The dawn of Sunday 27th broke with blistering sunshine, an excited 400 fleet of 26 willing sailors and enough wind to make each and everyone of those who arrived at QM wonder why they had got out of bed.
In true 400 fashion, and in the absence of anything on the water, most decided to do what 400 sailors are especially good at. A bit of friendly chit chat in the boat park commenced. Even in the absence of Super Lou - nursing a QM embankment knee twinge, folk put up a good bit of chat.
Those super keen sailors preparing for Garda chose to get some serious bimbling under their belts and to redo a continuous kicker on a very fast "True Colours" 1139. With a bit of moral support the esteemed James ripped out all that expensive manfredi 4mm stuff and replaced it with the 2mm core........ James - Good luck on those delicate mits - expect a touch more breeze in Garda - we hope.
With a dozen or more 400s all putting a brave face on it, morning race postponed and the threat of England staying in the world cup, little more encouragement was finally needed for the race officers to go for a highly sensible morning race abandoned decision. Not wishing to be defeated 26 or more of us 400 frolickers retreated to the club house, drew the blinds and opened the windows to let out some of the heat..... This was not a day for sailing....
On the off chance that the M3 might funnel some sea breeze 70 miles up the road, up over the reservoir and onto our delightful pond, our recent ex chairman of vice decided to roll out some entertainment. You guessed it indeed - out came the video footage and on went the telly. So we all sat down and took a few tips from Cpt Farbroex and Super Lou winning yet another Wednesday evening night's racing. A few key things were apparent or not as the case may be:-
1 A total absence of other boats to confuse mark roundings.
2 So just sail fast and dont stress your minds with the tactics
3 Lou is very quiet and restrained when on camera......
4 A winning boat is simply a flat one 100 percent of the time.
After 30 mins of a very patient fleet watching the telly, a slight breath of air was felt. Enough it was considered to start the proceedings that had been organised with true new vice proficiency. Best part of ten boats ventured out onto the water all with paddles at the ready. And of-course some poor folk had to man the committee boat. Bob and Isabel a big thanks to you both.
First up was lady helm race and indeed some of the ladies did indeed make a pretty good show of showing the fleet an exceedingly good pair of heels. (possible refs to transoms not considered appropriate) The boys were supposed to give the ladies a five minute start. Having started from way too far out from the start line on the far side of the pond, I could not possibly comment as to whether that 5 minute window happened or not. All I can remember was holding my breath, not daring to move a muscle and holding the jib in position as there was no wind to set it. Somehow JG the maestro whispered 1139 from the last to start to 2nd to round the mark with Josie and super crew Mike leading the fleet up the "beat" with spinnaker "flying". Fortunately only a single gybe for us in that race was just enough to keep 1139 in contention at the end. Who knows who won. Quite frankly of little consequence.
More of the same followed in race two with Bruce and Mary and Simon and Eleanor now catching on to this lady helm idea. The "windward" mark rounding was interesting to say the least. Spinnakers flying on both legs of our "windward leeward" course. How in heaven Bob and Isabel laid any course is indeed a miracle. A total lack of breeze and severe penalties to be had if there was any hint of pumping, ensured all racing rules were followed.. Some folk seemed to be looking in and out of the boat a touch checking where the water was coming from, b but this seemed to make little difference to boat speed.. After rounding the mark in race 2 significant benefit was to be had from getting there late as a nice little dribble of wind filled in nearer the club house - possibly induced by those fanning themselves on the clubhouse balcony. This made life extremely complex for those of us who were crewing and some helms decided a gybe or two were in order to get to the breeze. Total torture for those at the front end....
Our plans for team relay with a two lap race would never be feasible and so the kit kat batons never had to stand the test of the heat. We did however have the opportunity to compete for the perfect gybe on the finish line. Those who got it right managed to get sufficient pump out of the gybe to cover all of a boat's length on the water and get to the shore early.
On the informative side, Howard and Lou were taking notes for us in those testing conditions. Conclusion was watch your fore and aft trim - weight well forward and a tip so critical in low wind, but equally important as wind arrives, was Howard's point about moving like a feather with no sudden movements. So F = m * a. Teach Isabel will know all about that. So a heavy head arm or leg accelerating in the wrong direction generates a force in the wrong direction too...
Fortunately Bob had a watch on and was checking it. "Racing" drew to a timely close at 1415 just enough time to paddle to the shore and get changed for prize giving. And wow when we say prizes we really mean prizes. Simon and Eleanor cleaned up with a massive two wins for perfect gybes and top lady helm I think. Carolyn and Iain, Matt and Richard, Mike and Josie, James and Luke, Chris and Des and even James and I managed to sweep up an award. We all collected hand crafted model 400s with lovely pale blue spinnakers flying in a way that we might have only dreamt of on Sunday.
As ever once the fleet was ashore a lovely little force 2 filled in quite nicely. Enough to tempt out budding new sailors who cant wait to join the fleet - Harry of 1139 featured in our photo shoot. The breeze then stayed throughout "the game". Always the way....
So on balance we made the best of it and indeed I think all enjoyed sailing and picking up a few tips from fellow sailors. Really good to see new sailors joining the fleet. When Matt and Richard fix their boat's deliberate handicaps they'll be up front with Roast n Ground, Howard and Lou and now James and Simon.
We had a dozen or more 400s ready to go. Considering the lack of wind and the chance to avoid watching our world cup efforts end, all did really well to even turn up. A big thank you to Bob and Isabel for organising everything and for doing the committee boat bit and making the wonderful prizes. Thanks teach. We are planning a return event probably late September / early October when the wind may have returned...........