I had to talk Poorly Paul into sailing, as his garden apparently had no air moving around it at all. But the forecasts, bushes and the innards of the chicken I sacrificed earlier all said that the wind would build through the day and become 'interesting' by the afternoon.
Sure enough, the morning was a bit light and fluffy, but gloriously sunny. We waited for a wee while after our start for Pete and Rachel to arrive, and they thanked us by promptly zooming off into what would normally have been an unassailable lead. However in this case they didn't know the course and never got quite close enough to JT to find out what it really was, just a sort of vague idea shouted across the lake. So they sailed in the wrong direction quite a lot of times, and it came to pass that the three leading boats of us, Pete/Rachel and JT/Iain all arrived at 'F' together. I forget what happened after that, but we won so I guess it was good!
Lunchtime, and Pete explained that the latest thinking in Fireball tuning is to have more rig tension. I can't tell you how much as I don't want to frighten you, also it's calibrated on the one and only Badders rig tension gauge and would therefore mean nothing anyway. Anyway, we tried it on my boat and it went:
Where's your normal mark for the rig tension, ok, stick it there...
Measure shroud with magic gauge - 32 - more...
(Pulls rope very hard)
Measure again - 34 - more...
(Pulls rope with both hands)
Still 34 - more...
(Hurts hands getting that extra few cm, boat makes an unhappy noise)
A squint up the mast suggested to me that the metal was looking a bit tortured up there, but I gave it a bit of a thump at deck level and it took on a vaguely sensible curve again, so what the hell.
So we sailed with it like that, and I can report that the rig was (as you might guess) definitely a lot stiffer than it had been. However, it's unclear whether this translated into speed since at any given moment at least one boat was carrying a load of weed around on their rudder or centreboard, so boat-speeds varied considerably from one moment to the next.
Off the line it seemed OK, but it was Richard & Kris who went round the first mark (N) first. Next was Pete/Rachel, with a brief pause for the crew to sit in the water. A 2-sail reach to OL, then a dead run to X which featured an small involuntary gybe in our boat and a consensus that we'd do it as 2 reaches next time. But we got past Pete/Rachel on that leg, and then kept the kite up for the tricky close reach across to 'P', while Pete attempted to dilute the crew a bit more. We made it in one piece and gybed for the fabulous reach to 'F', taking a detour to avoid the weed beds which nobody else appeared to be bothered about. On the way we spotted Dave & Josh going upwind from F, which suggested that they still had a very good lead on everyone, but I'm guessing they got something wrong as by the time we arrived there, they were behind Richard & Kris.
Sooooo, a quick beat to H and then a nice reach back across the weed beds to E. We went high to avoid the weed, and passed both Richard/Kris and Dave/Josh as they were sailing merrily through the middle of it. Behind us, Pete/Rachel were endeavouring to de-weed their rudder by sailing backwards, which allowed JT/Iain to get past them.
Round E and back up the beat, and this time it was our turn to find the green stuff on the foils. So that's what that yellow buoy meant. Duh!
We were still in the lead at OL, and took the run as 2 reaches this time which worked well. Then another iffy 3-sail reach to P followed by a glorious flat out kite leg to 'F'. Meanwhile the wind kept building, resulting in a few of the faithful taking a bit of a swim at various points.
Next time round the kite went up in a big knot when we hoisted it at OL, and by the time we'd untangled it and gybed we were looking at quite a close reach to X. The wind went a bit mad at that point, and we hurtled off in a direction which wasn't going to get us close to X, and made our chances of hitting 'P' after that look laughable. So we downed the kite and 2-sailed from there, although that left us going too slowly to gybe at 'P'. We had a big wobble with the boom in the air before I bottled out and we tacked round, after which Paul refused to hoist the kite again. Spoilsport!
However it gave us a chance to watch Pete/Rachel (who had got past JT)) hurtling across from X to P with their kite up. It looked great, but what we couldn't tell from our viewpoint was that they were on a course more like 'D' than 'P', and when they finally got the kite down, JT promptly sailed straight past them again.
Next time we arrived at OL, and all too soon, it was over. We won, and I think JT kept his second place. And what an excellent day's sailing that was.
Many thanks to Colin Newman for volunteering to do OD duty on what was arguably the best day of the entire year, and for coming up with a couple of highly decent courses with only half the lake to play with. Lovely job Colin!