Monday, 12 December 2011

The OD Duty

(To understand some of the references you have to know that there was a lot of fuss last week when a Fred ran over the sail of a capsized Moth while trying to round mark 'K', prompting some people to overreact...)

Picture courtesy of Malcolm Lewin (www.malcolmlewinphotography.co.uk)



Always one to strike fear into the hearts of men, the dreaded OD duty.

We rocked up nice and early at 9:45am, got settled in, and then spent at least half an hour waiting for the committee boat to be made ready - the bosuns were busy moving the pontoon out due to a further receding waterline, and that's not a quick job.

I started off by requesting that buoy K be dragged offshore by about 30ft, as it was almost on the beach. Followers of the recent Moth-Fred incident might like to consider that if the Fred had tacked to avoid the Moth up by K last week (as suggested by various people who weren't there), he would probably have run aground. That's not an excuse, but it gives you an idea how deceptive a few pics can be.

Boarding the boat, Paul, who is a magnet for pain, hurt his foot on a metal thing on the jetty and by the time we went afloat we were already quite late. Fortunately we'd got a great course all planned out for the SW wind, but unfortunately it turned out to have gone Southerly, so a rapid re-think was called for. We opted to go over to the vicinity of 'D' and set a course of A, M, B, X, K, OL, J, D.

That turned out to be pretty much OK, but the red buoy we'd dropped for the far end of the start-line had wandered off downwind a bit, and we ran out of anchor line to drop back to meet it. So when the wind went a tad Westerly, we were looking at a hideous starboard bias on the start-line. OK, we'll radio a bosun to drag the buoy forward a bit....er, nope, no radio. So Mike B valiantly pulled the anchor up, and we dropped back got it all a bit better, and got on with starting the race. It was kinda windy by now, and great to watch the larger fleets taking off en-mass towards Musborough

Obviously we'd set a port rounding for the top mark, although it turned out that there were no takers for the windward-leeward course. At least this meant we could all return to the committee box instead of leaving some poor sod to sit on the boat all morning. So we did just that and settled down to watch the race.

The Fireball fleet were clearly enjoying themselves, with the possible exception of Helen and Paul whose kite wouldn't go up. Paul and Nick managed to run aground on Musborough on the approach to K, so they came ashore too, leaving a short and intense tussle for the lead between the other 4 boats which Cap'n Bob eventually won.

We didn't have long to idly spectate though, as the fast bit of the handicap fleet was turning up and the slow bit (a Feva I think) was about a hundred miles behind. So we started the finish sequence for the imminent handicap boats, brought them all in a bit earlier than would have been ideal, and the Feva eventually turned up and retired. Triffic!

The Freds were last off the water at about 12:45, so a 1:15 start was never going to happen. Still we went out early anyway to be a bit better prepared for the next race.

This time we got the line just about spot-on, a nice little bit of port bias, and settled on a course of A, M, Y, S, K, OL, X, D - which offered a couple of runs to make up for the absence of any in the morning, Apologies to the singlehanders, I just couldn't find a way through the islands that included a beam reach, but it wasn't for want of trying.

So we waited for the Fireballs and Freds to show up, and went into the start sequence. In the run up to the Fireball start a Fred got into irons in front of the committee boat, crashed into us, tore his sail on the flag gantry, and was eventually fended off with no further harm done. So that got today's Fred crash out of the way anyway  

Then ho for start 3, Lasers and assorted stuff, whereupon a certain Moth hooned across the wrong side of the start line just as the gun went and capsized in front of the entire fleet. It was a short start-line, so he managed to get in the way of just about THE LOT - you really had to laugh. He later went on to start properly and sail the entire race, so mucho respect for that bit at least.

Back to the warmth of the OD box, where we observed an epic battle between just about the entire Fireball fleet for just about the entire race, the only delinquents being Helen and Paul (again), who had done something a bit weird down by S and spent about 3 minutes putting it right.

Once again we had to finish the bulk of the handicap fleet a lap early due to the presence of the Feva a million miles behind, and once again it retired shortly afterwards. I can't help thinking we'd be better off if we had slow and fast handicap fleets, and wouldn't have quite such a big problem. Trying to race an RS700 or a 49er against a Feva is pretty pointless anyway.

A lap later, we had ringside seats for the finish of the Fireball race, which featured Cap'n Bob & Paul, Mo & Holly, and Colin & Karen all fancying their chances for a win, all coming round K together. Mo & Holly had their nose ahead and did some serious luffing of Colin and Karen, while Bob & Paul bunged the kite up and went for speed. With Colin presumably entitled to water to get past the jetty, and a big windshadow under the lee of the clubhouse, it was looking like anybody's race, but a little gust of wind turned up just in time to propel Mo & Holly across the line, closely followed by Colin & Karen and Bob & Paul (who spent too long piddling about getting the kite to set). Then came Helen & Paul and JT & Quentin in another little last-minute tussle for honours on the line.

Back in the bar, and pretty much the entire Flying Fifteen and Fireball fleets said how much they enjoyed themselves, which was very nice of them. I'm guessing the singlehanders were less impressed, maybe it's time we had different courses for different types of boat. We put a lot of effort into W-L courses for the benefit of almost nobody (at this time of year anyway), so different RTC courses for different types of boat who actually do turn up in decent numbers would seem to make sense.

Anyway, many thanks to Mike and Liz Ball and Poorly Paul for all doing a great job today, your hard work was appreciated by a lot of people.

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