I talked Poorly Paul out of sailing yesterday as I thought the 7-8knts forecast would be too light-n-fluffy for him, and although the bushes in my garden lied to us (again), this turned out to be the case when I arrived at the club. Serena had signed up to crew, perfect weight for the F1-2, occasional F3 we were looking at at 10:00am. So, gun goes, zoom off the line, Serena doing crewy things like mad, get luffed up by John & Jim and borne down on by Helen & Paul, finally spat out the back door. Tack and head for RHS of the beat, tack back when we get there to find we're lifted onto the lay line and everyone else is so far down the toilet that it's pretty much game over by the time we get to the first mark, 'B'. Sail down to 'M', across to 'Y', get on long run towards 'T' and start looking wistfully back at the chasing pack, who appear to be having a fine old time back there.
So I talked Serena into taking her kit off - well the harness bit of it anyway, I crawled into it (good fit, slightly painful getting it over my head though), and then we sailed around slowly, crashed into buoys, did turns, looked for weed on the rudder, and generally waited for the rest of the fleet to turn up.
And they did, although Mo & Holly seemed to be taking an odd route, but anyway we had a fine old battle with Helen & Paul, Serena didn't put a foot wrong at the back of the boat which kinda made up for some of the catastrophes at the front, and we finally just pipped them all across the line at the end. Cheers cheers for multi-talented helm and crew.
Lunch, yum! Learnt that Mo & Holly had written down v1.0 of the course, everyone else had got v2.1, with the correct colours for rounding of the buoys. Hence the confusion in their boat, not helped by watching Serena and me doing little loops next to some of the marks after hitting them.
So we went for it again in the afternoon, me up the front, Serena steering. Some less than excellent tactics and some weed up the first beat put us near last at the top mark, Bob & Paul were doing a horizon job, Helen & Paul and Mo & Holly somewhere in between, John & Jim and Richard & Karen languishing behind, also suffering from weed I suspect. So we chased everyone round for a couple of laps, with some catching up and some dire crewing leading to some falling further behind again, and some amusing conversations on the shy 3-sail reach to 'M' when the wind picked up:
Serena: "We'll need to do an aussie drop"
Me: "OK, go on then"
Serena: "I don't know how, I've never done one as a helm..."
Me: "Ah, well, errrm"
Still, we were still vaguely in contention when we had a leg to 'M' a lap later which was both windier and broader than usual. Short way past, en-route to 'K' on the run, we bunged in a gybe in the teeth of something even windier still, and wooohooo, we're now charging down a broad reach towards 'K' going a lot faster than we had any right to expect. I sniffed the air, read the clouds, parted the mists of time and divined the very future, and declared that we could probably carry the kite around 'K' and all the way to 'X' from here. Then I looked at what the lead 3 boats were up to and changed my mind - they were hurtling off towards 'H' rather than 'X' with the kites up and a distinctly out-of-control appearance. So we bagged the kite, took 'K' to 'X' as a high speed 2-sail reach, and it was one of those defining moments that stay with you....
The wind on the water coming at us in big lumps, me well back and well down on the wire, playing the jib while Serena gives it full welly with the main and the steering stick, the boat absolutely flying along. The sun glinting off the water as the lead boat stops, bears off, spirals in to windward way below us and the others park up to bag their kites. And now more wind, more speed, and a smart gybe at 'X', and then looking back at the buoy as Mo & Holly and Helen & Paul gybe around it just behind us, and Mo and Holly bin it...
(And sorry guys, I really felt for you there)
And then on down to 'T', 'J', 'OL' for a final lap before the finish.
In theory it's not the winning, it's the taking part. But in fact it's the overtaking part that is most satisfying, that and the hooning along at high speed while you're doing it. An unexpectedly excellent day's sailing then, and I suggest that it would be worth buying yourself a Fireball purely to install Serena at the back of it and watch and learn while you enjoy the ride.