Porthpean Sailing Club  
Webmaster's Sailing Blog 2020
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Return to the Beach.


13 September 2020

Sunday Series Starts

Sunday 13th September and PSC came back to life. Nine boats took advantage of one of the warmest days of the year for two back to back races. The day started with an autumn mist, and not a breath of wind; a day for SUPing, canoeing, putting up tents at the bottom of the public slipway, anything but sailing. Nevertheless, the predicted wind finally crept around Black Head and with only a thirty minute delay, the race was on.

Paddy swung the tractor into the yard with the grace of a seasoned country boy and hooked up the rescue boat, which Jeremy and Suzanne had kindly volunteered to crew and with Kathy in the box we were ready for the off. A triangle course was laid, giving a beat from Charlestown towards Ropehaven, a broad spinnaker leg to the beach mark and a closer leg back to Charlestown. It was a course obviously laid with the Kestrel and Scorpion in mind.

It was blue sea, blue sky, shorts and t-shirt sailing, but everyone aired on caution, donning autumn sailing kit, only to find the southerly breeze was not cooling at all. I felt for Brian on his Laser. Lasers are fine in a blow, surfing the waves, but on days like this they become an ill-designed sun bed.

We also had three Blazes on the water. They look like fun boats, though not much room for sunbathing. Ciaran and Harry really seem to have taken to them, and they have the added competitive fun of father son rivalry. Keith Simmons, our newest member, on his very smart looking Blaze Red Herring, seemed to be really enjoying the conditions, made even better with the other two Blazes sighted over his transom. It seems there is no substitute for boat experience.

There was another family outing in the Kestrel, as I sailed with my son and grandson. We really couldn’t have had better conditions for Dylan’s introduction to the mysterious world Nan and Grandpa disappear off to, with life jackets over their shoulders. Steve said Dylan hadn’t slept as he was so excited. It is such a joy when you are reminded of your childhood through your grandchildren; the wondering how deep it is, and whether there are killer whales in the bay, and why does the boat wobble so. From that, to swooshing about with the tiller whilst Dad and Grandpa look panic stricken, shouting “Away from you. We are going to gybe!” Some things are perfect in their imperfection.

Ken and Richard pulled Richard’s Dart down to the beach, and having gone to all that effort, decided to sail, against better judgement. Wetsuit sunbathing seems to be a feature of this missive and it has to be said, a Dart is the perfect sunbed on mornings like this and the only niggle is to remember you are actually racing.

The Scorpion of Andrew and Jenny took advantage of this lovely day; they rarely miss a day just to be on the water. Theirs is the fundamental joy of sailing, that kinetic magic trick we never quite get over.

With kinetic magic tricks in mind, some conjurors do the rabbit in the hat trick and some do the head in the guillotine trick. I consider the Royle brothers, in terms of thrills, to be of the latter variety. You have to give them full marks for perseverance and I am looking forward to seeing them both trapezing off the rack, kite full, having to tack only because the Gribbin is approaching too quickly.

I am also looking forward to seeing Chris riding his new Phantom down wind in a blow. It has a lot of sail area to be countered by stomach muscles only; the kind of dinghy to make or break you, but I reckon determination will win the day here.

That just about sums up the Sunday return to sailing, leaving it only to say what a pleasure it was to know our club can come back to life, even all be it in a Covidly-aware way. Yes, we are a sailing club and our hearts may lie in that lovely society, but Andrew and Jenny and all of us who sailed on Sunday know it’s the Newtonian physics that really moves us.


Pete Barns & co

Return to the Beach.


26 August

Summer Wednesday Evening Series

Sometimes the weather gods smile on us, and Wednesday evening was thus. Storm Francis headed off to the North Sea and left us with a balmy afternoon with a gentle breeze. Andrew and Ken sent rallying calls out on Facebook and six dinghies turned up to race. Chris Nile, of water ski and pasty fame, kindly loaned his tractor. This meant we could launch and recover the safety boat with a sensible Covid protocol. In order to keep things as uncomplicated as possible, Pete and Jan laid a windward leeward course, with a beat from the middle of the Charlestown gap towards Robin’s Rock. With everyone aware of the shortening evenings, the race started on time and in a most gentlemanly fashion, as if no one wanted to appear too eager or pushy; the Kestrel wasn’t sailing. Nigel and Ken’s RS400 seemed to pick the shifts, catching a lovely lift from Duporth and putting them clearly in the lead. It was great to see two Blazes on the water. Roger, encouraged by the weather, hurried over from Rock making the start line with three minutes to spare. Another very welcome sight was Keith Simmons in his Blaze, Red Herring. The Blazes had a close tussle up the first beat with Roger, by dint of tactics, arriving at the mark first. His lead was enough not to be too affected by the spinnaker of Andrew and Jenny’s Scorpion. I know the spinnaker is far too big for such a small boat and the water line is so low the crew needs a snorkel when it’s windy, but I do understand the love affair people have with the class. On a summer’s evening, sailing down the sun, there are very few prettier sights. Andrew and Jenny were followed by Chris, ooching and working his Laser to get everything out of the gentle breeze. Sat forward, boom elevated, nursing that boat downwind, he must have longed for the sail area of his Phantom. Maybe we should have laid a triangle; dead downwind in gentle airs, on a Laser is not much fun, especially when your opposition has the spinnaker pulling nicely. It was great to see the 49er out again. Marcus and Alex have a real learning curve to tame such a crazy boat, but looking at the standards of perfection they have put into resurrecting the boat, I suspect that same dedication will be directed at mastering it. I am watching that space with fascination. I will round off with another big thanks to Kathy for OOD, Paddy for towing and thanks again Chris for the tractor.

Pete Barns & co


July 29th

Trial Covid Race

I thought I would do a short report on the first Covid Secure Wednesday evening sail.

Firstly, a big thank you to Jeremy and Suzanne, who volunteered to drive their rib around from Par. They laid a windward leeward course for the six boats that turned up for the event.

It was a warm evening with a SSW wind, force 2 to 3 with a slight chop; in all perfect conditions for a Wednesday shake-down race. Paddy kindly did OOD and counted us down for an on-time 7pm start.

The start line had enough bias to ensure Jeremy’s engine didn’t get clobbered in a pin end tussle, and everyone respected a covidly distanced distance; that is, except for the Kestrel, who got quite pushy and must have had only millimetres to spare as the gun went.

The beat split the fleet, though most headed out to sea from Charlestown, before tacking over to a clearly visible yellow marker in the Ropehaven direction; that is, except for the bully boys in the Kestrel who took the mussel farm marker as the outer mark. It was at that moment, as the last of the fleet were seen scooting back to Charlestown, that the Kestrel spotted the other Yellow Mark, and set off in pursuit.

Ciaran’s new Blaze struggled with the down-wind leg, needing a few more knots in the wind for her to strut her stuff, and Brian’s Laser also appeared to have a bit of lock-down lethargy. The surgeons in the RS400 seemed fine on port tack, but didn’t seem to be pointing well on starboard and I imagine the down-wind leg for Nigel and Ken was a bit sluggish, having to go so far off the line to get a reasonable angle for the asymmetric. Andrew and Jenny smiled their way around the course, just revelling in being back racing. I understand their joy, Scorpions really do look pretty on the water, especially Steve and Craig’s lovely boat, which was receiving a bit of shake-down race tweaking.

Although they didn’t complete rigging their 49er in time for the race, it was great to see the Royle brothers on the water again. I am watching that space with much anticipation and we will have to all be on best behaviour to avoid causing them to slam tack.

I can’t round off without a huge thanks to Paddy and Liz and Ken, who have steered the protocols that made this a Covid safe event.

Pete Barns & co

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