When I have to get dressed up like Ben Fogle and James Cracknell in an episode of ‘On thin ice’ my enthusiasm starts to wane. With the threat of Cyclone Cynthia ‘booling’ up the channel, and all the nasty weather that would therein ensue, I had made the decision to watch today’s proceedings from the warmth of the bar.
However, the threat of a cyclone did not deter 12 keen, enthusiastic, adventurous, determined, bad home life, under achievers in the workplace, (I’m sure one will fit) skippers and crews braving the elements to compete in today’s race. There were several mixed crews today, as is the norm for winter racing, when a few skippers winterize there boats, preferring to sail on, and break other peoples. Joker in the Pack's crew swelled the numbers on Troika, (someone needed to) Resolute's crew on Vado, whilst Tomahawk had amongst their ranks, some of Zeris crew, and professional raffle winner Steve Parker, whose own boat is drying out in a large pizza oven in Whitby.
The most interesting of today’s pick and mix crews was the man himself, intergalactic Sonata sailor, purveyor of fine jewels and slow watches, Yoda, or Mr. Sizer to his customers, helming T42. This deal had been struck at the recently held Gentleman’s Dinner, and within days of realizing what they had let themselves in for, the 2 owners of T42 John and Mick, two people who normally could not agree on the colour of an orange, agreed it had been a bad idea and set about looking for a way out. John immediately developed a bad neck, and could not possibly sail, (you can take the scarf off now), whilst Mick opted for more drastic action and set about poking his eyes out with a knitting needle. However, he chickened out after rendering his right eye useless, which meant in Yodas terms, he was fit for the duty. Team Ruffian were carrying more crew than you could fit into a mini.
Race officers today, John Richie, (only just back from his tour of opening Poundstretcher shops as a John Prescott lookalike) and Jim Lidgley from Havoc, set a course south about, to the green, a very broad reach to the Cayton, and a beat against the fresh NNE breeze to the easterly, then a reach to the red, before running to the Number 2.
Only 2 sports boats, both 707s, entered. Humdinger, with Wolfman Glyn, Wayne, Tom, and John on board, and Sin Bin, handicapped I think, because the crew weight had doubled due to the amount of foul weather gear they were wearing. Humdinger had a good start, and was first to the Green, and to hoist the kite, gaining an impressive lead on Sin Bin, which they never lost.
In Portsmouth A, Vado, Troika, Ruffian, and Kassy, were grouped tight together, unfortunately Class B yacht Apollo was also in among this throng. As usual, they had spent too much time jollying in the South Bay. (Start south about means just that, it doesn’t mean hang about in the South Bay until the clocks go forward). A classic example of wrong place, wrong time.
Dash, the last of the Class A boats, was someway off the line at the start. Skippered today by ‘Arry, whilst owner Martin is still away in rehab, (I'm told Amy Winehouse regularly pokes him on Facebook now), supported amongst others by regular crew, the clavicle kid, becoming more useful now than a Swiss army knife, as they discover more uses for the sticky out bit, and Judith, trying her best to keep order.
In Portsmouth B, 5 ‘Lightweights’ made up the squad, T42, Tomahawk, Bandit, Sparkle and Apollo. Tomahawk made an aggressive start and was first over the line, but once Yoda had got his head around how to deal with ‘that’ much moveable ballast, T42 took the lead. Bandit and Sparkle behind, and Apollo, somewhat traumatized after being read his horoscope by 4 Class A skippers in the earlier kafuffle, brought up the rear.
Unfortunately, the Easterly Mark, which was there at the start, had disappeared, when the leaders tried to find it, so the race had to be abandoned. Times were taken as boats rounded the red and past the no 2. if there had been a result it would have been Humdinger, Ruffian and T42 collecting the red flags (bad luck Mick, you wont be able to blame the boat again).
One person delighted with the outcome was club steward Eddie. He had accepted with a 1400 start, he would miss the 3 hr Catherine Cookson omnibus, but seeing how far back Apollo was, Larkrise to Candelford seemed to be slipping from his grasp.
A few words on the Gentleman’s Dinner. It was a very enjoyable and pleasant evening, among the highlights, Rob, Bandit's owner, dressed in frock coat, sporting black nail varnish, and black eye liner, looking for all the world like Jack Sparrows cat. And next years after dinner speaker, might want to read that little known, and sadly out of print book, ‘The 3 Ts of after dinner speaking, Timing, Technique, and Titillation, how to make the audience laugh.’ Written by Andrew Boyes. (I believe copies can still be found on eBay).
And finally, a note on the ladies evening. The ladies had booked themselves a meal at a local Chinese restaurant. I cant give too much away about what happened, save to say, Win, Nicki and Julie are now under police protection, having being elevated to pole position in the Triads (Google 'em) most wanted list.