Monday, 11 February 2019

FOSSC: normal service resumed

A collection of die-hard stalwarts have been running an informal "Icicle Series" at the Club since the beginning of the year over what is normally our effective closed season. And, to my shame and chagrin (and frustration), other commitments have kept me away from supporting them and thus off the water until this weekend.

Admittedly, last weekend wasn't my fault. The lake was frozen solid. But by this weekend, the weather had warmed again and the lake thawed.

A pursuit race over a simple figure of eight course, Amanda was equally keen to blow the cobwebs off, so after rebuffing the tentative second thoughts of an initial early morning text from her along the lines of are we really doing this? it looks "minging" out there (in fairness, it did first thing; leaden grey skies, thick, cold rain, no wind) we met up by the lake for 1000 and rigged her Enterprise to race.

By then, the rain had eased off and the wind was building nicely. At one point, the sun even threatened to break through, though it turned out it was only teasing.

A downwind start went well, albeit with no contest on the line as we were the only boat in our class. The conditions were turning blustery, with heavy, shifty gusts rolling in from the northwest. I'd not felt especially ambitious for this one, we were both rusty and had no stake in the overall series, but the rust shook out quickly as, surprisingly, we held our own against the bulk of the pursuing Lasers and much faster Aero, pulling ahead of all but a couple of them and slowly closing down the lead on the Solo and Topper ahead.

Mike in his Laser eventually caught and passed us in the second half of the race, but then we almost made good again shortly after on a beat back up to red. The Laser is a faster boat on paper, but in the right conditions, deftly handled, an Enterprise can beat one on the water.

Laying the mark on starboard, Mike was tied up trying to pass Rob in his Solo, both coming in on port. We tucked a quick tack into the space they left us at the buoy, and would've stolen the lead except at that exact moment a gust smacked into us mid tack. Right conditions, not so deftly handled after all. I blame the loose nut on the tiller (that would be me).

By tacking right on top of the buoy, I'd left myself no room to bear away and, with two boats passing to windward, no room to round up. The dinghy heeled hard over to leeward, scooping a cockpit full of water and clouting the buoy with our mast. We saved the potential capsize, but the penalty turns almost cost us our hard won lead over Jon in his Laser and brought Phil and his Aero to our attention, now coming up fast behind.

The auto-bailers slowly cleared the water over the downwind run that followed, and we gradually edged back away from Jon and began to close up again on the Solo ahead. Mike however left us for dust, giving no second chances now he was free and clear.

We took the Solo on the next lap, but our tenure in second place was brief as, in the dying minutes of the race, I let him climb back on top of us at the windward mark rounding at Yellow and steal our wind for the run back down to White that followed. He took the overlap on the leeward mark and came out ahead for the next beat. We tacked off early, and I think we would have had him at the next rounding, but the gun went before we could consolidate and confirm our lead, ending the race, so we conceded Rob the place, settling for a not dishonourable third place ourselves.

It was, quite simply, brilliant to be back out on the water again. I've got gigs this Friday and Saturday coming, but Sunday's free, so I'll be back again next weekend.

I can't wait.

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