Saturday am was bright and definitely breezy for the first race in the J24 Offshore Series. The forecast had “eased” somewhat from 20-30kts to 15-25 with gusts to 30. So it was with some trepidation that Centipede’s crew, who had assembled just before 9.00 for a 10.00am start, viewed the scene from the safety of the RHADC terrace. Our guest crew, Steve “Nasty Medicine” Sherwin, was eager for a taste of J24 sailing so not wanting to disappoint him we made ready. There was something missing , though - other boats and crew. Where were they? Had it been called off?
Eventually Redders and crew deigned to show up and it was decided that 2 boats constituted a race although other boats were expected. So we ventured forth to the RBYC start, with “Nasty” trimming. At the start we were joined by Sliding Bye and Papillon, who had battled her way across the Sound to take part. Well done, guys.
Pete Ramsdale officiated by radio from the RBYC dock and a course was set around the Sound rather than offshore because of the conditions.
So to the start - and our troubles begin! Solaise and Sliding Bye got good starts from close to Newstead on a close reach out through Two Rock and on to Greys Bridge. Unfortunately we started much too close to RBYC which meant that we couldn’t quite make Two Rock and had to tack while Solaise and Sliding Bye sailed on. That was about the last we saw of them!
Rounding Greys Bridge mark for a beat to “G” Solaise and Sliding Bye headed right for flatter water closer inshore. As we were already some way behind we decided to head left - major mistake! After pounding into waves for some distance we tacked back to find ourselves well adrift of the other boats. But we persevered and with good boat speed made up ground on the boats ahead so that approaching the mark we had passed Papillon and Sliding Bye was within reach. However, a lack of coordination at the back of the boat lead to a completely f—-d up gybe trying to get around the mark which put us at the back of the fleet again.
So off we went again in pursuit of the other boats on a broad reach to 40 and then a beat upwind to Lantana. An exhilirating spinnaker run back down to 40 saw no change in order as we then headed on a close reach to Kings Point. Rounding KP we decided the only way to close distance was to get the kite up as the other boats weren’t bothering. So up it went. We were flying along - until “Nasty” says “No need to worry, we are quite stable, the winds from the stern quarter”. Almost immediately the wind gusted forward and we rounded up into a magnificent broach, made all the more impressive by a jammed sheet. Recovering, we opted for discretion rather than valour and got rid of the spinnaker, headed for 40 and looked around for the other boats. We were still ahead of Papillon but Solaise and Sliding Bye were uncatchable.
Another reach from 40 to the RBYC finish where the order was Solaise, Sliding Bye, Centipede, Papillon.
Back at the Dinghy Club dock we had to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Redburn who made the most of his bragging rights.
An early finish (2.00pm) meant we had lots of time to kill in the Dinghy Club bar before the usual departure time.
Story by Adders