Sun, sea breeze and free beer (when it’s not your round) sounded like a perfect weekend to me. The fleet arrived to a warm welcome and great forecast.
Even with a 1 o’clock start the first race was held in an offshore wind that gave plenty of opportunities to sail yourself down the fleet, and unfortunately, we all took more than our share. Plenty of gusts, shifts and holes kept everyone on their toes and plenty of place changes.
The next race was abandoned due to the sea breeze killing the gradient. Watching boats being carried away from the spreader by the tide with their spinnaker up we thought it was the right call. A sea breeze and quickly relaid course and we had two cracking races in a Force 4-5.
Tim and Fiona showed a quick dip was no excuse for not winning a race while Dan and Debbie showed that a proper swim ruins a race even more than without. Should have gone below the spreader, dropped and returned. Lesson learnt. No one escaped examining their hull for Eastbourne pebble scars over the weekend – the intricacies of the wind were unknown to all.
After setting up our accommodation for the night, queue a lovely chilli and local beer. OK maybe some wine, rum and whiskey too. Not all in the same glass. Some people resorted to drinking lager, but the protest time limit had expired so we had to let them.
Sunday was warm, sunny and started with a light North Westerly. Actually it started with yummy bacon sandwiches for most people. Wind was a close second in people’s minds after the night before. With a forecast Southerly swing and potential sea breeze staying left was the plan – put into action on the first beat with a massive left shift ruining a few people’s race. Gusts, shifts, tide, residual swell you could surf upwind and holes made it an interesting race; nerves and a few crew – helm relationships were tested. And that wasn’t even the tricky race.
The wind was shifting ever South and the course reset four times before the next race start was attempted. As there were brief discussions as to whether we could kite it at least some way up the beat the postponement was welcomed once again. We waited a fair while longer for the sea breeze to come in, which it did but never fully developed.
I hope the next race was fun to watch because it was full of more plot twists than a Night Shyamalan film. Stronger sea breeze on the left, massive shifts to the right as the gradient wind fought back meant no legs were made up of straight lines. It brought the closest finish with the top four boats finishing within seconds of each other and deciding the results for almost every boat as the race officer got sick of boats asking if there would be another race and sent us home slightly early.
by Daniel Goodman