The day started in glorious sunshine, but the forecast was for fresh southerly winds and heavy showers. There were no cruiser class yachts present apart from myself, so I said I would sail the dinghy course. As I was solo, I decided to reef down, which unfortunately meant I could not start just behind the dinghies but would be several minutes behind.
However, after the dinghy start, I noticed Kingfisher approaching and then mooring up. Her crew had come for the race, so we decided on a course and the start time. I was able to find a crew member who remembers sailing several years ago on Melody and is also a keen dinghy sailor. We discussed the reef and decided to leave it in.
As the 10 minute signal sounded, Kingfisher was still on the bank with the sails partly up as a halyard block at the top of the mast had broken. Chris informed the OOD, so I expected a delayed start, but on hearing the 5 minute horn I realised this was not the case. At the official start time I set off, with Kingfisher still on the bank making hasty repairs.
The fresh wind was exhilarating and showed we were right to leave the reef in. We were followed by the three Coldham boats who were taking part in their picnic race – two yeomans and Brigand with full mainsail. Watching her reinforced the need for a reef and begged the question, “Which is more important; winning the race or preventing damage to the boat?” We struggled to tack against the heavy wind and strong spring tide and thus could not make it through the trees at Langley Wood. We took a unilateral decision to turn before the wood, which we passed on to the repaired Kingfisher, who were fast approaching. The Coldham race also had to be finished before the woods, even though their original intention was to go to Cantley for lunch. Brigand withdrew from their return run.
The run back to the finishing line took just a few minutes, whereas the leg out had taken 45 minutes. Withstanding a couple of heavy gusts, we made it over the finishing line. Kingfisher also finished, but then sailed straight back to Coldham. The OOD awarded first place to White Rose. I then tried to settle down to a beer with my crew member, but I was soon out in my launch as the strong wind kept four rescue boats busy for just nine starters in the next dinghy race. The wind strengthened into the afternoon and evening, so racing was curtailed.