OL','K','P','S', spend entire lap looking at Martyn's transom, but not from very far away. Then round 'N' again and a lucky gust blows us into the lead while we're both putting the kite up, niiiiice, but Martyn threatens a windward attack and takes us high on the run. "OK", I say cheerfully, "we'll gybe onto port and get the kite down and then gybe round the mark". Well predictably that didn't go according to plan at all, the pole got all knotted up in the spinnaker sheet, and by the time we got onto the beat, the kite was only notionally in the bag, the sheet was all over the pole and the clew inhaul had fallen off the mainsail. And Martyn was back in the lead again, and the shortened course flag had gone up. So it wasn't looking good. So we tidied up a bit, and plodded up the RHS of the beat with the boat looking like a ball of spaghetti, and Martyn opted for the lift up the wall and the dubious benefits of the corner where 'J' lives. When we tacked onto starboard for OL, and they tacked onto port, I was sure we'd got them. We were charging along and they were virtually becalmed, and we're going to pop out ahead. 20 secs later, and we're going a bit slower, and I figured we'd get them on starboard, har har. 10 secs later, they've got a gust and they cross ahead of us, chiz chiz, another dream lies broken. But they can't lay OL, so they tack onto starboard, we go tack onto port, they cross ahead, tack on top of us, momentum does its thing and we crossed the line together but with the nose of my boat about 6 inches in front.
In a nutshell, it was great. Class racing is alive and well and well and living at Draycote. Many thanks to the ODs for giving up their time so I could experience that, it was utterly brilliant!