Friday, 1 September 2017

Buffy: Wednesday gone, Sunday comes

Looking at the forecast for the weekend; we're delivering Calstar to Portishead Saturday, so I'm thinking Sunday is a lake racing, Enterprise sailing day.  Just need to find crew to race with me as Hels isn't available. Preferably crew that doesn't mind a bit of rain. Or the odd capsize or two.

Wednesday evening just gone played out markedly better than my original expectations. I'd anticipated a damp, miserable drift (not that the idea of that would possibly stop me from sailing anyway) but the rain eased off shortly after we launched and only showered briefly once or twice during the race. The sky was gorgeous, rain-laden, saturated clouds lit by low and broken rays of late summer evening sunlight. The wind was fickle but distinctly playful, building and lulling, veering and backing, keeping us on our toes to keep the boat moving throughout.

Hels crewed for me; her first sail of the year. It felt like ages since I'd last been at the helm of our own Enterprise as I'd either been crewing for others over the last couple of months, or away myself. But we had nothing staked in the race, with no chance of qualifying for the series this late in the season. So no reason to try and pressure ourselves into a particularly good performance. Except a race is a race, so you're either in it or you are not.

The start-line was chaos. Piles of boats everywhere, most of them unsure or of or oblivious to what the wind was actually doing. Frantic screams of "Up! Up! Up!" and the crunching of contact. I made our own final approach at the pin end, slightly astern and windward of our nearest competition, Geoff and Sue in "Ghost". Seeing the situation developing ahead, I ducked away and then hardened up tight to the wind with just a few seconds remaining, shy enough of the line to not cross early, albeit more by luck than judgement.

Ghost, likewise keen not to cross too early, tried the same but got caught up with a couple of boats to her leeward, I think they were Tony's British Moth and Pete's Comet "Tipsy Toad"; meanwhile, Alan in his Enterprise, windward and astern of our us, charged into where he thought there was a gap, but found our boat filling it. He shunted us, the impact of the thump accelerating us forward over the line just as the gun went, momentarily jarring the tiller extension from my hand.

Retrieving the tiller and recovering our balance, we sailed on, only looking briefly back with amusement at the tangle of boats behind us, catching Geoff and Alan each taking their respective penalty turns deep amongst the mix.

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The lift in the wind that had caused the maelstrom of crunching and screaming on the start-line meant  that, clearing the line from the pin end, we were able to lay the windward mark on a single, starboard tack. We cleared it ahead of the rest of the fleet, a couple of British Moths and and Henry's Enterprise a little way behind.

Over the next four laps, we slowly drew ahead of the bulk of the fleet; only Ghost edged inevitably closer to us with each circuit, but we still finished a full leg ahead of her in the end. Although first on the water, once the times were corrected for our relative handicaps, we found ourselves in joint 2nd place with the first of the two British Moths, with Pete and Tipsy Toad clear in 1st.

Not a bad end to a lovely evening's sailing.

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