Best Week's Sailing - so far
The Scorpion Fleet know how to have a good time; great racing and brilliant social events for those on the shore - and more for those joining them from the racecourse.
We had a disaster on the water at first - but we were always having a good time - get the low down of the racing and the best bit - the fancy dress pictures!
The first race had some wind against tide which created some technical waves - - similar to those at Hill Head - so we found ourselves lightning quick to windward - whilst at the same time we managed to tame the reaches with a new Kite from Norths. We had settled into a comfortable lead when the last gybe before the upwind leg ended up with a swim. What was strange was that the sheet would not pay out. (we later learned that the sheet had been twisted with the flattener in the boom. ) Despite that we managed to scramble home in 5th.
The second day saw some equally windy conditions - but more offshore - and the waves were far less technical. However, we were in the hunt when I dropped my tiller extension (or should I say the tiller slipped from my leg) whilst hoisting - and we went into a nice slow capsize to leeward on the first reach. Not to be perturbed, we got back up and charged up the fleet to 6th place.
Determined not to let that happen again - we were more focused on race 3. On the second lap we rounded the top mark in 3rd - a matchbox behind Chris Turner - poped the kite - then one almighty bang!! The mast nearly fell over the bow - something pretty serious had broken - so we limped home with a rescue boat in convoy. 2 hours later the culprit had been identified. One of the P&B fitters had used a 4mm bolt to hold two deck eyes, which held and distributed the shroud tension under the foredeck. The 25 knot gust with kite up had been too much for it, and the shroud cascade and system had exploded. Armed with a drill, some forged shackles and 5mm bolts - it was back in order. Sadly the P&B fitter had apparently left, so no one to complain to.
So after three races - 2 capsizes and a broken mast system - our goal of top 5 was looking distinctly doggy. I am afraid that I told Sarah - that we should not look at the results again until we have some decent results to look at.
Day 3 and we faced very different conditions. More offshore - but now with less strength. Strangely the RO had set the course up to the anchored wind, which made the starboard end very favoured and no port tack to take. Unsurprisingly there was a general recall and then a black flag start. Phew we were not the board. That was nearly our regatta over. Re start - and we won the committee boat end and sailed a smart race to finish 3rd.
Next race and I was more cautious - but again we were able to wriggle out and tack off early to meet the first right shift. We had some great racing with John Mursell and Nick Keast. Towards the end the wheels nearly fell off as we were pressed and passed a couple of times by Andy McKee and Tarren Jones, and nearly also by Peter Gray and Richard Pepperdine. Thankfully we chose the best last shift to take 2nd. Finally a top 2 finish. Perhaps I might look at the score board tonight!
Racing was abandoned for Wednesday with winds forecast for 30 knots plus. As there is no system of catch up in the Scorpion Class - as long as there is a series, I then realised that there would be no second discard. Miss Wales kept the troops amused - who was Miss Paxo?
Thursday was very different conditions. Now with some side waves from the previous day's storm. But there was also the possibility of getting a lee bow on starboard tack. We definitely lucked in on the last shift into the first mark - taking us into the first few. From there we managed to hold off the heavy weights on the reaches to finish 2nd behind Chris Turner and Mike Hannan, but just ahead of the consistent Tom Jeffcote and Andy Davis. That was when we realised that we could reach and hold the biggest of them - Tom and John Mursell were both on our heels at the gybe mark - Sarah was very proud to have held them off to the finish.
Race 8 - the wind dropped a little, the shifts were hard to find and with little port tack to take - the race became a drag race. Unfortunately we are not the heaviest in the fleet - and we struggled to break out on the first beat after a poor gatestart (half a boat length down). I am still not the cleverest in reaching traffic with the Scorp. More to learn. We had a painful 8th. It would have been a nice race to discard - but we had to count it.
Last day - and winds forecast to be lighter again. Sarah had done the sums on those around us. We were in 4th; we had a 2 point advantage on Dave Wade and 4 points to catch on Chris Turner to take 3rd. First was to be decided between John Mursell/ Nick Keast and Tom Jeffcote/Andy Davis. With no discard to fall back on and with current under the fleet taking us over the line - our start was pretty cautious. However, a long last starboard tack well under and clear of the bad air on the long starboard tack lay-line helped us to round in 5th just behind Peter & Thomas Rose, then Dave Wade pulled up as he was OCS. As we hoisted on the first reach and extended on the fleet (thanks North for the great kite) we were in 4th, Chris Turner was buried - and Dave Wade was retired. I thought then that anything was possible.
AJ Eaton crewed by Tim Parsons were leading -and they extended that lead from Peter Gray crewed by Richard Pepperdine. We spent the first lap trying something different to get round Peter and Thomas Rose, but finally got the measure of them on the beat. Peter and Richard were not so far ahead - and with a beat to go we started to reel them in. He cover tacked on Port - then let us continue on Port alone. The next small shift to the right took us level when we next met - and a quick lee bow kept him left of us and behind our starboard tack advantage to the finish - wow another second. I thought that we were never going to win a race - but I was happy with our 3 second places. We had beat Chris Turner by 4 points, but he had more firsts than us - so 4th looked like our final result. Then when we were back on the beach we heard that AJ and Tim had also been OCS'ed - so we had won the race. Pitty for AJ and Tim - as it was their second OCS - and elation for us - as we had finally got a race win - and now with a first - we could beat Chris on countback with more 2nds. So 3rd was ours!
In reality the whole fleet had been winners - as they had all experienced Miss Wales on the Wednesday night (no pictures of Miss Paxo thankfully) and the best fancy dress bash I have ever experienced on Thursday eve.
I have never sailed with so many Nice un-pretentious sailors as the Scorpion fleet. Best result of the week - was Ryan Buchanan (Hill Head) winning the fancy dress as Cruella De Ville. Perhaps it was the 100's of Dalmatian Dogs that helped - but there were many others that I thought were brilliant. - see for yourself: