My Aunty told me last night that sailing might not be the easiest sport to understand. A team game but with individual skill. On a Victory there are three crew, the helm (Ed’s note: the one at the back with the waggle stick, the waggle stick is a magical device that goes in every direction).
The middle, this person is the brains of the boat, the thinking persons sailor, the eyes ears and brains of the boat. Then the front / navigator, this person is ambidextrous, good with crayons and other drawing implements, can read, write, use a phone under duress, pull string, issue compass courses. As the 5 minute warning signal the front and middle start issuing instructions to the waggle stick holder.
Today with a strong Westerly tide the fleet were going to head downwind of the squadron line.
Course, North Ryde Middle, hillhead, marvel, robin cuckold (?), Williams shipping, bramble line finish.
With the line skewed by tide Z69 found a set of friends to play with, Z77,Z70,Z78,Z48 closer to the squadron Z71 & Z80 got a clean start and led the fleet into the moorings.
So winning a race at Cowes isn’t easy, the start helps, but downwind match racing thirty seconds of the start in a race that’s 3 hours long is a bit silly, there’s four more legs to go..
At North Ryde, Z71 led Z80, then a gap to Z54,Z77,Z78,Z69, Z70.
The beat.
Aunty Sue, this is the bit where you win and lose. The tide, the wind, the shifts. With the leaders being cagey, first to break was Z69, Z71 stayed with Z80. The race was on proper.
The wind shifted and Z69 choose the right side and lifted from zero to second, tension? Nervous? Me? No, I sit in the middle, a ray of cold hard sailing logic, feeding the waglle stick computer. Approaching hillhead Z71 led, then Z80, then Z69a short gap to Z70 the close by Z78. That was the positions at the next mark Marvela(?)
The second beat. The tide was set, the wind? “Will this wind” (Ed’s note: oh give up with the Peter Cook thing). Yes will this wind shift, build, die, flick here there everywhere like a butterfly on acid.
Z69 choose best and split Z71 and Z80, oh man, that’ll do, take a second at Cowes? With a day to go, yup that’ll do.
So now when you are newer the top, decisions, cover the fleet, cover the boat behind on points? Consolidate that is normally the thing and that’s what Z71 did, Z69 did and Z80 tried to consolidate their third, but as the wind played,Z78 and Z54 were ready to pounce.
The last mark, Williams shipping see the X boats start to get involved, Z71 clear, well done Gareth and team, Z69 finishing second in a gaggle of X boats. By the time Z80 got to Williams shipping Z78 and Z54 were close enough to cause a little bit of worry on Z80 add in a few X boats and without the middle man calming the stick it can be a nightmare.
Z80 third, holding off Z78 then Z54
What does it all mean?
It’s tight at the top… One race to go…