Alan Hicks’ Storm Petrel was the only BOD to brave the very strong conditions prevailing on the second of the Thursday night series. With a brisk force five gusting six from the north east and a course containing at least four big gybes the scene was set for plenty of drama, and drama was what they got.
The first gybe should have come at Stone where they were rounding to head down to Point Clear. With the tide ebbing ever stronger Alan and his crew of Craig and Jayne Bond made the brave call to avoid gybing and instead run by the lee. Despite a few hairy moments they got away with it.
The second gybe was around Inner Fishery to head back to No 13. This one went fairly well (or as well as any gybe goes in circa 25 knots).
Next up was a gybe rounding Mersea Wreck onto starboard to head to Gate. It was a lovely rounding and the spinnaker hoist was textbook. What followed wasn’t! In trying to gybe before reaching Gate Storm Petrel headed wide of Creekmouth and then performed a gybe which could be described a lacking a certain control, resulted in a near miss capsize and left the boat heading on the wrong side of Creekmouth, thus needing to go by the lee again, this time with the spinnaker whirling around in the wind above their heads.
Amazingly they got to Creekmouth and rounded with the kite still filling in the air off the side of the boat as Alan repeatedly yelled “Control the guy, control the guy!” to Craig who had chosen to wear his high collar coat and wrap it firmly round his ears so he could hear nothing at all. Jayne was doing a passable imitation of a language translator as she attempted to relay messages between the agitated Alan and the blissfully unaware Craig. After sailing Alan (with his tongue firmly in his cheek) explained “At this point, expert seamanship saved the day and from then on a more cautious Storm Petrel completed the race.” That caution was well placed and they went on to finish in third place overall.