Monday, 7 April 2014

A pocket full of rye

Sixpence has obviously had a good weekend, he's been outside my window
in full voice all morning.

Had a great day yesterday. Ben and Hels sailed Buffy for the first race,
and Hels insisted I took over as crew to sail with Ben for the second.
Whilst they were having their fun, I appropriated one of the Club's
safety boats and amused myself drifting around the lake taking photos.
Over the course of an hour's racing, filled up a 4gb SD card with about
250 snaps, so will hopefully have one or two in focus when I get a
chance to go through them. Which I didn't last night after I got home,
and won't this evening as it's Nik's birthday.

It was a squally, southwesterly F4, pretty much as predicted, but by and
large the rain which the forecast had also promised held off.

Ben and Hels did well, finishing a credible 5th place against against a
strong fleet in gusty, challenging conditions, and more to the point,
beating the other Enterprise "Ghost" fair and square into 6th place.

Returning to the lee shore, the main and jib halyards got tangled inside
the mast, preventing them from fully lowering the mainsail. The solution
to this is to release the tension on the jib halyard. Unfortunately, as
Hels released the highfield lever to do this, she caught her index
finger between it at the mast with the inevitably painful consequences.

Luckily no bones were broken, but the swelling and bruising was

After setting her up with an icepack, and making certain there were
people around on shore to keep an eye on her, Ben and I went to prep the
boat to launch for the second race. As I hauled up the mainsail, the
rope tail to the wire halyard snapped, dropping the sail and losing the
wire halyard up the mast.

We laid Buffy over on her side, walked the sail up the mast, then lashed
the head of the sail in place. We then got on the water and made it out
to the start line with mere seconds to spare. It made for an indifferent
start, and put us into the crowd at back half of the fleet for the
windward mark rounding.

The next mark was at the end of a deep, goosewinged run, hardening up
with a startboard rounding (ie. to the right) onto the next beat. There
are rules governing who has right of way at a mark rounding, largely
dictated by the position of the boats when they get to three boat
lengths from the bouy; who is overlapped by whom and where they are in
position relative to the mark we're all trying to round.

At three boat lengths, in the grip of a sudden gust and amidst lots of
shouting, we had "water" on most of the rather large crowd forming on
the outside of us, but it was questionable as to whether we had rights
over the boat leading them, a single-handed Comet sailed by Pete. I
could see Ben decide to sail it conservatively, clearly conscious he was
sailing his Dad's boat and not wanting to damage her with me watchin. He
moved out and away from the mark to slow our approach, slip in behind
Pete and make room for the Laser that had an inside overlap on us.

Unfortunately, Jon in the Laser on the inside of us, and with water on
us, but possibly not on Pete in the Comet, slid into the gap just as
Pete hardened up to round the mark. They colided, with Jon's mainsheet
wrapping itself around Pete's neck as the two boats tipped over, taking
out Roger in the Solo on the outside of them both as well, and leaving
us tearing down towards them all in the teeth of the gust without
anywhere seemingly to go but over them.

"Sheet in NOW!" Ben screamed, with a viscreal terror in his eyes as we
threw ourselves out to windward and hiked hard to flatten the boat. He
slipped her into the minute gap that was now opening up between Jon's
upturned hull and the mark that the wind was now pushing them all away from.

It worked, and we beat away from the tumble of boats, sparing only a
moment's glance over our shoulder at the mess and a wry, disbelieving
chuckle that we'd gotten out of the carnage unscathed.

Jon and Pete were still in the bushes of the shore a few boatlengths to
leeward of the mark with the safety boat in attendance when we came
round for the second lap. By the third however, they'd untangled
themselves from each other and the shrubbery and were back in the race.

We spent the next hour struggling against a couple of other Lasers and
trying to catch Geoff and Sue in "Ghost". The conditions were great, an
enthusiastic F4 holding reasonably steady in direction but carrying with
it some entertaining, energetic gusts. It made for hard, fully hiked
beats, and some exhilarating, planing reaches. We kept in contact with
Ghost through the rest of the race, generally closing up on the beats
then dropping back on the reach, and then almost caught them in the last
half of the final lap.

On the beat approaching the finish, Ben tacked away from them in a last
ditch effort and as we crossed the line, there was only the one gun. The
results eventually put us in 4th place to their 3rd, but there were mere
fractions of a second in it.

Jon in his Laser eventually finished 9th out of 11. Pete in the Comet
and Roger in the Solo involved in the tumble sadly retired from the
race, but only after a good fight to try and win their way back in.

After we packed the boats away, we retired to the Three Horseshoes with
Hels, her husband Matt and friends for a very pleasant supper before
heading home. Hels was looking significantly perkier after a couple of
glasses of wine, but I suspect that finger is going to be very sore for
a while.

Breakages, carnage and digital maimings aside, it was a brilliant day's

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