What a glorious evening! 7 X’s were greeted by 15-24 knots from the ENE and clear blue sky.
The Race Team (there were 3 of us until James literally “jumped ship” on to X50) tried to set a decent first leg with the (short) start line South of Park and a beat to Itchenor. With 5 minutes to the start you couldn’t cross the line on starboard but after a quick re-set and a helpful wind shift the committee boat end was favoured and Renee and I witnessed a very competitive start. X186 so nearly achieved perfection but Alistair was a little too perfect and had to show-off his excellent boat handling for a swift re-start. X80 and X50 got the best starts, side by side travelling at full speed with the rest of the fleet being slightly more conservative (sensible).
Once we had sorted ourselves out, picked up the anchor and the pin, taken a few photos (sorry John, I think I was pressing the wrong button on your camera) we followed the fleet towards Itchenor.
Picture to follow…
From our vantage point the beat looked interesting and competitive although it took a little longer than expected. Our tidal calculations were a little off and the in-coming tide didn’t seem to have much effect during the whole race. X50 led X80 at Itchenor with the whole fleet rounding in under 50 seconds. On the broad reach to Wear X50 and X80 went straight up the main channel while X152 led the rest of the fleet to the Cobnor side and initially looked like they gained. X152 “delayed” their spinnaker hoist which allowed X186 to catch them. At Wear most boats gybed for the rather long leg to East Head (sorry, Astra would have been a better choice) but X152 held on to the West side of the Channel.
Would X152’s split from the fleet prove to be tactical genius? Would X80 and X50 match-race each other off the course? Would X186 continue their charge through the fleet? Would the fleet be questioning the competence of the Race Officer for setting such a long and boring leg on a Wednesday evening? The truth is the crew of Dolphin have no answers to these questions and many more. By this time I realised that we (always spread the blame) had set an “overly-ambitious” course and needed to make amends. We later found out that:
1. Sailing extra distance trying to dodge a weak tide is slow
2. There isn’t a lot of water around East Head at low tide
3. Tacking through a small fleet of running XODs is slow
4. John is a gentleman and didn’t try and sit on X50’s wind – or was Roger too far ahead?
At East Head X50 tacked immediately thinking they could lay Park in one. I know Roger points high but …… So they sailed straight towards the oncoming fleet and the dirty air. X80 took a short hitch on Port towards the mud which was just enough to give them clear air and the lead. On Dolphin we breathed a sigh of relief when the wind flicked to the North meaning the whole fleet had to put in a couple of tacks. From Park a change of course took the fleet to Peacock and then a proper beat to the Club Line. X80 help off X50 by 45 seconds, X152 snuck passed X101 and apparently X39 briefly kissed the mud. The leaders finished in 62 minutes and the whole fleet following within 5 minutes. Our Rear Commodore Sailing then proceeded to demonstrate the latest RYA man-overboard rescue techniques using his mooring buoy as the casualty. The finishing order was X80, X50, X186, X152, X101, X39 & X184 but who’s counting.
Thanks to John and James everyone was ferried ashore very quickly where 20 of us enjoyed the warming fire and the most wonderful Ottolenghi Chicken and Eton Mess. On our table we played “how many ingredients can you taste in the chicken” and Alistair ate most of my Eton Mess when I wasn’t paying attention.
Next week, more of the same with more boats and a little more water.
David (X51, PRO for the evening)