Parkstone to Pevensey – A tale of misadventure

Pevensey Bay has seen many invasions in its long history from the Romans and Saxons to Normans. But the string of martello towers along the coast could not repel 142 laser sailors who assembled last weekend for the Laser Masters Nationals.

Making up in enthusiasm what they lacked in youth, the competitors arrived from far and wide, with a strong contingent from the near continent and some from even farther afield.

Five competitors made the journey from Parkstone. Unfortunately Gary Hind who had entered had to withdraw due to injury. Bob Cudmore decided that he would arrive fresh by rolling up to the club at 1am on Friday morning and sleeping in his car. Colston’s preparation was equally diligent by breaking his journey to spend a night on the lash with an old friend.

The wind over the weekend tended to start off N or NW and then swing round to W. It meant there was none of the crashing shore-break for which this part of the coast is infamous. The race officer had decided to set triangle-sausage courses with both standard and radial fleets sailing the same course.

However, as the front of the radial fleet overhauled the back of the standard fleet, the ensuing carnage suggested that trapezoidal courses might have been a better bet – though that would have meant much more hanging about when the marks were reset.

A big left shift during the first race on Friday led to a decision to abandon. In the standard fleet, more than 40 boats had already finished before the race was abandoned, causing quite a bit of controversy. In the end the results were re-instated with 41 points being given to everyone who had not been seen to finish before the abandon flag was raised. Binning the radial’s first race worked in Ann’s favour as she would otherwise having been looking at starting the regatta with a black flag disqualification.

Your faithful reporter retired during the first race as a hole punctured in the bottom of the hull by a bolt on the launching trolley led to a sinking feeling, and the rest of the day was spent with fbireglass and gelcoat trying to patch it up.

Back on the water, the wind settled down to westerly and built to a good force 5. The overlap of the fleets led to some serious congestion at the mark roundings and when one of the Swiss visitors gybed abruptly in front of Ann, the lack of space caused her to T-bone the guy, then lasso him with her mainsheet and then also get tangled up with Roberta. Ann’s boat was also sporting holes by the end of the day, though in her case, Duck Tape proved effective as a temporary repair.

Saturday was more overcast and there was a one hour postponement while the wind settled down, but once again it swung to the west and freshened to force 4 providing a great day’s racing.

For the standard fleet the last race of the day was something of an elimination round since a heavy port bias on the line coupled with a strong tide pushing over the line led to five general recalls all under black flag, so that at least a dozen people had been disqualified before the line was reset more sensibly and the race got started.

Our star of the day was Roberta who scored a podium finish in the 2nd race. Overnight, Ann was lying on equal points with Rob Cage at the top of the Grand Masters table – all to play for on the last day.

On Saturday night the club put on a barbeque and a bunch of the guys from QMSC had brought instruments to entertain the crowd with a sing-along. The grassy area behind the club served as an athletes’ village where many had elected to camp or park motorhomes. It meant that the evening socials were well attended.

Sunday weather conditions were again lively with the wind at force 5 building to a strong force 6 by the 2nd race. The waves were huge (by Poole Harbour standards) and made for really exciting downwind surfing.

An unfortunate capsize saw Colston’s foot get twisted in the toe straps and he limped back to the shore (literally) in search of an ice pack. A disappointing end to an event in which, given the conditions, Colston could have expected to have done very well.

The wind and tide were so strong that the marks were drifting. On the radial start the pin was moving backwards which left Ann looking at a BFD even though she had been diligent with her transits. She took the result to arbitration, but an argument with the race committee about who was OCS stands little chance of success and unfortunately that meant she finished as 3rd Grand Master, though first woman overall. Roberta finished as 3rd woman. A great result for our Parkstone girls.

The long beat back to the beach was topped off with the back-breaking task of hauling the boats up the steep shingle bank.

The last near-disaster of weekend was the disappearance of Roberta’s glasses from the changing room. Fortunately it turned out that one of the PBSC members had picked them up with her own stuff and taken them home. She realised her mistake and returned them in time for Roberta to be able to see to drive home.

Despite the list of calamities, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. The conditions were really good and thanks to the promotional efforts of Rupert Bedell, the event was very well attended. The host club had done a superb job in terms of organization and catering.

You can see an official report and some of the results at Yachts and Yachting



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