Saturday dawned warm and bright, with people and boats arriving that I hadnít seen for ages. In the end there were something like 15 masts on the mooring, with 12 RCC taking part in racing over the course of the weekend and Mimosa putting in the occasional guest appearance as she cruised by. More yachts than I have seen in the last 18 months, so that is a sign of hope.
Marigold likes sailing, but not in the charged atmosphere of a race; we leave her tied to the bank so she doesn't get anxious. I spent the day on Puck and Michelle with Pirate: I could draw some conclusions about the nature of the crew and the names of the boats, but I wonít.
The weekend started with the Junior Race for helms under the age of 30 and the OOD created a naming nomenclature that I think should be kept for the future. The expectant masses were introduced to the now almost famous course instruction of BABACACA and given a start gate time. The line of people processing back to their boat, chanting BABACACA, BABACACA in an almost monastic fashion sadly only happened in my head. Being an under 30s race they all took a photo on their phones and wandered back to prepare themselves; although I do believe a line of BABACACA branded leisurewear is being prepared for the market next year.
5 boats started and 5 boats finished which is always good, although I canít quite believe Arthur Wells is still under 30. This must be proof that time moves differently on the Broads: perhaps we should insist on a note from mum as proof of age, along with a programme of testing and research to get to the bottom of the seemingly commonly held belief that chips are a performance enhancing drug.
The second race of the day was the Pursuit Race and the OOD had been left detailed instructions on how this was to be run and no hesitation or deviation was permitted in the implementation. Inevitably there was plenty of repetition as the assembled crews tried to take the instructions onboard. It could have been worse: they could have been the ones trying to organise the thing! The format of the race is probably the only time that no one complains about the slow boats going first. Puck was over the line first, followed by the rest of the fleet, allowing the faster boats the opportunity to further test the potential of chips.
12 boats started and 12 boats finished; the club boat nearly failed to finish as it got caught up in the melee of the finale of the Pursuit Race. Fortunately Rachael and John survived, along with the boat, to OOD another day.
There followed an excellent evening in the pub, of which I recall very little due to being led astray by my elders. I am reliably informed that no picture was left unstraightened and no drinks were thrown at innocent crew members.
Sunday dawned dull and bleary with the sound of Joe Farrow striding down the path at 6am to take Pirate back up north. We missed out on the unmistakable noise of a Seagull being throttled in and instead were lulled back to sleep by the sound of a Mariner being tickled. The Mariner involved wishes to remain anonymous, but I am told that their picture and price can be found on a notorious local website, something like topshelf.co.uk apparently. I have no knowledge of such things and have the browser history to prove it.
Due to Marigoldís anxiety and the fact that Pirate wasn't playing today, Michelle had her first go in the club boat which, like Marigold, refused to start; but we got there in the end. I am grateful to the OOD who arrived early to put out all but one of the marks: he hadnít been led astray quite as badly.
Our first job was to lay the bottom mark for the course and then help Maidie off the bank. We then had to retrieve the bottom mark, as it was floating off up river. A combination of too short a bit of string and a light mud weight is not what we are looking for in a bottom mark. I substituted the mud weight and line from Marigold to ensure this didn't happen again. It turns out that a heavy weight and long line aren't ideal either. I shortened the line with a sheepshank but had forgotten that in the small print it does state this only works under load. The mark was always attached to the riverbed it just ended up next to the bank due to the massively long line: my apologies for that.
The first race of the day was the Commodoreís Cup and, after the course and starting groups had been negotiated, we were ready to tackle the course. Sadly, the marks had numbers and not letters today so I canít remember the course, although I do remember being told that one of them ďis not a mark of the course, until it is.Ē You could tell the old hands at this point, as they were the ones nodding wisely.
11 boats started, 11 boats finished, and I received instructions to redistribute the marks. This was one of those conversations that would have made no sense to anyone that hadnít known the river for a while. At least this time the stile and bush concerned was actually in existence. My text request for a what3words reference to aid clarity clearly didn't go through as I never received a reply. The top mark was left at spin.spenders.staring which seemed appropriate.
Further experimentation with performance enhancing carbohydrates followed, before the Portaferry Shield was contested. The results proved that we may need to appoint River Cruiser Class Nutritionists, Dieticians and Sleep Scientists before we give Sports Science a go. I am not sure who would break first out of that lot, so I am going to suggest a pilot study. I suggest the usual helm of Vixen as the guinea pig: given that I now work for Sunderland University I canít see how he could possibly refuse!
Thank you to all that took part in the weekend, be it on the water, on the start line, behind the bar or in the kitchen, helping identifying the colour of raffle tickets or looking after the club boat before and after the weekend. It really was good to see you all again.
A special thank you as ever must go to the OOD and their faithful assistants, as without them you really canít race and that job doesn't look like fun at all.