Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sunny & Stupid II

9th March 2014 - a perfect day. Only the beginning of March, but it was sunny, warm, and 8-12mph - absolutely perfect!

Unfortunately, the Draycote Fireball fleet didn't quite live up to the occasion...

Race 1 - K, OL, J, S, P, N, H, E, Gate

Sidling up to the start-line with 15 seconds to go, I luffed Pete & Diggers, who vaguely luffed Helen & Paul, who didn't take much notice, so I got the fleet boat's boom bouncing off my head for my pains. Inspired by the desire to escape from this, we went flat out for the line a full 5 seconds before we should and were over the line when the gun went. So we went back, restarted, and chased the rest of them up the beat. Obviously you can't afford to give Pete & Mike an inch, and we had, so they scampered off in short order, leaving us to battle it out Bob & Paul, Helen & Paul, Paul & Nick etc. Round K, through OL, round J, and a run down to S followed by a beam reach to P. Jane & Pat tried to kite it to P and managed to capsize right in front of the start-line, so that was one less to get past. But by the time we were on the next beat it was clear that Peter & Mike were doing a horizon job, they were up by K again in no time, and, er, hang on... we weren't going to K, we were going to N (which is close by, but not that close). Weyhey, game on, we and everyone else piled on up to N and took off down the rather tasty 3-sail reach to H, leaving Peter & Mike plodding back round OL, J and down the run again. It turned out they had only written down the first line of the course!

So after that tasty reach, we gybed and had another tasty reach to E, then up through the gate and start the next lap. K, OL and J came and went, and we were on the run down to S for the 2nd time with Colin & Karen and Paul & Nick, when they both decided to go off to H instead. Weyhey again, just got to catch Bob & Paul now. Another lap on, Bob & Paul decided to fly their kite from P to S and we decided it was a stupid idea, and it was, so we got past them and went on to win in a highly undeserved fashion, purely due to sailing round all the right buoys in the right order.

Race 2 - K, OL, J, X, S, T, P, F, E, Gate

Another great course, straight off the course computer but expertly chosen by JT.

This time we had a good start and spent most of the race sitting on Peter & Mike, at one point getting a really decent lead on them. But there were a lot of other Fireballs getting in the way, and we couldn't seem to get past Bob & Paul, which gave Peter & Mike a chance to come back at us. This multi-boat battle eventually resolved itself on the reach from X to S, where Bob & Paul had a decent lead but decided that F might be nice at this time of year, so sailed off into the distance and were completely out of the race by the time they came back. We rounded S with Colin & Karen and Peter & Mike, and the latter pair arrived at T before us, and we then had a continuation of the 3-boat battle all the way to P, F, E and up through the gate. Naturally it is accepted practise that when you've been keeping a boat behind you and they overtake, the race will promptly end, so we grabbed ourselves a close 2nd behind Peter & Mike and ahead of Colin & Karen, and then plodded back to the shore to de-rig. When we arrived there, we spotted everyone else doing the K-OL-J leg, still racing, and it occurred to us that maybe the race hadn't finished after all!

Ah well, too late to do anything about it, so we went ashore, followed closely by a few other boats who were hoping for a finish at OL and didn't get one. Peter & Mike carried on for another lap and finished at the gate, came ashore, then found they hadn't signed on. So in the end, Helen & Paul won the race, again by virtue of sailing the right course rather than by going particularly quickly.

Obviously it's nice to win, but in an eight-boat race it's clear that seven boats (14 people) won't do so. What's more important is that they all enjoy the race and go home feeling good about it. On Sunday, with the sunshine and the mild Southerly F3, the excellent course and the close racing, I think we hit the spot very nicely.

Monday, 3 March 2014


Well the forecast said 10mph, no hang on, 16mph or maybe a bit more. The bushes in my garden agreed with the latter, and it wasn't particularly cold or raining, so off we jolly well go!

Race 1 - A, H, J, OL, C, D.

As it turned out the bushes lied to us, it was 20+ mph and fiendishly gusty. We went for a high-speed port end start, which might have gone better if we'd had maybe one watch between the two of us. So we ended up making a fab start about 5 seconds too early, came back round the pin and set off to chase the other 5 boats up the beat. Richard and Clive had the benefit of a 3 minute headstart, due to them being in the Silver fleet, but they binned it twice on the first beat and got to the first mark last. JT and Dave got there first, closely followed by me & Poorly Paul, Pete S & Karen and Helen & Paul. Bob & Paul had had a bit of an episode by this time, so were a bit further back.

The reach was perfect and pretty full on, with everyone flying their kites. Sadly JT forgot to bear away while Dave was getting their kite down, and had a bit of a bath as a result. We took the lead and charged up to J with Pete & Karen a short way behind us and Helen and Paul hanging on behind them.

J to OL was a short 2-sail reach, and the wind built rapidly as we traversed it until we were absolutely flat out and wondering whether we'd be able to lay OL. Then some bastard turned the wind off, the boat came over towards us, and Paul went off to the far end of the elastic while I just sort of floated about with my feet still under the toestraps and my body in the water. We hung about like that for a while, until the wind came back, and by sheeting in I was able to drag Paul back to the side of the boat and lever us both out of the water. Then a smart gybe round as we'd drifted the wrong side of OL, tack, and join in just behind Pete & Karen again.

We went high of C and put the kite up, which was good fun but no faster overall than just 2-sailing all the way there. Gybe at C, and 3-sail to D to start the next lap.

Lap 2 was a repeat of lap 1, except that when the wind turned off up by OL, I fell out of the boat completely this time. However I managed to steer and hang on to the mainsheet from in the water so that Paul was hoiked back into the boat. I should explain that when Paul is dropped in the water he goes kind of catatonic, remains hooked onto the trapeze, and just floats around until I sort everything out. I lost him completely once, and a passing Fred had to bring him back. But I digress.

Once again Pete & Karen had gone past while we did the drifty thing, so we chased them down to C and D using just the 2 sails this time, and changing places with them a couple of times on the way. As we arrived at C we were privileged to see JT & Dave on the same leg but with the kite up and fairly flying along. Sadly they binned it again getting the kite down at C, then again when they gybed, so that was game-over for them. Personally I'd have Aussie-dropped it and maybe avoided both baths.

One final lap then, one more excellent 3-sail reach from A to H, then up to J and a very cautious trundle along to OL, with Paul refusing to go out on the wire this time. After us came Pete & Karen, who had done the entire race without falling in the water at all, which is worthy but a bit dull. Then Helen & Paul, who paused to have a bit of a swim round the boat en-route to OL, at the same time that finally Bob & Paul were doing something similar on the A-H leg with the kite up. And when Bob (A.K.A. Captain Capsize) finally turned up at J, he managed to sail pretty much the entire leg to OL with Paul bouncing along in the water behind him. JT & Dave and Richard & Clive had retired to the shore some time previously.

With the capsize count now well into double figures, we can count that as a massive success for the fleet. However, we were all too knackered to do the 2nd race, so went off home for a good lie down.

More next week!

Parking up by OL on the 2nd lap. Some skill involved in not capsizing here, but did I get any thanks for it ?
Photos courtesy of Dave Hope