The Brightlingsea One Design Fleet has occasional ventured away from Brightlingsea by sea for events such as Burnham Week and individual boats been off and enjoyed road trips to pastures new, but Bosham Classic Boat Revival, over the weekend of 6 and 7 September 2014, saw the first ever BOD Fleet outing by road to an open event. Five intrepid BODs took up the challenge and enjoyed a fantastic weekend on Chichester Harbour, where they took the opportunity to show off our fabulous BODs to a whole new audience.
The five boats that made the trip were – Class Chairman Bob Richardson’s Panic, with a combined Panic/Ruff crew and shore party; Alan Hicks, Jayne and Craig Bond in Storm Petrel; Chris Matthews sailing Rebel with local sailors Pete McCoy and Piers Strong; Mark White, Dick Stephens and Steve Archer in White Spirit; and Fi Brown sailing Grethe with south coast friends Pete Jones and Mike Stannard.
Logistically the adventure took a bit of planning. Grethe was the only boat with a proper road trailer so she and Rebel doubled up with the trailer hurtling up and down the motorways of southern England to move both boats. Nick Readings kindly lent Storm Petrel his road trailer which takes a wooden BOD dolly, Panic arrived on a dolly on a flat bed trailer padded out with straw bales (Jim’s farming influence showing there much to the amusement of the Bosham locals) and White Spirit travelled on a borrowed trailer which caused a slight panic when it blew a wheel bearing just after joining the M25, but got there none the less thanks to the AA and a local garage. In fact moving the boats proved to be much easier than we’d first thought and now we’ve done it once we have some good ideas on how we could make it even easier next time.
Once arrived in Bosham the boats immediately started attracting attention. It took about twice as long as usual to rig as people kept stopping to chat and find out more about the boats. Bosham SC pulled out all the stops to make us feel welcome and provide all the help and support we needed to get the boats rigged, launched and onto their moorings so that by Friday evening the entire fleet was assembled and everyone had changed into their BOD Team shirts ready for the opening drinks party.
Saturday dawned misty and airless and initially the fleet was held ashore for a couple of hours, but once on the water the wind filled in to a near perfect 6-9 knots that allowed the BODs to truly shine. The race officer set old style triangle, sausage courses with starboard mark roundings (necessary in order to fit the course into the limited space available) and the fleet came to the very crowded line with lots of nervous jostling and a determination to avoid being dragged OCS by the tide. After an initial general recall race one got away at the second time of asking and the first of three intense battles commenced.
Sailing in Chichester Harbour is not dissimilar to sailing in the lower reaches of the Colne with marshy islands, mud banks and plenty of tricky tides to contend with, so the BODs felt entirely at home. The first beat was incredibly close but it wasn’t long before the BODs had edged ahead of the other boats in the class, allowing us to go at it hammer and tongs with only minimal outside traffic to worry about. Rebel had great speed and took full advantage of Pete and Piers’ local knowledge to gradually eek out an edge over their rivals. Storm Petrel was able to match their speed upwind, but couldn’t quite hold them downwind. Grethe sailed a good first beat to round just ahead of White Spirit, but Fi misjudged her approach to the mark and ended up hitting it and having to do turns allowing White Spirit to pass her and Panic to catch up. Rebel claimed the first line honours of the day, closely followed by Storm Petrel with White Spirit third, Grethe fourth and Panic fifth on the line. Once the handicaps had been calculated the first four BODs were also confirmed as first to fourth overall with Panic slipping to joint eighth place with a Yachting World Dayboat, just behind a very well sailed Firefly, International Moth and another YW Dayboat.
Race two was even closer with several nerve wracking port starboard calls on the beats and plenty of place changes on the runs. Again the BODs quickly escaped from the main pack despite not being the highest rated boats in the class. Rebel once again got the upper hand with Storm Petrel second, but this time Grethe snuck into third with White Spirit fourth and Panic fifth. On corrected time the top four BODs took first to fourth overall and this time Panic was sixth with only Will Henderson’s Firefly getting the better of them.
Race three was cutthroat and with the tide now very low and the race course narrowed the fleet was even more compressed. The wind had increased a little so the starts were nail biting stuff and the first beat required huge concentration and great boat on boat judgement and some pretty smart avoiding action in a couple of cases to avoid contact with both other boats and the mud whilst maintain maximum speed . Despite a few near misses everyone made it to the weather mark unscathed and once again Rebel led with Storm Petrel chasing. Grethe was hard on their heels and on the first run managed to slip past Storm Petrel, but a smarter approach to the leeward mark put Storm Petrel back in front and on the second beat Grethe dropped back further as she had to defend her third place against White Spirit, allowing Storm Petrel and Rebel to gain distance. The increase in wind speed meant that the other classes got more of a look in and whilst the BODs once again led across the line this time the corrected time results put Rebel first, Storm Petrel second, Will Henderson’s Firefly third, Grethe fourth, White Spirit fifth and Panic eleventh.
Back ashore everyone was able to enjoy Bosham SC’s fantastic hospitality and meet some of our fellow competitors. Bosham SC is situated in one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world and Bosham itself is a stunningly preserved historic village whose residents are said to have included King Canute and from where King Harold sailed for Normandy in 1064. The sailing club is located in an eighteenth century Mill House with its own mill stream and for big events it is granted use of Bosham Quay Meadow to store visiting boats. The sight of more than sixty classic dinghies ranged around the meadow and the surrounding moorings was an absolute delight and everyone enjoyed the opportunity to inspect each others boats and talk to fellow classic dinghy enthusiasts.
Naturally the BOD fleet acquitted themselves well in the shoreside activities as well as on the water and we are proud to say that the combined Panic/Ruff team saw off all challengers on the dance floor (who knew Jim was such a nifty mover?!) and that White Spirit were the last crew standing at the bar. We were also very impressed to learn that the event broke the club’s bar takings record thanks to the BODs sterling efforts.
Despite some sore heads the fleet was back out on the water again on Sunday morning. This time there was a light northerly breeze to take the boats down to the race area and hopes were high of more good racing. Chris and the Rebel boys were the last to arrive in the race area and it was clear that they had been making the most of the south coast’s many hospitality opportunities. The sail down was also eventful for Storm Petrel, when Alan and Craig decided to test Jayne’s skills by requiring her to hoist the spinnaker single handed as the two of them reclined on the aft seat. Despite a warning from one of the local boats they managed to run hard aground on the edge of the channel and could only free themselves with the use of their paddles. Sadly the paddles were a particularly cheap and nasty pair and the blades are still stuck somewhere in the Bosham mud!
Having only just recovered from laughing at Storm Petrel’s dilemma, Grethe had her own moment of panic when Pete heard a clonk on the deck and found a stray T-terminal on the cockpit floor which has obviously shaken loose and not been checked after the road journey. A quick inspection revealed that it was the lower terminal from the starboard jumper and a discussion ensued about how essential the jumpers were on a light airs day. Since Grethe has a cut down Dragon section rig, which is so stiff that the jumpers never knowingly load up, this wasn’t really that much of an issue, however, Pete and Fi decided that it was essential Mike (the lightest person on the crew) go aloft to mend it. Since Mike also has famously shaky hands this provided a good 20 minutes of entertainment as he attempted and eventually succeeded in reattaching the rigging whilst standing in a loop in the pole up haul. He was very happy with his achievement and it only took about 90 minutes for the feeling to return to his foot.
The fast handicap got away on time, but within a few minutes the wind had begun to die and the AP was hoisted for our medium handicap class. And so the wait began. As the fast handicap struggled to make headway our fleet began to raft up and enjoy a wonderful sunny day on the harbour. Rebel’s synchronised swimming and diving team caught the eye of the photographers whilst others got out the papers or snoozed on deck.
The fast handicap fleet eventually ghosted across the finish line after a single lap, but it was clear that the wind was not going to put in a proper appearance for the rest of the day and so everyone was towed home for a delightful afternoon tea and prize giving back at the club.
At the prize giving first place went to Rebel, Storm Petrel was second, Grethe third and White Spirit fourth. Only the Firefly and International Moth came close to challenging us and they took fifth and sixth with Panic in seventh overall.
Everyone who took part was in agreement that it was a fantastic weekend. The racing and shoreside activities for the sailors were fantastic and Bosham is a wonderful location for a holiday break for those travelling with the teams so we all hope to be back again next year.