(Not a race of two halves but a tale of two races)
CHAPTER ONE – 25 June 2022
Last weekend was to have been the Wilsonian River Challenge, when we forego our usual race to support the neighbours. Its cancellation allowed us to have a Saturday race after all, but not as part of our official series – a pity for those of us achieving our best result for some time! Seven boats turned out for a course in which almost every mark seemed to involve a gybe, in conditions breezy enough (roughly SSW F4 gusting 5) to provide some invigorating sailing, with one retirement and a capsize.
The flying start (downwind with a strong ebb tide) was captured on video, courtesy of Bryony, showing the newest boat in the fleet, Knot Rushin’ (11405, Philip Clarabut), first over the line despite the name, about 20 seconds ahead of the last, Black Jack, which had been grappling with some last-minute equipment issues. Only Muffin (10974, Richard Stone and Catherine Gore) attempted to fly the kite on this first leg, but evidently it was more trouble than it was worth. The course took us around buoy 30 then down to 26, doubling back to 27 and over to 24, with a spinnaker run down to MYA1. By this point the fleet had spread out somewhat, Knot Rushin’ giving way to Devil’s Advocate (10666, Roger Gibbs and Stan Benwell) and Muffin in what became a two-horse race at the front.
The return leg to buoy 24 and back again to MYA1 saw plenty of position changes in the middle of the fleet, with Wild Thing 2 (11315, Mike Pimm and Pete Dilley) hot on the heels of Loose Knots (10614, Mark Penny and Sarah Mason) for much of the time, both boats managing to overtake Quicksilver (10947, Stewart and Catriona Coltart) and Knot Rushin’. The latter then capsized but recovered without assistance to bring up the rear, Black Jack having retired. Despite the adverse current, the trip back to the line did not take long, with some exhilarating planing reaches along the shore of Hoo Island, Wild Thing 2 managing to steal a march on Loose Knots. It was then nip and tuck between them on the home stretch in a battle for 3rd and the privilege of writing this report, WT2 just hanging on for a rare place on the podium with winners Muffin and Devil’s Advocate second.
Report by Mike Pimm (11315, Wild Thing 2)
CHAPTER TWO – 2 July 2022
Last week we had a great race, so the course was repeated this Saturday, but it was much windier. At the start, Hercules Hound (10686, Brian and Liz McKenzie) took the lead, with Muffin following and that’s how it stayed at the front.
Moonshine (10618, Tony Alexander and Jon Moon) was next, and those behind watched in eager anticipation at buoy 24, as it was a spinnaker gybe on Moonshine while everyone else was two sail reaching. The gybe turned into an involuntary 360 just missing the buoy on the way back as the spinnaker wrapped itself round the mast and there was some extreme heeling, but no real shark attempt. Not so lucky was Knot Rushin’ where Philip capsized and won shark points for the second week running….and at the same buoy!
After buoy 24 I went up close to Darnet side, as whatever the tide was doing it was the best place to be, and allowed an approach to MYA1 without further gybes or running by the lee. For the beat back we wanted as few tacks as possible due to waves and our poor tacking. By the time of our return to MYA1 Moonshine had caught up using their spinnaker. Beating back to buoy 26 Iwe chose the Folly side because the water was much calmer in the lee of Hoo Island. Fewer waves allowed better speed, and we rounded 26 ahead of Moonshine once more. Thus we proceeded to the line equally spaced to give our excellent RO Jonathan an easy time at the finish.
In summary, with an average age of 70 on our boat, a podium place was a good result, but I am feeling that exertion now.
Report by Roger Gibbs (10666, Devil’s Advocate)