The weather forecast was distinctly unsettling (not to mention unsettled) when I left home, but the trees on the common seemed calm enough. On the rod in the branches seemed a bit more agitated, but a solid Force 4 at launching time was a good sailing breeze, even if it looked a tad gusty...
A tad gusty? Your editor launched late and just lined up for a conservative " take the transoms" start on port, which is a nice safe option in the Canoe if everyone is pretty much up to the line. The first realisation that this was not going to be an easy day was when a big header on the line left me unable to clear the committee boat and having to crash tack before I stuffed a hole in it amidships (standby to ram!).
The first beat was amazing, it wasn't so much that it was gusty (although in all conscience it was gusty enough) or shifty (although it was pretty shifty too), but that the direction changes were continuous with no chance at all to settle down and get the boat in the groove. After the windward mark the next leg was a medium reach, which featured a pretty big gust. Then a long seem run down to a starboard hand rounding and what varied between a close reach and a fetch back across the bottom, then a long beamish reach back to the start...
The run was OK, but the leg across the bottom started wild and a beam reach, then suddenly got shy and a good 25 knots... At this point I threw the boat over, but found a nice lull to get back upright in, but the reach back to the start was spectacular in the extreme, and I'm afraid I decided enough was enough and headed back to the jetty. Apologies to Kevin S: I'm guilty for the cloud of white foam that hurtled across your bows, but there really was plenty of room at the relative speeds...
Anyway, the race continued for the less chicken hearted, and particular credit goes to Ellie Wall and Maisie Bristow, out in Toppers in I think their first ever club races. Ladies, its not always like that I assure you, but well done for carrying on and finishing in what were very tricky conditions indeed.
Having a great time seemed to be Mike Storey in his EPS, out on his own and finishing a good two and a half minutes ahead of the next boat to take a double win on bothe the standard and personal handicaps. On the other hnd Mike was seen looking very closely at his wings later – I hope they survived.
Also seen heading down the long reach down to the start in spectacular spray were various Solos, most notably of course Gareth Griffiths. Less spectacular, but much more controlled, was David Clark with his special small sail, enabling him to sail in the extreme conditions. Peter Halliday was observed tacking round for at least one gybe at the bottom, and he made a very interesting and enlightening observation to me after the race – that in these strong conditions he's happy to gybe from starboard to port, but that his port to starboard gybes are a bit less secure. That suddenly rang a bell with me, and I realised that I have a related issue. We've got a class training session coming up soon and I need to study some videos to see if I can work out what I'm doing differently and how to resolve the issue.
Anyway, so results
. As I say, Mike won by a good distance – around a minute on handicap from Gareth Griffiths. Third were Simon and Penny Hamilton, who as far as I could see sailed a smooth and controlled race and certainly came in with big grins on their faces. $th 5th and 6th went to the Lasers of Kevin Seebaluck, Dave Simpson and Simon Bean. Lets give a quick mention to Jo Dunn too, 7th, and first in the Silver fleet.
Jo also took 2nd in the personal handicap behind Mike, Simon and Penny 3rd, Kevin 4th, Gareth 5th and Dave Simpson 6th.