Monday, 5 September 2016

Hero to zero

Date: 4th September 2016
Wind: W - NW, F2-3

The Fevas had got some sort of an event this weekend, so my Sunday didn't start very well at all.  Arriving at the club to find that all the car-parking spaces were taken, after some fruitless searching I abandoned the car in the Severn Trent bit and hoped for the best.  The changing rooms were similarly challenging, and out on the water the open meeting was using the bit of the water between H and P, which wasted Toft bay completely and apparently left only the bit from Y up to B for the club racing. (In point of fact the Fevas were doing W/L racing, so there was all the nearer side of the lake to be had too, only it didn't appear we'd be using that bit for some reason). Grumble.

Race 1: 8 boats. Start at Y, Orange Thing (up near B), N, A, Y.

Well we came in from the LHS in the last minute with no watch, and tacked onto starboard under the bow of Colin & Karen. Paul yelled 'Let's go', so (assuming he'd heard a hoot) we luffed up and shot across the line in fine style taking C&K with us, only to hear the gun go about 5 seconds later. So we gybed round the pin and heard another 2 hoots - that's a general recall then. But after a 10 second dawdle I observed the flag was 'X' and the fleet were still going, so we took off in hot pursuit.

Beat up to Orange Thing, arrive in about 4th place, run down to N, one-sided beat up to A and decent reach to Y, arriving moments after the FH fleet went off, now got lots of traffic to contend with too. Massive grumble.

Well it took a while, but eventually Nick & Richard got a beat wrong, and it was just us and Colin & Karen, whom we eventually passed on the run to N - it having proved impossible to do it on the beat. First place for us and not altogether a bad experience - score 15 points for tactical runs in moderate airs and another 20 for the 3-sail reach to Y, which was quite tasty.  Then lose 20 points for the hooked finish, tiny beat and longer fetchy beat, and another seven million for all the club boats packed into a a quarter of the lake all getting in my way.

Race 2: 7 boats. Start near K, B, C, Y, Orange Thing, K, Gate

Now this was a bit better!   More wind and a decent length beat up to B, where we managed to be notionally in the lead and yet still had to cross behind almost everybody at one point or another.  Very close at the top and we arrived just in front, and I'll forgive the starboard rounding and the close 2-sail reach to C under the wall. Then a decent run down to Y and a very tasty 3-sail reach to the Orange Thing, which was parked upwind of K and so close to the shore that you practically had to walk round it. Gybe there, and sort the kite out PDQ as we get it down at K and start the next lap.

So back up the beat, now under pressure from - well - almost everyone.  We observed a bit of a port-starboard thing near the top which slowed down both parties and presumably prompted a 720 from Nick & Richard, so we were still in the lead and in some decent breeze on the leg across to C. Which went summat like this:

Me: "Pressure coming..."

Paul: (does impression of a heavy thing)

Wind: "Hellooo Baby!"

Paul: (adjusts trapeze height downwards)

Trapeze line: "Twang!"

Paul: "Splash!"

Boat: (capsizes)

Paul generally goes a bit catatonic when sufficiently diluted, and rather than trying to beat Adam Peaty's time for the 100m breastroke, just mooches laconically in your general direction at a speed slightly slower than a drifting capsized Fireball.  So it was up to me to bound onto the centreboard and haul the boat upright, then sail it back over to him and drag him into the boat. I achieved this just as the last Fireball (exc. Jane & Pat who had capsized earlier for no obvious reason) went past...

Now I was feeling pretty hyped what with all the winning and the exercise and the near dunking, and I do like a challenge, so I suggested to Paul that the game was not over yet.  We just had to get it round C with no trapeze, and the rest of the lap was all on starboard for which we still had a trapeze.  So we did just that, and by the time we got to the orange buoy we were back in the lead again by virtue of a close call for water. Then a short 3-sail reach to K (no trapeze, but worked OK), round the mark, across the line, and no finish gun as we've got another lap to do...

Hmmm, that's quite a long beat in a F2-3 with no port hand trapeze.  Still, we manned up, tried to do the windy bits on starboard, and ended up hanging Nick & Richard out to the LHS before tacking for the mark and getting there still in the lead.  A last bit of legwork to C, and then onto the run to Y.

Well of course they all converged on us on the run, JT & Quentin trying to sneak past to leeward, Nick & Richard and Colin & Karen trying to go over the top.  But we hung on (ie, got lucky), and the wind kicked in for an excellent 3-sail reach to the Orange Thing which gave us a decent lead, maybe 10 seconds, and that's all we needed. So we gybed the kite at OT, got it set, just need to get to K about 30 yards away and we're home and dry, with a display of excellence in the teeth of adversity that would go down in the annals of history. Yay!

But as the kite set, I realised that, given the lack of a trapeze line, the extra breeze was not our friend here.  Paul started to get the kite down, at which point one of his arms became cramped up and it took a bit longer than usual. And if I'd let the kicker off, I might have kept the boom out of the water...

But it was not to be.

So I clambered over the side and stood on the centreboard again, but I didn't rush this time as it was quite clear that there was no way back from this one.  The fleet was pretty tightly packed, so they all came past fairly quickly, and then waved nicely to us as they came back from the finish line and headed for home. And I stood there a bit longer thinking deep thoughts, before pulling the boat up, retrieving the crew from the water and then plodding off that way ourselves.

(Long Sigh)

But was it good?  Well, yes, it was.  In spite of the gear failure and capsizes, or maybe partly because of them, it was one of the closest races I've been involved in for a while.  Unlike most weeks however, it wasn't just one boat giving us a hard time, it was nearly all of them. That minor detail brings a lot to the party.  And the lack of space - claustrophobic in the 1st race, but barely noticeable in the more spread out 2nd. We would have needed a lot more if it had been windier of course.

Back next week then for more of the same, just got to fix the damn trap line now.

With thanks to the OD team for a great day's sailing in tricky conditions, and to Bryan on the committee boat for the pics and these little vids: