Sail Chat: 24.04.2020

Brisk east north easterly with occasional sun with us this day. Sensible course set for the conditions by Christopher Parker and Paul with a start downstream to H (Surrey) H off Bell Hill, with an interesting gybe and a D upstream. Only four takers David in his Solo, George in the Comet, Simon and Claude in the Merlin and me with Jane in the Enterprise. Quite demanding conditions as the forecast was for 9 mph to 20 gusts and this was spot on. At the start all, not intentionally, made for the outer distance mark so it was a bit stressful. David was fractionally over eager and over the line he returned immediately and collided with Simon with a mighty crash, my mind registered damage! Like a good sailing secretary he at onece retired. Therefore we had the jump to the first mark. Simon soon overhauled us but half way through the race was hit by a gust had pole problems and retired leaving just the two of us. George doggedly pursued us and once again the winner was the handicap system with four seconds in it. Good news though only very minor damage.
 
After a chatty lunch and the arrival of a few more including our new Dinghy Sailing Instructor, Ben Peerless, fresh from graduating at Rockley Point- well done Ben.
 
First off the Enterprises with Ian and Sophie and again me with Jane (still on adequate terms). Exciting conditions again and on the first beat rigs clashed as red mist descended leaving Clea doing circles. Ian and Sophie sped away after a gruelling race, with many place changes and a bit of luffing it came down to the last B mark (yes B mark). Ian went off to the Surrey bank Phill to the Island bank, the wind shifted more easterly and took him past the end of the island on one tack, most unusual. Both teams went ashore aching and exhausted, well perhaps not Sophie!
 
Match racing again in the GP’s as John and Sue had a hot contest with Derek and Mary. Many place changings and subtle moves as one can only get with such experience and verve in the GP class.
 
Single handed training again for George in the Handicap fleet as the grudge match with David approaches also joined by James in his Comet. In the strong winds David avoided collisions and won so its one all. Should be tight then in the RTIR on Saturday.
 
Only one Merlin out, the fleet represented by Andrew, crewed by the DI Ben. But Ben’s reputation for dipping cast its shadow and Andrew got totally wet, Ben scuttled – only a bit wet! Andrew graciously accepted blame – a gust, a tack, a cleated main. 
 
Excellent Time by Lucy Penwarden and Jo Heath, especially AM. At the end of the day exhausted sailors were treated to a fully, home made, delicious tea by Marylyn and Chris. Christopher and Paul did the bar and Paul chatted a lot. 
 
The Vice made a short address and we sang, or uttered, to Sophie Penwarden (we know your age Sophie evidence all over the club) and to Rob – sorry you didn’t get a sail.
 
Three comments – The traditional Merlin Rockets (old wood type) are quite comfortable to sail in especially compared to the extremely wide jobs made now where crew have to sit on a wire and travel considerable distances with little to hold onto when tacking.  Apologies for ‘Apostrophe’ sins and for leaving the Commodore’s address out last week. 
 
See you Saturday. Phill

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