Race 4 of the fleet championships - postponed from a month ago, when it was too damn windy.
Course: H, K, T, Y, N, Gate
Wind: light , ENE
Poorly Paul: Poorly - much coughing.
Light airs and grey, and I confess that I was hoping for some nice thick fog or a mirror finish on the water, so I could postpone the thing again and go back home. But it was not to be - the wind was on-shore enough that you could tell it was at least 5mph, and visibility was good. This meant that we would have to race, and (worse) that I would have to share a boat with Poorly Paul, who was looking like a giant sack of germs.
So the deal was that we went into this race with an advantage over Peter & Mike, but if they won then they'd still get the fleet championships on last race tiebreak rules. Not a great turnout either, perhaps due to the light airs. This is a shame, as anyone can win in this light and fluffy stuff, but there were still 5 boats out - enough for a decent race.
We were lucky not to have been luffed over the start-line by Paul & Pete, that would have been a monumental disaster. But we got away well enough, albeit slightly behind Peter & Mike. In terms of boat-speed we were well matched against both Peter & Mike and Colin & Karen. We tacked off and went right, then tacked back and headed for the middle. P&M came across to meet us, were slightly ahead, so tacked on our wind and we tacked off again and went back to the right. This happened about 3 times, and each time we were a bit closer when we crossed. By happy chance, we eventually found a good lift on the right hand side of the beat up near H, and were able to tack above Colin & Karen and went round the mark neck and neck with them, with P&M a good distance further back. Hey hey, looking good so far. But it was a dead run down to K, and we had C&K sitting right behind us, so we went a little high (inshore-ish), and lost a lot of our lead as a result. Spotting P&M creeping up on the inside, we gybed across and passed behind C&K and ahead of P&M, then gybed back in time to be sat on by the latter and give water to the former. Not a great game-plan if I'm honest, and all three boats were now very much together again.
So, beat up to T, where we did a lot of little tacks to keep P&M off our wind, and C&K probably just took about 3 tacks and naturally got there first. Then kites up again and across to Y and back to N, with all three boats in line astern. Up through the gate, and start the next lap. We had left the other 2 boats a long way back by this stage, so we settled down to trying to catch P&M. This was going quite well - we took the right hand side of the beat and every time we crossed them we were a little closer, until we went left, whereupon we promptly lost a big pile of ground. C&K however had pulled even further away and went round H with a decent lead.
The run down to K was painful, with barely enough wind to fill the kite, and we fell even further back on that leg. We gained a bit on the way up to T, but nowhere near enough, and were basically out of the running by this stage. Fortunately, the race ended next time through the gate, and C&K had maintained their lead to take the win. By this time, we were in danger of being overtaken by Richard & Clive.
So although we had had our bottoms decisively kicked by P&M, they had needed to win the race to take the series, which didn't happen. Moral victories all round to Colin & Karen and Peter & Mike, but - as is so often the case - the fleet championship went elsewhere.
If we had tried to sail P&M down the fleet, you can bet that it would all have gone horribly wrong, so we didn't try. For one thing, you need quite a lot of skill to do that, plus I would have felt really mean even to try it. But that's kind of what happened - they were just so busy fending us off that they let C&K get away. We had a cracking race, and didn't really mind losing it all that much :-)