It seems to be a universal truth of sailing clubs that if you stand forlornly on the shore staring wistfully out on to the water somebody will usually pop up to either a) invite you out to crew for them (or, occasionally, helm) or b) lend you a boat to race them with.
At least that seems to be how it works for me. And I'm grateful.
Wednesday was a lively day, with a boisterous southwesterly blasting up the Bristol Channel and sweeping over the lake at Frampton. I'd asked Amanda if she'd wanted to sail earlier in the week, but the co-owner of her boat, Juliet, was free for a change so they'd already agreed to sail together. Geoff was off to see his daughter in Gibraltar, so Ghost wasn't racing. And Charles and Alan already had their respective regular crews to sail with.
I had to go down the Club anyway to sort out the hand over of Buffy to her new owners. Charles' crew, Hannah, offered to give up her seat crewing for Charles, but that was a daft, if chivalrous idea and we both talked her down from that one.
So there I was, stood on the lakeside, gazing forlorn out over the wind ruffled water.....
Then Hannah asked, "Do you want to borrow my old Topper? It's a bit rubbish but . . . ."
In my mind, there is no such thing as a rubbish boat to a man with no boat. Plus the air was blustery that evening, and Toppers are a bit of a giggle in a good blow. Naturally, I almost bit her hand off. And, of course, I had my sailing kit to hand in the boot of the car even though I hadn't held out much hope of sailing. One can never be too prepared.
It was terrific fun. First time I've raced a singlehander in a very long time. Which I deftly demonstrated when a gust caught me out whilst running by the lee down to the green mark, and the little boat broached violently, surprising me with a sudden, unavoidable swim.
Nice thing about singlehanders is that capsize recovery is a complete non event, so we were back up and on our way again in very short order. However, a failure in the autobailer (easily repaired, but only once back ashore) meant that I sailed the rest of the race with a cockpit full of water.
Boats full of water are becoming something of a personal motif. Hopeful it's one I can now lose.
The rain came in and the wind died down towards the end, and in a Topper full of water, that meant a lot of time sat heavy and seemingly going nowhere; the last lap did seem to drag out a bit. But, being the same for everyone, it wasn't enough to knock me out of the lead. It almost seemed rude to borrow a boat and then beat them with it, but on the other hand, I did snap a very pretty picture of Charles and Hannah running their Enterprise "Boldly Goes" off goose-winged in to a rainbow ......