The second Wednesday race of the season was a simple affair...warmish, sunnyish and with enough wind to keep everyone moving smartly throughout the race. 22 boats turned up this week to enjoy the evening including a good few who were on duty or absent last week, taking the total participants in the series up to 30 boats. Tonight's sailor in unfamiliar boat was CJ in a Phantom, whilst Mike Curtis had son Harry at the front end of the RS400, putting them very much at the light end of the weight range for that boat and consequently somewhat overpowered at times.
Shrouds were whistling up on the bank at rigging time, which was a darn sight more wind than anyone expected from what had been a very still day. It didn't last and by start time had moderated to a top end F2, but with enough bite to suggest that we would not have a repeat of last week's slow drop. RO Chris Smith, ably assisted by Graham Potter and Chris Golding set a long reach quadrilateral 752F, which provided a spinnaker leg across the top of the reservoir, punctuated by some variable gusts, a true run and a very close reach back towards the clubhouse.
With 7 boats on the line the slow start was considerably more busy than last week. Paul Playle (Solo) eyed up a port flyer but totally lost track of time and ended up crossing 20s after the gun. Rob Pettit (Solo) showed his early mastery of his new boat and had the better of the puffs and shifts to lead Gareth Griffiths (Solo) at the top mark. The Laser turnout was doubled over last week, with the addition of Evan Cairns and Paul Wright-Anderson swapping the big rig 8.1 sail for more standard fare that was a little easier on both man and boat. There was ample space this week for the 10 boat fast fleet to spread along the very true line.
For the fast fleet beat, a series of small lifts on starboard initially favoured those who had started mid line but persistence paid for yours truly who started at the pin and held on starboard until tacking on a lovely header that initially had me over-laying the mark coming back on port. Inevitably things got trickier up by the mark and Mike Curtis was round first by quite a short distance with Mike Storey (Laser EPS) just making it ahead of CJ with Richard Barker (Albacore) in hot pursuit.
Three reasonably uneventful but perfectly pleasant laps ensued, with the fast fleet well up on the Lasers early on and the wind dropping slightly, but never losing the potential for a decent puff or two to speed things along. There were enough shifts and holes to make things interesting both up and downwind...definitely an eyes out the boat day. CJ went very well in what was (I think) his first outing in a Phantom, pulling out on the EPS upwind, but losing all his gains on the run. By the end Gareth had got past Rob, Mike C was leading on the water, but not by much and in the "RS200 vs Albacore who is fastest challenge" it was another win to the spinnaker boat, putting them 2-0 up. Harry and Lucy in the leading RS200 had an anxious last reach as Clare and Lucy (RS200) went for broke with the spinnaker on a very tight leg, aiming for the starboard end of the finish line, but a twist in the sail put paid to their endeavour. Maybe if they had not dropped it at the end of the run???
Results suggested a Solo benefit, but it was a Solo kind of day - non planing, long dead run and a 2nd reach that was too tight for spinnakers. In the standard race it was Gareth (Solo) by a minute from Rob (Solo), with Paul P (Solo) 3rd by 1 second from Mike S (EPS). 5th was Paul W-A (Laser) and 6th Harry Phelps (RS200). In the personal handicap race, Jim's calculations looked very fair with 9 boats from positions 4 to 12 within a minute on corrected time. Ahead of that gaggle, Harry won with Clare 2nd and Dave Baldwin (RS Vareo) 3rd.
Dinner (thanks to Stuart again) was Shepherd's Pie with a special vegetarian portion for Uta. And so another Wednesday evening passed with food, beer and chat.