Day 1: A pretty poor turnout considering that we've had loads of boats in previous years. We expected to be roundly mullered by Peter & Mike, since they've done that to us virtually every other race this year. But in race 1, although they led up the first beat to B and across the first sucky fetch to M, they never got away. So we chased them down the broad leg to OL, across a fairly decent reach back to D, and off up to B again. Second time around we hung on up the beat, hung on down the fetch, and went fast enough down to OL to get an overlap at the mark. Then we just sailed away and won easily. Surely some mistake.
Mike had hurt his back, so they didn't even do race 2, resulting in an easy win for team Mike 'n' Paul.
Day 2: Buoyed up by our success on day 1, we set sail in high spirits on day 2. Spirits were raised further by the sight of Peter & Mike running aground on Musborough on the way to the start - the grounded Fred with the crew walking around it up to his knees in water had looked like a pretty good hint to me, so we went well wide and avoided any unpleasantness there. Start down near B (about half an hour late), for a short beat up through a narrow corridor of water between Musborough and that other new island up to X, and we popped out 2nd at the windward mark with Bob & Richard close behind and Peter & Mike close ahead. Kite up for a decentish reach to OL, which we almost went the wrong side of as I had remembered the course wrongly. Then a short beat to J, where we had to cover Bob & Richard, and I messed up the final tack, got the mainsheet around the tiller extension and nearly hit J as a result. Then a broad reach to D, where we took the lead for no apparent reason, followed by close reaches to A and then B. Those close reaches were quite tricky, and being just a bit too close, were not as much fun as they looked either. Anyway, round B, and a dull fetch back to the gate thereby wasting a bit more of the titchy beat, and off we go again.
Since we were ahead of Peter & Mike, and they apparently go upwind a lot better than we do, we spent every minute of every titchy beat sitting on their wind. Forget windshifts (which you couldn't do much with anyway due to having to sail up between the shallows), we just tacked when they did on the beats and luffed 'em up on the reaches. It was very hard work, and after the first 30 mins, not massively fun either. But we were going to win the damn race as a result...right up until the last leg from D to A. It was maybe a shade closer than before, maybe a shade windier, but for whatever reason we got blown down from the rhumb-line and they just charged past upwind, pointing higher and going faster. So we came 2nd in that one and were a bit despondant about it.
The PM race was basically the same scenario over a similar course, same titchy beat, same close reach to OL, but now we had a dead(ish) run down from OL to M, followed by a close reach to C and another to B. This time we had a fabulous lead at X and about 20 seconds in the bag at OL, but we blew it on the next beat and had to revert to tacking to cover again. Going upwind, every time Peter and Mike broke the cover they'd charge off and be level or just ahead when we came together again, and every time we would tack below them and sneak up under their bow and get our nose just ahead again. On one of the reaches from C to B we bagged our kite and spent some time contriving to stop them from overtaking us with theirs up, which was quite good fun (for us anyway). They finally drew level on the last run to M, and then for no very good reason we just edged out ahead again. With less wind than for the AM race, the close reaches were a bit easier to manage and we kept ahead for a win.
So far this has been less of a fleet championship event and more of a Mike & Paul sail round getting in Peter & Mike's way event - very hard work, very demanding, definitely very involving, but not necessarily a huge amount of fun. It has been tactical in the same way that a team racing event is tactical - lots of close quarters stuff with the boats staying together, and none of the usual windshift picking, "let's try that side of the beat, wooo, great lift" sort of stuff. What it needed was (say) Badders and Pete S to open it up a bit and keep us from getting too fixated on each other (plus a longer beat and fewer islands). I'd almost certainly have lost both races in that case, but I think we might have enjoyed it more as a result.