To my mind race 4 is really when the Wednesday series starts looking like a series, because with two races now counting you start getting just an inkling of who is doing well. At 6pm I was sitting in my van in a traffic jam in Kingston with torrential rain coming down around me and vainly looking for any sign of a rainbow in between the houses to the east of the road. Promising it was not. Then the traffic cleared, the clouds cleared, and when I reached Molesey it was clear that the showers had bypassed the village and the sailing club completely. Suddenly things were a lot brighter.
There was a good but not excessive breeze too, so it all made for a very encouraging start to the evening. A complication, however, for those running the racing, was that there were two contradictory forecasts. One had the wind backing, and the other veering (why is it I can never remember which is which?). One also had a forecast drop in the gradient wind. The last of the large cumulus went over during course setting time so the wind was also swinging wildly due to local effects, which meant trying to evaluate any underlying pattern was more or less impossible.
Well, you have to set something, and there's no time to waste in postponements and course setting on a Wednesday evening, so the race team set a quadrilateral with a beat and a run on the general principle that you have to be pretty unlucky not to end up with a beat on one leg or another. So the wind went the wrong way, and by about the worst possible amount as well. So it goes.
So what we ended up with, for the wind steadied in direction and, although diminishing, didn't really drop, was a short, fast and furious blasting course consisting of shy reach, short and very one sided beat, broad reach and short run. I must confess to having been so lacking in imagination that I completed the entire three laps with three tacks and three gybes. You wouldn't want races like that regularly, but with a good force 3 it certainly blew the working day's cobwebs out of the mind last night!
Reaching starts are always a challenge for sailors at clubs like ours where we are rarely forced into having one, and your scribe managed to force himself out at the start with a crisis of confidence brought on by not hearing the gun. I don't know how the other starts went, but the two RS400s and the RS600 took an early lead, chased by my restarting Canoe which delighted in this windiest leg of all. The fast fleet was soon up with the earlier starters, and Mike Curtis and Julie Harrison soon built a lead. I believe I noted that Kevin Pearson and Evan Cairns were having quite a battle at the front of the Laser fleet, and blasting down the reaches too and I seem to remember Chris Smith talking about being able to more than hold his own against Gareth Griffith's Solo in his Streaker on the fast reaches, but really struggling on the run. The run seemed quite significant tactically in the race, despite being short. I at least also found it so in boat setup, because it was that awkward sort of length where I am never quite sure whether I should re set up the boat from the high speed config the rest of the course demanded, or concentrate on the gusts and the angles.
By lap three the fast boats were clear of the rest, and the 600 had left Mike to sail on his own having suffered a capsize. This left the other 400, Canoe and the 600 all fighting for second spot on the water, and eventually finishing within 10 seconds of each other. All this blasting round at high speed had totally discombobulated the Race Officers time calculations, and we ended up finishing at 8pm!
Another lap would have been welcome, but on the other hand we got to sit down early with a pint and with Chiili-con-carne, jacket potatoes with cheese and garlic bread, supplied by Clare James and delicious it was too, so that was a fine roundup to the evening.
Oh yes, results. Well, Mike and Julie had been taking no prisoners, and had a clear lead on corrected time. It *should* have been a good evening for the fast singlehanders, but we'd both successfully handicapped ourselves with unforced errors, which meant Kevin Pearson took 2nd place from Evan Cairns. Gareth narrowly took 4th from Chris Smith, and Ian Hamilton rounded out the top six.
In the personal handicap I fear I won. I was thinking that my placing in band 3 was highly dubious, but then looked at the next few places and was equally dubious about Evan Cairns getting band 2 and 2nd place, and Mike Curtis band 1 and 3rd, so maybe I shouldn't feel too guilty. Ian Hamilton picked up 4th, Ben Jones (Laser) 5th and Dave Nunn (RS600) 6th.
I started by saying that this is where we start getting a picture of how the series might be shaping. Well, Mike Curtis and Kevin Pearson have 3 points, Gareth Griffiths 3.5, Mike Storey 4, Evan Cairns 5 and Graham Potter 6. Close then. Nigel Cope currently leads the personal handicap series from, well, me, Evan Cairns, Dave Nunn, Mike Curtis and Graham Potter. And Wednesdaywas our Commodore's birthday, and he rounded off the day with a race win and current first place in the series. Wasn't it kind of the rest of us to arrange that?
A last note, I believe we are still light a couple of people for the race team next week. Feel free to sign up at the club over the weekend!