Hello, this is Snitchy, the RS Aero reporting after a busy four days at the Aero Nationals in Abersoch.
It was a relatively short journey to the Llyn peninsular, compared to some of my other Aero friends. I did 3 hours, yet a team travelled from Estonia, a charming young man from the Isle of Man. Team Rooster arrived exhausted from Carnac via a quick stop off to swap boats after another event. Two tired Scots arrived from North Berwick, another Southerner came from Kent via the Aero Open at Ullswater and the Champion traveller came from Cornwall, also via Ullswater after just passing his driving test! We all passed through England and entered a land of mythical dragons, romantic valleys set against breathtakingly beautiful mountains, uncountable sheep and carwashes for tractors. This really was a place for superheroes. I was home.
The first challenge of the Nationals was getting on the beach (the last challenge was getting off it). We arrived when the half-term family crowds were at a peak and we had to stay in a holding bay in a trailer park. My Owner promptly abandoned me and went to establish her Glamping Ground on the top of a nearby headland in a 200-acre nature reserve overlooking Hells Mouth. I’m not sure about Hell’s Mouth, but we faced a Hell’s Teeth of a job getting closer to the Sailing Club, so I magic’d up some rain to scatter the tourists by 5 o’clock and that seemed to do the job. I know how much Owner likes to rig in the rain.
The first day dawned windless and sunny, which gave all the Owners a chance to gabble, relax and look forwards to Wind, Waves and Whales. All those failed to appear, so the racing was abandoned by 3:30 and us poor boats were left to the perils of the Seagull community, who had a line-dancing evening planned in their busy calendar.
A fleet prizegiving was held anyway, in the tradition of Aero Nationals. Awards were given out for go-kart racing and leisure swimming, though perhaps a little something for the boat with the most Guano covering would have been in order.
Day 2 arrived and still no wind. The race team made use of the spare time by holding a Rule 42 workshop with an invited non-Owner, who I shall describe as the Jive Police. He announced that he would be escorting and observing us Aeros during the races to make sure that we played nicely. He explained Rule 42 in great detail, describing the Rocking, Rolling, Pumping, Ooching and Smooching that he didn’t much care for and what he planned to do about it. There were a few pale faces after that lot, believe me.
By 1 pm, we finally left the beach in a light draft. We waited for over an hour for the first start sequence. The 9m rigs were away first and us naughty 7s had to have a couple of goes to get racing. The 5m fleet, with just 4 entries, started last.
The winds were very fickle indeed and, just after the windward mark, there were some disproportionately sized overfall waves for me to tackle. I surfed down a few quite happily and gained some distance downwind to set me up for a good water position on the fleet by the next mark. There, Jive Master was lurking around, looking for some more clients for his spinning classes, so I slid by quietly and rounded the leeward mark in the teens. Owner was scanning around for the best breeze up the next beat, when I spotted some more surfing waves, which I tacked off for before we could argue. The waves got bigger and then we could see the two pods of dolphins that were creating them. We danced joyfully in the still waters, me and them; cool dudes together.
It was all going swimmingly, until I spotted the Jive Master, parked up with his yellow-flagged magic wand. He had already pointed this gadget at last year’s National Champion, which resulted in the boat doing a double twiddle dance move. It all seemed a bit tedious to me, so we went and sailed elsewhere. Beside which, Owner knows I like to choreograph my own dance moves, especially the horizontal ones.
After this first race, we were lucky to complete a second, as a thick fog was set to fill in. We ended the day with a long beat back ashore in failing visibility, after seeing long-distance sailor Ken Fowler peel off the finish line to complete the first two island roundings of his 2018 challenge to raise money for cancer research. He’s a cool dude, up there with my dolphins.
The following morning, we had an early start to get in the four scheduled races. The fog had lifted, but there was still a very light breeze. We picked our way up the shifty beats and finished the four races in the 20’s. This was to be the last of the Championship, as the wind never returned. It left me in 28th place overall, with new friends, new stickers and a whole hullfull of happy experiences and memories.
Congratulations to the three fleet National Champions for 2018;
Steve Cockerill (9 rig); Sam Whaley (7 rig) and Kate Sargent (5 rig)
Until next time,
Snitchy, the Dolphin whisperer