Sunday 7 Sept dawned clear and sunny. Idea conditions for a great sail except - no wind... the forecast said wind but the reservoir was like glass at 9:00 - no sign of the promised SE wind and certainly not the lively SW forecast for later in the day. Undeterred the duty team explained the team pursuit to the enterants, got the safety boats ready, jet washed the pontoons etc. The RO decided that he had faith in the forecast but hedged his bets setting two beats one for SE and one for SW. In the spirit of field of dreams 'if you build it he will come' no postponement - great faith in the weather. Set the course and the wind will come - and amazingly it did! The curse (or should that be course...) was beat (usually but especially if the wind was more SW) from F to 7, broad to 1, beat (usually) to 4 long reach to 8 and run back to F.
First to start were the two band 5 toppers who made good progress until somewhere between marks 1 and 4 they seemed to get stuck for ages together with the Fevas who were hunting them down. Meanwhile Nancy Scott in a band 2 topper rapidly caught them. It looked as though a rising wind would suit the later starters - 28 and 29 minutes after the first toppers the last two starters were the Phantom and Rs300. However it was a laser that quickly caught the and passed the leaders followed by a posse of solos. The two solo teams were hard at it - the Youngsters (Mark Ampleford, Paul Playle, CJ and Quentin) chasing after the Infantiles (Frank, Mervyn and Peter Cottrell) who has a couple of minutes head start. For a while it looked as if the Youngsters would triumph as Mark overtook the pack, but conditions were quite shifty and somewhere he lost out (I heard some talk about animated discussions over rights at a mark but I didn't see anything). After a slow start it was CJ who was ended up first Solo but the canny Infantiles stuck had close together and were ahead of the rest of the Youngsters to have three top ten finishers and take the team trophy by a couple of points.
We had every generation represented from juniors in toppers, teenagers in Fevas through some of this years new sailors to the grand masters (Infantiles) in Solos. Wonderful to see so many boats on the water - and by and large the handicaps worked out really well - the first few were well defined but the next pack was incredibly close - no more than a few lengths separating the next ten boats.
Pursuit races are great first races for new sailors because the start lines are never crowded. You get timing reminders every minute and the race ends after a set time - no long delay trying to complete that extra last lap.
Remember the first Sunday of every month is a pursuit so if you can't make every week that gives you a series to aim at. Also in the summer the third week of the month is the Anniversary series where Personal handicaps are used - again a great series for the newer sailor because the personal results give you something to aim at - this series is usually won by someone who is improving and that's hard for the top flight to do.