Barts Bash 2015

20 Sept 2015

Sunday gave us a promising weather forecast and it looked like all the hard work done by Dani and others to prepare for the event was going to pay off. Three clubs had joined forces to get nearly 50 boats of all sizes out to race and to raise money for charity. Arun Yacht Club put 6 cruisers to sea including Elsa as well as a good sized group of dinghies. Georgia and I set off just before 2pm and we found a good F3 SWly and nice sunshine, a warm day for September. With full sail and engine off we had half an hour before our race start was due. Georgia decided we should have some party music so she got Radio 1 going in the cockpit to brighten the mood still further.

Open Dinghy Club from East Preston had launched off Angmering beach mostly in catamarans, e.g. Hobies and Darts etc. AYAC had come out from Littlehampton beach with a large fleet of mostly young people in various dinghies including 420s, RS200s etc. All three clubs had safety boats out on a common radio channel controlled by the AYC committee boat.

Our committee boat had positioned itself on the start line a mile or so east of our usual area, so the other clubs could get to us. As we approached the start area we had to thread our way through the colourful and slightly chaotic scene as the groups assembled for their separate starts. The cats were away first, then five minutes later the dinghies. We hung around downwind waiting for the line to clear before the cruiser start ten minutes afterwards. Watching the flags and listening out for the toots we tried to make a flying start across the line on starboard but we were slightly too early and had to let the sails flap for a minute to slow down. We ended up in the middle of the field as we set off for the short beat to the first mark. The conditions were perfect, enough wind to get going but not over-pressed, slight swell running.

(this photo, the best I've ever had of my own boat, taken by my friend David O'Regan from the safety boat)

The main part of the race was a long reach out to Weather Station and back. Rounding the first mark and setting course south we looked back to see the cat fleet was already finishing their race. We overtook the commodore in Free n Easy but the bigger and faster cruisers were ahead. On a fine reach we were gybing round the weather station in no time at all and heading back inshore.

Hard to see the final mark so we just aimed for the dinghy fleet we could see milling around - they'd done the same course ten minutes ahead of us, though the younger sailors in smaller boats had a shorter course.

The safety boat carrying the photographer came alongside and Georgia passed them some biscuits.

The race was over in less than an hour for us as we crossed the line. Still in the middle of the fleet but thinking we'd done well.

We were enjoying the conditions and we sailed back to the river entrance and back up almost to the clubhouse before I started the engine to drive back into the berth about 4.15pm. 11 miles on the GPS, total time at sea about 2.5 hours. Knowing I had a big job ahead of me, we packed up the boat before showing our faces in the clubhouse. 

Sure enough, there were three clubs and three races worth of results to compute with prizes to present. Fortunately the barbecue and beer kept everyone busy until I had the results ready. Dani and I did the presentation and everyone seemed to agree it had been a great day. 

Elsa was third placed cruiser so we got a bronze medal! We also seemed to be top of the list in terms of sponsorship raised, so thanks to all who supported us.


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