After a month’s break, the series resumed with forecast of Force 4 – 5 from SW. 16 boats came to the start, with a few of the regulars missing, but a first time out this year for Joe Leary’s First 29 ‘Breezy’. Race Officer Trevor Holder set a shortish course, J 12 Y, with good beats, but sparing us a trip out to Wallet no. 3!
A clean start, with ‘Geronimo’ and ‘Crazy Suzy’ a bit late, but they soon made up towards the head of the fleet. A reasonable F3 – 4, a close spinnaker fetch to start with, increasing and backing to a dead run. Nearly all opted for full sail, but gusts approaching Radio Caroline showed what was to come, and a few boats found themselves overpowered all round the course.
No marks before WM1, but Andy Ellis’ ‘Caroline’, in the lead, turned at MG by mistake, and was nearly across the river before Tommy Mills, on ‘Geronimo’, radioed to tell them of their error, and they returned to correct it. ‘Dave Onyons’ ‘Monkey Business’ , and John Littlewood’s ‘Crazy Suzy’ had followed ‘Caroline’, but did not lose as much time before heading back. Worth a pint or two for Tommy!
A not particularly tight fetch across to WM2, then off to the Colne Bar, after which ‘Triton’ did a massive broach and tangled her spinnaker, but recovered rapidly. Towards the North Eagle ‘Caroline’ had made up to the front and led ‘Crazy Suzy’, ‘Geronimo’, and ‘Monkey Business’. There was then the usual divergence of opinion on the best way to go on the beat back to NW Knoll, with the ebb still running.
Up the Colne to the Inner Bench Head and back to the Bench Head – white sail reaches both ways. The wind was now a good F5, and on the second run to the N Eagle a few boats took the opportunity to change to smaller headsails or tuck in a reef for the long beat home. The heavier boats who struggle in lighter weather – ‘Soprano’, ‘Rocket’, and ‘Poohstick’, all with full crews, all hung on to No. 1 genoas, and were well up with the faster boats. ‘Breezy’ and ‘Monkey Business’ found their groove and steadily pulled away, round the zigzags of WM6, WM2 and WM1.
At the back, ‘Ned Kelly’ had been having her usual downwind tussle with ‘Sophie’, until the beating started, and then she really got going, in a wind which suited her, and we guessed she would do well.
Passing Bradwell for WM12, a few heavier gusts – 29 kts was recorded – caused more reefs to go in before the relief of finishing quite a short but fairly tiring race.
‘Monkey Business’ took line honours from ‘Breezy’, but the places were reversed on handicap, and ‘Geronimo’, only 8 seconds behind, finished further down, while ‘Ned Kelly’ took third place.
A day with a good few test of seamanship, but all finished in good order.
First – ‘Breezy’ – Joe Leary – Blackwater SC
Second – ‘Monkey Business’ – Dave Onyons –
Third – ‘Ned Kelly’ – Lydia Coffey – Marconi SC
First – ‘Monkey Business’ – Dave Onyons – Marconi SC
Second – ‘Triton’ – Peter Copsey – Blackwater SC
Third – ‘Blue Moon’ – Richard Robarts – Marconi SC
Little change to the BJRC table after this race; Martin Scarth’s ‘Easi Rider’ still leads on 19 points, from ‘Aloha’ on 23, both with a 10 as next discard. ‘Sophie’ hangs on in third place with 30 and a 12 to drop, but is closely pursued by three boats on 34 – ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Dan Dare’, and ‘Moonshadow’, all with bigger next discards. Several other boats could spring surprises in the last two races if the weather suits them and they sail at the form shown by their best results to date.
In IRC ‘Monkey Business’ is now within one point of ‘Blue Moon’, and both have a third as their next discard.