Monday, 13 May 2013


DWSC members will know that the Firebowl event is one of our two yearly personal handicap events, although it will need to be renamed as the Fire Owl event if the iPad's predictive text gets its way. The basic premise is that everyone starts from the shore at varying intervals, depending on how fast they are expected to go. We then zoom out and join the club race at a point in the course carefully calculated to avoid putting us in the middle of the Lasers, Solos or Flying Fifteens - although this aspect of the plan doesn't always quite hit the spot.

On this particular morning I was standing on the beach holding two sets of handicaps - the ones for medium airs and the ones for windy weather. It looked distinctly moderate, but I suspected it would pick up. Anyhoo, after much deliberation I went for the moderate numbers, and off we jolly well went.

Now I confess I don't remember too much about the first race, but the potted highlights are:

  • Peter & Mike's boat not even being in the water when their start occurred
  • Colin & Karen being somewhere out on the water for theirs, although they did come back after everyone else had gone.
  • Richard & Digby getting into some sort of trouble before they'd even got to the first mark.
  • Pat & Jane capsizing by J
  • Bob & Paul having one of those tack-or-bear-away misunderstandings when I chanced upon them going up one of the beats. Bob tacked and Paul didn't, with the predictable result.
  • It getting pretty chuffin' windy
  • Richard & Digby capsizing 3 times.
  • Some absolutely fabulous 3-sail reaches, which gave the hotshots a chance to annihilate the less confident sailors, which was great fun but not really what we were here for.

At the end, it was Dave and Iain in the lead, with Peter and Mike second.

Then lunch, where I dug the windy-weather handicaps out of my coat pocket and inflicted them on the assembled crew. These are broadly similar to the originals, but with bigger gaps between the starts so the slower boats get a bigger advantage. Dave & Iain reported having bent the screwed rod on one of their spreaders.

So off we jolly well went again, and the first thing we observed was that the wind had dropped a bit, so we were again on the wrong set of handicaps again. Doh!

This time it was early starters Pat & Jane who did something silly on the way to the first mark, and had a bit of a swim as a result. Not fast.

Down at the first mark (S) we were just ahead of Peter & Mike, when they had some sort of kite-not-going-down-properly issue and parked up by the mark, giving us a nice little lead. We then found a very effective route up the beat to B which gave us a mahooosive lead over them and also put us in amongst a load of other boats, notable Pete & Rachel, Bob & Paul, Helen & Paul and JT & Quentin.

A run down to D gave a number of the above boats a chance to get away a bit or pile back over the top of us when they had a bit more pressure by virtue of being upwind, but a smart gybe at D put us back into the fray, and we charged down to E neck and neck with Helen/Paul and Pete/Rachel. We arrived there as the filling in the sandwich, which was a bit scary considering the speed we were all going, but we got the kite down and chased Pete down the next reach to H, leaving Helen & Paul behind as they sorted out their kite.

Round H, through the gate, and a beat up to Y, where nothing of any great interest occurred, then a 2-sail reach to OL and a broadish thing down to S to start the next lap.

The next beat wasn't as great as the first, I think we got ourselves clear of all the boats behind us and overtook Bob/Paul, and again it paid to go right to start with and then hard left for the 2nd half. Going round B, the boats ahead looked to be a long way off, but by the time we'd done D and were approaching E, it was getting windier and they were looking more catchable. We spotted that they were all trying to fly the kite  from E to H and were having a bit of a hard time of it, so we bagged ours and tried for a 2-sailer, which worked quite well. Up ahead, Richard & Digby were in the lead but were blown well down from the lay-line and had to beat back up. Colin & Karen had piled past Dave & Iain, and Paul & Nick were hot on their heels. C&K claimed water at the mark on R&D, but the whole lot (including ourselves) were right on their tail as they tacked for the finish line. And I wish I'd got a photo of it, because when we tacked at H, there were 4 Fireballs right in front of us, all charging for the line, and all finishing close enough together that the poor old OD struggled to write the numbers down.

When the dust and the spray had settled, Colin & Karen had won, followed by Dave & Iain & their broken spreader, Paul & Nick next, and then Richard & Digby (1st to 4th in about 60 seconds). Everybody else turned up in the space of the next 60 seconds or so, and we all headed back to the shore for a well deserved rest.

Only 4 boats turned out for the last race, which is 4 more than usual and gave us 80% of the total turnout. It was looking good for Colin & Karen, particularly when Paul & Nick laid the boat over on the tricky close-reach under the shore from K through OL to J, although they just managed to keep the mast out of the water. And then tragedy struck, when a similar lump of wind hit C&K, resulting in a capsize with the kite up and the end of their chances of taking the trophy. Paul & Nick went on to win that one, with Pete & Rachel 2nd and Richard & Digby 3rd.

When the final results were released, it turned out that Dave & Iain & the broken spreader had won trophy by one point from Paul & Nick, with Pete & Rachel 3rd. Full results here:

Well done to all concerned, and we hope to see you for the rematch - the Marriott Bucket event in September.