Cruiser race - sailing with Dad

10th Aug 2013

Well, what a day that was. Mixed ability crew today – a senior experienced sailor and former GP14 class captain from Crawley, Mr M Tyrrell, and a guy who’s only bought a boat this year Mr A Tyrrell.

Two Mrs Tyrrells waited patiently in the clubhouse eating lunch and drinking tea while the menfolk put to sea at 1220 for the 1300 start. Forecast was for Force 2- 3 and it was at least F3 as the junior man clambered around the mast hoisting sail. We discussed tactics and were able to form up on the start line just as the radio instruction came through for the start, and we were away. Long beat on starboard out to sea and it was more like a F4, well heeled, and the swell was building up. Several facefuls of seawater, this crew didn’t quite get the best from the sails and despite the great start we were soon a little way behind. Tacked a couple of times until we reached the first mark and we found ourselves close to a couple of other yachts but rounded the mark ok and bore away onto a broad reach heading East parallel to the shore but a couple of miles out. The swell was quartering us – coming up behind and slightly to the side – so Elsa was rolling around and once again all loose objects ended up on the floor. The other two yachts close to us hoisted spinnakers and one got past us but the other one seemed to stay well behind.

Using the GPS to find the next ‘mark’, it was actually a weather station, big metal thing sticking out of the sea. The inexperienced skipper elected to gybe around onto the next leg and the senior crewman got a bit of a bash from the mainsheet (but not the boom) but soon recovered his composure! Looking back we saw that the yacht behind us also gybed round but then got into a terrible tangle with his spinnaker and fell way back. Another broad reach, towards the shoreline, using the GPS and the next mark turned out to be a small floating orange thing. Still close to the one remaining other yacht (several others very far ahead of us but only one close to us) we gave him plenty of room as we turned and hardened up for the final leg, a long beat back to the line. More like a F5 now, much more wind than I expected, but the crew insisted he was still enjoying himself despite (or perhaps because of) many more facefuls of sea.

Big swell and strong winds F5 or even F6 now and Elsa almost on her beam ends despite me trying to take it a bit easy, we had to tack a couple of times but crossed the finish line 1h 40min after the start and close behind the other guy. The yacht far behind us went straight for home as a retirement.

We flapped about at sea for a few minutes trying to get the genoa to furl and I was at the mast dropping the main and tying some string round it, while Dad tried to keep her head to wind, for a while we considered simply sailing back up the river and sorting ourselves out in the shelter but in the end the main was down, genoa furled, engine running.

Quite tired but we did a perfect landing and entered the berth just right, my best ever arrival, despite Mum taking photos of us as we came in! All quiet at the berth, hard to believe the wind and swell we’d just come though minutes earlier.

Went up to the clubhouse to recover and drink coffee and we found that we were last (well, second to last, as that guy retired) and completely knackered but quite pleased that we’d made it around ok. No rush to pack the boat up, plenty of time, Dad volunteered to wind the handle 120 times to lift the keel up while I put the mainsail away properly. The genoa is a bit damaged after all that flapping but I will look at it later, might need to be mended. We’re all back safely and had a good time though if I’d known the wind was going to increase like that I’m not sure I’d have gone for it.

I’ve just put M&D back onto the train home and I think they had a good day and Dad will have some stories to tell!


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