Dec-a-dent Sailing

Racing 17th December 2011

Sailing on Saturday was a good respite from the prospect of Christmas about to arrive. I spent the morning working with Richard Dee and Paul Young with the five brave juniors. We tried to get them to have a good fight at the windward mark for practice but not quite enough boats to create the hair-raising experiences of Blithfield the weekend before. Good to see them out on the water though.

In the afternoon, a cold, sometimes damp, weather pattern gave us wind conditions that did not appear to reflect the forecast in wind strength but the direction was about right. Or left. Or both. Bit switchy you see.

Nancy Gudgeon has a new toy (a house) so was unable to sail so I converted a new member, Jane Hinkins, to an afternoon in a Merlin Rocket. Jane is a learning-a-Fireball sailor so was perplexed to find that the Merlin did not have a trapeze. The spinnaker was rather a new device too. So a rapid lesson in the vertical and horizontal rope circuits was required. Her Dad had boat trained Jane so it was a pleasure to find a crew who took total control over the Jib and soon got to find the sensitive Merlin balance point.

In the first race, the Merlins were of course last to start and one yellow boat out of two had clearly been reading his tactics as he aggressively shouted for the other yellow boat to windward to head up. Unfortunately, this pushed the aesthetically perfect lilac boat round the wrong side of the mark! This was a perfectly legal action but one not often seen at MSC. (it will be the subject of a reconvened rules evening in Jan). A swift tack and gybe and through the start line saw the lilac back on track down towards the first mark at #6. I would like to say sheer talent saw the lilac trounce the yellows at the mark but I think it was just luck. However, this was surely going to be the best part of the day so it was a near decision to retire to a cup of tea whilst the good impression on Jane was still valid.

A short spinnaker leg down to #3 saw us able to fend off the yellows despite some dodgy calls for room. Back onto the beat again towards #5, rounding to port still saw us leading and that tea invite even more attractive. A quick runny leg down to #4 gave opportunities to take the port route and aggressively deny one or more yellows the inside line.  bear away on a tight reach down to #1. But now we were in learning mode on the spinnaker and we relinquished our role as pace maker. So a procedural lesson, ‘puller, sail down the deck, pole on, hoist, grab the sheet blah blah blah’. Brilliant job Jane. A natural.  Gybe at #1, then two sail reach for the sensible ones up to starboard hand rounding at #2 and second lap.

We kept catching up again up the beats which was pleasing and did not get too far away from the yellows and the blue sailed by Ian Leiper and Julian Forde. I think they were talking too much to concentrate and probably could have done better but they had a good tussle with light yellow.

Paul Young and Matt Smith took line honours, followed by Mike Anslow and Alex Homer (the crews may have been the other way round) and then the lovely Karen with not so lovely Terry even though he has a lilac.

The second race set off early at the OOD Hanniford’s request. A reasonable start for us but this time team Anslow disappeared in front leaving a jolly turmoil of chase between the remaining Merlins. The blue now sailed by Malcolm and Ian showed good pace and kept the light yellow in check and a very close finish at the end. Our spinnaker work progressed and shows great potential. Well done Jane. A pleasure.

Mike Homer took a dive out of the Vision. Water plonker.

No change at the front of the race for the winners.