Sometimes, rarely, you get a decent amount of wind on a really warm, sunny day. Sadly it's equally unusual these days to get a big course that allows a Fireball to really stretch itself. But occasionally the stars align and you get both at the same time, and yesterday was one of those days.
We started off with a southerly wind, trekked over to the start (near D), and were greeted with a course of M, N, C, B, X, E, D. That's a long beat, a broad reach/run, fast reach, beat, fast reach, dead run and a beam reach to finish. The sun shone, the wind varied from F2 to F3, and a great time was had by all. A particularly great time was had by Peter & Paul, who cocked up the start, recovered, and took an early lead which they were never to lose (although we did make them work for it.) Colin & Karen fought it out with Pete & Richard a bit further back, and Mo & Ellen and Jane & Pat were somewhere behind them. The wind went a bit westerly, making the last leg into a fetch, but that was a small thing really, and we finished within about 10 secs of the leaders.
The wind picked up for the afternoon, and those of us who had launched with 22'8 mast rake were forced to pull many bits of string to compensate. Peter & Paul cocked up the start again (with only a little help from yours truly), and had to re-round, leaving the rest of us to blast off at great speed when the gun went. Well, not quite all of us. Mo & Ellen had capsized a little while previously, and Colin & Karen spotted this, rescued Ellie and put Karen on the upturned hull to help get the boat upright. Crews were swapped back when normal orientation was resumed, and C&K were able to start the race just a little late. It says a lot for them that they pitched in to help, and I'd like to think that this spirit of camaraderie pretty much defines us as a fleet. I certainly hope so anyway.
The race itself was fantastic, a beat to B, broad reach to Y, beat to A, run to N, broad reach to P and another to S, one-legged beat to J and a 2-sail reach back to D. As the race wore on it became a little windier, and we were just behind a trapezing Dart on the 2-sail reach to D when a gust simply flattened him, which is not something you see all that often. But it was the 3-sail reaches that made my day; in particular the one from N to P which was pitched just perfectly for a flat out reach. And if you've never experienced a Fireball going flat out with the kite up on a sunny day, you're missing out big time; the boat goes like it's on rails, no wobbles, no nosediving, just the sunshine flashing off the spray, the black patches racing in and you're locked in to the elements and that sense of speed...
So we won that one, although I'd happily have come last for the pleasure of just sailing that race in those conditions. Peter & Paul came in 2nd, Pete & Richard were 3rd, Colin & Karen ran out of time and retired, and Jane & Pat finished 4th and last - Mo & Ellie having hit the showers long since. Many thanks to JR and the OD team for laying on such a great course - a veritable banquet compared to the usual sandwich. Well I enjoyed it anyway, as perhaps you can tell?