Roger Hakes won the first two races of the 2017 Monday Night series but if you think it was plain sailing for him you’d be quite wrong.
With the wind blowing from the North West quadrant, you could be forgiven for recalling Alfred Hitchcock’s famous 1959 film in which our hero’s namesake, Roger O. Thornhill is mercilessly harried by a villainous spy, Phillip Vandamm, played, on this occasion, by Jon Gorringe!
‘North by North West’ is celebrated for its action sequences and a gusty as well as shifty force 4 meant our evening was equally lively, especially for the lighter sailors who had opted for the full rig. Courtenay Suckling managed to avoid the capsizing antics of others and finished his first race in third position, having graciously allowed Jon Gorringe room to start his relentless pursuit of our own Cary Grant. Courtenay remarked to me in the interval between races that he’d started how he meant to continue and I guess a 7th place in the last race of the evening still leaves him on track.
It was good to see Peter Gordon back on the water after his knee convalescence. A 10th and a 4th in the two races is a bit reminiscent of past inconsistent performances though Peter. I think, given the nature of Monday’s racing though, we can cut him a bit of slack here.
It has become somewhat of a tradition that the Fleet Captain runs the first race of the Monday Series. For those of you yet to experience this pleasure, I can assure you that it’s a fairly stressful couple of hours. Daylight is at a premium and the time seems to fly by; two short courses are the order of the day. The problem for Mark, on this occasion, was the wind. Short beats with 20 boats on the water with very variable wind strengths meant you had to have your wits about you. Quite a few of our hot shots, Ann and Chris Guy to name but two, suffered a watery mishap leading to them both being beaten by yours truly – now that is an event totally worth writing about!
There was a number of new faces to be seen around the boat park so I thought it only friendly to check that people knew the vagaries of gate boat starting. To those that didn’t, I carefully explained that the worst crime was to interfere with the gate boat and had to be avoided at all cost. I just hope they didn’t recognise me as I headed straight for Ann (she had the honour of being the first gate boat of the new season), in her new boat (2nd time out!). I was faced with two choices. Machismo suggested a massive last second bear away but my lack of skill predicted the horror of wrecking my wife’s brand new boat, prompting visions of a very lengthy stay in the dog-house. Luckily, I had room to windward, allowing me to bail out in front of Ann. Trying to remain as honest as my ineptitude would allow, I gybed round and bore off to go below Ann’s line of travel before heading up again. It was thus that I found myself in the entertaining position of joining Kiersten Metcalfe, presumably doing something similar, as we headed off towards the club house on port tack. Fortunately, it was an evening when mistakes abounded so you were never totally out of the game. Harry Cowell, one of the newcomers to our fleet, knows exactly what I’m talking about. A 3rd place in the second race gives a truer impression of his potential than his 9th place in the first, which was the result of a very untimely capsize just before the finish line.
Peter Taylor looked on good form, coping impressively well with the full rig in these awkward conditions. He was pipped by Chris Walley in both races. The latter has recently joined from a local club and I’m sure he found these courses easier to follow than his inaugural race last Saturday which contained ten marks to be remembered!
There was a buzz in the boat park after racing which is a testament to the hard work of our race team for the evening, your Fleet Captain ably assisted by Luke Normington. All of the newcomers to Monday night sailing were very enthusiastic about the format. I was similarly keen to enjoy the conversation in the bar: an essential element of Monday Night sailing! I promise that Courtenay will have a story that will entertain you.
Let’s hope that twenty boats on the water for our first session is an auspicious omen for the rest of the season.
Dog Robber Rtd.