As the rain hammered down on the roof of the marquee and the flags fluttered half-heartedly, few of the 200-plus sailors assembled for the competitors’ briefing at the start of Zhik Poole Week held out any hope of decent racing later in the day. One or two even elected not to venture forth – but they were to wish they had . . .
Almost to the minute, as the racing started at 1 o’clock, the breeze picked up to 12-16 knots and, for the rest of the day, Poole Harbour was bathed in sunshine interrupted only by the odd patch of cloud.
Throughout the fleets it was a day of exceptionally tight racing. In the Poole Dolphins, 2nd to 4th places were virtually a photo finish after nearly two hours.
A few of the local Flying Fifteen sailors were competing in the worlds, but many of the top names chose to stay at home. Graham and Ben Scroggie drew first blood, with Patrick Keats crewed by Richard (Mr Merlin Rocket) Whitworth hard on their heels before the results were reversed in the second race.
In the 26-boat Laser fleet there was barely a batten’s width between the leading boats during most of their three races. Things didn’t go so well for one of the usual front-runners, Donald Macdonald, whose mast broke on the second beat of the first race.
The doughty Macdonald sailed as fast as his truncated rig would carry him all the way back to the club, where he borrowed a spare top-section and an older sail and headed straight back out, just missing the start of the second race but then bouncing back with a 4th in the final race of the day.
With the first day of Poole Week being the second day of their Western Championships, the Wayfarers were out in force and proving that the Mk IV boats are not having it all their own way: Andrew and Tom Wilson in 8844 and Martin Collen in 88 were right up at the sharp end and flying the flag for the ‘woodies’.
The weather for the rest of the week is looking less than perfect, so everyone was pleased to have enjoyed a great day’s racing and is hoping the forecast will be wrong again.