IT IS a truism widely accepted amongst the Laser Fleet that when Donald is the Race Officer, no-one checks to see whether it is too windy to go sailing! And so it was that a bunch of intrepid laser sailors were rigging their boat, on the hard, knowing that they were going racing, despite the presence of a pretty powerful depression. To help you picture the scene, you might like to read the words of John Donne, who very well might have been there:
“The South and West winds joined, and as they blew,
Waves like a rolling trench before them threw.
Sooner than you read this line, did the gale,
Like shot, not feared, till felt, our sails assail:
And what at first was called a gust, the same
Has now a storm’s, anon a tempest’s name.”
For those of you with a more scientific bent a prosaic declaration of the numerical data might impress: 36 kts. of wind across the race course should do the trick!
UPPERMOST in the Race Officer’s decision making was that it was a warm morning, (at least it was warm for February), and, in his considered opinion, capsized sailors were not likely to get too cold very quickly. A number of sailors went on to provide a practical demonstration of his theory: more than one did so on several occasions!
16 BOATS, comprised of Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs, left the shore for the starting area, in a strong and rising breeze. 10 returned an hour or so later, with adrenalin coursing through their veins and with a very justifiable sense of pride in their achievement. The fortunes of the other 6 were less positive and for one sailor in particular, Jon Gorringe, by name, it was clear that staying in bed would have been a better and cheaper option! Gear failure prevented him from reaching the start area for the first race, and, during the enforced sail back to the club he was forced to endure the frustration of getting the mast stuck in the mud, after a particularly savage gust had capsized him just off the side entrance to the marina. It took some time to extricate him from the shackles of ‘Davey Jones’s Locker’, and thus it was a surprise to see him, fully repaired and lined up to start the second race. His presence was even more of a surprise for Michael Atkinson, who in trying a massive bear away to avoid fouling the gate boat found his way well and truly blocked by the afore-mentioned returning Gorringe. The ensuing collision was explosive and although both helms survived the resultant capsize, these exertions were too much for the Gorringe top mast, (recently purchased from Mike), and it promptly decided being half its original size was a fitting climax to the episode.
FOR several sailors, capsizes and collisions were the story of the day, but, thankfully, no-one else suffered such serious consequences. Although, for a while, Alex’s decision to have a go at rudderless sailing looked like it would all end in tears! Lots of conversations in the bar, afterwards, had a common theme: namely, one person apologising for hitting another sailor’s boat. One sailor, in particular, felt the need to do so and even accompanied his apology with the gift of a beer; such was the reward for being ‘Rogered’!
WHEN you hear that even sailors of the magnitude of Roger Hakes and Michael Atkinson elected on the odd occasion, to ‘wear round’ rather than gybe, you will understand that conditions were pretty tough. Not for Andrew Hartley, they weren’t, as he managed to bag a 3rd in the 1st race and in the 2nd, (in a slightly dropping breeze and in the absence of Mike, who had headed for home to appease Jon), he won by a convincing margin from Ann who had eventually woken up after her 9th place in the first race.
I’VE told you previously that Becky Walters will be one to watch, and an 8th and 7th place in such windy conditions only serves to strengthen my conviction that I’m right. Giles decided to test the limits of his endurance by going on the water way before the start of racing. He sailed supremely well to win the first race but clearly, the limits of his endurance were reached after a capsize during the 2nd race, which led him to an early shower to recover.
AS the Race Officer had confidently predicted, there was a good deal of satisfaction at a job well done amongst the sailors, as they ate their well-earnt Sunday lunch. Movement around and to and from the table was, however, somewhat sluggish. Moving from a seated position to standing was every bit as difficult as the sailing had been. That wasn’t the reason for Andrew’s tardiness though; he remained as fit as a fiddle all day long: he’s just even slower than me at getting changed. Although if Roberta reads this, he left the club at 1.30pm and got stuck in an appalling traffic jam. That was the story we’d agreed on Andrew wasn’t it?
BZs to everyone who ventured out – the Laser spirit is alive and well!
Race 1 Race 2
1. Giles 1. Andrew
2. Mike 2. Ann
3. Andrew 3. Roger
Those who suffered collisions:
Those who caused the collisions:
A secret that will be revealed under payment of one pint of Ringwood Brewery’s finest!
The Dog Robber in his role as ARO