It might appear strange to those of a non-nautical disposition that dinghy sailors go out and race in conditions that would make most sane souls think twice about even setting foot outside the house.
Yet more bizarre is that these seemingly mad people actually enjoy it – as was evidently the case on the second day of Zhik Poole Week at Parkstone Yacht Club.
Scores of competitors set out across Poole Harbour, most returning several hours later with smiles on their faces following a great day’s racing in the rain. Some explored the further reaches of the harbour, including the Shrimpers and Dolphins who headed past Brownsea Castle and up South Deep.
In these two classes it was a case of the familiar faces soon appearing at the front – Barry and Pat Harris in the Dolphins and Phil Atha, fresh from upsetting the natives by winning in Rock, in the Shrimpers.
On the other side of Brownsea Island, the XODs and Flying Fifteens followed a tour of the harbour with a shorter race around the cans. Father-and-son team, Graham and Ben Scroggie, have eked out a one-point lead in the Fifteens from Patrick Keats and Richard Whitworth.
While in the XODs a single point separates the top three boats. It’s a similar story in the Wayfarers, with two points between the top five. And it was the Wayfarers who provided the photo-finish of the day, Jackie Dobson and Terry Berret leading all the way round only for Brian Lamb and Tony Hunt to take the gun by a split second.
Apart from providing seriously close racing for those who want it, Poole Week is known as a family event. Steve and Ally Tyler normally race together in their Merlin Rocket, a class whose numbers have been depleted this week by the nationals in Whitstable.
Not allowing that to spoil the fun, Steve – who also happens to be Parkstone’s sailing secretary – enlisted daughter Lucy as crew, while Ally teamed up with Martyn Lovell in the second of the three Merlins sailing in the handicap fleet. Meanwhile Tyler daughter No.2, Katie, was looking after herself very competently on the same stretch of water in her Topper.
A little way behind the Merlins in his Mirror, Neil Fletcher has been seen at either the sharp end – if Mirrors have a sharp end – or the blunter end, sailing with daughter Lia or son Edward.
Whatever their fleet or age, what everyone proved at Parkstone today is that, with good sailing waters, good wind, good race management and plenty of food, drink and prizes to look forward to in the clubhouse afterwards, you can have a great day’s sailing even if it is chucking it down with rain. A day to pity those who stayed inside if ever there was one.
Full results on www.pooleweek.org