So Saturday morning dawned not with the blue sky and light to moderate breeze we were expecting, but with rain and a strong breeze, the only thing that was consistent to the forecast was it was damned cold!
14 boats, 8 from the home club and 6 intrepid (and very welcome) visitors huddled in the wet bar, keenly supping tea and coffee, chatting and watching the poor OD team battle with the wind and rain to set the course. By the time of the briefing, led by Tim, the rain and wind had eased a little but the temperature hadn’t warmed up unfortunately.
Due to the cold and proximity of the event to Christmas, there was a lot of chat (and grunting and groaning) about how wetsuits, drysuits and rash vests had shrunk. Various excuses were given, extra layers and extra servings of Christmas Pudding being the most common.
The format of the day was 3 races, back to back and Tim and his team set a really good sized trapezoidal course, taking advantage of our awesome large reservoir to give 3 really decent length races with good sized legs.
By the time the 14 cats were on the water, the rain had almost completely stopped for race 1, although a little later in race 2 we had some hail, before the sun final made relatively brief appearance for race 3.
So onto the racing, race 1 got underway without a hitch, one boat was a little keen, but went back just before the start signal and we all set off on the decent length beat, eager to prove ourselves and with me wishing that I had stepped foot in my Sprint 15 in the last 4 months! The breeze was a good Force 3-4 for the first part of the race, although everyone I spoke to afterwards reckoned it was a F2-3 at best, maybe my short stature means my wind judgement is a little biased?
As this is my first Sprint 15 race write-up, I took advice at the bar afterwards regarding what to include… it may have been a foolish thing to do…
Gordon Goldstone (sailing Sprint 15 2004) informed me that it was good etiquette to mention that he was 1st to the windward mark in the first race (well done Gordon) and Jan Elfring (in 1913) got an excellent 3rd place (his best open meeting race result to date) in that race too (“wey hey” he said in the bar) plus there was no water in the hulls thanks to a great refurbish from SS Marine, a happy Jan is always a good thing.
Top 3 places for race 1 were:
Race 2 got off without a hitch, the wind had shifted a little favouring the pin-end quite a bit, well done to the sailors and the OD, the temperature still hadn’t budged from bloody cold, although by now most of us couldn’t feel our extremities so I don’t think that mattered. Any hope of the breeze staying in the F3-4 region seemed to fizzle away so the other competitors told me and it was apparently a chilly mid F2, which pretty much stayed with us for the rest of the day (until we were off the water and it filled in stronger as is always expected). The race proceeded well, lots of place changing, especially downwind and a distinct lack of shouting or any major incidents.
Top 3 places for race 2 were:
Onto the final race, ice had now formed on most of the competitors brains, the lack of breaks or lunch meant no hot coffee (or hot toddies), polar bears were spotted on the right hand side of the course and the wind dropped a little more. The wind had shifted further left, leaving the start-line with a significant port end bias; now normally our expert OD and his team would have shifted the line a little bit, but when asked at the bar Tim’s response was:
“By the third race we could see everyone was cold and keen to get the 3rd race over so they could warm up, so we just left it as it was and got on with the racing!”
Thanks Tim! The resulting start, clean again, consisted of a lot of port tack flyers and within seconds of the start gun I think the whole fleet was on port heading up towards the windward mark, almost making it in one tack, luckily the wind shifted back a little part the way up the beat, making it more of a proper beat rather than a procession thankfully.
Steve Pell commented from the warmth of the bar after the racing that he’d “kindly requested to the Committee Boat that the race be shortened after one lap”, he said it was because both he and the race team both looked miserable and cold and he was just thinking about them, not the fact that he was doing well!
So with the sun making a brief appearance and making me forget about the cold for a few minutes, the final race was completed. It was a very good race, very fair, lots of good racing and place changes, probably the best race of the day I would say… well I would say that as I managed to get 2nd place (my best Sprint 15 open meeting race result to date)!
Top 3 places for race 3 were:
1st Paul Grattage
So all in all, despite the weather, it was a great day's racing. Tim our OD forgot his flask which may account for the short length of races, clean starts etc… corny comments of the lack of “soup on the water” (as opposed to Smoke on the water) were tunelessly made in the bar on hearing this.
The day was pretty incident free, although one notable sailor, quietly had a few of his own on the racecourse; Paul Grattage did the following (all penalties promptly done apparently):
It was a great day's sailing for all 14 boats, thanks to Tim and his team for doing a great job running the event, thanks for all the visiting competitors for coming to Draycote from far and wide, it’s greatly appreciated and thanks to Ed Tuite-Dalton for making me do the race report, which was more enjoyable than I thought!
See you all on the water soon!
Pictures by Roger Pratt Photography, Kenilworth
Full Series Results available here