At last, winter is behind us. I hope. It certainly looked that way as 17 skippers and crews prepared to do battle for the Crystal Bowl Trophy - The first race of the summer calendar. For the first time, since the last time, we were preparing the boat dressed in t shirts. Unbelievable after what seemed to me the longest winter ever. Ok, I know Brian Sizer can talk with relish, and knowledge about the winter of 1947 being the worst ever, but I didn’t like the one we just had.
Race officer today, was crew from Zephyr, the catamaran. He was feeling much safer in the race hut, than he ever did on the boat. And I can understand why, to my knowledge the race hut has never capsized, or crashed into another boat. He was assisted in his task, by Hon Handicapper, Rich Craven, fresh out of hiding after issuing these years’ new handicaps. This year there were a few winners who gained a more favourable handicap, and a few losers, who took the news very badly, didn’t they Kelly?
The breeze ranged from light to non existent, so the race officers signalled a postponement.
Course L was displayed and the countdown started at 1.50. As this was a free for all, I mean a mass start; the starting area was quite congested, no one wanting to get too far away in case the breeze dropped and they couldn’t get back. Ramsey Mac in Ruffian stalked the line, like a great white, (Google it) in a tuna pen, seemingly intent on running down anything smaller that got in his way. (I wonder if he was bullied as a child). As it was a mass start, team Shameless were in amongst them, giving me the welcome chance for a few observations. When its class starts where off into the wild blue without a clue whats going on behind.
A few crew changes, Lee Bean, the one time hollow in his head now almost a bump after recent surgery, on ‘Whisltedown an Eskimos neck band’ or whatever its called, had managed to reunite the chuckle brothers, Big Mick and Paul Lester. ‘To me to you’. He had also managed to press gang 2 newbie’s, a young lad with no experience, (hopefully you’ll learn together Lee), and a tall gentleman who’d previously sailed with Dennis, in the words of Yazz, ‘The only way is up’. I don’t know what forecast they had been listening to, but they were practicing with the cruising chute, dressed in full musto oceans, and one even had a drysuit on. I bet they had to pour him out of that.
Will Ferrell, part owner of Blue Rusher, and our new Rear Commodore, (it’ll be good to have someone in charge of Social who obviously likes his food) had decided to leave his own boat short crewed, to sail with Brian Sizer. I think Brian may have been casting spells once again from the dark side.
The nervous twins have decided to go there separate ways, Matt crewing with Alan Partridge on Windshear, and Jonny staying with the Sonata Isabella. He’s coming to get you Brian.
As the gun went, most of the boats were close or on the line, some were over. The race officer announced a recall for a few boats, the rest of the fleet headed to the red flag on starboard, the boats at the windward end of the line making a better line for the buoy.
The question was, when to tack for the buoy, with a strong tide running, it would need plenty of clearance. The other question on Shameless was would we have enough beer to last what promised to be a long and tedious race. We tacked, but had we been paying attention, and discussing the pros and cons of Lady Gaga, we would have noticed the breeze was moving round, the bouts that stood, came up and up, and ended up heading for the buoy. Oh well, we will get our act together in time for the nationals.
John Livesy on Whistler was giving his home made gennaker an airing, complete with sails nos applied in felt pen. All credit, it looked like a sail, but I don’t think Quantum will be loosing any sleep over the competition.
Once around the easterly, and it all went Pete Tong, (Google it). Kites were hoisted and progress halted, the front runners were in a line, with no clear air, making it very difficult to break free. Joker and Ruffian, a bit further ahead than the rest, were making better progress. Vado, just upwind of us, suddenly, (suddenly as in suddenly as you can with no way on the boat and no wind) bore away, as if to jibe. That wasn’t good, as I would have to put my beer down in order to keep clear. But he kept going around and called for the spinny to be dropped, at which point the main started rattling towards the deck. Whoops, wrong lever. A few short sharp words from Steve and the main was back were it should be, but they were heading in the wrong direction. Then they started hurling the bucket attached to a line. This wasn’t a fancy manoeuvre learned at the recent sports boat training session, but a man overboard drill, the ‘man’ being Steves best watch with floating strap, which was successfully retrieved.
Looking behind, the heavy boats that at one time were a leg behind, were catching up as the tide carried them towards the easterly. With the finish looking to be sometime during Easter, and our beer situation rapidly getting worse, we announced our retirement, and were quickly followed by several others.
Out of the 17 starters, only 7 finished. Well, 9 finished but 2 were disqualified for not recrossing the line correctly when recalled. It always catches someone out. Its quite simple. Theres a line, and theres a gate, and they are not the same. Whistler persevered for a while with the bedspread, sorry gennaker, but realised if they wanted to get back for the Royal wedding, they better get the engine on, as did Kassy.
Joker took line honours, but is was the 400 yr old man Brian Sizer, that won the trophy, closely followed by the Walton’s, whoops, the Turners on Bee Sharp. 3rd place went to Vado, a flag and your watch back, 4th Ruffian, 5th Blue rusher, 6th Windshear and 7th Joker.
Grand day out, enjoyed a grand day out, but were disqualified, gate, start line, practice it, and Kelly Heffner on Little Jeannie was also disqualified. Gates, start line, practice it.
Into the club - For the most part the disqualifications were taken in good part, but Neilo, helm on LJ, was a little miffed, he was throwing a hissy fit like Louie Walsh being refused entry into Molly Moggs. (Google both).
The bar and balcony were busy. Eddie was in a good mood, his thirst for a good costume drama being slightly quenched by the BBCs ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’, which is much too racy to discuss here. But it’s the Easter production of ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ that he’s really looking forward to. Policing as it should be.
Some regulars were missing from today’s race. The New Seekers on Stormchaser, had raised enough money, by singing at various whist drives in Filey, and the surrounding area, to allow them to lift out and take part in the 707 Easterns at Burnham. Good luck lads, get ‘em scared.
The running man on Grautvonix was heading to London to take part in the London Marathon. Theres still time to sponsor him. Sorry Steve, but I’m buying Alana’s book, can’t afford both.
I heard him and Nicki had a good race, and were not overtaken by the guy carrying a washing machine, or the bloke running backwards. Result.