Baby Beluga – East Coast Champion 8 May 2007
The first day’s racing was held with a force 2-4 north north east breeze and so Race Officer Edwin Buckley set up the windward leeward course in the River Roach which gave the scheduled two races on a true course. A general recall was required with an over enthusiastic fleet on race one and from then on the ‘I’ flag got everyone away successfully. Paul Gray in Beaver Hunter got his series off to a cracking start with two bullets to give him the overnight lead.
The evening’s entertainment was combined with the Squib Fleet who were holding their Gold Cup event over the same weekend. The ‘Down Under’ themed party saw some unlikely looking Australians dining on barbequed kangaroo steak and prawns and dancing ’till late to local band ‘Men Behaving Sadly’
As the National Championships are to be held in Burnham during August, Race Officer Buckley wanted a trial run in an area where he would be able to set a bigger start line and course, for the larger number of boats expected at the event. The start line was set up just outside the mouth of the river, to the north east of the Crouch Buoy, which gave a true beat back towards the river mouth. The three scheduled races were held producing three different winners, Richard Barnes in Cacciatore John Lewis in Baby Beluga and Mark Rainbow in Marlin, leaving just one point between the first three places overnight.
With a clear leader established towards the end of each of the last two races and the front boat in each about to arrive through the lap/finish gate in about 42 minutes of the scheduled 45 minute course, the ‘S’ flag was flown to shorten the course and save the fleet from doing another lap.
This shorten course signal was welcomed by all, who realised that the Race Officer was mindful of getting the fleet back to Burnham after the last race on a fair tide, which proved correct as moored boats were on the turn as the fleet arrived back outside the clubhouse.
The Championship Dinner on Sunday night was again combined with the Squibs, giving everyone another late night, but arriving at the club the next morning this didn’t seem to matter, with the lightest of easterly breezes and only one race remaining in the series.
After going afloat, the committee boat anchored and the little wind there was disappeared leaving the fleet all moored off the back of the committee boat, streaming in the tide. When the light easterly returned, the fleet set sail again, but by the time Race Officer Buckley had the course set up a full blooded south west force 6 had kicked in, which must have been more in the gusts.
The fleet got away cleanly first time with waves breaking over the boats, but on the first spinnaker run Marlin did the most dramatic broach with the tip of her keel appearing above its base and the mast in the water. After what seemed like an age, with the safety RIB standing by, she came up and continued racing seemingly unscathed.
Several of the fleet left spinnakers below decks for the second run, but Marlin, undeterred, put hers straight up and planed off to prove the broach was not their usual style.
Richard Barnes’ team in Cacciatore meanwhile showed the fleet a Master Class in heavy weather sailing establishing a very substantial lead by the finish of this final race. However even with their two firsts this was not enough by a single point to stop ever popular local landlord of the White Harte John Lewis from winning in Baby Beluga, with Marlin third on equal points with Cacciatore.
A great event and our thanks from the fleet to all the race management and organisers. Roll-on the Nationals.
A WINNER’S DIARY
Spent most of the sail out discussing Jamie and Roger’s ski-ing style – a very short conversation but filled in by their denying that they were that bad. They are… Bad call on the lay line cost us Race One, but Hey, 2nd’s not bad! Struggled a bit in Race Two – just pipped Brave Heart for 3rd. Paul sailed another good race and deserved his two first places.
Early call to Roger – he’s still in bed. Little Pete on for Irish Joe. Good breeze, more than anticipated, sets the day up. Wind angle was good which allows Race Officers an easy day(!) and gave competitors options both up and, especially, downwind. With a good line, buoy set and fair tide starts, the fleet displayed considerable understanding of the tide as all starts were clean.
The big decision came at the top mark… should it be ‘left’ towards the shore (mud!) or straight up the tide? Never conclusive but generally, ‘left’. Good to have choices. And in our case, luck.
Richard on The Nodding Donkey started like a Race Horse, but then… Paul had an average day as did Cacciatore. Marlene showed that they can, in the last race and we stayed lucky.
No wind, new sails. Too much wind, new sails. Sod it! However, stayed lucky and won. Never spoil a good story with the truth!
Roger and Jamie now going to the Dry Slopes…