Fully overcast with dark grey cloud, Blowing about force 4 and raining/ drizzling all the way up the M23, M25 and M1 to junction 13.It was not an auspicious 7.00am start on the journey to the Streaker Open meeting at Stewartby. On arrival it did not look a lot more inviting – reference to an earlier weather forecast showed force four and occasionally force five wind from the south west. The actual wind, which increased through the day was a minimum of top end force 4 with gusts well in force 6. I rigged with my ancient Rooster Mylar and together with seven other fool hardy Streakers went afloat in the joint meeting with eleven Solos. I won’t describe the projected first course, except to say that it was convoluted and with some very uncomfortable legs in prospect. Last week I had re-rigged the boat with rear sheeting, not a good move for these conditions from my point of view, but set off on a broad reach from the shore to the top end of the lake and the Committee Boat start there.
As soon as I arrived, and came up to wind, I realised that I had the tiller over the top of the traveller. Having sorted that out, difficult in the strong wind, I subsequently had the traveller wrap around the end of the tiller and ended up crossing the Solo fleet shouting that I had no control and to keep out of my way. Finally I managed to get head to wind and free of the tiller. Shortly afterwards, after the Solos had started, a huge gust tipped me in and I struggled to get back aboard. After the third attempt I scrambled in almost exhausted and decided that these - survival conditions - were not what I liked and so I headed back to shore on a broad reach, spilling wind almost all the way across the lake. The plan had been for two back to back races both in the morning and then two again after lunch. I missed the first race and did not go afloat for the second. After lunch I was offed the use of the Class Wave Sail, of considerably reduced area, and rigged the boat up but the sight of white horses on the water made me think again and I decided not to chance my luck. The rest of my day was spent recovering the boats returning during and after each race, due to various capsizes and gear failures in both the Solo and Streaker fleets. Bett also had a mini disaster when she accidentally deleted all the shots of the first race, including the start, from her 45x Zoom Nikon Camera. A few of the later shots she took were also binned, deliberately this time, as she was unable to hold the camera steady in the strong wind conditions. So to the racing itself, and this will be brief, as I do not have the lap sheets to hand.
Race one started with five of the eight entries crossing the line – I had already set off for home. Alan Gillard (Sheffield Vikings) was soon in the lead and soon somewhat out in front. A battle commenced for second place between Ian Bradley (Ouse ASC) and Ian Parish (Stewartby) and behind them Veronica Falat (Waveney and Oulton Broad). Chris Smith in his new boat capsized and ended up with a bent mast, although his burgee was completely un damaged. Both he and Tim Browning (Stewartby), like Alan Simmons (Lancing) failed to start the race. Bill Strange (Stewartby) started but pulled out on the last lap and none of these sailed again.
At the front, Alan.G pulled further ahead but as the picture shows even he had problems with the vicious gusts. Ian.B is suspected to have succumbed briefly at some point in the race leaving Ian.P to take 2nd place ahead of him with Veronica coming home in fourth place. As it happened all of the remaining fleet came ashore after the first race but only three went back out for the second. Veronica.F decided not to sail in the second race and view the event from the shore.
At the start gun for race 2 it was Alan.G first across the line with Ian.B right on his shoulder and Ian.P right on their heels. Again Alan.G pulled ahead, but not by a great margin. The Ian’s were once more joined in battle with each in turn passing one another. A dip by Ian.P rather settled the matter allowing Ian.B to get well ahead. Ian. P did reel Ian.B in a bit but not sufficiently to challenge before the finish gun. After lunch Alan.G and Ian.B launched for what was to be the final race. Ian.P was interested in trying out the smaller sail so he re-rigged and went afloat in race three with it. Veronica.F was rather late in making up her mind whether or not to sail and by the time she went afloat the other three had already started.
Yet once more Alan.G was out in front with Ian.B following him fairly closely. Ian.P began to drop back from this pair although he did stay ahead of Veronica.F who in turn had made a mess of the course and had to back track at on point. The fourth and final scheduled race was abandoned before the start as neither the Solos nor the Streakers hung about for the start. A wild and windy ride was experienced by all, some of us deciding quit early on to stay ashore in the sincere hopes that next week’s Nationals at Northampton will be a good bit calmer.
PS. You may be wondering why Ian.P has an (9.0 RAF) comment against race 3. It appears that the SIs prohibited sailing with other than a boat’s official number – the wave sail is No9 – although Ian thought he had obtained the ROs verbal agreement/acknowledgement before the start and thus he retired.