Yeah, I think crazy gust evening is probably as good a headline as any. Gust stories seemed to be fuelling the chat as we downed our pints and our supper after the race. A few aching limbs and a good time was had by all.
So at rigging time there was a nice north westerly heading across the lake. A decent breeze, but no sign of white horses or any excess drama. The wind was wandering round a bit in direction, but not nearly as much as in some other recent reports. The course was long beat, a "can I get away without gybing" shortish near run down to a gybe mark in the middle of the lake, a shortish semi beat back upwind and then a deep reach and a run (not necessarilly in that order!) back to the start.
Rigging up, in the shelter of the windward bank, it didn't seem too windy, and running down to the start it seemed steady enough, but as you rounded up to patrol the start the first thing that seemed to occur to you - or me at least - was that the wind seemed to have an awful lot of muscle in it. There were still no white horses, not even incipient ones that I could see, but somehow everyone was still charging about as if there were. Odd.
Consequently, things being a bit busy on team Canoe, I don't really have a rational race report, just a series of vignettes and images... The fast boats seemed to catch up very quickly with the Lasers - almost all of the sub-1000 boats had got past by the end of lap one, but the slow fleet took a lot more catching. Mike and Sophie Storey led right through the first two laps chased by Gareth Griffiths and Clare James, making a return to "her" Laser Radial for the first time in some years. Since Clare last raced the Radial we've changed the sequence, and the Radials now start with the other Lasers, but it seemed unkind to score her OCS for starting two minutes early as there were no other Radials out there...
My race halted when I was trying to inadvisably make the X mark without gybing. The Canoe is not a running by the lee boat. Its especially not a running by the lee boat if its hit by a huge gust with a Laser just outside... Well, I clipped the mark, the Laser may have clipped me (which he wouldn't have done had I managed a half decent attempt at getting round the mark so is exonerated) and I attempted to get the boat back under control to do my turn... I failed, and fell of the boat taking 90% of the tiller extension with me. Game over. I was amazed by how fast the Canoe sailed home on a beat with the mainsail pulled down to nearly the spreaders though.
Canoe interruptions notwithstanding the full rig Laser trio were having a good old ding-dong battle. One incident started with John Smith just behind the other two on a deep reach and catching the biggest part of a very big gust. With only moderate control of destination he hurtled between the other two, who were not far apart, in a welter of spray and inappropriate (or at least 'nautical') language.
What else... I remember overhearing a tale of one of the spinnaker boats attempting to make the last few yards to a mark with jib and kite both let go in a huge gust, and another of the crew not warning the helm of the imminent arrival of such a gust, with the result that she was prepared, set and poised, whilst he nearly fell out of the back of the boat...
Anyway, results. The race win went to Richard Barker in a Phantom, followed by Gareth Griffiths (Solo) and Mike & Sophie Storey (N12). Mike Curtis and Julie Harrison took 4th in an RS400, two corrected seconds ahead of Kevin Pearson's Laser. John Smith rounded out the top in another Laser. John won the personal handicap, followed by Ben Jones in another Laser, Clare James in the above mentioned Radial, then Richard Barker and Mike Curtis. Chris Smith's Streaker rounded out the top 6.
Series results: anyone's game at the front of the standard fleet at the moment with Gareth, Mike C and Kevin all on 3 points, Richard Barker on 3.5, Mike Storey nominally on 4.5 but actually 5 (because I haven't got round to including his EPS result which will drop the OOD points) and Evan Cairns 6th also with 5 points. Five different race winners from 5 different classes so far. The Personal handicap is also close with the top 9 all scoring less than 9 points thus far.
And to round up the evening: Stuart Phelps gave us a Spanish inspired creation of chicken and chorizo sausage with new potatoes and various vegetables which was quite delicious. We are eating particularly well this year this far:-)