The winter continued to do its best to disrupt our Winter series. Having been cancelled due to snow back in December, none of us thought this would be an issue for the Rutland TT re-run in late February – after all, its nearly spring! But then the weather turned again with promises of easterly winds followed by heavy snow which put off the travellers. Ill health saw off a couple more.
Indeed it was bitingly cold when a small number of intrepid (mad) sailors rigged up at Rutland on Sunday morning. The lake at the water’s edge was forming ice on the slipway and warnings of icebergs were issued. A good breeze blowing from the east was definitely arctic – but the sun was shining and the view was beautiful. We were temporarily distracted by watching Paul Grattage use increasingly larger trees to tighten up the tramp on his borrowed boat – definitely a live version of a Phil Breeze cartoon.
A short briefing confirmed we would be tagged onto club racing as a separate third start – thereby making us feel slightly less guilty that the Race Management and Safety boat teams were not going to freeze to death just because of us.
With the luxury of a very long line and not many boats, the fleet were able to hang back from the line, pick a big gap, power up and go. Unfortunately, the Race Officer did not understand this and spent most of the three minutes telling us it was our turn to start. But we soon re-assured him by setting off the start line at the allotted time.
Paul, Jenny, Jon and George set off to the left bank, with Jenny tacking off early for clear air. After skirting either side of the fleet of monohulls and cats, we found our windward mark further up the lake, with Paul round first, followed by Jon, Jenny and George. The downwind leg gave enough time to check out the upside down Shockwave (that must have been cold) and Paul led round mark 3 and 4 with Jenny just getting in front of Jon – only to hand the place back again upwind on the second lap. At the end of two laps, Paul took the win, Jenny took second, followed by Jon, George and Heather.
For the second race, the wind had levelled slightly although still with strong gusts and, as is always the way with pond sailing, some interesting shifts. The fleet set off the line and Jenny stood on just a few boat lengths beyond the rest of the fleet before tacking. It was enough to pick up a different line of wind to the others and give a comfortable lead round the first mark. Paul was chasing hard, with Jon just behind through the downwind leg. Jenny managed to get another lucky line on the second upwind leg and put enough water between her and Paul to take the win. Meanwhile George and Jon rounded Mark 3 and 4 neck and neck and split up the final beat to the finish. Jon just pipped George by a second to take third place and Heather was just a few boat lengths behind.
The final race only had four competitors as George had to head home for the warmer climate of “the north” before he was turned into a pumpkin. Paul covered Jenny up the beat and took the lead round marks 1 and 2 – holding Jon and Jenny off downwind. On the second upwind leg, Paul picked a great way through the shifts and had an impressive lead at the windward mark. Jon also picked the right side of the course to pip Jenny round marks 1 and 2. Jenny just managed to get inside at mark 3 and 4 to take second place, with Jon 3rd and Heather 4th.
Returning to shore to thaw out – it turned out that de-rigging and packing up the boats was much, much colder than going for a great sail in a decent breeze – who would have thought.
Big thanks to Rutland for running the even and impressively laying on freezing cold conditions three months in a row. But a great venue and we would definitely plan to return and for those of you that don’t know – there is accommodation at the club for £15 a night and the local pub is a 15 min walk and serves great food!
Congratulations to Paul for winning the event and particularly Heather – our newest member on the circuit who sailed blindingly well and is definitely one to watch.
Full Series Results available here