What a day – horizon to horizon blue sky with bright sunshine amid fluffy clouds and at last some warmth to enable everybody at the lake to shed a few layers of clothing and long trews. As a sailor said to me “Sunshine makes everyone happier!” This was especially welcome after the cancellation of Race 2 last Thursday caused by the arrival of a strong gusty wind blowing across the lake which would have made sailing very difficult and possibly dangerous for WS Racing’s sailors.
As planned the volunteers assembled at 0830 to rig and launch the fleet required to meet the anticpated demand – so we had three Liberty, seven 303 and the lugger plus the Safety Rib and Commando in the water by 0945 and all were ready for the day’s briefing by the Session Manager. Early arrivers, Bob Fisher and Steve Farmer and Peter Wagner and his parents listened into the briefing and Mark Cayzer and his parents. Derek Preston and his wife Kay arrived as the meeting was wrapping up at 1000. Everything was set for a grand time out on the water…but where was the wind? The forecast was for 3 to 4 knots with mighty gusts of 5 to 6 knots from WNW. This made setting a course with a upwind beat to the first Mark tricky. But the course was set and the Safty Boat moved some Marks around to try and ensure they were not in wind shadows (caused mainly by the trees on the north shore).
The course was set:
The wind was dropping as 1100 approached so the Race Controller announnced over the Tannoy a delay to the start, hoping for enough breeze to enable the fleet to get off to a reasonable start. A few minutes later that happened and the 3 Minute Gong sounded with boats on both sides of the Start Line but gradually with help from the Race Hut over the Tannoy, nearly all the entrants were to the south of the Start Line and the 2 and 1 Minute Gongs sounded and the Race hut gave a 30 and 10 second verbal warning and a countdown from 5 seconds to get Race 3 of the 2021 Season started with an “All clear” announced from the Race Hut. In the photos below you can see that Peter Wagner (Liberty #22) appeared to have made a good start but of course he also had the whole fleet between imself and the prevailing wind so that was going to slow his progress. Kim Sparkes (303 #2) was well positioned but still a bit hemmed in. Steve Farmer (303 #3) had pole position having started at the windward end of the Start Line and as can be seen in the photo he soon pulled out a good lead.
But the next 5 minutes was when the story of the Race was written. After the race, Steve Farmer told me “I was having a great time. My boat was going really well so I just wanted to keep going. I didn’t mind where I was going and I did not even think everybody would follow me!” (Well that’s exactly what happened and I expect that they will all learn from the experience. Ed) From our view in the Race Hut across the lake, we were expecting the leading boats to tack in the direction of Mark C….but we waited and waited and with no Tack insight and Steve nearly at Mark A, the Race Controller asked the Safety Rib to REMIND the fleet that the first Mark was C (not A?). The next few photos show the beneficiaries of this disarray – namely Peter Wagner and Trevor Monk (303 #7) – as they were able to get to Mark C first and second respectvely. This was a remarkable turn around for Trevor who had been 100 metres behind the Start Line when the Race had started . (Lovely to see your coolness rewarded Trevor! Ed,)
The wind struggled to maintain even 3 knots so the sailors had a tough time. (The 303 and to a slightly lesser extent the Liberty are not responsive to the helm when the wind dies and this can make them very frustrating to sail in such conditions. Ed) However, Peter Wagner never looked back after rounding Mark C and the rest of the fleet gradually sorted itself out as can be seen from the next few photos. Kim Sparkes showed her class by taking a good course from Mark C to Mark A and when Trevor found that he had to put in a late Tack to round Mark A, Kim overhauled him and started chasing down Peter Wagner.
Peter and Kim crossed the Finish Line at the end of their first Lap just a second apart and once the PY handicap is taken into account (By the clever program in the spreadsheet! Ed) Kim was Race 3’s Winner by 40 seconds. Congratulations to Kim – especially since she was close to Steve Farmer as he approched Mark A whilst “enjoying his fun time on the water”! And very well done to Peter Wagner since this was his first sail for 20 months. (After the Race Peter said to me “I did wonder if I was a bit rusty after 20 months of not being behind a helm, but oddly enough my virtual flying did help… a lot! Secret weapon, eh. Ed) Brilliant Peter….and watch out everybody else if this is what Peter can do when just flying by the seat of his pants?
Other Racers were having fun chasing each other and finding out that when leading a group it is even more important to know the course. Here are some photos showing Derek Preston steaming along to what he thought was the Finish Line….but not quite..so he had to Tack twice whilst Rachel and Imogen sailed by.
(The course is always written up on the whiteboard just outside the entrance to the clubhouse – see photos above. And FYI the Marks are set out in clockwise/alapbetical order around the perimeter of the lake – see photo below. Ed)
The Race Controller decided to allow the first and second wave of the fleet to continue for a second lap (even given the difficult/non-existent wind) and to dong just the last three boats after one lap (which is the signal to tell a helm that they have finished and can stop racing). So the five boats who completed their first Lap were doing EXACTLY what they should have been doing (and hence apologies to some Racers who were advised by a Volunteer in the Safety Commando that the Race was only one Lap and they were no longer racing. That instruction was incorrect. So next time, please carry on racing until you are gonged over the Finish Line or you hear an announcement/multiple gongs from the Race Hut. Ed.)
With the wind dying almost completely, the Race Controller stopped the Race and another exciting day on the water at Chipstead ended. Well done to everyone and many thanks to all the volunteers on and off the water who make this possible.
The Race Result was:
- Kim Sparkes 303 Sail #2
- Peter Wagner Liberty #22
- Rachel Ibbot and crew Paul Chilvers 303 #10
- Imogen Fletcher 303 #5
- Derek Preston Liberty #23
- Steve Farmer 303 #3
- Mark Cayzer and crew Alan Cayzer #8
- Tom Phillips 303 #9
- Trevor Monk DNF
Onward to next week!