I wasn’t going to be fooled, it takes more than a few hours of sunshine, a carpet of snowdrops, a few glimpses of a daffodil shoot, and an invasion of day-trippers to make me believe that spring is finally here. I know that by this time next week we could well be having to dress like Nanook, (Google him), to go about our daily business. However, that didn’t stop our Lady Commodore casting a vest this weekend, taken in by those early, fickle signs that the good lord likes to torment us with.
I had previous commitments, (thankfully), so was unable to take part in this weekends Race 5 of the Winter Series, but 15 crews, (obviously less wussy than me) were happy to get there boats ready for this 5th race in the series of 6. The race committee had also decided that should conditions allow, 2 races would be sailed today, to try and catch up with those missed due to inclement weather.
Race officers today were Andy and Pip Volans/Rowntree, (only just, and I mean only just, on speaking terms with each other, after Andy’s slight faux pas earlier this year, when on the evening before taking Pip on a well deserved break for some winter sunshine in Lanzerote, he realized his passport was out of date - not a good way to accumulate brownie points) assisted by the currently boatless Hon Handicapper Richard Craven. Taking account of a fresh NW breeze, the first race today was set on a non standard course, taking the fleet northabouts to the red, a reach to the easterly, another reach to the green, (that course has got to make Apollo happy) and a beat to the No. 2.
First off were the Sportsboats, Humdinger, Shere Khan, skipper Bruce and partner Karen taking a break from the wedding planning, Sin Bin, and a rare appearance this series from ‘Desperate Darren’ on Weird Fish, with Sam Kennedy crewing. 1st over were Humdinger, followed by Shere Kahn and Sin Bin. Unfortunately a ‘communications ‘error on Weird Fish, (that’s being polite) meant they started 5 minutes behind the rest of their class, and eventually retired from the race.
Six boats made up the Class A fleet, Vado, Troika, Kassy, Swan shot, Dash and a slightly undercrewed, with only 6, Ruffian. So why might Ruffian be undercrewed. Has Pete scared them off? It’s no secret that of late Skipper Pete Mac has been like the child who’s eaten all the orange Smarties. The loss of his recent protest against Troika hasn’t helped, and yesterday the crew were out practicing trying to iron out the problems with the new sail, problems which I know are getting him a tad upset, but I think that’s what he needs to sort out the problems with the sail, an iron, a very big iron. Vado were first over, followed by Dash and Ruffian.
In Class B, 6 boats entered, Tomahawk, last race sailing with Sonata sail numbers, this race no numbers to be seen at all. I think he got wind of the handicapper’s decision that boats would be given the handicap that belonged to the sail numbers, not the boat. (Not really, I made that bit up - Carlsberg don’t do handicappers, but if they did...).
Bandit and Sparkle made up the lightweights in Class B, Whistler and Team Pensioner on Little Jeannie, the heavyweights, and Apollo in the ‘don’t knows’. Team pensioner only just made the start. Remember last time, when they nearly missed it because when they walked down the pier, they found the bridge was open, and they were advised next time walk down the other pier. Well they forgot. Déjà vu, Groundhog Day, call it what you will, it all points to the same conclusion, Alzheimers.
Tomahawk, made another aggressive start to be first over, followed by Whistler and Little Jeannie, who managed, just, to get to the start on time.
No spinnakers were to be flown on this one lap race, and the winners in each class were Shere Kahn, Vado and Tomahawk.
And now the second race. The wind had increased slightly, and the race officers, communicating with each other now through the medium of mime, set course L, buoys to starboard. Once around the red it was downwind to the Cayton, and then a beat up to the green. A proper windward-leeward, just for Apollo.
In the Sportsboats, Humdinger were first over ahead of Shere Kahn and Sin Bin. In class A, Vado were a bit too keen and got a recall, Kassy and Ruffian very close behind, followed by Dash and Troika.
If Steve Russell could not win the first over, he decided he would try and win the how far can you tip trophy, (yes there will be one) and showed Vado’s keel to the race station. (Jammed mainsheet perhaps Steve? or just refused to let it go as you did on my boat, remember...).
Class B and the Sparkle boys, desperate now to get a place ahead of their old boat Bandit, pushed a little too hard and got a recall. Whistler got first over, followed by Tomahawk and Bandit, skippered by Jack Sparrows cat. (You all know him, more eyeliner than Katie price).
Team pensioner decided to sit this one out. The folding prop and brand new Kevlar sails not giving them the results crewman Jimmy ‘spud u like’ had hoped for. How can I explain? I can go to the shops and buy all the ingredients, but Mr Kipling is still gonna bake a better cake!
Sin Bin and Sparkle, in a bid to try anything new to gain a position, flew their spinnakers sideways, which if nothing else amused the spectators in the clubhouse.
This time around, Humdinger won in their class, (thank goodness, you would not want to be around Glynn after 2 consecutive defeats) ahead of Shere Kahn and Sin Bin. In Portsmouth A, Ruffian took 1st place ahead of Vado and Dash. Troikas disappointing 5th place in race 1, must have had deep reaching effect on Dennis and his crew. They retired from the race and were last seen heading south, to look for another yacht broker. (That last bit is hearsay, passed onto me, I don’t make things up.)
In Class B, Tomahawk got first place, however the joy of victory was somewhat tainted by Rudi Barman’s quite severe buttock injury, sustained whilst racing. To avoid any legal proceedings, it might be best if you ask him about that on an individual basis. Whistler came 2nd, followed by the Rimmel sponsored Bandit. A big surprise was the boat that, in the owners words, ‘won’t beat to windward’ Apollo, beating a boat that is supposed to beat, Sparkle into 4th place.
The crews had had 2 good races, and apart from one or two dummies flying out of the pram, everyone was happy, except the club steward Eddie. He wasn’t worried about missing the Catherine Cookson omnibus, which this week was a repeat, but he desperately wanted to watch the documentary ‘Queen Victoria, a Royal love story’ but the way things were panning out, he’d be lucky to be home in time for ‘Larkrise’. I think its about time we introduced our loyal Steward to Sky+, but that’s one for the management committee.