Penned by Bob Richardson on Saturday evening after Rowhedge Regatta – enjoy!
I do not wish to pre empt Roy Hodgson’s post match interview tonight but I feel it would be safe for me to say that I am a little disappointed with today’s result, but we can take away many positives….. and possibly a few other cliches. Let me talk you through it.
Callum and I arrived early in the morning to mend the plate cable system, tighten the running back stays and affix the cleats for both the main and jib halyards. The rain was falling softly and it felt like I would rather be at home watching the All Blacks v England, however we got the tasks completed just as Ros (crew member 3) arrived on the pontoon with Trevor and Jim.
A few minutes later we were hoisting sails and made a perfect departure from the mooring heading towards Bateman’s. We used this time to discuss procedures and agreed that Callum on jib should cross first on tacks to get the jib set, followed by Ros on runners. Perfect, a team equalling more than the sum of the individual parts.
There was some confusion at the start line with finishing smacks getting hoots during our starting sequence of 10 and 5 mins before the gun, however we got a reasonable start and were soon on a reach with spinnaker billowing, out to No 13. The fleet split, we followed the Mersea shore out and although we had taken the middle ground found ourseleves to have done rather well, rounding No 13 in about 5th with a number of boats behind us including Ruff, Gelasma, Jumbo Too and Grethe. We were delighted. Tom on Jumbo Too got to windward of us and pulled away, however we were pulling away from the fleet and held our place as we headed towards Mersea wreck.
The position was maintained until we entered the reaches going towards Wivenhoe where the wind was flukey and the fleet closed up. We were still in 5th and with decent binoculars you could see Ruff in the distance somewheer near Brightlingsea. We were congratulating ourselves on our efforts when we appeared to be being caught.
Disaster….we were on the mud in light winds. After some vain attempts to back the jib we jybed off and watched Grethe and Endeavour sail past. Our jousting with Jumbo Too for 4th was over but we felt we could perhaps catch those that had just passed.
We made inroads and attempted to go to winward of Endeavour to make an audacious pass and regain 5th with only some 200 m to go. Disaster again. We were on the mud. Having extracated ourselves from this most unfotunate predicament we could not fail to notice off our bow the the hitherto distant Ruff was sailing past. We could see how sorry they were to do so. We were now last!!!!!!
We gathered ourselves and thought, all is not lost as, although we will get some merciless ribbing during the lunchtime beer at the Albion there is a second race and retribution will follow. Nobody can be as unlucky twice in one day.
Or can they!!
Well prepared and after 10 mins of short tacks upstream we headed for the melee that was the start outside the Albion. We were off, just a couple of boat lengths behind the front runners. Through Wivenhoe the flukey wind again caused problems but we survived with fast boats behind us and some yards from Ruff which we believed we could catch. All seemed in control.
Out of Wivenhoe and a long reach with spinnaker to follow. We would surely catch our nearest rivals.
The spinnaker would not hoist properly. For some reason which I cannot fanthom it had swapped places with the kicker during lunch and was entangled. This was sorted by Callum, but in the meantime we lost a bit of ground. I aimed to leave a green channel buoy to starboard which I did. I did not intend to wrap the mainsheet around it. I thought we were about to capsize, however having halted our progress the buoy decided to lean over and release us. The notion of catching the boats in front was becoming remote, however on a positive note there were still two fast boats behind us.
We persevered. The boat felt strangely out of control in spite of the moderate winds. A little too late we realised that the miscreant spinnaker was indeed doing its worst and was flying far too high. It caused a huge broach. Water poured in over the leeward side. It was a situation when women scream and strong men faint. Callum nipped over the windward side as if on a Laser. I managed to release the main and amazingly we came upright. We then struggled to reaquaint Callum with the inside of the boat. Whilst we were dropping the spinnaker and bailing out the fast boats behind us breezed past.
Nothing more could go wrong…….or could it.
As we arrived at the mooring we were on a reach, but against the tide which would surely slow us down. We discussed our plan of how we would creep up to our buoy and drop the sails. At the last minute the wind seemed to increase and veer causing our plans to fail, thus we accelerated at a rate of knots towards the cowering buoy. Callum grabbed it and we spun round, narrowly missing the very smart yacht on the next trot. Unfortunately we did not miss the (well protected thank goodness) launch next to us.
Mike yelled “get your rudder up”. I had been pulling the rather stubborn centre plate up but quickly pulled up the rudder to securely jam it behind the rudder of the launch. I had to lie down on the afterdeck to use my feet to extracate ourselves. I know it seems impossible but we could not be pushed apart. This was because our now loose reefing line (Callum had managed to drop the mainasail) was caught round the tiller of the launch.
Eventually Callum or Ros released us. I don’t really know who did it because I was now in self-denial and could not hear myself think due to the hoots of laughter coming from Ruff.
On a positive note the Sun eventually came out and Thursday will be better… It couldn’t be any worse.