May Day weekend

1st May 2022

Sunday, the first of two days sailing at Arun. Billed as the Westerly Cup and advertised as an open meeting it was clear that only our own club boats were going to take part and only some of them, so it was decided to run it as a club handicap race open to all members but with the Westerlys having a separate score. In the end there were only two Centaurs - my Bay Leaf, and Nick's Free n Easy. My friend Jonathan is also a Centaur owner but his was unserviceable this weekend so he came with me. Forecast was F2-3 from the SW under a cloudy sky.

Because it's tricky to get out of my berth until quite late into the high tide, I'd moved Bay Leaf out onto a pontoon hammerhead the day before. So she was in deep water ready to go, and we left about 1015 for the 1130 start. Seven club boats came out including the two Westerlys, all the others were faster boats such as the Limbos. A little light rain began to fall as we lined ourselves up for the start sequence. Really quite keen to win the Cup we made a decent start amongst what seemed like a huge fleet of Limbos and we were off on a long closehauled leg towards the Middle mark. We managed to get the boat pointing well on this tack so we just hung on and kept going, not bothering to tack as some of the others were doing. Pulling the mainsheet traveller up to windward really seems to help in these conditions. 

Our rivals aboard Free n Easy didn't seem to be pointing as well as us and we were pulling away. Passing the Middle mark, by now all those Limbos were ahead and out of our way. The wind was steady around F2 and the rain stopped, there was no swell, very easy sailing. The second mark Outfall was almost a straight line on from Middle so we just kept going on the same tack until we had clear line of sight to the buoy. When we thought the time was right we tacked around but we'd gone too early and had to tack again, a couple of times, until we got around the Outfall mark. Free n Easy looked like they might catch us but we were a few minutes ahead, confidence growing. But would they fly their spinnaker on the downwind leg and overhaul us?

Turning downwind for the finish line we broke out the pies and aimed well to the east of the finish line, knowing the tide was building and taking us west. Looking behind there was no sign of a spinnaker chasing us and in the end we crossed the line some 20 mins ahead of the other Westerly. The Limbos had all finshed way ahead but we were very pleased with our lap, as we started the engine to motor back in. Parking the boat back onto the pontoon hammerhead ready for tomorrow, then reporting our time in the clubhouse, we were 5th out of 7 in the handicap race but first out of the two Westerlys so Bay Leaf seems to have won the cup!

2nd May 2022

Bank Holiday Monday and club member Rick came with me for the second race of the weekend. The forecast was not promising but there seemed to be a bit of wind in the river. About 8 boats put to sea, Bay Leaf departing from the hammerhead berth I'd left her on yesterday. Motoring out, there was a bright but grey sky, a completely flat sea, and hardly a breath of wind. The race officer had optimistically set us a course but by the 1200 start time there was no wind so she postponed by 30 minutes to see if anything sprang up.

The race officer went back ashore and returned to the start area laden with cans of drink which she proceeded to hand out to the fleet as we waited for some wind. Some dropped anchor, on Bay Leaf we gave a couple of minutes of engine every quarter of an hour or so just to keep us up-tide of where the start line should have been. 

Despite the jovial party atmosphere we soon determined that even if a wind appeared, we'd not be able to get around any course in time to get back to the berth on the tide. We were the first to call it a day and motor back in, back to the berth (and to the bar). The others followed soon afterwards, race abandoned. Nice to be out though and quite a lot of fun!


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