Well, that was an interesting one... varying between F2 and F4 - constantly! - shifting and with lots of diving for the middle of the boat because the wind had stopped on you, it really should have been a frustrating evening. In fact it wasn't, it was very enjoyable... Not quite sure why, maybe it was just that there was breeze, even if it never stayed for a whole leg, and there was lots of boat on boat competition and place changes.
Course - the wind was SWish, and there was a reasonable length beat up to mark 8 under the bank, a shortish broad reach down to mark 5, a gybe onto a shy reach right up to mark 9, and then a run down to the start/finish at mark one.
Unconventionally, but very sensibly, the race team put the committee boat at the "pin" end of the line, which mean there was an adequate amount of room round the start line in the gusty conditions. There's nothing in the rules that says the CB *has* to be at the starboard end of the line...
A depeleted looking slow fleet got even more depleted when Graham Potter had to retire soon after the start - not another gear failure - and Ian Hamilton's Xenon led off. Evan Cairns took an early lead amongst the Lasers and indeed was up to first place at the end of the first lap. From the fast fleet Dave Nunn completely nailed the start and first beat, and rounded the windward mark with a spectacular lead, and was well amonst the Lasers and slow fleet by the end of the lap one.
We seemed to have a series of clouds, at least one of which was raining enough to produce a spectacular rainbow, follow each other down over Sandown and thus there was a definite tendency for the left of the course to have more shifts and more breeze. If you could go left and get in phase with the shifts there seemed to be big gains to be had, but if you were out of phase with what was happening when you got there... Not so good!
It was very much a fast boat night, with two 600s, Dave Nunn and later Carl Mayhew leading the fleet - on lap three they suddenly seemed to get a turbo boost and disappear, and the Mike Curtis' RS400 and my Canoe also swapping places near the front. Evan Cairns was sailing fast in his Laser though, and kept third on the water, and the Phantom and EPS seemed to be having a close battle and were altogether closer than the 400 and Canoe than those boats were comfortable with... The shy reach up to 9 was a considerable challenge for the spinnaker boats - sometimes it was obviously too shy, but at other times - especially if you were on a big left shift as you gybed round mark 5, it looked very good for the kite... I think I saw one or both of the 200s get badly caught out when the shift went back and a big gust pushed them way down from the mark... The 600s, on the other hand, loved that leg when a good gust came through...
Anyway, results here. In the standard handicap Evan Cairns with the Laser one by a whole corrected second from Carl Mayhew with Richard Barker's Phantom 3rd and Mike Storey's EPS 4th. Twenty one corrected seconds covered these 4! Dave Nunn got the 5th, and Mike Curtis the first Spinnaker boat in 6th.
With the personal handicap for once Ian Hamilton was nowhere! The shy reaches didn't suit the Xenon at all. Dave Nunn took the win, the Canoe second, Phantom 3rd, Ian Cleaver's RS200 and the EPS tied for 4th and Dave Baldwin 6th in a Laser.
Oh yes, and when we got in Kirstie Johnson had cooked a splendid Thai green curry of huge complexity with a considerable array of ingredients. Delicious!