I cannot help thinking Brian Sizer had mischief in mind, when he inaugurated the first New Year’s Day Race back in 2000. What normal person wants to get up on New Year’s Day after celebrating in the traditional way the previous evening, to sail a boat around the race track in conditions that would not have been unfamiliar to Sir Ernest Shackelton in 1916, (Google him). I think we have the answer in the phrase normal person, for Brian is not normal, he is a Jedi, (Google em), and for that, and a million other reasons, he is to be respected, but I still ask the question, why? (Not why is he a Jedi, why do we have to race on New Year’s Day).
It’s a good job I got first prize for the men’s fancy dress, along with the Lady Commodore who won best lady, (deservedly so) at the excellent New Years Eve party organised by retiring rear commodore Paul, cos I was going to win diddly squat on the race track today. I hadn’t the heart to tell them I wasn’t in fancy dress, just my normal going out clothes for the Whitby Goth weekends!
15 crews had managed to make their way to the start line, in varying states of hungoverdness, and the odd one that had signed the pledge and were bouncing about the pier like new born lambs. Some eager, (halfwits) some tentative, and some like me, out and out reluctant. However, I’m a 70 sailor now, and we sail whatever the weather, (so the Wolfman tells me,). I wonder how many hangover cures were being prepared and ingested this morning. I prefer the one that involves tripe and advocaat, never known to fail, and its luvvvverley. I’ll tell anyone the recipe in exchange for a glass of ‘Cap’n Bucko’s’.
Race officer today, vice Commodore, Boris Johnson kissogram, and thoroughly pleasant chap, Nick (turncoat) Taylor, set course F. A beat to the Red, a reach to the Easterly, a shy spinny run to the Wheatcroft, a close, very close reach to the green, and a beat to the No. 2, and repeat.
Conditions were at the best a tad boisterous. A Fresh northerly breeze had not only reduced temperatures to those experienced in Ice station Zebra, (google it) but had also started to build up a Northerly swell. Not good for anyone with a tender stomach, and there were a few of those today.
This was to be our first outing in ‘Shameless’. I had not sailed the boat before, and neither had my crew, Andy 1, stalwart for 20 years, Andy 2, ships surgeon, the 633 squadron, aka Sam and Adam Kennedy, and me, the man, the myth, the legend!!!!!!
This was to be a one class start, and whereas in the past few reports I have complained that I was too far in front to know what was going on behind, the good lord had decided that would not be the case today.
As this was the first time out on the boat, there was a lot to get used to, like the way it just fell over when the first gust hit us. I was trying to compute all I had learned and been told over the past few weeks sailing on the other 70’s but my brain was mush. Cider, port, advocaat consumed in copious quantities the previous evening had seen to that. We were revelling, or I was revelling in the speeds we were achieving reaching towards the Spa, any closer and we would have been in the pantomime, ‘oh no you wouldn’t, oh yes we would’.
With under 3 minutes to go before the start, one or all of the crew remarked, ‘shouldn’t we be up there?’ Oh flip. (Or words to that effect). We clawed upwind, with the boat falling over at every gust, to start in the latter part of fleet. The Commodore, in Vado had won first over, it’s traditional in this race that the rest of the fleet let him do that, lets see what happens next year!
We fell over again just before the Red, and ahead of Little Jeannie. This time it looked like my crew were playing Twister (google it). Bodies everywhere and none in the right place. I had a couple of worries, it looked like at least two of my crew were going to disappear over the side, and if Kelly Hefner had given dodgy Ron the helm on LJ, then he would surely run us down. Somehow I/we got the boat on track, and were off, never to see LJ again.
I’m not sure how the race played out, we had a couple of duals, the first with Martin on Dash. As well as regular crew, Judith, ‘Arry, and Alan, complete with his displaced clavicle, which is now, incidentally a club member in its own right, (no voting rights) the Bramleys off ‘Blue’ had gone along, and with the weather that day, were just that, ‘Blue’. We won that one.
On the second lap, somewhat controversial, as the conditions started to deteriorate just as the first boats completed lap one, our dual was with prize winning Pieman Parker on Grautvonix. I had my reasons/excuses for being so far back, Mr Parker should have been up with his nemesis on the sister ship Vado, not back with the newbie’s who’d forgotten momentarily how to tell the time. We lost that one.
After 2 laps the race was over, thank goodness. We finished 4th (just) in the 70 class. If I’d known more about Rule 31, we would have got 3rd, after Wallace and Gromit ended up laying on the No. 2 after their finish.
quote “While racing, a boat shall not touch a starting mark before starting, a mark that begins, bounds or ends the leg of the course on which she is sailing, or a finishing mark after finishing” unquote.
We were happy, we had come back with the same number of crew as we set off with, which at times didn’t look like it would be the case. We hadn’t broken anything, we hadn’t lost a bauble from the Xmas tree, and the fairy, despite getting her drawers wet, was still in place. And I had managed to avoid getting covered in vomit after Adam decided to ‘chuck’ just at the gybe mark, and every ten minutes there after.
After the hon handicapper had worked his magic on the results, Zeris took a deserved first place, after all, he paid for the trophy, can’t begrudge it being on his mantel peace at the start of every decade.
Humdinger 2nd, Vado 3rd , Revenge 4th, Ruffian 5th, (I was told today by one of Ruffians regular crew , whose name I wont mention, but it rhymes with head, and he’s got a dent in that, that they struggled with number of apprentices on board today. I think Ramsey Mac and Emma do a grand job in taking the time to introduce new people to our sport, and should be applauded for giving people the chance to experience just how bad/good it can be it, first hand).
Stormchaser, the serious boys of the 70 fleet, are you still sulking over the red balaclava, in 6th, followed by Shere Kahn, whose Skipper Bruce has an unfair advantage on the rest of us, when we wake up with a hangover that’s makes us want to run under a tram, its situation normal for Bruce, no dramas. His all girl crew of Karen, Jack, and the girl with big eyes whose name someone will tell me one day, (when I say big, were not talking Marty Feldman, google him) helped him attain 7th place. One of the benefits of having an all girl crew, is, if they have been brought up properly, they will know how to sew - a skill that Bruce will need in abundance if he is to repair the various sails he shredded today.
Parker the Pieman was in 8th. Pie making, and marathon training obviously distracting him from getting the best from the boat. Grand day out were 9th (or were they?????). Troika 10th. Congratulations Dennis, first time since Britain had an empire that you finished ahead of me.
Shameless, not shamelessly 11th, Dash 12th, and finally the boat vying with the racing Yacht Appollo for the ‘how slow will a boat really go’ trophy, Kassy. The pensioners on LJ had retired after one lap; they needed an influx of hot cocoa, as did Whistler.
Into the club, for some ale and conversation. The vice commodore wandered around offering free drams of whisky, was this a goodwill gesture or a vote winning move for March?, we’ll see. The whisky was actually provided by Glynn Simpson, a tradition he has kept for many years, but doesn’t like to advertise the fact. Cheers Glynn. (He’ll probably get me in the playground now Ive let that cat out of the bag!)
Eddie the steward was in no rush to leave, he’d already seen the episodes of Downton Abbey that were being re run on beeb 1 this aft, but he could hardly contain his excitement at the news that the new series of ‘Larkrise to Candleford’ would be staring next week. There’ll be no late Sunday finishes for the next few weeks.