From the pen of John Keats:
I am reliably informed, by those who know much more about these things than I do, that size does not matter. But when 47 Lasers answered the Fleet Captain’s call to make the evening racing of Monday September 1st, ‘a big one’, you have to admit that a fleet of that size is impressive. It certainly made an impression on the 1st gate boat of the evening as he was faced with the daunting task of keeping a steady port tack course as a large mixture of experienced and novice Laser sailors hunted down his transom.
Sadly, the weather did not live up to the occasion, providing us with a grey mizzling sky and a sickly WSW breeze. Neither the health of the wind nor the complexion of the weather was to improve much over the course of the next three legs of an Olympic course: a course that must have given the ROD a headache, constrained as he was by the main channel. Thus, a beat that would allow enough length for forty odd Lasers to avoid carnage at the windward mark, resulted in a very broad reach to the gybe mark.
None of this much bothered Oli Aldridge, as he contentedly sailed around the course to finish in first place. Giles managed to extricate himself from the messiness of the start, although he needed the help of Chris Guy, who had to persuade a number of starters that he was not the Gate Boat even though he was sailing a very similar course! The final podium place was decided only after a familial struggle for supremacy between Roberta and her daughter; Emma. The less young of the two ladies won, but I’m sure they are both worthy of ‘Top Bird’ trophies in the eyes of Andrew. It must be said though, that Mike Atkinson was a surprisingly fetching winner of the official Poole Week trophy of the same name!
All this nautical nonsense meant it was beginning to get dark. The Race Officer was now faced with a very Shakespearean dilemma: to sail or not to sail, that was his question. He opted to give us a second race which left many of us to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as the wind continued to veer towards the North and began its death throes. The early starters enjoyed an unexpected amount of space thanks to the efforts of Ann to persuade the fleet that everyone was much too high. Perhaps you’d like to ask her why this left her a goodly number of boat lengths to leeward of the Gate Boat: I couldn’t possibly comment!
Most boats found it much easier to round the windward mark, in this race, but were then faced with the surprising prospect of having to gybe for the gybe mark! By now it was no longer getting dark – that state had been reached some time ago. The drift on the tide towards the 2nd mark felt endless but the pain didn’t stop there for the leading boats. A big wind shift (who says size doesn’t matter?), left the leaders well to leeward of the committee boat as a huge group were lifted into the finish. The wind had the final say, however, and, despite the advice of a famous, Welsh poet, it went gently off into the night. This left the Race Officer with no alternative but to abandon.
By various means, we all reached the shore to be welcomed by Mike who had the task of matching trolleys to arriving sailors without the benefit of being able to see much of either! It was great to see so many of us claiming their reward from the Fleet Captain in the bar. There was much talk of when it would be best to repeat this tremendous feat, (perhaps you’d like to make your views known?). Without wishing to further develop the unseemly subject of size, 50 boats on the water sounds rather good don’t you think?