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  Ode to Joy - the Autumn Open, 2011

We thought it might be fun to have a pursuit race for a change, so we did. It was gratifying to see 16 yachts on the water for this, given the dire forecast of very strong winds and it did indeed turn out to be fun.

The Commodore led the way in Lucky Breeze, followed at the appropriate intervals by the rest of the fleet, with Zingara setting off to chase the pack 27 minutes later. Kingfisher slipped past Lucky Breeze early on and got away to maintain an unbeatable lead, but further back in the fleet there were some good tussles and an amount of speculation as to whether Pandora’s cracked and angled gaff would last the race. Surprisingly, it did.

It was unfortunate that a wind shift after the course was set made Langley Forest rather tricky and doubly so that the fleet were sailing that reach fairly close to the end of the race. This spread the yachts out again in the last ten minutes, as those emerging upriver of the trees got away.

However, Dryad and Melody ganged up to prevent Zingara slipping through and further ahead Anne and Joy engaged in a battle royal for second place, at times being so close that it was impossible to see which boat was leading. However, at the moment the gun went, Joy had just managed to get her bowsprit in front to take second place.

After all that excitement, the crews were glad to get back to the Reedcutter and enjoy a few beers and the regatta supper laid on by the pub before retiring to bed. The dawn brought some early rain and a rising wind, but 13 boats put some reefs in and set out for the first race as the sun came out.

It transpired very quickly that some skippers had not chosen the correct number of reefs, with various yachts disappearing into the reedbeds and May presenting the interesting sight of having her main fully paid out and her jib backed while she was pinned across the tide and somehow sailing backwards.

She retired before the start and moored up, only to have Melody, hit by a gust and a wind shift, stall and sail into her – fortunately slowly and no great harm done, but it put Melody out of the race too by the time they had sorted themselves.

Meanwhile, the attrition continued with Pandora III and Anna deciding it was too much for them, Henrietta discovering their bobstay was broken and Anne’s mainsheet track pulling off the boom. The rest survived to finish, with the eventual results being very close between 2nd and 6th – less than 3 minutes separated the 5 boats, with a mere second between Kingfisher and Dryad in 4th and 5th places. Joy was a comfortable winner though, being able to carry more canvas around the course than anyone else.

The wind got gustier over lunchtime, leading to doubts over the viability of the afternoon race, but then it dropped out again to a level slightly below the morning’s strength. Some skippers decided discretion was the order of the day, but the five smaller yachts and Joy went out again for the last race of the weekend.

Kingfisher had initially decided not to go, but then changed their minds again and were rewarded with a second place, but no-one could touch Joy who took another first place and the Nelson Trophy as overall winner of the weekend.

Results on the "race results" tab above

Photographs on the Club Facebook page - access open to all

last edited on:  13/09/2011 at 14:03   by: The Editor