A somewhat depleted fleet for the Anniversary series. I did hear rumours there might have been some slightly sore heads after the extended Commodores day the day before - I even heard a rumour that one club member took advantage of having his *son* available to drive him home! But anyway. The day dawned warm and overcast, but with the sun attempting to burn through the clouds. There wasn't a lot of breeze about, although there was a bearable amount at rigging time. The course was, roughly speaking, beat, reach, run, short beat, reach back to the start, although this was a little negotiable with wind direction. Anyway, this is the anniversary series so Gold and Silver starts, although the Silver wasn't heavily populated. With about 20 seconds to the start the wind pretty much switched off, and it felt as if a bucket had attached itself to the stern of my boat... about three minutes later, the silver fleet having started and all overtaken me, I grumpily retreated to the shore to inspect my boat throughly, expecting to find a vast lump of weed caught somewhere obscure or something similar. But nothing. Must have been me then...
I then started playing round with the boat and, I fear, clean forgot to pay much attention at all to what was happening on the water. Maybe I was sulking! I think the wind did pick up a little towards the end from what I hear, but when I tell you that Gareth's Solo was the first boat to cross the finish line you'll have a pretty good idea of the predominant conditions... I do recall Chris Smith commenting that Caroline Baldwin's Byte is way faster than his Streaker in the very light stuff, but that the last lap got up just enough for the roles to be reversed...
So, results. Yes, Gareth won. Anyone suprised? Second was Tom Russell, and third was Mervyn Cinnamond, both in Solos. Caroline took 4th, and Andy Barnett was first Laser in 5th. 6th went to Chris Biscomb in.... a Solo... David Clark (Solo) took the personal handicap from Caroline with Tom and Mervyn 3rd and 4th and (provisionally, assuming he was sailing a club Laser with a Radial rig) Ben Sharp and Gareth tying for 5th.
Series wise Peter Curtis still leads from Mark Ampleford, both of whom were absent, but Gareth comes up to 3rd. David Clark is leading the personal series on a tie break from Caroline Baldwin.
Alternatively here's Gareth's viewpoint (thanks Gareth)
Shifty light easterly-ish wind Course set as start at 2, beat to 9, reach(?) to 8, run (mostly) to three, beat to 5, and reach to 2.
After the wonderful commodore's day and party the fleets were a bit thin with the asymmetric boats being notably absent (resting on their laurels after cleaning up the team and individual honours in Commodores day). The Gold start still had 17 boats but mostly in the Solo/Laser handicap range.
The line was varying from very pin end to fairly true but the varying wind strength played havoc with timing. At thirty seconds to go it looked as if Gareth was heading for an early pin end, with Andrew Barnett coming down the line on Starboard. Gareth made a couple or major course alteration to delay but then the wind went light and even more pin end. The result was Gareth made a port tack crawler (definitely not a flyer because he was 5 seconds late and barely moving) crossing a length or so ahead of Andrew. For a while the beat had because almost a port tack fetch and Gareth having crossed the fleet defended the port side to round the first mark clear of the fleet. Tom Russell showed he has his grandfather's (Frank Beanland) touch for navigating a light weather beat to be the next Solo a position he retained through the race.
With the 'reach' to 8 now being almost a beat it was a tricky leg - go high because you might not be able to lay the mark later, or go low to get further from the bank and better wind. Fairly straight but creep high when the wind allowed seemed the best option. Gareth slowly pulled away from Andrew with John Oldham's Phantom taking up the chase. When the wind perked up the Phantom closed rapidly but when the beats were light and shifty the nimbler Solo was able to work the shifts and stay ahead. At the finish with the wind finally appearing with a bit more determination the Phantom closed to finish just a length behind the Solo with Andrew Barnett well clear of the pack. With the pack now being brought home with a decent wind it was the slower boats that benefitted as John and Andrew's substantial lead over them on the water didn't result in a similar time advantage.