Looking at the weather forecast on Wednesday night didn’t instil much excitement because there would be so little wind that it looked as if we might have a repeat of last week’s single lap Race…but woe to me of little faith, when the volunteers started to rig and launch the Boats at 8am on Thursday morning, there was a steady breeze blowing from the NNE. Fortunately these conditions remained until after the Race finished so the eight WS Racers who came down to Chipstead Lake race, were rewarded with an acceptable albeit challenging wind.
There were a lot of boats just about on the start line as the final Gong sounded and ….unfortunately those who expected a flyer at the starboard end of the line were hampered by a non-racing dinghy sailing right across their bows…nevertheless, as the pictures below show, the fleet was closely bunched together with groups split, both port and starboard, as they tacked away from the Start Line upwind towards Mark D. Fay Watson and her crew James Thomas got a very good start at the end of the Start LIne in her Access 303 Sail # 9 but she had to tack first to avoid sailing into shallow water and possibly running aground. Meanwhile Peter Gregory in his 2.4m, the Red Torpedo, Sail #148 started higher up the Line, covering Fay, and with his ability to point closer to the wind, he gradually pulled out a small lead by sailing longer than Fay on his initial port tack. Eventually he tacked onto a starboard tack and this forced Martin Newman in his Martin # 126 to tack (And perhaps tacking later than he should have since Peter Gregory was forced to change course to avoid a collision! Ed). Peter Wagner in his 2.4m Sail # 108 had also had an excellent start and was keeping close to the leaders . Mike Blatchford in his 2.4m Sail # 109 was somewhat off the initial pace (A change in strategy from sailing his normal Pink Lady Liberty . Was this due to the light winds? Ed) but was soon able to get to grips with his new mount and started to close in on the front runners.
In the light wind Peter G managed to coax the Red Torpedo up to and around the windward Mark D and across the wind to the second buoy of the course Mark J before Martin had rounded Mark D and well before Peter Wagner and Mike Blatchford in their 2.4ms. And as can be seen from these pictures, Peter G was able to start building his lead as he sailed downwind to the third buoy of the course Mark B, waving goodbye to the fighting 2.4ms and Fay’s 303.
The Red Torpedo continued to pull out a substantial lead on the water – 2 minutes at the end of his first lap – over Martin in his Martin who was 1 minute ahead of Mike Blatchford who was 1 minute ahead of Peter Wagner who was 5 1/2 minutes ahead of Fay Watson in her double-handed 303. And by the end of the second lap, whilst Peter G had increased his lead to 4 1/2 minutes over second placed Peter Wagner who had closed up to Mike Blatchford and pipped him across the line by 11 seconds and Peter was just 10 seconds behind Martin Newman. So an exciting third (and likely final lap given the wind conditions – Ed) was in prospect when suddenly Peter Wagner’s 2.4m started sailing around in circles and Peter was waving for all he was worth to attract the stand-by boat’s attention. All whilst Mike Blatchford and Martin Newman were escaping from Peter’s clutches. OH DEARY ME…said the bipartisan spectator watching from the shore , “The showdown had stopped even before it started”. (A precedented catastrophic failure within Peter’s 2.4m meant that he had lost his ability to steer and hence had to retire – many apologies Peter from the management (probably). But Peter’s woe was not at an end….since he was then rammed by the Venture which had just set out from the pontoon…and then the Venture helm – presumably in shock at what he had done – grabbed the 2.4m’s painter and started sailing off with Peter trailing behind….until rescued by the stand-by rib… at last!!! – Ed)
One reason why the Red Torpedo goes so fast was spotted by a covertly placed camera!! If you look carefully at the photo here you can see how the mast is adjusted to lean forward at quite an angle thereby allowing both the main and jib to grab more air coming from behind! (Amazing the cunning some folk get up to as they seek every extra nano-second of speed. Ed.)
After all this excitement and with the wind slackening the fleet sailed on its final lap of the race and – as always – even though Peter G was first by a margin on the water he could get no higher than 2nd once his PY handicap had been applied by the clever software we use to calculate the final results, which are shown below.
(After the race at the lunch table, a rumour was circulating that a saw mark had been found on Peter Wagner’s foot-pedal! BUT our roving reporter thought he had heard that it was just down to Peter having a sore toe! We will probably never know. Ed)
1. Martin Newman (Martin)
2. Peter Gregory (2.4m)
3. Mike Blatchford (2.4m)
4. Fay Watson/James Thomas (303D)
5.Keith Eeles (Liberty)
6. Steve Farmer (303S)
Two retirements: Peter Wagner (2.4m due to mechanical failure) and John Hancock (303D)