I looked out of the window and the bushes were dancing about amongst the snow flurries, so when Poorly Paul rang to tell me how cold it was, I didn't put up too much of a struggle and we chickened out of the day's racing. Still, got to go up to the club to help Clive and Rod to rig the fleet boat - they've never sailed a Fireball before and have chosen today to have their first go.
Remarkably, they were still keen to go out when we met in the boatpark in the teeth of an Arctic F3 blowing in from the NE, even with the promise of a lot more windyness to come later on. But in deference to the conditions, we decided that I would chaperone them (one at a time) in the boat on the offchance that this might help a bit.
Now the fleet boat is built like a brick outhouse but is not set up for strong winds or any sort of technical trickery, so it came to pass that Rod and I went out with it set on 22'8" and nothing more than a few armfuls of kicker available to de-power it. Still, Rod demonstrated himself to be a bit of a star player considering he'd never set foot in a Fireball before. So having made short work of going upwind and arriving up near F entirely intact, we turned it round and chucked the kite up. Geezers who are used to asymmetric kites are generally confused by the symmetric job on the Fireball, but it's only a matter of pulling the right strings, and we carried off a couple of gybes with some aplomb, followed by a tasty 3-sail reach through the Laser fleet's start line, and even got it down without issue.
Then back in to swap Rod for Clive, and for yours-truly to put the dreaded trapeze harness on, then off for some more splashing about. The wind was getting a bit fruity by this time, but what the hell. Clive normally helms a Vago, but took to the Fireball like a duck to a sandwich, while I tried not to be too crap up the front end. We managed to lay the boat flat a couple of times (largely due to me not letting the jib go) but I managed to save it by unhooking from the trapeze when I attained the vertical, and then holding onto the trapeze loop and leaning back - from which point you can save just about anything. Then we did a bit of kite flying with Clive crewing, which was pretty good, and then Clive took us back ashore again. All safe and sound, we took the mainsail down and were standing in the water sorting out the trolley when Paul and Nick attempted to mow us down as they came ashore. Welcome the the fleet, boys!
Clive and Rod said they enjoyed the Fireball, which (they said) was a lot roomier than the Vago as well as being faster, a lot less twitchy on the helm and more stable. Fingers crossed, you might be seeing a lot more of these guys.
Meanwhile the first race had already taken place, and Pete Slack was your man on the water:
With a forecast of -1 degrees and 17knts NE feels like Siberia it was always going to be a “Double Hat Day”. As per form the the Fireball Fleet sailed forth to look expectantly at the course board on the back of the committee boat. A trial beat confirmed the forecast of up to 25 knt gusts so we put the pins in and raked to 22' 6”. [Tech note 1 for the technically minded put the pins in whilst onshore, easier to pull then out if the wind drops rather than fight to put them with frozen fingers in the rising breeze].
As we hadn't sailed for a while we did the honourable thing and let the rest of the fleet get off to a flying start, giving Paul and Nick the opportunity to lead at the windward mark. Casual fine reach with occasional gusts to have a look at the trees by E, inside Capt'n Bob, up with Big Blue and under Paul and Nick and off on a cracking 3 sailer on the waves to K with Capt'B in hot pursuit, beat K to J and then a kite up and off to D. But not quite, picked up a collection of humongous snow covered gusts mid lake and took the warmest decision got all the boat out the water and planed to C......beat back to D, look back to see we've fooled Capt'n Bob into doing the same and capsizing :)
Helen and Paul scoot past, run on to C gybe early and sneak on the inside of Helen and Paul, set up for the 3 sailer to B, Rachel wires and sheets in, bang! twinner lets go [tech note 2, use D12 for twinners, standard dynema rope polyester cover wears or breaks on the knot by the stainless ring], kite down-wind heads so probably a good idea. And back to the full length lake 1.5mile beat to S, glad we're not in a laser!!
After a tentative first lap confidence recovers and we blow away the cob webs in the breeze and waves, though some also enjoy it so much they take a longer route round N and P as well....
A special note to the two guys who took the Fleet boat out, looked to be going quite well.
In for a warm and pleasant lunch and tea with the spectating old dears...............temperature drops even further so CBA sets in so off to the bar.
[Tech note 3 for a committee somewhere, there's a certain challenge writing down a whole line of race marks in feels like -5, the search for a second line may well be a lower in the priorities with the prospect of full immersion in a gusty F4/5].