This Wednesday night was the first in the new series of twilight races. When we got to the boat we were thrilled to see that ‘Scrubber’ Jeff, our boat painter, had been hard at work sanding back and coating the timberwork. It was looking spiffing!
There was plenty of wind out on the water once again, and we were set course E – from the start line heading south-east to Howrah, then across the river to the Garrow – an inflatable buoy placed about half a nautical mile south of the John Garrow light off Sandy Bay – and back to the finish line at Bellerive. Rather than the south-easterly sea breeze we usually get on a summer afternoon, this wind was from the north-west, so we started on a broad reach, then, once around Bellerive Bluff, we poled out the headsail to catch the wind from behind. With a sea-breeze this sail-set is usually our home run and referred to as the beer-leg, so our boat-load of young men were a little muddled!
We had drifted towards the back of the fleet by the time we reached the first mark, and rounded it to begin the long beat across the river to mark G. Derek, being fond of anything mathematical, and having memorised the updated handicap rating of every boat, was keeping a keen eye on the competition and lamenting the fact that since we won the first series this summer our handicap has suffered and we now give time to so many other boats in our division. Well, all the ones we could see around us anyway.
With the wind over 20 knots we had furled the headsail a little to make it smaller and theoretically the boat more manageable, however it made the boat hard to balance and we lost ground slowly as we tacked into the wind. Finally we rounded the mark, close to the back of the fleet, and began a close reach back to the finish line. Half-way there the wind seemed to change, so we poled out the headsail again and the boys dived for the beer.
All was rosy for a time, until, approaching the Bluff, the wind decided to play tricks. It dropped out, then swung around to the north again. Willem, who had taken his beer to the fore-deck and was leaning on the boom to keep the mainsail out wide, had to make a sudden dash forward to take the pole off the headsail. He sat his half-drunk beer can on the deck, but of course it didn’t last, and toppled, spilling his beer, before anyone could retrieve it.
Of course the wind changed again before we crossed the line, keeping everyone on their toes, and the beers disturbed once again. It also made parking the boat a bit of a challenge, and the crew of Ciao Baby II, our pen-neighbours who were already home, all rallied to help by passing the mooring lines. We packed up and hosed off the beer then headed into the club-house for dinner.
Result: 13th. Elapsed time 1:12:44
Crew: Derek and I, Rohan, Willem, Lochy, Paul, Nick.