The bushes lied to us once again, it was nothing like as windy as they said...
So we got there to find a nice F2-3 and sunshine, plenty of willing (and not so willing) participants, Pete S with 'sale or return' crew JR on loan from Badders to stop him from going rusty, and all the usual crowd of disreputable fleet members. Game on for a bit of Marriott Bucketing then...
We opted to start on the water this time, due to the muddy shallow beach, and that turned out pretty well. The first race was a bit pants from my point of view, because I had to untangle my kite halyard from the jib halyard just before, during and just after my start, and by the time we got going, nearest boat Pete & JR were pretty much out of sight and stayed that way all through the race. I must confess at this point that sailing around in the company of no other boats is about the most tedious form of sailing there is in my book, so it wasn't a huge amount of fun for us, but we did get to witness some decent action nearer to the front of the fleet. Of particular note was a full-on luffing battle (with kites) on the last leg of the race, with Bob / Paul doing clever stuff against Paul / Nick, thereby letting JT / Quentin through and causing Paul / Nick to capsize just next to OL - a fitting end to race 1 of the Bucket.
The afternoon however was really good, with a bit more wind and a fantastic first leg which was a 3-sail reach all the way to A. This was the source of some immediate upset, with at least one of the early starters capsizing pretty much straight away, not helped by the fact that they'd already lost about 2 minutes of their lead by starting late.
The next leg was a decent length beat up to D, where we gained a load of ground on Peter/JR, and a broad reach down to OL before beating up to S. Somewhere along the way we overtook Pete and settled down to trying to catch the next boat.
The course took us next to H, then a dead run down to J, where we gybed and started on the fabbo 3-sail reach to A again, passing Pat / Jane who I think managed to capsize a bit as we went by. On the next beat up to D we overtook Dave / Richard, went hard left, and by the top mark had closed the gap considerably on Bob / Paul. They held us off all the way down to OL, and as they pinched up after rounding the mark, we went straight past below them and then used the extra speed to come up in-line and ahead (that doesn't often happen). Round S, H, run to J, and there's that 3-sail reach to A again, and we can see Helen / Paul and Paul / Nick about a minute ahead of us, kites up, hooning down the reach.
By this time it was getting a bit windier, and that was one really excellent leg - sun shining, little gusts chasing across the water, and the boat planing very nicely with us both at full stretch. Ahead, Paul / Nick laid their boat on its side up by the mark, saved it, and all three boats went around A within the space of about 20 seconds. JT / Quentin were marginally ahead too, and Bob / Paul had gained a bit due to our crummy rounding and were just behind us. Game on!
So about half of the fleet went right, and we did our usual crawl up the wall on the left, which left us crisscrossing Bob / Paul, involving much yelling of 'starboard', and much bearing away behind other boats as we went. This was now back in proper fleet racing territory, with 5 boats all focussed on getting to D first, with just the broad reach to OL to come and victory for somebody. The fleet converged on D, as you do, and I thought we were in the pound seats, with pretty much all the rest of the boats a bit behind us as we tacked onto port for the final approach to D. But wait, what's this, it's Bob / Paul steaming up on starboard, and they've got a lift, so now we're pinching for the mark, and they're definitely going to get there before us. We luffed up, they tacked, and we went round D together with the other 3 boats close behind.
Up with the kites then, but Bob / Paul are upwind and very keen on not letting us past to windward, so we're stuck below them, with Paul / Quentin just below us and Helen / Paul below them. We did some transom chasing on Bob, but he really really didn't want us going past to windward, and then we noticed Helen / Paul going very low, before coming up on a closer reach and popping out in front of all of us. Damn!
By this time we were back overlapped with Bob, Helen crossed the line to win, we had to give Bob water at the mark, opportunists Paul / Nick nipped in above us, and due to the somewhat biassed finish line, they pipped us too. So we ended up 4th, with JT / Quentin just behind us, all 5 boats crossing the line in the space of about 10 seconds, and what a great race it was!
If there is a 'day 2', it will be on the 20th Nov, and presumably it's all still to play for as the winners of the AM race today came about last in the PM race, and the winners of the PM race retired from the AM race.
Fingers crossed then for a decent day on the 20th, and if we get anything nice on the 13th for day 2 of the fleet champs then that would be good too.