And another rubbish turnout, honestly I don't know what the fleet is coming to, there can't have been more than about 7 boats out today. Just because a few trees blow down overnight, it doesn't make it OK to stay at home. When the weather forecast says 'severe weather warning', they just mean it's going to be a bit wet, cold and breezy. This is the UK, that's just how it is, alright !
Anyway, we had good reason to sail today as Martyn was away saving civilisation somewhere, so there were two first places with somebody's name on them. Foolishly, I thought it might be mine.
So, race 1, wait until the last minute and then pootle off shore, backwards this time as launching with no rudder doesn't work if you try to go off forwards with an offshore wind, you just sail back up the beach. So I got the rudder on and wham, big gust, crew gives me nervous look. A bit further out and we're zooming along, no kite, still on a run. Crew says something about it not being as 'calm' as I had suggested. Haha, too late now !
So we got to the region of the start line, down by D, but it was pretty clear that you would have to walk round the back of the committee boat if you wanted to cross the start line, so we hung about a while with sails flapping. Committee boat wandered about a bit, then shot off to 'S'. So we followed, then came back to show a bit of solidarity with Paul Anthony who was upside down at this point. Various other Fireballs were also being helped off the course in various states of disarray. Ten minutes later, we went and commandeered the RIB that was helping Colin Newman in his Canoe, and sent it down to help Paul. We then sat about and watched Colin in case anything interesting was going to happen. I have to say that you couldn't pay me enough to sail a narrow, fully-battened boat with 2 sails and a slidey seat thing in a F5-6. It's got no form-stability and more sails than you have spare hands to control. Anyway, all credit to Colin, he got it up, tacked it and got it home without dropping it in more than about 6 times, and that's better than I could have done.
So we sailed up towards the shore, then sailed back down to the committee boat, then sailed around a bit more, and up went the yellow flag. We went over to get the course. As we did so, a member of the OD team pointed up at our sail. Which I looked at. Which turned out to be ripped about halfway up the leech. So I did some swearing and we then sailed back to the shore very slowly and took the boat to bits. In a nutshell, it would appear that you *can* damage your sail by letting it flog for 35 minutes in 30 knots of wind.
The wind then promptly dropped, and the 2 boats remaining had what looked like a dull and uneventful race with rather too many runs for my liking, which was won by Jez (I think).
Because I was all wet and grumpy, I turned down a couple of kind offers of alternative mainsails and put the boat away. Right on cue the wind went back to being sensible (yet interesting) and the sun came out
So we watched the 2nd race, where Iain & Simon were over the line at the start, went back, then overtook Eugene & Graham on the first offwind leg (another run) to 'N'. In the bar we speculated that might be partly because the latter boat had managed to put their kite sheet over the end of the boom, certainly this would explain some of the odd changes of direction before the gybe. Then a 2-sail hoon across to 'C' and a gybe where Jez & Dave kindly stopped and waited with their sail in the water for 30 seconds or so. A 3-sail reach across to 'D' and a beat up to 'B' followed by a reach to 'T', gybe and back to 'E' to start another lap. Somewhere on the beat, Iain & Simon overtook Jez & Dave by the simple expedient of going a lot faster than them. Eugene & Graham capsized just after successfully gybing at 'T', and the finish saw Iain at the front, followed by Jez & Dave and Eugene & Graham.
While sitting in the lounge, Pete was telling us about the whizzy stuff on his new boat, which I will share with you. First, the crane for the spinnaker halyard. Class rules permit a crane of up to 10cm, the idea being that it holds the head of the kite away from the front of the mast. In a Fireball, where the pole is too short, if you can get the kite further away from the mast (and the mainsail), you are on to a good thing.
Then we discussed the new mast, the Alto. This is thicker than a Cumulus and not as bendy, either fore-aft or side-side. The side-side stiffness sounds like a good thing, but we wondered if the fore-aft stiffness would prove to be a bit dodgy in a blow. Doubtless Pete will tell us as soon as he gets the thing on the water.
And it has barber-haulers, which give you a better jib slot when the jib is not tight in. The jury is still out on these, but if Pete blasts past you on a 2 sail reach, then it may be these that did it. Or it may just be that you weren't sailing very well. Hmmm. OK, if Pete blasts past me on a 2 sail reach then we'll know for sure.
Anyway, off to Edge Sails in Cov tomorrow to have the mainsail fixed. Thus endeth the report.