This weekend marked the start of the season down at Itchenor SC and it was a great way to kick it off!
Even though the weather had not improved 9 boats turned up for the first weekend of club racing. Sophie and I had recently picked up our new kit from Steve and were trying out the Pro Aquafleece and the Supertherm Longjohns which seemed particularly thin while waiting to launch. However even with a swim I have to say I didn't feel the cold at all!
The Friday was 10-12 knot Northerly and sunny with 2 ww/lw races planned back to back. We won both races however it wasn't easy with gusts and shifts coming from all over the place. James Rusden and Lucy Preston were pressing in race 2 and Will Henderson was also getting involved proving very quick downwind. Having a few kilos less would definitely have proved an attribute in the marginal planing conditions.
Saturday was another glorious day! The wind had picked up to 15 knots, just our style! With only one race being held (due to all but 1 of the boats arriving late to the start) a long ww/lw was started beating with the tide. We and James and Lucy blasted out the starboard end and at the top of the beat had a healthy lead. While getting pumped, planning how we were going to pull through downwind, we noticed James had over stood the mark, while shouting at him (as he was not local, he didn't know where we were going apparently) we bore away into a nice gust, gybed out the tide and shot down the run. When we got to the bottom mark, there wasn't anyone to be seen near us.
Sunday was colder, and the clocks had gone back which meant only 5 boats turned up for racing. However not a bad fleet (Andy Fitz - Int.14 Supremo, Rob Struckett - Mirror Champion, Will Henderson - everything champion, etc). The breeze was much lighter and that gave us an opportunity to try some lighter wind sailing that we hadn't had all winter really, mast a bit more upright and off we went.
This was possibly some of the hardest sailing I have ever done, and reminded me of a team time trial in cycling (where the guy at the front peels off and goes to the back). There was not one run where the guy at the front held his place. The gusts meant that the back of the fleet would come planing through and even with the massive tide, wind was key. However we stayed to our plan, stayed conservative and won the day with a 1, 2. It was so hard to stay patient, but seeing people come out a lot worse than us gave us confidence.
Monday was breezy, again just what we like, mast back to 21'9.5". Downwind start off the club line through the moored yachts......interesting, however we got out of the moorings first and extended away to a healthy win from Will & Mary Henderson, event won! However with the last race of the day an average hoist saw us just stuck underneath a slower boat as we saw Will & Mary sail off. Once we got clear we rounded a few boat lengths behind them, time to hike it out! At the top mark we rounded first, however much to our frustration (and maybe complacency) a huge gust brought Will steaming back through and he held us off to the finish.
A frustrating finish to what could only really be described as a perfect weekend! A great social on friday night will be repeated again at the end of the season. My suggestion get down to Itchenor, get involved!