Monday, 07 May 2018 18:19

Early Bird Race - Whitbread Tankard 2018

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Amble Date - 28th April 2018
Race start time looming..... Got to get the sails on and get to the 12:30 briefing.
Or in other skipper's minds - got to get the fuel tank sorted rather than just have a 5 gallon plastic drum with some pipes in it (hope it stays upright) and "Note to self, must get more stella onboard"....... I'll leave it up to you, the members, to decide who was thinking what. Ha Ha Ha
Beautiful sunny day with 10-12kts N'Easterly winds forecast. Flat seas. Excellent day for a shakedown and first race of the year.
After not too much cajoling I managed to get Mark Davison to perform race officer duties. Any excuse to take his new rib out. Thanks Mark - brilliant job. Next race is 12th May if you fancy another go???? 11:00 brief..... Just saying...;-)
3 boats turn out for the start line with course start at Pan Bush, up to Middle (drop mark) held to Port, onwards to Alnmouth - held to Port, down to Inner - Port again, back to Middle (Starboard) then to Pan Bush for finish.
January First mopped up some spare crew that were loitering around the Clubhouse including Mr. Brunton and new member Neil who has just bought Mercilla - Welcome to the club Neil.
After some negotiation I finally get Allen to agree to helm January First and as the clouds gathered for the start (no, nothing to do with Allen helming....) Neil gets some last minute reminders - "Clockwise and three turns around the winch" we line up for the start.
The winds is quite changeable resulting in the line bias swinging from minute to minute. Allen and myself both grin at each other and think of Port starts whilst explaining the potential pros and cons of such a move to Neil. Yes, his eyes do glaze over a little.
January First crosses the line first followed by Volador and then CBeagle as we all beat out towards Middle.
Looks like Volador has found some extra speed over the Winter as she out points January First whilst keeping up admirably. Handicap check anyone???
January First makes the mark first and bears away for Alnmouth. Now, where is it? It is there somewhere. It used to be yellow. I'm at the helm now and it "feels the right course"...... Aha! found it. dead on. Meanwhile, Volador about 5 minutes behind with CBeagle bringing up the rear.
A few mental calculations onboard January First, elapsed time into seconds..... 7% differential in handicap.... we are doing okay.
Round the Alnmouth mark - it's now blue with a very small yellow streak but actually on station for those who would like to find it again! The lead has now extended a bit but it's a spinnaker leg coming up and the wind is dying. I don't have a spinnaker - they do. Sure enough up the red white a blue reaching kite shoots on Volador - are they closing? Is it just an optical illusion? Keeping holding the Genoa out Mark...
Round Inner and back up to Middle. Tide should be going North now so why are we sweeping down to South so much? Very strange! Tack then tack for mark and around. Wind now down to gusting 8 kts on an almost dead run. Not good!
What's this? Volador tack for the mark to early? Can they make it? Nope! Will it give us enough for them to fly the spinnaker behind us and not catch up on handicap? Round the mark Volador go.
What we need now is for the kite to foul. It's the only way we can out run them in the dying wind. As we think this and start explaining how the wind often seems to fill in from the rear of the fleet to Neil we seen a perfect wineglass in the Volador spinnaker. Sorry guys but sometimes wishes can come true....? All's fair in love and racing etc.
Oh no! typical. The wind's dying more whilst Volador recover the spinnaker and catch the wind still evident at the mark.
More mental arithmetic - we are sort of still okay on handicap.
January First crosses the line as the wind picks up to 12kts and Neil takes the helm for his first "real" sail. Anxiously we watch the line for Volador crossing. They have carried the wind well. Hoot! Cross the line. How many minutes behind us?
Going to be close. Time will tell.
Boat packed away in the marina. Kris comes in with engine stuck in forward gear. Hope it's sorted okay Kris and not just a lack of beer in the lockers unbalancing the controls? Timings are in.
First place goes to Volador
2nd Place to January First (32 second behind on corrected time after about 100 minutes of racing)
3rd place to CBeagle.
First trophy of the season to Volador. Well sailed guys.
Now! about those handicaps.....
Anyone cruising this weekend on the bank holiday? looks like it's going to be a nice one for a change.
Next race May 12th briefing 11:00
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