Quite a change from the last race – a lot of wind from an unusual direction, wet, and quite chilly. The forecast suggested 33 mph gusts from the south, and rain all day, and it more or less delivered. Twelve boats came to the start – the lowest turnout so far this year. Race Officer Steve Pegley set the ideal course, G 17 T, not too far out, but with lots of cross tide legs going out and coming back. Steve also had the ideal Committee Boat, a  cosy motor cruiser, in which to sit out the day!
Small jibs, small spinnakers, and fluorescent hoods were the order of the day, though some boats flew larger genoas (and regretted it later ….). ‘Absolution’ sported a new fat head mainsail which looked very racy, ‘McGregor IV’, with only three crew, had one reef in the main, and no spinnaker, having blown them both out on the St Malo race. ‘Easi Rider’ and ‘Dan Dare’ flew asymmetrics, but ‘Dan Dare’ soon swapped hers for a conventional spinnaker.
A clean start on a close reach in F3 and steady rain. The first cross tide leg, WM3 to WM12, spread the fleet out, then an even closer reach to WM1, with the usual leaders ‘Quixotic’, ‘Absolution’, ‘Aloha’, and ‘Blue Moon’ at the front. The wind built gradually, several broaches were observed, and ‘Quixotic’ retired with a stripped main halyard which prevented taking in a reef. Two more cross tide beats, and by the leg to the Bench Head the wind was heading for F6, and too far forward for spinnakers, which were not seen again.
A speedy and somewhat hairy run up the Colne to No. 8. ‘August Sky’ did a couple of massive broaches and changed her genoa to a No. 3, allowing ‘Sophie’ to beat her to the buoy. A real slog of a beat in a steep chop back to the Bench Head, where ‘McGregor IV’ was unable to pull down a second reef and retired.
The same doglegs across the incoming flood on the return journey, and ‘Absolution’ led ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Aloha’, and ‘Soprano’ round WM18 instead of WM1, a mile further on. ‘Soprano’ twigged the error first and radioed the others, who turned back and corrected their course, except ‘Absolution’, preoccupied with a very seasick crew member, who did not hear and carried on, retiring after the race when notified she had not sailed the course.
After all that we all had the unusual pleasure of a single fetch all the way back from WM12 to the finish line. It was still raining……..
First back was the  NHC winner, Pat Murphy’s ‘Soprano’. ‘Red Storm’ took second place, with ‘Poohstick third.
In IRC  ‘Blue Moon’ won, in a depleted fleet of four finishers, with ‘Easi Rider’ second, and ‘Dan Dare’ third.

An exciting day out!

NHC Class
First –  ‘Soprano’ – Pat Murphy – Blackwater SC
Second – ‘Red Storm’ – Steve Sharpe – Blackwater SC
Third –  ‘Poohstick’ – Barry Ely – Blackwater SC

IRC Class
First –  ‘Blue Moon’ – Richard Robarts – Marconi SC
Second – ‘Easi Rider’ – Martin Scarth – Backwater SC
Third – ‘Dan Dare’ – Alan Hoy – Blackwater SC

The full NHC result here

The full IRC result here

First and second place in NHC -'Soprano' leads 'Red Storm' - photo Geoff Wass

First and second place in NHC – Pat Murphy’s ‘Soprano’ leads  Steve Sharpe in ‘Red Storm’ – photo by Geoff Wass








IRC winner, Richard Robarts' 'Blue Moon' at right, with Martin Scarth's 'Easi Rider', and Jerry Flaxman's 'Quixotic' - photo by Geoff Wass

IRC winner, Richard Robarts’ ‘Blue Moon’ at right, with Martin Scarth’s ‘Easi Rider’, and Jerry Flaxman’s ‘Quixotic’ – photo by Geoff Wass









The Leader Board

With a first in this race ‘Soprano’ jumps ahead of ‘Aloha’ on counts of five or four races. These two are quite a step ahead of any other boat in the points, so it looks like a final tussle between these two for the series – but a lot could still happen. ‘Sophie’ hangs onto the third spot, but looks much more vulnerable, with several boats not too many points behind her.
In IRC, counting best four races has ‘Absolution’ and ‘Triton’ tied on 5 points each, with ‘Blue Moon’ on 7, but on five races ‘Absolution and ‘Blue Moon are tied. ‘Triton’ has yet to complete five races.

The full NHC series scores here

The full IRC series scores here