OK, so it's about 100 miles downhill to get to the water, and when you arrive it's to find that the slipway ends about 2ft past the water's edge, and it's all thick stinky black mud thereafter. And WG lied about how much wind there would be...
But what we ended up with in the morning was a nice F2-4, ideal for a bit of serious fleet racing and just windy enough to be interesting. Sadly however the course was a bit deficient in the excitement stakes, with the offwind legs being either too broad or too close for the perfect 3-sail reach, and a finish at 'D' which was a lot further away from my lunch than OL would have provided, particularly in the prevailing offshore wind. Still, not a bad warm-up for the main event, and we won, with Pete/David 2nd and Bob/Paul 3rd. The latter 2 appeared to be enjoying some sort of duel throughout most of the race, thereby demonstrating quite nicely that a 25 year old, narrow-bow, all-wood Winder can compete quite effectively against a nearly new wide-bow foam-sandwich/kevlar item.
Ho then for the PM race, where we were joined by JT/Pete but lost 14870 to a bimbling session with Jez - something about an inverted mast - not fast! We had a different course which had proper reaches and thereby addressed all the problems I had with the morning one except proximity of the finish to the clubhouse. A nice safe start, with a 2nd hoot signifying somebody was over the line. It looks as though this was Bob/Paul, so they did the proper thing by tacking off, sailing round the committee boat and then capsizing as they re-crossed the line (in accordance with IYRU sailing instructions, appendix 5, rule 27b).
We pootled across to the wall at the first opportunity, but when we crossed the fleet it was Richard/Kris in 14326 in the lead, with us and Pete/David close behind. The former duo lost a bit of ground by aiming for 'M' instead of 'A', allowing Pete/David to take the lead by squeezing in front of us and doing the luffy-up dirty-wind thing to us on the final approach to 'A'. Then they tried to leave 'A' to port, recovered at the last moment, we tacked together and the first 3 boats were onto the reach to 'B' within about 10 secs of each other.
Down the broad reach to 'B', gybe at the mark, re-set the kites and off to 'H' - a proper 3-sail reach across pretty much the entire length of the race. Game-on!
Normally we all just go hell for leather down these legs, but Pete/David were looking a bit threatening, so we went up a bit to protect our air. Then we opened up a bit of a gap (by magic, I think), and observed Richard/Kris getting through into 2nd place. Then Helen and Paul turned up and had a bash at doing the same thing, although I can't recall if they succeeded or not.
Kites down at 'H', we were following a yellow miracle into the mark - rudder half up - which went wide of the mark (to lure us into the trap) and then tacked in front of us (springing it), but we hadn't taken the bait and went round the outside, leaving the Miracle parked up on 'H' as an obstacle for the rest of the pack. Quick tack to avoid the red 'shallows' buoy which was no longer actually floating by virtue of being sat on the 'shallow' bit, entirely high and dry, good job we spotted that then . And off out for a beat up to 'T'. We're still in the lead there, and the 3 chasing boats are all close together and slowing each other down. The leg to 'D' looks a bit close, so we go high and then set the kite for a nice reach to the end of the lap, with the rest of the pack close behind.
So lap 2 is a replay of lap one, except we manage to stay in front on the beat. This time Richard/Kris were ahead of Pete/Dave and Helen/Paul at 'A', but Pete managed to nip inside going round the mark and eke out a narrow lead at 'B'. Then Richard/Kris overtook them again on that long leg down to 'H', so Pete went low while Helen/Paul went on a death-or-glory overtaking spree against both of them, Richard/Kris in particular. What should have happened was that Pete/David popped out ahead at 'H', having taken a more direct route, but in fact they ended up behind the other 2 boats, presumably there being more wind as well as adrenaline further to windward. Bob/Paul also made some inroads into the lot of 'em - still recovering from that startline penalty capsize.
So, beat to 'T', reach off to 'D', we and Pete/David flew our kites, but the other 2 boats didn't appear to lose much by not doing so.
Back up the beat to 'A', the wind was rising and Richard and Kris were starting to gain on us. Pete/David capsized while ducking behind Helen/Paul, and decided to call it a day. The wind was starting to come at us in big lumps now, which made the final reach to 'H' verrrry exciting, particularly as the usual bear-away-in-the-gusts concept was a bit foiled by the presence of a flippin' great island just below the rhumb-line. Anyway, we finally got the kite down when presented with the choice of continuing the fab reach on to 'G' or slowing down to go round 'H'. Up to 'T' again, kite up for a last reach to 'D', which was a bit crowded with Solos and Miracles for some reason, so we stayed out of their way - the kite didn't want to go there anyway, it had its heart set on some bushes on the shore near 'E'...
Further back on that leg, it appears that Helen & Paul had a small lead over Bob & Paul, but that their kite was refusing to leave the safety of its bag. So Bob & Paul bunged theirs up and came hooning down on Helen's transom at about mach 9. There then followed the usual concerns over which side they should overtake, followed by the usual sensible decision that the boat carrying the kite won't be going to windward past the one that isn't. So they tried to go through to leeward, Helen sat on their wind, there was a big splashy noise from behind the mainsail and whole the comeback thing ended there.
Anyhoo, wide round 'D', wait till the other boats have tacked for the line, do same, sail long way back to stinky muddy shore and the long climb back up the hill. Richard and Kris scored an impressive 2nd place, Helen/Paul 3rd, Bob/Paul 4th, everyone else somewhere further back or RTD.