So while the elite of the Fireball world are all in Australia enjoying the sunshine, yours truly managed to get back into his boat for the first time in about a month. And in spite of it being very much not Australia, it was good.
WindGuru decreed that we'd have 20+ knots of wind, but like the bushes in the garden, it lied to us. What we ended up with was mild, no sunshine, and something between 7 and 12 knots of wind. This, if I'm honest, was not enough, especially when you'd been forced to miss the very windy Boxing Day pursuit a few days previously.
Still, we manfully rigged up and I re-rigged the spinnaker sheets that I had removed previously for fixing after they exploded last time out. Then I took them off and re-rigged them again. Then I did some swearing and did it yet again, finally getting it right. We then added the enormous kite to the end of said sheets and went for a sail.
The start line is a lonely place when you are a Fireball, as pretty much every other boat has started already by the time you get into the final few minutes. We decided to start on Port tack so we could go up the wall, so as luck would have it we had a good view of the yellow Moth crash-tacking in front of the rest of the fleet with about 5 secs to go. This caused a bit of consternation to those involved - I'm guessing that Moths go off at the same time as Fireballs, although it's never happened before so we weren't really expecting it.
Our first beat was rubbish - we went right and everything which went left came out ahead of us. Then we went left and lost out to those who went right. It might have been bad tactics or it might have been that the boat wasn't pointing, it's impossible to tell when you're on your own. So at the top of the beat at A we were 3rd fireball and then found that the kite wouldn't go up, in spite of it having worked fine on the way to the start. So I dropped the rig tension and that made it go up, just as the Moth went past us. Then a gybe at M and a very decent 3 sail reach to A where we overtook Badders & Jez and nearly got water on Pete & Rachel by virtue of staying out from the wall and being a bit jammy. But we had to go the long way round C to avoid Pete, and then Badders went over the top of both of us, and eventually we followed him as Pete was (a) going too slowly and (b) didn't seem to mind too much when we went for a windward pass.
Then we followed Badders all the way to H, the kite obliged by coming down sweetly, and we started up the beat to OL. we tacked out smartly from H, and next time we crossed Pete we were able to call Starboard, prompting him to tack under our bow and generally get in the way. So we went out again, and this time when we crossed we were clear ahead. Round OL with both boats close behind and a dead run to F where Pete S either overtook Badders or at least had a damn good shot at it. Then an interesting beat up past the island to X, and a nice 3-sail reach to D to start the next lap.
By this time we'd overtaken quite a lot of Lasers and had a Fred, a Laser 3000 and an RS200 firmly in our sights. But the wind was dropping and once again we didn't go too well up that beat, with the result that we didn't overtake any of them. A to M was a dead loss, but M to C provided us with some planing action. C to H bagged us a Fred, Laser 3000 and a Miracle, but there was so little wind by this stage that we could easily have lost out to any of them on the next beat to OL if we'd gone the wrong way.
Luckily we failed to screw up the beat, and only had to sail half of the run before the race finished, so managed to hang on to 2nd place overall. The RS200 ahead of us was Steve Irish, so no shame there, and I reckon we'd have beaten him too if the wind had held up. Ah well, it was a good sail over a really nice course, and a great start to the new year.