A blustery day at Milton Country Park, with wind swirling around the lake. This made for testing conditions and a fair amount of luck involved in who finished first, added to by the chance of picking up remnants of the summer weed around the keel. Results were very close, with David (71) and Stuart (66) tied first and Nick (20) just behind.
We were pleased to welcome another new member today. Nick very kindly spent the morning advising Chris on preparing his own boat and he loaned his own boat to initiate Chris into the joys of racing.
Arriving in the car park it was clear that the No1 rig would be appropriate as the morning had dawned calm. However the wind got up as the session progressed and after about an hour both Nick and Stuart’s boats suffered detached sails due to the wind strength. At this point there was an exodus back to the car park to change down to No2 rigs. However the exodus did not include Stuart as his No2 rig had gone off in the car with his wife Kate, who had given him a lift to the lake.
Taking away Stuart’s sailbox turned out to be a stellar piece of strategy by Kate, as the wind eased off somewhat soon after the fleet returned to the lake. Stuart’s Lintel with its larger sails, was then easily quicker than the other yachts, leading to him winning three races in a row. Since moving to the lake at Rectory Farm Stuart has hardly ever won a race, so a hat-trick, even with a unfair advantage, was beyond his wildest dreams.
NB. Because of the number of skippers missing races, I have used ‘average position’ in this week’s results rather than total scores. But however you calculate it, Andy managed to equal Stuart for first place, despite Stuart’s big sails, well done Andy.
The seven of us were presented with a beautiful sunny morning, but with very light winds. Tim and Derek had bought along their 6 Metre class yachts, with their massive lead keels requiring custom transport trolleys to haul them around.
We weren’t sure whether the One Metres and the Six Metres would be able to sail together as one fleet, but in the conditions they proved remarkably well matched. The larger sail area and waterline length of the six metres presumably being offset by their being slower to get going because of their extra weight.
So it was purely through skill that Derek was able to lead the way for us today in all bar the last race. In that race, Derek being the gentleman that he is, was assiduous in doing penalty turns, which pushed him down the fleet.
Our club members tend to sail for enjoyment as much as the pleasure of winning. To that end we like to eschew protests, protest committees and the emotions that can follow, relying on each sailor to do the honourable thing when they believe they are in the wrong. In fact we are so honourable that it is not so unusual for both yachts to do turns after a coming together! In the rare case of penalty turns not being taken, sarcastic comments from the rest of the fleet are usually enough to shame the offender into action.
Behind Derek’s six metre, Nick’s one metre was consistently the best of the rest, while most of us tended to see success when we caught the start and the wind right and the back half of the fleet when we didn’t. Although finishing at the back, new member Andy did an excellent job of keeping up with the rest of the fleet and will clearly be competitive once he has some more experience under his belt.
With a breezy southwesterly blowing across the lake, a course was set on the diagonal and everyone rigged their No 2 suits. The conditions made for exciting sailing, but once again David adapted best and most consistently, winning every race he started. The wind became more blustery as the morning progressed, reaching the top end for No 2 sails. This seemed to help Tim who managed to get closer and closer to David as the races progressed. It was a tribute to everyone’s eyesight and skill that we all managed to sail cleanly around the distant upwind buoy in these conditions.
The back of the fleet was populated by Nick and me. Both of us managed to display a lack of boat speed, coupled with unwarranted degrees of inconsistently. For an example of our day, take the first race…
Nick managed to tangle with David on the start line and by the time they had sorted themselves out, I was the clear leader. However the pressure was clearly too much to handle and on the verge of winning I hit the second last buoy. With my keel tangled on the mooring line, I sat there helpless while everyone passed me by.
Nick did try and even things out by changing the course and then disqualifying the rest of the fleet for following David the wrong way round a buoy, but to no avail.
More important than the race results, we were pleased to welcome Andy, a new member to the club, and thanks to Derek who gave up his racing to spend the morning coaching Andy on the lake. Unfortunately his Triple Crown looks worryingly quick!
Three new members who also sail at the Norwich club joined us today and dominated proceedings in a wind that got up during the morning to the top of the No1 sail range. They showed our regular members that we still have a lot to learn. It wasn’t so much an issue of boatspeed, rather that the top three consistently started well, made fewer mistakes and read the wind and water better. All things that come with experience and practice, but maybe after we have plied them with enough coffee they will give us backmarkers some tips.
To his credit Tim did manage a second place in one race, but congratulations to Vinnie who was first over the line almost every time. He wasn’t even fazed when I removed the finish line by accidentally hooking up one of the buoys and towing it into the bank.
Success in today’s racing was all about reading the flukey winds around the upwind mark and, less positively, about the risk of picking up a the mooring warp of a marker buoy and retiring. One of our jobs is to find a better way of sinking the ropes so that they don’t get picked up by keel bulbs.
Pete showed his big boat racing pedigree by consistently finding the best way to tackle the tricky upwind legs, with David a solid second and Stuart and Andy not far behind. Rick struggled with excessive weather helm all day but hopefully the plentiful advice that he got afterwards will help next time out.
Luckily racing stopped just in time for us to be sitting in the coffee shop before a rain shower blew through, presumably the same one that drowned the start of the Grand Prix at Silverstone!
We were pleased to welcome two members who sail at the Norwich club into the fleet of eight one metre yachts, the largest fleet the club has seen so far. A light southwesterly wind saw commodore Nick set a diagonal course across the lake to take best advantage of the water that was not in the windshadow of the trees on the southern bank.
Obviously his buoy positions were not to everyone’s liking as one yacht had a go at hooking its keel on one of them and towing it around the lake. (Our buoys are temporary and quite light, requiring good field athletic skills to throw them a decent distance out into the lake each Sunday.) Having sorted this all out and retrieved those competitors from the car park who seemed to think that they were just here for a pleasant Sunday chat, racing commenced.
It was immediately apparent that the Vinnie Zammit was in a class of his own with his V9, particularly on the upwind legs. In fact Vinnie went on to win all eight races, although other yachts did manage to get close to him at times. One of these was Andy who had a superb sail in his self-built wooden yacht to finish second in race two. Just goes to show that you don’t need to have the latest and greatest high-tech hull to be competitive.
Our treasurer, David, put in some consistent performances to achieve second place overall. Sadly our commodore Nick and webmaster Stuart let the club down by managing to achieve last or second to last in most races. At least Nick had the excuse of equipment failure, Stuart had none, other than his usual “Lintels don’t go well in light airs”, but then neither does Stuart.
Overall a great days racing, with even the occasional attempt at playing dodgems around the buoys not taken too seriously. The coffee and cake afterwards went down very well, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors and new members.