It takes one day to strip every rope and every fitting from a Merlin rocket.
“Why would you do that?” You ask.
At 2100 hrs the night before launching with drill in my hand, a broken drill bit in my finger….I wondered the same thing. The simple maths is. One day to remove all the fittings, One day to prepare and interior paint, One day to ‘do’ the non slip deck paint (that’s right Christina, yay! I fixed it. See our ‘winnings easy blog’ for tales of non slip) and then you might think that reinstalling the fittings would be one day… Well my friends you are a little out of the ball park. We spent three days refitting everything on storm cloud.
Anyhow, boring bit about the amount of blocks, rope and systems that go into Merlin Rocket (more of that in another post).
Big huge FANFARE….TAAAADAAAAH!! The first race.
Early Spring 1.
Usually at this point I take a turn and wander off down a path talking about how to do better, hopefully giving a few pointers about what it is like to take part in some friendly beer can racing, not this time, oh no. We are straight in.
With a light wind forecast and a sea mist a few of the multihull teams decided to sit out this race. However the slow handicap (that’s us folks) took the opportunity to hit the water like ducklings racing for the first swim
The PRO (that’s the Principle Race Officer, to the non sailor’s and family reading this) was absent laid down by man flu ( a serious disease with no known cure). Young Ed Swain stepped up and set a course of (brace yourselves there’s new marks) of:
Perkins (s) ( used to be tug, don’t ask)
A nice little river course
For bears with little brains this about the maximum that you can remember without recall to pen and paper… Luckily team storm cloud numbered two bears. A head start over the laser sailor’s who only have one brain or boat (Roger we’ll get to you later).
A spring flood tide and a close fetch to start, if you don’t know what tide is, if you do know what tide is, great. The spring flood tide at the ferry runs at about 5 knots on the line. What does that mean? In 7-8 knots of wind that means you don’t want to get it wrong.
Honestly, come and sail at the ferry, there’s a wind shadow that covers the line, 5 knots of tide on spring tides, other boats, moorings, the bar and Colin the bar manager in the other bar.
First start of the year and team Storm Cloud nailed it, for thirty seconds. Then the gaggle of lasers blanketed our wind and John Daniels, John Eggert and Mike Sherwan sailed past. Roger and Debbie found themselves surrounded by the rest of the laser fleet.
The tight fetch to Kingsfleet saw Mike Sherwan sail a line closer to the horse sands and sneek in front of John Daniels closely followed by team Storm Cloud (that’s us, just in case). A small course change to Perkins (tug, it will always be tug). No change at the mark then the short upwind leg gave storm cloud the lead on the water, turning oystercatcher a hoist saw a small rigging issue with the poles (three days and we still didn’t get it right!)
Dropping and the leg back to oystercatcher saw no change apart from Lewis and Hawkins beginning to remember that in handicap racing they should be at the front, they were gaining quickly.
Rounding oystercatcher for the last time storm cloud (Matt and Simon) had a meeting and then a discussion about where Quay would be laid ( that’s the seaman way of discussing where the blo#£y mark is) and whether the Bawsdey side is better than the Felixstowe side.
Decision made we headed for the Felixstowe side, the fleet followed. Lewis / Hawkins caught us and went more for Felixstowe. So the dice rolled and the fleet headed for the Felixstowe side.
What does a racing mark look like? Anything you want as long as it is in the sailing instructions as is laid where it is said it would be. For this race we used ‘laid marks’ that means marks laid by the safety boats. For us these are cylinder inflatables, not bright yellow mooring buoys….
Now, with a little sea mist spotting the marks isn’t easy. As Lewis/Hawkins cruised past us, we resigned ourselves to 2nd on the water ( where we should finish), heading towards the brightest yellow mark we could see in roughly the right area, watching Lewis/Hawkins extend away the team started to discuss the ‘to do’ job list, Simon spotted a small red cylinder buoy… Not the bright yellow buoy they had been aiming at….
“I think that’s it there, Matt”
” Ok, but horse sands?”
“The tides been running for a while, let’s go for it”
So team storm cloud lifted the centreboard and squeezed over the Horse sands, Lewis/Hawkins saw the error of two bears with little brains and retired before slugging their back, John Daniels spotted Scammell & read changing course and followed suit as did the rest of the fleet, was this a race winning spot?
Rounding the mark and hoisting battling the strong tide saw Scammell/Read extend to take line honours but cede the handicap win to John Daniels in the laser
First blood to the lasers.
Next race the Suffolk Sails Easter Bonnet race….
Sailed: 1, Discards: 0, To count: 1, Rating system: PY, Entries: 9, Scoring system: Appendix A