So here we are again, the new look web site is up and running, and I’ve been asked to do a report on the days racing again, it’s like we’ve never been away.
As you all know, I am a fully paid up member of the BBTE (bring back the eighties) club. Not only because it would mean I could wear shoulder pads again, but in those halcyon days we lifted the boats out before the nine gallon barrel was empty, and didn’t think about putting them back in until the first daffs appeared under the Valley Bridge (and then it was only a thought). Sunday mornings were spent in bed, with a cup of tea, reading all the gossip in the tabloids, Steve Wrights ‘Sunday love songs’ on the wireless, and a loved one tending to your boiled eggs, (and that is a purely culinary reference).
Today was race 3 in the winter series, earlier in the week, when it looked like race officers for today, TT Taylor, and Robin Gray from Joker in the pack wouldn’t be available, I didn’t hesitate to offer my services. I was assisted in the race station by newly sacked/redundant/resigned crew from Humdinger, Rich Craven. We set the course, utilising the new easterly mark, hoisted the appropriate flags, and recorded the crew numbers, and then Robin Gray walked into the race station without so much as a by your leave, a note from his parents, or a doctor, to explain his late arrival, I could go into this in a lot more depth, but he did bring a flask of hot coffee, so well end things there. Don’t shoot a gift horse and all that.
Team Pensioner on ‘Little Jeannie’ were late getting to the boat, the bridge had lifted to let the other competitors out as TP crew made their way down the pier. As they all meet at the T hut for a cup of beef tea and some under the counter ‘sanatogen’ (google it), I've never understood why they never walk to the boat down the other pier!
A 3 class start saw 2 sports boats, 4 class A, and 7 class B boats, in the dial up zone, (little AC reference their) 13 in total, unlucky for some, as we were to find out later.
The female crew on Little Jeannie, called in their crew numbers just before the 10 minute signal, so we were surprised that at exactly the time the 5 minute signal went, a male crew member called the crew numbers in again. There could be several reasons for this. Early on set of Alzheimer’s meant they had forgotten what had happened in the previous 5 minutes, or the male crew believing that the female had only gone down below to clean the nav station, and not dabble with the electronics, and press switches!
Only 2 sports boats today, Bruce on Shere Kahn, with his regular crew, Karen, Harry and Mike and a short handed Humdinger, with Tom Hill on the stick, and 2 non regulars as crew. Humdinger was first over, but once past the green, Shere Kahn got in front and stayed there until the end of the race. Probably a good job Humdinger owner Glyn had decided to stay ashore and go to Church today, he would not have been happy.
4 boats in class A, Vado, Ruffian, Dash and Kassy, had a close start, with Vado first over. As with the sports boat class, once round the green, the positions of the group changed and did not alter for the rest of the race. Ruffian took the lead from Vado, then Dash and Kassy. Ruffian skipper Pete Mac needed cheering up; his recent purchase of a sail from Hong Kong has had to be returned, (been there, done that, got the t shirt, and also got the sail in the shed, waiting for Quba, Google em, to turn it into a jacket). Heres something to ponder, why do you think the Chinese call there own sailing vessels Junks?
On Dash, Skipper Martin, about to go back in rehab after the latest relapse, had amongst his crew Harry, the astro navigator, (just what you need on a bay race), ‘Mr Pastry’ Colin Woodhead, taking a short break from squirrel hunting, it’s a long story, and Alan and his displaced clavicle. Alan is essential crew, since Martin worked out that on the shy spinnaker reaches, he could stand Alan at the mast and use the clavicle as a whisker pole!
7 boats entered class B, 4 lightweight, 2 heavy, and Apollo, who is at best confused, as are the rest of us, (as to which class he should be in).
2 sonatas, T 4 2, and ……………………………. my mistake 1 Sonata, and Tomahawk, a Foxterrier with an identity crisis, flying Sonata sails. Skipper Tom Clark had decided to stay ashore, and let his crew of Steve Parker, Tony (from Zeris) and Wave take the boat out. Sparkle and Bandit, made up the lightweight in class B, and little Jeannie and Whistler the 2 heavy weights. Little Jeannie had been given a new handicap, (no, not because he had his full regular crew, but because he now had a folding prop).
Tomahawk were first over, and unlike the previous 2 classes, positions in this fleet changed on each lap. Whistler and LJ had close racing, Whistler decided on drastic action in lap 2 and flew his Spinny sideways, let’s hope Mr Livesey pays more attention at work, imagine if in his next hip replacement, he accidentally used an elbow joint, and the poor patient scurrying sideways out of his theatre like a drunken hermit crab!
Bandit and Sparkle had a close race, with the positions between them changing several times for the duration of the race, strictly speaking Sparkle should have been over 3 minutes in front had they been sailing to the handicap, but that’s only a minor detail.
On lap 3, the skipper of Apollo decided to miss the no 2 mark off the course, thus disqualifying himself. You have to feel for the crew, spurred on by there recent 3rd placing, (for those not in the know, Apollo winning a flag happens as often as Halle’s comet, or Neil Pearson getting a round in). They had dragged themselves down at dark o clock, on a grey drizzly February morning, sailed 3 laps, only for it all to mean nothing cos the driver couldn’t follow the road signs. You will be ‘The loner’ Paul if you keep that up.
Mick and John, on T 4 2 had managed to overtake Apollo on the last lap, they lost time in lap 2 when Mick headed for the foredeck, and in doing so, got stuck fast between the mast and the lower shrouds, stuck like a gurnard in a trammel net. Once the helm, John, had used the 16:1 backstay purchase, and a lot of swarfega to free Mick, they settled down to sail a faster last leg.
Within 2 hours it was all over. When the results were worked out, the winners in each class were Shere Kahn, Ruffian and Bandit (Is it right the Sparkle boys have offered to buy it back Rob?). The benefits of an early start, are an early finish, and club steward Eddie, could get cleared up and home in time to watch the 3 hr Catherine Cookson saga on the Yesterday channel. Everybody’s happy.