You know the way you can want something so badly that you can convince yourself it is something entirely different, well that is what happens when you haven't sailed for 4 weeks due to a truculent weather God, and the relaxed kite pop in 15 knots turns out to be an underestimate by about 100% as you nearly shoot out the back of the boat..... Well, after a drifter on the first Sunday and a couple of hurricanes' backsides on Days 2 and 3, racing of a sort got underway at last at RNIYC today, in a rather fruity 15-29 knots of sunshiney gloriousness.
Why would you sail a simple single hander when you can sail something much more complicated and thus amplify the opportunity for snarl ups, as ably demonstrated by Chrs Penney, who arrived late, with no sheets. Once the appropriate strings had been commandeered from a variety of sources, the Irish Champion, taking time out from his intensive youth squad coaching duties (i.e. Boat preparation, racing tactics etc) promptly yotted off to the race area under limited control, due to his tiller extension not being attached to his tiller, really....
Lots of bits fell off today, including Laura O'Hallorahoolahan, from 1230, and the evergreen Ginge from 825, launching himself unnaturally skyward, into a high tariff dive which drew no applause from Trevor D'Arcy, who was probably wondering if getting back into the class again was going to be as simple as it might have been. For some reason the old timers also decided to drop their kite by pulling the pole out of the front of the boat and cutting the launch line.... always carry a sharp knife when big boat sailing – old habits die hard. Slot gaskets were inspected by all, and by some, such as Dr Hutch and Stuart A, repeatedly, despite Dr H's assertion that No More Nails was just as good as the correct glue. Well I can tell you that it doesn't work as well, and my temporary fix using NMN at Mounts Bay finally succumbed to the endless high wind battering we have had since then, to deliver another fine torrent of foamy sea through the middle of my cockpit. Boat preparation is key it seems.
So onto racing, because that was why we were there, albeit those ashore having lunch might have queried what exactly we were all up to. 12-14 ships set out, and in charge if cat herding was as ever, our long suffering Race Kommandant, Gerry Reid. After giving up waiting for all the boats to be the right way up at the same time, hostilities were commenced, with only one boat capsized on the start line as the sequence started (probably a tactic). Entering the fray, rather later than planned, were Charlie and Wendy, hosing in at mach 2, with their pink kite slightly dictating play, demonstrating that it was still pretty windy. Not sure what happened then, as they came third, so presumably got her spun round in double quick time. Boshing upwind in 20+ knots, DrC and Stevie K punched out a few lengths, and approaching the first mark went for a conservative rounding, which was of course, a red rag to our very own Dick Turpin, Uncle Liam, who saw the gap and snuck through to take the lead. Some fishing by DrC allowed Liam to extend quickly, before a game of hunt the leeward mark broke out. The cleverly camouflaged buoy, sea green in colour, was eventually spotted deeper than expected, taking all the excitement out of the run. Well, there was of course the option of sending it and popping a couple of gybes, but that seemed unwise, and everyone bumbled boringly to the bottom of the course. Lap 2 got a bit livelier again, and it all kicked off at the second top turn, as the gauge strained and, as DC went all softy and declined to pull the trigger on the hoist, the lemmings behind all sniffed a chance, as chutes were launched. This prompted Uncle Liam and Johnny O to stack it and send it over the handlebars, followed by everyone else, who seemed to think this was part of the game. A healthy lead thus established, DrC further embarrassed his family by tacking around at the gybe, providing a good view of the swimming competition behind.
As it looked worse than it was, the rescue cavalry arrived, including the Start/Finish RIB, only to discover that everyone was in fact enjoying the communal activity, leaving Dr C to round the last mark, with no line to finish at. True to form, our erstwhile mobile Race Officer reappeared like Mr Ben, as the leaders arrived at the finish, and rewards were handed out to Dr C/ Steve, and then the two lady crew, with Laura and Paul in second, and Charlie and Wendy in third. The rest all bumbled in thereafter, and with Gerry declaring the whole thing unwise, we all headed for shore. Well, we were meant to, only it was too much fun, so kites were hoisted here there and everywhere, as we all, rather unhelpfully, to the safety teams, went for a quick last blast before bedtime. No harm done, and apologies duly offered and accepted by the Race Team, I think.
Day 6, races 2-4, Report
15 races scheduled so far, one completed, things could only get better, and so it came to pass, the sun came out, the wind appeared from a glassy lough, and we were offski. Crew swapping done, leaving Liam to speak to his attorney, we headed off for a jolly good bunfight in the shiftless NE 5-7 knots, albeit too light for any injuries or embarrassing scenarios to arise.
DrC nipped out in Race 1 of the day, and a procession ensued, Darcy in first loser spot, followed by event sponsor Bosun Bob, of the little shop on the corner opposite the Marina, doing a great pre-Christmas deal on ships in a bottle. Not a very exciting race really, but it served to double the achievement to date.
Race two was a bit more of a shuffle, with traffic jams at the bottom mark leading to inversions of order, and some shoddy roundings by most. Darcy snuck through by taking the great circle route round the fence stallers, jumping up 4 spots to take the lead coming to the top for the second time. DrC made some ground and tried to snare the men from Carrick, but missed the catch, momentarily, before managing to poke them up the bum with his pole, and conceded to a quick spin to relieve the impropriety. Bit more shuffling and Paul McLaughlin nipped through to take the first of his two first-loser slots of the day. Darcy rumbled on to take the biggest rosette.
Race three was abandoned half way up the beat, after a 30 degree leftie as the start gun fired confused everyone, and left Cushendall man McLaughlin leading the lopsided fleet in a straight line to the first mark. Some felt this to be the right decision by Gerry Reid, our erstwhile Race Officer, though Paul knew fine rightly it was because he was from Cushendall.
Determined to flick his thumb off the underside of his top teeth at the process, Paul promptly raced into a lead in the final race of the day, and looked to have it in the bag, when a masked man on a galloping horse made an unexpected appearance, riding in to pinch it off him.
The day's top performer was probably Bosun Bob, with some great speed and a very consistent 3,4,4, showing his blue boat has clearly exorcised the demons of his red hull of yore.
Steady Force 4 and blue skies on the cards next Sunday, so bring it on again in a week.
Results sheet downloadable below.