Race 1 & 2 Early Summer.

The above quote is from Horatio Nelson, arguably Britains greatest sailor. “Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat” is another gem from the great man. These two quotes are perfect for sail boat racing. Time is EVERYTHING, time to get ready, time to line. Winning is about reducing mistakes or errors, the same in any sport. The team /player with fewer mistakes will win.

The Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory was commissioned in 1758. It was to be one of the largest ships of the time. The ship was laid down and took six years and roughly 6,000 oaks and elms to build. The ship was launched on May 7, 1765. Despite it being built to be a major part of the British fleet, the ship remained moored in the River Medway for thirteen years until France joined the American War of Independence in 1778


The HMS Victory has three masts and had a total of thirty-seven sails with an area of nearly 4 acres (that’s around 6500 square yards or 5248 square metres or just over 3 football fields), she carried 23 spare sails on board. She had 27 miles of rope used for her rigging, at the order to “make sail” the 120+ men would have her under full sail in under 6 minutes! The fastest the ship was ever recorded as going was 11 knots, which is the equivalent of 12 miles per hour…..and i wonder what sort of wind strength did a ship of the line (and one of the fastest built) a ship that weighed 3500 tons need to do 11 knots??

The modern firefly by comparison displaces approx 118kg (that’s the same weight as the helm and crew pretty much), it has 27m of rigging, carries 2 sails with a sail area of 68 square foot (6.3 square metres) and can be ready to launch in under 6 minutes…. Top speed? that’s right sports fans so far this season top speed has been 11 knots.

Race 2 of the Early Summer series.

we aren’t going to mention race 1 suffice to say that Simon will in future listen to Henry before the start, and to quote Henry “stop following Max!”

With a forecast 18-20 knots and flood tide the lasers decided that just like Nelson, you must know when to retreat and gather your strength. This left Roger & Jo in the RS400 and Simon & Henry in the firefly to keep the scorecard ticking over.

The pre start focused the teams, this was going to be a boat handling race, the wind was solid with some big puffs dropping through the gaps in the river bank.

Course: oystercatcher, Perkins, kingsfleet, Deben spit. All to port x 2 laps (that’s a good aerobic workout!)

Simon & Henry led Roger & Jo off the line mid channel with the tide whooshing them towards horse sands. A huge puff of wind catching Simon & Henry led to a bit of the river filling up the firefly – still no swimming for Henry (yet!). The extra water hindering the team they led Roger & Jo right up to horse sands “in not sure there’s enough water to get across the sands here” Simon says to Henry. Sure enough they park the firefly hard onto horse sands, Roger & Jo are a little higher they sail past the stricken firefly before they too find the sands wrapping around their centreboard.

Roger & Jo get off the sands and keep to the channel side, Simon and Henry have to raise everything and drift across the sands to the Felixstowe shore before they can set off towards oystercatcher.

Roger & Jo round oystercatcher and hear towards Perkins…. As Simon & Henry approach the usual discussion about the next Mark begins “I thought you said Kingsfleet was the next Mark, Henry?” “It is Dad”. Hmmm, “why is Roger& Jo heading for Perkins then?”

Roger is famous for navigational errors on Wednesday evenings. “OPK” says Henry “Oystercatcher Kingsfleet Perkins”. “What!!! Say that again so Henry repeats his aide memoire and realises he has got the OPK right but not the vocalisation. The team head for Perkins as Roger & Jo head round Kingsfleet back towards the club and Deben spit, still no kite set on board, so a lovely white sail bare Knuckle ride downwind.

Simon & Henry round Kingsfleet and can just make out the RS400 but the ferry jetty, the leg back towards the club against the tide was fast! A broad reach the speed reader Henry shouting the numbers between soakings of spray, 8.6!…9 knots Dad!! “Y’know if you trimmed the jib a little more then we will probably hit 10…” This focuses Henry on the job in hand and soon enough Simon is calling the numbers like a judge in come dancing 9.2, 9.5, 9.8… The firefly feels like it’s a rocket ship. A huge puff 9.8, 10!!!

Henry notices that Roger & Jo have slowed by the club in the tide “we are catching Dad” . We were it was true the Firefly was catching the RS without the kite up. As the boats passed the club, Simon& Henry tucked into the club shore out of the tide. Roger & Jo having to gybe downwind found themselves on the Bawdsey side and a mistimed gybe saw them swimming! Simon & Henry ploughed around the groynes and cheated the tide just about level with Roger & Jo by the time they had righted and tore off across the river again. As they came across the path of Simon & Henry they had to gybe… And splosh into leeward right in front of Simon & Henry who cruised passed the two swimmers, who seemed to be enjoying themselves giving a little wave to Henry as we passed them.

By the time Roger & Jo had got upright and organised Simon & Henry had rounded Deben Spit and were making their way for lap 2. The inner monologue that Simon was having (on which this blog is based­čĄú) was talking to Richard the race officer asking for a shortened course. As much as Henry was enjoying tearing around the Deben Simon was thinking that it was quite hard work sailing a dinghy in 20 knots.

A hooter!!!! There’s no other boats around so Simon asks Henry if he can see an extra flag on the flagstaff. Sure enough flag S is flying (that’s a white one with a blue square in the middle), that’s S for shorten. A look over his shoulder to see Roger & Jo heading fast towards the line behind them.

With the tide helping Simon & Henry the track wasn’t long enough to allow Roger & Jo o catch up. So a line honours win (which means a handicap win as well) to Simon & Henry. Which hopefully makes up for the DFL they had in race 1. DFL is something that you might (or might not!) have to google, it starts with Dead and ends with Last!

The moral of this high wind ramble? like Nelson said (roughly) let the others make mistakes…ands also that HMS victory and a firefly need roughly the same amount of wind to hit double figures, there the comparison ends!

Start video is here: