|Porthpean Sailing Club|
Return to the Beach.
Yes, today is December 21st, the shortest day of the year and it has also coincided with Restronguetís Christmas pudding race. Restronguet,
on the Carrick Roads, is a place I like to sail at, as I was a member there for about 10 years from the mid 70ís, before joining Porthpean.
The weather today was exceptionally mild, with a light south westerly breeze blowing over the Clubhouse out and across the river, giving
very flat water, similar to our bay when we have westerlyís. We had an entry of 54 boats in total, though 6 of them were Optimists,
sailing in their own race. We had a triangle, sausage, triangle course, which really should have been a round longer as we finished in a
little over 35 minutes. The light breeze filled in just before the start and appeared to be ideal Tasar conditions, but faded during the race,
enough to stop us planning on the reaches. How sailing boats have changed over the years. This year there were no Enterprises, no Mirror dinghies,
nor Fireballs. Those sort of boats were the back bone of the Club in the 70s and 80s, whilst now there are considerable numbers of RS800s,
RS400s and other fast, asymmetrical classes. In fact apart from a handful of Fireflies the entire fleet was made up of fibre glass boats.
Our first attempt to start, proved lucky for us. The start line was so biased that practically everyone tried starting next to the
committee boat, which caused chaos, and we were caught up in a bit of a melee. In fact one of the Fireflies was holed by an out of control Laser,
so things were rather fraught!. Fortunately a general recall and a change of start line brought back some semblance of order for the next start.
This time we elected to start further down the line, and we started in almost clean air, which allowed us to get to the end of the first beat
well in front of some much faster boats. I underestimated the tide and the fact that there were too many boats just in front of us and tacked
just too early to round the buoy, resulting in 2 more tacks to round it. That mistake cost us too many valuable seconds as we ended up 8th
overall. The 4 boats that finished ahead of us on corrected time were within 30 seconds of us, which is at least the time we lost trying to
round that first mark. Apart from that, the breeze rather than building as forecast died away to become quite light, which took away quite a
lot of planing. However the course laid was a good one and it was really nice to sail in a fleet again. The first 3 boats on corrected time
were an International 14, RS600 and RS800, which gives an idea what we were up against.
Now before I sign off for the year, I have written a bit of a review of the season gone by as I saw it. To me the 2008 season has been much
better than for several years. No doubt some will disagree, but it all depends on how you view things.
Everyone moans that the summer of 2008 was one of the poorest for many years weather-wise. Conversely the weather that we had was actually
quite good for sailing, as we lost far fewer races than in a normal season. Generally if we get a settled spell that is ideal for beaching,
then it usually brings very light winds, or even sometimes no wind at all. Wednesday evenings are often prone to this as quite often the winds
fade away to nothing at all just before we are scheduled to start racing. Like all seasons there are a few days when it is perfect for sailing
and this year was no exception to that and those who prefer the wind stronger were not disappointed.
As usual we have lost one or two sailing members, but on the other hand we have gained some more. We lost Nick Egget quite early, as he moved
away. Ron & Michelle took a sabbatical but we hope to have them back again next season. Duncan & Debbie had moved back into the area and we
expected them to rejoin us but unfortunately an illness has stopped Duncan from sailing for a while.
On the plus side we have had Anna & Liz join us, first sailing a Laser Bahia and now a Laser Vago. We also welcomed Richard and James King
from Plymouth, sailing a Merlin Rocket, and we have also welcomed Andrew, Jenny and Sarah Kendall who between them own a Scorpion and a GP14.
We have also gained quite a few cadets, and hopefully we will get them all out sailing next year.
Craig Varley bought one of the newer modern Kestrels and he and Adrian have had some good results, but unfortunately didnít get enough races
in to benefit. They have had some good competition against Jan & Pete Barnes in their Kestrel. Justin Phyall, teamed up with Kelvin in Justinís
505 this year and have had some good results on the water. They used to trail the Tasars but now are more than capable of finishing in front of
us all. I will remember for many years to come, on a the sight of Kelvin diving over the mainsail as they broached in a particularly strong
gust one day, when it was obvious that the boat was about to capsize. Justin managed to save the boat from the capsize but Kelvin had to swim
quite a way to get back to the boat.
The Laser fleet was dominated this year by Simon Pryce, being first Laser on the water time after time. Tim Baily and Steve Coello were
Simonís closest adversaries, quite often swopping places with Simon. Brian Reeves had a leg injury early in the season and consequently lost
quite a few racing days. Itís a shame that Clive Stephens can only sail on Wednesdays as I feel more sailing would see him improve immensely.
Our little Supernova fleet spluttered into life very occasionally this year. John Hill made very few appearances and even Nick Haskin has
sailed less than in previous years. Robin Hadlow hasnít taken to his Supernova and has now sold it and replaced it with a Tasar, as also has
Chris Hazell, Chris has sold his Supernova to Colin.
Beacky went back to sailing his Enterprise this season, again sailing with Adam Eastham and I hear a rumour of a new suit of sails for them
next year. James Dowrick, has proved his liking of sailing by crewing for his Dad Nigel in their Feva. This might appear to be a slow boat,
but with the spinnaker up is a real flyer, and does very well on handicap. I well remember watching them one day, powering past Beackyís
Ent on a particularly blowy reach. They are now almost an ideal weight for an RS200, which could be their next boat. Kay & Gary didnít sail
much at all this year, mainly due to Gary damaging a tendon in one of his hands, but their first time out on a beautiful summerís day saw
them take a win. Richard Armstrong seems to have deserted us, hopefully only temporary, forsaking his Contender for the charms of a Dart at
The Tasar fleet has been the mainstay of the Club again this season, quite often having 6 Tasars on the water and I expect to see this number
increase next year. Denis Bray has made a welcome return to sailing, buying Colinís old Tasar, which was replaced halfway through the summer
by a brand new Tasar, which is proving very fast. Stacey borrowed it for the Tasar Nationals and together with Alan Orton as crew, won both
races on the last day giving them an overall 2nd. Incidentally Stacey also came 2nd in the Contender Nationals earlier in the season, a very
good year for him indeed. Stacey has also taken over Denisís older Tasar and is racing it with his daughters. Steve Mitchell teamed up with
Jo Barnes in his Tasar to show that he is still devastatingly fast, winning the last race in the Tasar SW Areas which we hosted in May.
Steve also won quite a few of the ďCupĒ races which were introduced this year. Chris Bilky bought a Tasar last year to sail with his sons and
made a late appearance in the spring series (Iím afraid football had a higher demand). It wasnít very long before Chris handed the helm
over to Luke who has performed very well and we look forward to seeing them out next season, with a new suit of Mylar sails. John Mark too,
has ordered a new suit of mylar sails and will be teaming up with Steve Coello for the 2009 campaign as Tony has decided to crew for Chris Haszel.
Russell Moore, sailing with Colin, missed quite a few races this year mainly due to the stronger than normal winds that we experienced.
The two of them sail with what is probably the highest combined age in a dinghy in the country, somewhere in the 150s. Peter Phillips and
Nicky sailed most Wednesdays. Mike Voyzey missed quite a few races in the middle of the season, whilst waiting for his Tasar to be repaired.
Mike bought a Dart and has also been sailing at Pentewan, maybe we should persuade Richard and Mike to sail here with us.
Brian Phillips is another helm, who didnít sail much this season but is looking for a crew, which we must try and remedy for next season.
The season started on the 16th March on a blustery cold day, with the wind from the north. 10 of us launched, Ken acted as OOD and I took
Adam out to race and we ended up capsizing, and the water was COLD, very cold. What was worse was that we couldnít get the boat up for a
long time. The cold water meant that our strength was rapidly waning. Eventually with the help of 2 rescue boats we managed to get the
boat up and going again, and promptly sailed straight for the shore to try and get warmed up. I donít think hyperthermia was too far away.
The next weekend heralded the Easter Cup. Easter was very early this year and we were unable to sail any of the races scheduled due to
strong winds, so all in all not a good start to the season. However the next weekend saw the start of the Sunday spring series.
This was a 10 race series and we sailed them all apart from week 2, when we were blown off. We had a total of 37 boats sailing at
different times over the series. The Spring Wednesday series started on 2nd April, which seemed very early as the evenings which
although starting to draw out, werenít really light enough, and it was still very cold but then we are keen arenít we? Wednesdays usually
give us our largest fleets and our attendance soared to 20 boats in the middle of June.
The ďCupĒ races were introduced this year as a one off race day each month for a dedicated cup. This has the affect of breaking up the
long series races. We tried to get 4 races a day in, but if not 4 then certainly 3. These were all dominated by Steve Mitchell and Simon
Pryce, Simon actually winning the Commodores Cup due to completing more races than Steve.
Porthpean hosted the Tasar SW Areas in late May and we had a few visitors, which brought the fleet up to 11. The racing was won by a
ďvisitorĒ but Steve ended up 2nd with us 3rd, so Porthpeanís honour was not disgraced.
The summer Sundays racing had 11 scheduled races and again we sailed a high number of 10. We also sailed 2 afternoon races in the summer
Sunday series, but the numbers for these races were a bit depleted, so not sure how popular they were.
The Contender Open meeting was arranged over a weekend and shared one of our Sundays. We had quite a few visitors but sadly not many of our
own members sailing. Stacey was away at his brotherís wedding and only Allan flew the flag for Porthpean. Still Porthpean is a very popular
Club with the Contenders, and I think we will still have a good number of them returning again next year.
The highlight for the Club this year was hosting the RS800 Nationals. Porthpean really suited the RS800 and what a sight they made as
they flashed by on the water, with both helm and crew trapezing from their racks. This was interspersed with some spectacular capsizes.
The RS800s proved a very popular fleet and we look forward to hosting them again in a few years time. The season went on, with sailing
every weekend, though blowy at times, right up until mid November. Our last racing day of the season was scheduled for the 23rd, but
the weather finally caught us out and the very strong winds curtailed any more racing for the season. Unfortunately we did miss 2 of the
Wednesday, September races due to poor weather, but the early start times did allow us to sail the other last 2 Wednesdays.
Another bonus for us this year has been the addition of a web cam, which is positioned in the Clubhouse overlooking the bay. This allows
anyone to watch us on the web or check out the conditions before they make the journey down to Porthpean, especially useful for those members
who live some distance away. Hopefully this will be repositioned during the winter to a better location to give a more complete view.
One horrible statistic that I hate to admit to is that the average age of our sailing fleet is rising. We desperately need more, younger
members to swell the fleets, so it is imperative that we all work together to get cadets trained and encourage new members to join us.
The best way is to get them crewing regularly and then if they are keen then they will progress to buy their own boat. Porthpean provides
one of the best bays in the country for sailing in. We have a superb Clubhouse and facilities, an enviable location and a history of
running some excellent Nationals. Well that was 2008, roll on 2009.
So there we are; the sailing is over for another year, the dinner dance and prizegiving is 2 weeks away, which will be followed on the
Wednesday after by the AGM. I believe all dinner tickets are sold and just to remind you all that this is a chance for all the ladies to
revel in their best ball gowns and for the men to wear their dinner jackets.
Pete Barnes set off yesterday, destination Tenerife, where he will meet up with Dave Mackrell. They are joining the crew of a yacht to
sail across to Antigua in the West Indies, intending to get home just before Christmas. So we wish them both a good journey and look
forward to hearing from them about their voyage which will be published here some time.
Next weekend is our last day of sailing this year, so I hope that we can get a good turnout. We have had a very good run lately, managing
to sail every Sunday, since the start of the summer series. I will have to look back at the race results to get an accurate count, but we
have missed very few races this year.
Very soon we will be saying au revoir to Pete Barnes when he will be flying off to Tenerife to help sail a yacht across the Atlantic to Antigua,
he expects the voyage to take about 3 weeks and I should think it will be a very nice experience. Hopefully he will keep some sort of log
which I hope to publish on the web in due course.
Adam has asked me to remind you all about the Cadets afternoon next Saturday, when they will be baking cakes and scones for us to eat
in the Clubhouse. They are hoping to see lots of you there when you will be greeted by hot cups of tea and coffee plus home baked produce.
All proceeds are to be donated to the RNLI.
Well only 2 more Sundays of racing left before another season comes to a close, and once again we have had a season of tremendous contrasts, with hot, sunny days (yes there were one or two) with perfect sailing weather and some very windy and trying days such as today. Unfortunately our Contender fleet has taken a down turn this year. We have lost Nick Egget who has moved away from the area and we havenít seen much of Allan Orton, nor Richard Armstrong. However we have gained several new members with boats and so we look forward to seeing them sail with us next season.
The afternoon race was the most exciting, mainly due to the fresher breeze which was very changeable both in direction and strength near towards
the end of the beat. More than once we had to react very quickly to the changeable conditions. It was a very hard sail for one so early in
the season & most of us were aching by the
end of the 2nd race. Getting back on shore was hard work too as there were a few waves, breaking on the beach & over us too, plus the
sand on the beach was quite soft, so it was difficult getting the boats back on the trolleys and then hauling them out of the water.
Still we all made it back ok, rather battered, bruised and tired, but
judging by the smiles on everyoneís faces it had been a very enjoyable day's racing. This Wednesday coming sees the start of the Wednesday night
We will be starting at 18.45 as the evenings haven't pulled out too far yet & it is still rather cool. Yes the clocks have gone forward
and summer is on its way.
The majority of modern boats today are built from fibre glass & if you are interested then follow this link to see a Tasar being built.
This Tasar went on to win the World Championships last year in Phuket. I met Simon Pryce in Truro this week & he told me that he will be missing
the first few weeks of sailing as he is in training for the London Marathon, which takes place in April, so we wish him all the best for that.
Firstly, congratulations to Pete Barnes and Dave Mackrel on their voyage across the Atlantic to the haven of Antigua in the Caribbean. They completed the voyage quicker than anticipated and have spent a few days on the beach before returning home to the UK today. I will try and get Pete to write an article on their trip, which I will publish in due course.
Our luck with the weather finally ran out today and our long unbroken sequence of Sunday sailing came to an end. For once the forecast was correct and the predicted wind strength of 30 plus knots was somewhat accurate. A very strong and gusty north westerly swept over the Clubhouse and out into the bay. This wind was accompanied by some very strong rain showers, which would drench anyone caught in them. The intense dark patches showed the gusts going through and further out to sea the lines of white horses showed the full strength of the wind. The decision was taken to cancel all racing and the safety boat was launched with Tim & Stacey to recover the beach marks. By lunch time all tackle was safely retrieved and washed off as was the safety boat and we now have a period of about 4 months to get the engines serviced plus all safety boat equipment to be overhauled. The Clubhouse too will need some TLC and a more permanent web cam will be mounted in a better position which will show more of the bay and yard. The web cam is proving to be a very popular addition, allowing anyone to look at the bay at any time and to see what sort of conditions we are experiencing. Indeed Kay tells me that last Sunday she was at home watching us launching for the morning race. I am sure that this season we have cancelled fewer races than any other season for many a year. Although the summer was much of a washout, we benefitted by having more windy days than usual.
Todayís conditions for racing were excellent; probaly one of the best all season. We had a westerly blowing out from the shore in the force 3 region. Sometimes a bit stronger and other times less windy but the direction was quite changeable especially in the beach marks area. 13 boats made an appearance during the day and gave all competitors some very exciting racing. Justin & Kelvin set a superb course, which allowed us all to stretch our legs. Anna & Liz made an appearance again today. Anna was trying to shake off the demons of her outing last week, when she spent most of the time in the water trying to get the Vago upright again, before a leaking hull eventually meant that she had to be towed in. Dennis / Sabine had a very good race this morning with us. They just lead at the end of the first beat and held us of until the run on the 2nd round when we took the lead. This we held for another 2 reaches but they overtook us on the next beat, then managed to hold us off to the end of the race. Meanwhile back down the fleet, Simon once again put in a good effort with a good port hand start and together with Tim Baily, they managed to put their Lasers into 3rd & 4th position just ahead of John & Tony in their Tasar. Steve Coello decided to take his RS400 out to race today and took Colin along as crew. One or two hairy moments cost them a good place. Beacky and Adam probably had the most boring race as they being the slowest boat gradually fell to the back of the fleet. Everything changed round for the afternoon race. The wind was still in the same direction but the course was tweaked a bit to make the reaches more thrilling. For once we started bang on time and even more surprising everyone was there on the line. We had a cracking port hand start, which proved invaluable, as by the time we got to the beach marks we had amassed a nice lead. Denis had a poor start, but still managed to sail into 2nd boat by the beach marks. Steve with Colin, also had a good first beat and they started to make their presence felt on the reaches when the power of the spinnaker was at its most apparent. Luck was with us for this race as we seemed to get better gusts than Denis and this time we started to pull away, then found ourselves embroiled with the RS400. They would catch and pass us on the reaches and we in turn would pull them back and pass them on the beats. We swopped places with them several times on the last beat before we just pipped them over the finishing line.
Apologies first of all to Anna Weld, who I praised for winning her first race last week. Well I was wrong Anna won a race earlier in the season on a nice sunny May afternoon,sailing the Bahia with Liz when Ken & I were on Safety boat duty but I had forgotten. In fact Anna features again this week but more of that later. Despite a dire weather forecast, it didnít appear too bad when we arrived at the Club this morning, so much so that 7 of us rigged our boats to race. The wind was blustery and from a southerly direction which gave us quite a lot of shelter on the beach, but the white horses running further out at sea did show us what to expect when we sailed further out into the bay. Wiggy was down for the weekend, celebrating his 30th birthday and for a special treat was allowed to crew for Anna in the Vago, albeit heavily reefed. Talking to Craig afterwards, who was crewing the safety boat, he told me that the initial wind measured at the beach marks was 24 knots and out by the windward mark was 27 knots with stronger gusts sweeping in. Yes very strong indeed. Ken & I waited until the course was more or less set before we ventured out. It didnít take long to get into the race area; the Tasar just flew along, flashing over the waves, with spray flying everywhere, demanding a lot of concentration, in order to stay upright. It was soon apparent how strong the wind was as firstly Stacey with Adam in his Tasar was blown in, then the Vago and then the 505. Dennis who was last off the beach was the first to acknowledge the strength of the wind and turned back to the beach and was quickly followed by us, Stacey and Janet & Pete in their Kestral, leaving only Simon, Anna & Justin to start the race. Anna soon got into difficulties with the first of a series of capsizes. Each time they righted the boat it would immediately flip over the other way. The 505 was the next to go over, leaving Simon to sail on unchallenged. Simon was only just back from competing in the New York Marathon last Sunday, so impressed us all by his dedication to sailing. Even he had a few capsizes but sailed on and was the only boat to actually finish a shortened race. After another capsize, Justin & Kelvin called it a day and sailed home. The Vago was eventually towed in with a very wet and bedraggled crew, still in perfect working order. Eventually all boats, and racing marks landed back on the beach and that was the end of a very wet & windy days racing. Nobody wanted to try and race in the afternoon, but judging by the conditions out at sea I think the race would have been cancelled anyway.
Anna Weld wins her first race at Porthpean!! Well unfortunately not as a helm but as a crew. Anna crewed for Stacey in his Tasar and the pair won the morning race by a good margin. Stacey repeated the feat again in the afternoon but this time with Adam Eastham, who normally crews for Paul Beacon, in the front seat. Anyone looking at the Polruan weather website would have noticed wind strengths of up to 40 knots just after 7.00 am but this had decreased somewhat by the time we turned up to sail. In fact the picture alongside was the state of the Club yard just after 10.00, with the safety boat ready but no boats uncovered. We were very thin on the ground today, with only 5 boats signing on for the morning race and this fell away to 3 for the afternoon as the early forecast depleted the fleet. Indeed the weather was cold and cloudy and going sailing wasnít the obvious pleasure that it normally is, but the sea was flat and the wind, though gusty was tolerable. We have been very fortunate for quite a while now as we have managed to sail almost every weekend. Despite often dire weather forecasts we seem to have the good fortune that the either the wind eases down or the rain holds off, which is quite a remarkable season, just a shame that we donít have enough keen sailors to take advantage of it.
Just a couple of adverts to finish with. No1, the AGM is on 10th December, the Wednesday after the dinner and prize giving, of which tickets are selling fast. Minutes for the AGM will be posted to all members in the next few weeks. No2, the Clubhouse is open on Wednesday nights for drinks and chat etc. Looking ahead to next season, we do need some more crews. There are at least 2 Tasars that will require a crew on a permanent basis, plus other boats that need crews from time to time. So if you want to crew on a regular basis, then please let me know & I will point you in the right direction. We have also acquired an Enterprise as a Club boat, which will be available to sail next season, that, plus a couple of Lasers means that members without boats of their own will still be able to sail.
Despite having an extra hour in bed, there was still enough lethargy to stop the morning race starting on time, but then why change the habit of a season. We all have our duties to do and so I mustnít grumble when today it was my turn to be in the race box, but I did miss a good race day. The wind was a nice westerly, blowing about 8knots out at sea, probably just shy of proper planing conditions for a Tasar, but nevertheless good hiking weather. Janet & Pete Barnes had a great race this morning, rounding the beach marks just behind Dennis & Sabine. A quick hoist of the spinnaker and they were off, sailing into a good lead. Dennis did peg them back and eventually finished in front of them but not enough to make it count on handicap which gave Janet & Pete the win. Beacky and Adam were well placed in their Enterprise and managed to take 3rd, though nearly a minute behind, but did manage to hold off Anna & Liz in their Vago. Luke Bilkey, again helming his Dadís Tasar was doing quite well until caught out by a stronger gust on the last beat and succumbed to a capsize. They were still up and sailing again before the last Tasar, but spoilt what was looking like a good position.
The afternoon race started in similar conditions and we managed to start the race bang on time which only caught 1 boat out who was late to the start. Justin & Kelvin who were hopelessly late for the morning race, blasted away from the start and increased their lead to take line honours, but fell victim to the Tasars of Dennis and John & Tony. This was a good race for J&T as they pulled a deficit of over a minute back against Dennis to start the last beat in the lead. However D&S sailed a very good beat to take them by 4 seconds, yes very close racing in the Tasar fleet. Janet & Pete, again had a good race, but were caught on handicap by Simon Pryce in his Laser who sailed much better in the afternoon, by taking 3rd place in front of the Barnes. This race was unlucky for John Hill, John missed the start and was desperately trying to make up time when his main sheet slipped out of the jammer and over he went to windward.
One of the amazing statistics this year is that for once we have sailed all the October races, which is a rare feat as we often have autumnal gales which take out quite a few races. This year the stronger winds seemed to have blown during the week, giving us the opportunity to sail. So we head into November with a possible 5 more racing weekends left. The daylight hours are reducing fast, the temperature is dropping and the need for winter sailing gear is becoming more important. The yellow shorts are packed away and wonít be coming out for any more sails this year or will they? Well it might become milder again!!
Normal service resumed again for me today after a very relaxing week in Cyprus. Yes October is a good time for a holiday in that part of the world as the weather is still very hot & sunny and it sets you up for the winter to come. However the sea here today felt sooo cold after the Mediterranean. How nice it would be to sail over there. Unfortunately not sailing last week means that I canít comment too much about it only to say that the winds were very light so I probably didnít miss too much excitement. Dennis had a frustrating day as he sailed the wrong course in the morning and converted a winning position into a 2nd and then again in the afternoon was pipped by Peter & Janet Barnes in their Kestrel by 1 second on corrected time.
The most alarming thing today was realising that the clocks go back next weekend and it is the official end of British Summer Time, not that we have had much of a summer this year, but since we returned from holiday the weather has been quite mild and serene and I actually took someone out sailing yesterday in very light conditions with the sea like a mill pond and wore my yellow sailing shorts.
Today was a complete turnaround, as we had a fresh south westerly rolling in, with quite heavy cloud cover which had a hint of rain in it, though that never materialised. Only 8 boats went out to race as quite a few of our regulars are away. Nevertheless the course set by John & Tony was a cracker, giving a long hard beat along the top towards Blackhead, before we turned and reached in to the beach marks. The wind was quite gusty, with a lot of movement around the windward mark, which made the last tack to that mark very frustrating at times. The reaches were fast and furious, allowing surfing with the waves whilst heading shoreward and equally fast as we turned to go back out to sea. Of the 8 boats racing, only 3 didnít capsize. The most spectacular incident of all was by Kelvin, crewing for Justin. They were just ahead of us on the first reach with spinnaker flying, when a savage gust caught them and the boat broached & went right onto its side. This was the moment when Kelvin realised the inevitable was about to happen, disconnected his trapeze harness and dived over the main sail into the sea. The 505 careered on for a few more meters before Justin managed to get control back and hauled the boat up to windward. Kelvin had a fair old swim to get back to the boat, but once safely aboard the pair managed to sail on again.
Whilst we were having lunch the wind appeared to increase in strength as the white horses were coming closer to the shore and it was with a certain amount of nervousness that we set sail for the afternoon race. Fortunately for us all the wind actually moderated a little, but still gave us some very fast and exhausting sailing. In fact those of us who sailed thought that it was probably the best sailing conditions we had had all year.
Stacey has been sailing his Contender at open meetings lately and came a very creditable 3rd at Halifax a couple of weeks ago. Well being rather curious I looked on the web to see where Halifax SC was. The picture I found shows it to be in a very bleak location in the Pennines. Follow the link and it should make you all appreciate what a fantastic bay and area that we sail in. No wonder so many sailing visitors are so impressed with Porthpean when they get here, stand at the top of the slope and look out to sea.
Chris Bilkey has fitted a web cam in the race box which should enable anyone to look at and see what conditions are like at Porthpean. I am hopeful that I can do my bit and create a link to it from the front page, so if not working as you read this then give me a little time to sort it out.
The weather on Saturday night was so bad that few thought that we would sail today. The weather forecast man did predict that the bad weather, strong winds and driving rain would clear in the morning and sure enough by 10.00 the wind had dropped a little and the drizzle petered out. In fact the bay looked quite inviting, though there were some darker patches blowing out to sea which heralded some more wind than we had ashore. Anyway 5 Tasars making up half the fleet launched, with Beacky & Adam taking Staceyís boat as he was away Contender sailing. The westerly wind gave us a nice beat from the Gribben area into the beach marks. The beat was quite heavy going as the wind was very gusty and what was worse was very violent as to direction and this became worse as we reached the beach marks area. Dennis & Sabine just pipped us to the end of the first beat, but we managed to overtake them on the first reach only for them to overtake us again on the next reach. Clearly a race was on and to compound our misery John & Tony passed us on the next beat and then on the ensuing run closed right up on Dennis, leaving us trailing quite a bit behind. We managed to pass Tony & John on the next beat and closed Dennis right down, finally passing them on the next beat and then fortunately we managed to start opening up a lead which we held to the end all apart from the 505 of Justin & Kelvin, who were late for the start but still managed to sail past us all during the race, eventually taking line honours. Chris Bilkey sailing with Luke struggled with their light weight in the tricky conditions, but kept the boat upright and gave Luke some good experience of sailing in stronger winds.
3 more boats joined us for the afternoon race, but whilst we were having lunch the wind had moved more north westerly and increased substantially, probably a good force 5 with stronger gusts thrown in. Quite a few capsizes took place and I thought that it was a little too strong for my liking and we like many others decided that discretion was the best decision and headed back to the beach, especially as the safety boat was in constant demand due to upturned boats. Eventually a race was started for the 3 remaining boats, and a big vote of congratulations to Justin & Kelvin who sailed their 505 to victory against the Lasers of Simon Pryce& Tim Baily The Lasers had a very good race with both of them capsizing many times in the strong winds. Rather annoying the wind gradually abated during the race and all the white horses so visible earlier disappeared, leaving quite nice conditions, for the 3 to finish in. The results should be up some time tomorrow, Ken is having a bit or trouble with ďsailwaveĒ, so am awaiting an update. No update on the blog from me next weekend as I will be hopefully sunning myself in Cyprus.
Wednesday nights wonít be the same again, well not for another 6 months as tonight we bade farewell to the last Wednesday night sailing for 2008. This Autumn series has been blighted somewhat by only managing to sail 2 out of the 4 scheduled races and anyone listening to the weather forecast this morning would not have given us a hope of sailing tonight. In the event we were nicely sheltered from the north westerly wind, which was gusty and very shifty especially around the beach marks. Only 6 boats ventured out, others being put off by the forecast and the sudden drop in temperature, but the 3 main Tasar protagonists were out which did bode well for some close sailing. Unfortunately Dennis was late to the start and never managed to close the gap between Stacey with Simon and us. We had a good battle with both of us in the lead at various times before we managed to escape on the last set of reaches, to build up enough distance to be able to hold Stacey off. The end of the race was quite tense as a squall swept in, with some very vicious gusts and mighty changes in wind direction. Steve Coello with Justin Phyall in the RS 400 again claimed line honours but were well beaten by the Tasars on handicap. Poor old Tim & Clive had quite lonely sails in their Lasers as the faster boats sped away into the distance. Yes the conditions were testing but not bad enough to have put anyone in serious difficulties, so it was a shame that more people didnít make the effort and get another sail in.
What a beautiful day it has been today. We have had wall to wall sunshine and it was feeling very hot in the almost windless conditions. Yes windless is the disappointing word today, but at least it gave me the opportunity, maybe the last time this year to sail in my yellow shorts and a Tee shirt. Well it wasnít quite windless but it was very, very light and constantly moving around and then at times a complete lack of wind would descend and it almost became a lottery as to who would gain when the breeze eventually returned. Today was the September Cup and it was the Tasar fleet's turn to run it. John & Tony took first turn running race box and safety boat with Liz who was helm less today. We had a very tight tussle with Dennis & Sabine and I thought that we had passed them on the last beat, but they picked up a stronger gust just when it mattered and beat us over the line. However it was the 2 Lasers of Simon & Steve, who stole the show taking first and second between them. Ken & I elected to do duties for the afternoon race, Ken in the boat & me in the race box, John & Tony sailed my boat as it was still rigged. They did quite well, in the first race of the afternoon, catching up Stacey & Adam who lead from the start, being only 2 or 3 seconds behind them at the end. Luke Bilkey helmed their Tasar this afternoon and did extremely well sailing to 3rd Tasar, holding off the other Tasars of Dennis & Russell. The 3rd race started in very light conditions with the wind fading away right at the start and when it finally returned put Simon into a commanding position as also James and Nigel in the Feva, giving Simon another first and James a second. This has been Simonís weekend as not content with just winning the September Cup, Simon also cooked the Mexican meal that everyone so much enjoyed on the Saturday night.
We had a rare appearance of John Morrice last Wednesday; John now lives in Wales and is retiring from the RAF this month. He has had an Enterprise in the field for the last few years. He says he canít sail it where he now lives and has very generously donated it to the Club where I think it will make an excellent training boat for people who are learning to sail, so thank you very much John, and enjoy your retirement.
Yes our penultimate Wednesday race, but by starting at 18.00 we are guaranteed a race. Tonight was scheduled to be the 3rd of a 4 race series, but unfortunately due to poor weather we have missed the first 2. Anyway 12 boats launched and 10 entered the race in a very light north easterly wind. This is a strange wind for us as it means a beat across the bay from right to left and we get very few of those over the season. Anyway the wind was light and the course was fairly small, so it did have the affect of keeping us as a fairly compact fleet. Actually I thought that we had a new prospective Tasar sailor tonight as there was a Ferrari parked in the car park, but alas the owner was just a former Lehman employee who was just getting the last use out of his company car before the HP Company repossessed it. Actually we did have a prospective Tasar newcomer sailing with us as Simon Pryce had expressed an interest and crewed for Stacey. This may have proved a wise decision as they led from the start and finished in front of us and the 2 RS400s, so he may have been impressed, though the light winds certainly did not show the Tasar at its best.
John Mark complete with bandaged thumb managed to race, despite the protestations of the hospital after his injury on Sunday. In fact we had 5 Tasars out which made up half the fleet. Again Anna & Liz sailing the Vago did well coming a creditable 3rd, especially as they made a big mistake on the last beat, that may have cost them the race. Nigel & Steve had a very good tussle, with Nigel, who initially built up a big lead over Steve, only to see it being eroded and eventually was passed by Steve on the final round. Yes Steveís celebrations were certainly heard by any one in the vicinity. We still had some waves to contend with on the beach but nothing too bad and no one got into any difficulties. We were greeted by a nice aroma of bacon being grilled as we pulled the boats up the slipway after racing.
PS Only 3 months to Christmas!!
Mid September and we eventually have the Cornish summer. A nice ďhighĒ has finally settled over the UK giving us some very nice days with pleasantly warm sunshine but, yes thereís always a but, the price we sailors generally pay is for the wind to come from the east, which invariably means waves on the beach. Today was no exception, but fortunately the wind hadnít been blowing long enough for the waves to build too much. So much so we all managed to launch and get back to shore with a little bit of assistance from others. Just to show how spectacular and mind focussing launching was today then on the left we have a picture of John & Tony being launched through the surf.
The sailing conditions were excellent, with enough wind to give fantastic planning reaches down wind with the swell that was out there waiting for us. We managed 3 races in all, and I must confess that I am tired and aching as I write this. It was one of those days that was made for sailing and we had a good variety of wind strength during all 3 races. For the 2nd time this season we had 5 strong Tasar teams racing together and once again it produced some very close tactical sailing. Of the 3 races, we managed to win 2 of them and Steve the other, Denis & Sabine sailed well this morning to clinch a 2nd. Stacey was unfortunate this afternoon when he was just behind us when his gooseneck fitting broke and ended his race prematurely.
Maybe the unluckiest person today was John Mark, who was having a good 2nd race when he suddenly managed to gash his thumb on one of his fittings. The gash was so bad that they had to sail straight to the shore and John ended his day in the casualty department at Penrice, where they managed to stick it back together again.
Today saw the last races in the summer Sunday series. It has been a long haul but don't think that we have missed any of them due to inclement weather. Next week sees the September Cup and then the week after we start the final series of races that will take us up to the end of November. No doubt we will miss quite a few of those as the weather tends to close down a bit in October and November, so be aware and make the most of any fine weather that comes along.
We also had several potential new family members down today and several of their children managed to get afloat courtesy of Pete Barnes, Stacey & Nigel. Hopefully they will like us enough to eventually join and perhaps get boats of their own. Chris Hazel was beaming today, when his newly bought Tasar turned up at the Club. The boat looks in pristine condition and hasnít been used that much over itís short life. Chris didnít fancy braving the lottery of sailing in and out of the surf today, so we will maybe wait until next weekend before we see him sailing it. I hear rumours that several other people are considering buying a Tasar which would be great. The Tasar is an ideal boat for Porthpean, low on maintenance costs, easy to sail, not too expensive for a good second hand boat, fairly fast and light enough to make pulling up the slip way not too onerous. The Tasar has been a feature boat of Porthpean for 22 years, since Dennis Bray brought the first one into the Club and given its current popularity will remain a stalwart for many years to come.
The weather is in a very quiet spell at the moment with very little wind & more frustratingly what there is, is coming from the east. Inevitably that means that it usually fades away to nothing as the evening comes along. Nevertheless I took all my sailing things down to the Club, optimistically thinking that we might sail. Anna & Liz were already out, practising in their Vago. Incidentally they came 2nd in their 2nd race last Sunday, a fact that I had missed until I studied the results on Monday, so congratulations to them. Actually it was joint 2nd as they tied with Beacky & Adam on corrected time. Anyway their slow progress tonight, put us all off and covers that had come off boats gradually went back on again as any enthusiasm that we had quickly disappeared. I think in the event we could have raced as it did fill in a little, but even then progress would have been painfully slow.
The Tasar fleet is growing once more. Chris Hazell has just bought a very fast new boat, and is due to take delivery on Sunday. In fact it is the boat that won the South West Areas held here at Porthpean in May. I think Chris has been envious of the speed and grace of the Tasar and has sold his Supernova to Colin who once again wants to be the master of his own craft. So welcome to Chris and I hope he enjoys his sailing with us Tasar people, and I also hope Colin likes sailing in a Supernova once again.
Sunny, warm, yellow shorts and Tee shirt, yes what a lovely autumn day we had for a change. Unfortunately when we arrived at the Club there was a complete lack of wind. A glassy sea greeted us, but way out on the horizon a dark line could be seen, which heralded a breeze, and it very slowly made its way towards us. After an hours postponement there was enough wind for us to start the morning race. However the sailing conditions can best be described as dreary, just enough wind to move us but not enough to allow any hiking at all. The light breeze was almost a southerly direction, which produced no shifts worth talking about. Nevertheless 14 boats hit the start line for the penultimate race of the summer series. Anna & Liz were out for their first race in their Laser Vago, which they have just acquired from the Laser centre, and how much faster this boat goes when compared to the Bahia. They were both very pleased with the boat and in turn gained much better places in the races than normal with the Bahia. Stacey, sailing with daughter Lucy, plus his new suit of mylar sails was flying today, winning all 3 races with ease. He may find it harder when the wind is a bit stronger but nevertheless certainly capitalised in todayís conditions. Adam Eastham helmed Beackyís Enterprise for the morning race and was very pleased with his 7th position, beating some much more experienced crews. Craig Varley persuaded his daughter Jessica to crew for him for her first race in his Kestrel and they too had a good result, which was very encouraging for her. Nigel & James Dowrick, another Father & offspring pairing, were out in the RSFeva, again doing well in the results. Kay & Gary also ventured out today making it another family outing. Richard King rejoined us after his Merlin Chamionships at Looe, though did not get on the water in time to race. We had a near disaster when we left the beach, rather later than planned for the first afternoon race, when we found that the rudder blade would not go fully down. The downhaul rope had managed to get trapped between the rudder head and the blade. We had no option but to race with only half rudder, which certainly put a premium on keeping the boat flat to minimise the drag. Actually it wasnít too bad apart from tacking, when it just seemed like a massive brake. We parked alongside the safety boat between races to sort it out. I've never had that happen before so will need examining to find out how it happened, obviously too much of a gap between the blade and rudder head.
Has any one seen this man on the above picture? He is one of our sailing members who hasn't done enough sailing this year.
It will come as no surprise that the first race of the Autumn Wednesday series was lost to the poor weather. We were greeted by quite a blustery offshore wind that was trying to settle the swell caused by south easterly winds. We also had a dose of fine drizzle blowing in the wind, well with Polruan weather station showing 28knots of wind it came as no surprise that the general consensus to cancel was the right one. The one bright nugget at the moment is that the forecast for the weekend is for much better weather. Actually last Sunday though starting windy, moderated down to allow 3 races & Denisís new Tasar, with Sabine crewing, powered to the front once again, this time beating No1 son Stacey into 2nd place in one of the races.
A quick glance left shows Chris Hazell on the lookout for items for his news column about Porthpean Sailing that he submits to the local newspapers. Unfortunately I had to miss yesterday's racing. My son was 34 over the weekend (am I really that old?) and we decided to pay him a visit, so we upped and set off for Basingstoke on a very wet Friday afternoon, encountering flooded roads and heavy traffic in some torrential rain. Not a good day for driving at all. In contrast the journey home was much better and took almost an hour less. I found out after making our arrangements for Basingstoke that Ken & I were down for Safety Boat duties on Sunday. A study of the earlier weather forecast, showed quite a strong breeze for Sunday, which caused me to think that it would be too strong for Russel so I had approached Colin to see if that was the case then would he stand in for me and Colin very kindly agreed. In the event it was windy to start with, Russell didn't sail and Colin helped Ken in the Safety boat. I am still waiting for the results so at this stage don't know who sailed nor who did what. Hopefully the results will be on the web by Wednesday evening.
Tonight should have been the last race of the Summer Wednesday series. Unfortunately the wind had been quite strong all day & that seemed to have put many off from coming down to sail. I was of a similar mind too as the trees on the bank of John Keay House were indicating very blustery winds. Nevertheless I packed the sails & my sailing gear into the car and headed down to Porthpean. Lo & behold our sailing waters were very sheltered and there was no doubt that we could have sailed. In the event only 4 boats could muster enough crews but I think we were all lacking a bit in enthusiasm as it was quite cold and the darkening clouds threatened us with rain squalls. Inevitably the cancellation flag went up and we all retired to the peace & warmth of the Clubhouse. Next week sees the start of the Autumn Wednesday series. This is a 4 week series that starts at 18.00 hrs. Yes an hour earlier than normal. We tried it out last year and it proved very popular as we managed to sail right through September. This series will end on the 1st October and will be the latest evening race that we will ever have attempted. Above is one of many RS800 pictures that were taken during the Nationals. Indeed the RS800 is a very photogenic boat and is proving to be a very successful RS design indeed. Rather a shame that they are all made in the same colour. Nevertheless they are a very fast boat and judging by all the pictures in the local press, make sailing look very glamorous. I suspect that Jack Holt, designer of such boats as the Enterprise, Solo, GP14 never envisaged such flying machines would come along. There were 2 foiling moths at Falmouth week this year and they too look incredible. The moment the wind strength gets above a force 2 then these boats just lift out of the water and sail along on a foil and then they really do fly. Just watch out over the next few years, sailing as we know it will change forever.
The Club is slowly getting back to its normal life. The RS 800s have all gone home, the marquee has been packed away. There are 2 safety boats still in the yard and several of the dinghies have returned. After the trials and tribulations that the Kendalls suffered a fortnight ago, when their Scorpion almost sunk after a capsize, they turned up today with a much newer Scorpion. Hopefully this one will prove more reliable and after rigging was given its inaugural sail. Today we had a ďdesigned on theĒ day racing. Stacey took control of this and laid a small course to allow 3 very short races, to give us the chance of sharpening up our starting skills. A short race puts a premium on starting as it is very difficult to recover in a short time if you are buried at the start. The wind was westerly which did give quite a few shifts, especially in the vicinity of the beach marks. After a short lunch we set off for a pursuit race. Personal handicaps were set by the results of the mornings racing. However by the time we started the wind had increased quite a bit in strength and there were some quite vicious gusts, which were trickier the closer you got to the beach marks. The course itself had been extended and we were sailing the more traditional Olympic style with triangles and sausages. Poor old Wiggy, sailing Nigelís RS400 with David Mackrel, had a torrid time with endless capsizes, which eventually sapped their strength enough to cause them to retire. Nick Haskins is another who found the going too much, Nick suffered a series of capsizes before the start and eventually sailed back to the shore for some recuperation. Russel & Colin also decided to call it a day, as the gusts were proving too much for them, but then there is a combined age in the boat of over 150 years!! Simon, who suffered a breakage in the morning was going a lot better in the afternoon leading the Laser of Brian Reeves, helped us out by having a massive wipeout on the run whilst approaching the leeward mark. However he recovered well and swapped places a couple of times with John & Tony, before beating them over the line by about 3 seconds. Justin & Kelvin sailing again in the repaired 505, started last but failed to make up their time handicap but still did well in the wild conditions to stay upright. I had elected to sail in my yellow shorts and in general the weather was fine and mild but the long pursuit race with lots of spray was starting to take its toll and I was cooling down rapidly towards the end of the race. Well September beckons, with only 4 more Wednesdays left, the weather is still poor; wet & windy and the forecast shows no immediate improvement, but no doubt the die-hards will still try and sail as often as possible.
We are just back from the Tasar Nationals, that had a 39 boat entry, which were held this Bank Holiday weekend at Paignton SC. Congratulations to Stacey & Allan who stormed to 2nd position overall, in Denisís new Tasar. They won both races on Monday in quite windy and challenging conditions. Steve and I both suffered breakages over the weekend, which maybe cost us some better results but Steve & Jo still managed 10th and Ken & I trailed in at 16th which was our same position as last year. We shared the Nationals with the ISO & Buzz classes and although they are newer classes, could only boast about 18 entries for the ISOs and even less for the Buzz, which showed how strong the Tasar class is holding up, though it has been going for 31 years. There is nowadays a very high quality of helms, in what must be one of the friendliest Classes in the country. The new boats being imported, are of extremely high quality and competitive and whatís more are very good value for money when compared to the cost of boats of many other class. Yes there are quite a few rotomoulded boats around which are cheaper, but they are not usually viewed as good racing boats. We had a mixture of weather, enough breeze to allow us to plane every day, but Monday, was sailed in quite a brisk wind, which caused quite a few capsizes. The beats in particular were very hard but the reaches were absolutely fantastic, in fact they were the fastest reaches that I have ever experienced. The spray thrown up was enormous and Ken in particular was getting soaked.
This week the Club is hosting the RS800 Nationals and by now we are half way through the week and all appears to be another Porthpean well organised event. Although I havenít been involved in the organisation I know in particular that Gary, Kay & Ken have been burning the midnight oil in consultation with the RS800 association to produce the quality Nationals that we are experiencing.
Many people have called this month ďawful AugustĒ and judging by our weather for the last 20 days they are probably right. Another dismal day maybe cut our numbers back tonight but that aside we did have excellent sailing conditions, initially The pressure was to get the race started on time as the evenings are really drawing in quickly now and the low cloud cover was adding to early darkness. During the day there had been a good 20kts of breeze blowing at Porthpean but by the time we arrived the wind had dropped to a very pleasant light westerly, which looked ideal for racing. It was our turn in the safety boat and we launched early to set the course, but as is the case so many times this year, people are very reluctant to get to the starting area in time. Tonight we were also hindered by a fading breeze. At the time we laid the start line the anemometer was reading about 6kts but by the time we started the race it had faded to only 3. Just to compound things the breeze was backing to a southerly direction. Nevertheless the fleet got away to a clean start and Nigel & Kelvin in the RS400 sailed immediately into a useful lead. Stacey sailing with daughter Lucy, had a mediocre start, but made up for it by sailing through the rest of the fleet to be 2nd boat at the end of the beat. Denisís new Tasar was 3rd at the end of the beat. Further behind, Kay guest helming with Craig in his Kestrel was making good speed being in front of at least 2 Tasars. Anna & Liz, sailed the Bahia well on the first reach overtaking quite a few boats but fell back on the 3rd leg which had turned into a very broad reach, that suited the Kestrel more. By the end of the first round the wind had gone even lighter and making any sort of progress was painfully slow. In the end the Race Officer took pity on the fleet, some had already retired due to the light conditions, and ended their purgatory at the end of the 5th leg. By this time darkness was rushing over us, but fortunately the rain held off.
The forecast for the end of the day was for rain and strong winds so coming down to a nice dry day and light winds was a bonus. What an eventful series of races it was today for the August Cup. 13 boats, including 6 Tasars sailed out for the morning race in a good force 2 with the promise of more wind to come. An incredibly short start line gave us a problem as running out of time I managed to be over the line and landed on the safety boat. Eventually we started behind every body else and tried to make amends in chasing the pack. Allan Orton in his Contender took an early lead which he extended throughout, but there was a good group of 3 Tasars, Stacey & Millie Bray, Chris & Luke Bilkie, John Mark & Tony Dunn, all a good 100M or more in front of us by the end of the beat, plus Anna & Liz in the Bahia, maybe the last outing before they switch to the Laser Vago. Those 3 Tasars had a good battle for 2 laps with us slowly closing them down. The 2 Scorpions of Kay & Gary and the Kendall girls, both had capsizes that finished their races, but the 2 Kestrels of Pete & Jan against Craig & Adrian had a battle royal with each leading the other at different times of the race before Craig finally finished in front.
The 2nd race saw Steve & Jo in a Tasar join us and Stacey took on a heavier crew with Colin in the front seat. Again a disastrous start for us when John Hill sailing down the line on port, tacked and stalled at the last minute right in front of us. Again we were having to play catch-up, but this time it was a close fight for 4 Tasars with the new Tasar of Denis & Sabine leading the way. Steve eventually passed them and we closed down on the Tasars of Denis & Stacey. There was a coming together of all 3 of us at the gybe mark, which saw Stacey doing turns, in the melee we escaped Denisís clutches and made 2nd.
The 3rd race start line gave both Stacey & Steve a problem but Denis sailed a good first beat taking a useful lead, his new boat is proving to be very fast. We just couldn't close him down, Steve passed us at the next leeward mark and sailed into 2nd then Stacey overhauled us right at the end of the last beat. What appeared to be Denisís unassailable lead for Denis was lost on the run into the finish when Steve caught him on the last turning buoy and the two finished neck & neck. We managed to overhaul Stacey on the finish line, beating him by only 4 seconds. Pete Barnes with guest crew Andrew Kendall, managed a remarkable feat, when tacking, Pete caught the spinnaker pole in the back of his buoyancy aid and then proceeded to capsize when he was catapulted the wrong side of the boat. All in all a very exciting days racing & I can see some very close battles ahead for the rest of the season. Right on cue as we packed the boats away, so arrived the rain, heralding the next set of lows to blight our summer.
Day 6 of Falmouth week and the day of the harbour race. The wind was quite light when we arrived at Restronguet, but was slowly filling in, and the nice sunny weather tempted the yellow sailing shorts out of my bag for their first outing this week. The start line was down the river round the corner from the Club and the course was longer than last years. Probably due to the good weather our fleet had a huge turnout with almost 30 boats jostling on the start line, and with an almost 1 tack beat to the first mark a good start was called for. We started on port and almost crossed the fleet but an RS200 just caught us so a quick couple of tacks were called for, which set us back a little. The next 2 legs were all off wind, though too broad for good planning reaches and the Contender RS300, Fireball & Finn, were all in front of us & apart from the Finn were all quicker boats. We eventually overhauled the Finn on the first proper beat, which was quite a long one from Trefusis mark in Falmouth harbour to the Pendenis mark which was out towards the sea. From there we had a trip across to St Mawes, round to beyond millionaires row to the water tower, then back to Falmouth and then a series of zig zag reaches which at times gave fantastic planning reaches, before we got to St Just when we started a very long run, probably over a mile to take us to Pill buoy off Loe beach, then a long beat back to Restronguet, where the finish line was. That particular race took us 2 hours and for us was the highlight of the week. We came 5th in that race and 4th overall in the weekís placings. The Finn sailor showed the most consistency all week and should have won overall, but having 2 DNCs dropped him down the field. The winds for the week were blustery, which certainly kept us on our toes. I suppose itís one more sign of the poor summer that we are experiencing this year. Normally I usually sail at Fowey week also, but have decided not to bother this year as the week is becoming far too expensive. When you add launching fees, and car park fees to the entry fee, the total comes to over £100, which is too much to pay for at times Mickey Mouse racing.
Day 5 of Falmouth week and at last the weather has changed. Today we had much lighter winds and blue skies with a few clouds about, but the clouds always seemed elsewhere, so we were bathed in bright sunshine. Yes lighter winds and quite patchy, which made the beats very, very tricky. At least we had longer courses, but not the best for a Tasar as we had quite a few runs. Still it was a relief to not have to sail in survival mode again. The aprŤs sail was excellent today, with a hog roast being served up and there was plenty to go round, including cakes for afters. It was extremely relaxing and pleasant to sit in the warm sunshine afterwards, watching other boats sailing up and down the Carrick roads. We only had 2 races rather than the promised 3 but they did take an hour each so felt a lot better value for money. Tomorrow sees the Harbour race, which will take in most of Falmouth harbour, visiting Falmouth/ Flushing, St Mawes, St. Just, Loe Beach and finally back to Restronguet. The forecast is for light winds and sunshine so maybe the yellow shorts will finally get an outing. Our fleet is some 29 strong, so the start line gets very congested. We are currently lying 5th but I donít think we have enough points discards to play with to better our score by much. Tomorrow will be a very interesting day.
Day 4 of Falmouth week and as predicted the forecasted gale called a halt to racing. I think all racing for today, even the 2 fleets out in the bay were cancelled. Our Race Officer intends to do 3 races back to back tomorrow to try and make up for todayís loss. Strangely enough it looked sailable at Restronguet this morning, but we were in the lee of the wind whistling overhead. Everybody was in agreement that today would have been too hazardous for both boats and crews alike.
Despite the strong winds, several people turned up at the Club tonight but no one wanted to sail, but as so often on an evening the wind started to moderate and by 7pm it was very sailable. By this time it was too late to start, the evenings are really starting to draw in now, so unless we start on time then it isn't possible to get a race in. Instead the bar was opened and several of us had a good look at Denis's new Tasar and were very impressed with the standard of equipment and the general appearance of the boat. Come Sunday Sabine will be back and we will all see how well the boat goes.
Day 3 of Falmouth week, and what a hard week it is turning out to be. Despite strong winds in excess of 20 knots 2 races were sailed today. The conditions looked very deceptive as the wind was blowing off the shoreline, but the bending of the trees told a very different story. We launched and made swift progress to the Committee boat. As we came into the start line for the first race the wind suddenly veered and increased right at the stat. The wind veered so much that we couldnít lay the line on starboard and tacking with boats all around was a fraught experience. Once we were racing then boat control became a little easier. The beat was quite long but once again the wing mark was way too far in and so the reaches were very broad which mainly benefitted the conventional spinnaker boats. Having said all that we had no ďmomentsĒ but the race only lasted 26 minutes for us and even less for the Fireball who won by a large margin. Whilst waiting for the 2nd race to start the wind really became much stronger and the whole boat was shuddering. I think the wind was well in excess of 20 knots so I elected to call it a day before we broke anything. Nevertheless the sail back to the Club was a hard beat all the way and we had to let everything fly several times just to keep upright. Not longer after we reached the beach the squall passed and the wind eased considerably. However within 20 minutes it was back to full strength again so we didnít feel too bad. I believe that only 6 boats may have finished in our class. Lots of boats were towed in, with either breakages or shattered crews. Tomorrow we have forecast for gales in excess of 45 MPH so sailing is very unlikely, but Thursday & Friday look much better.
Day 2 of Falmouth week, a bad weather forecast but actually was much less windy and drier than we expected. The results yesterday were totally wrong, but when corrected gave us a 2nd and a 3rd. Probably due to the lighter winds we had a much larger fleet, with several boats of different classes joining us. Today was not good; we were late for our start, because I had sailed too far up the beat before realising that the start sequence had started and were about 30 seconds late getting back to start correctly. The wind was very light and patchy and we were much further back at the end of the first beat than we should have been, and never properly recovered. By the time the 2nd race started the wind had increased enough to allow us both to hike, but we were caught in a melee of boats at the start and couldnít even cross the line on starboard. Once again we were struggling to catch up and by the end of the 2nd beat had climbed to a more respectable position, only to undo some of the hard work by clipping the windward mark, struggling to round it, so a 360 was called for. The racing itself is frustrating as the race times are far too short. Yesterdays races were little more than 20 minutes each and todayís werenít much longer.
Yesterday, Anna & Liz gave a presentation on safety boat duties, with some very useful tips and doís and doníts etc. It was well worth going to and I believe that they are giving another presentation next Saturday, so if you feel that it could be helpful to you then please make the effort to attend and you too may get some good advice. Due to the appalling weather, we didnít launch the RIB, but practical usage is part of the presentation.
On to today, well today is the start of Falmouth week and Ken & I are doing it for the 4th year in a row. Unfortunately the weather forecast is not good and today was a prime example. The wind was forecast to be quite breezy and it appeared to be even stronger than we expected. It was certainly blowing around 20 knots with some much stronger gusts coming through. In fact many boats capsized and quite a few turned back for home before the start. Unfortunately the races were late starting, which makes matters worse as you tend to be sailing around aimlessly just trying to preserve your strength. We are sailing in the fast handicap fleet and we have a Contender, RS300, RS200, Blaze, Laser Vago, Buzz, 2 Laser 2000s, Fireball, Albacore, 2 Wayfarers and us, so quite a range in dinghies. We had 2 races and in the first race we very nearly had 2 capsizes, the first was during our first tack on the beat when the boat rolled too far and we started to blow over, fortunately we managed to save it but had the handicap of taking in a lot of water and having it slopping around in the cockpit. Fortunately, it had nearly all gone by the end of the beat and we rounded 4th. The boats in front shot off to the ďwingĒ mark, but unfortunately for them it was the wrong mark. The true wing mark was much deeper and we bore away onto a run to reach it first. We started the next round in the lead, but were overtaken by the Contender, then we had another near capsize just before the gybe mark. Neither of us can explain what happened, one moment we were sailing very broad, the next moment we almost broached. In the excitement I let go of the tiller, the boat shot into the wind and tacked. We sorted out the sheets etc, bore away and gybed again, all in all losing a good 30 secs. Meanwhile behind us the Vago had closed up and won the race on handicap. We waited around for well over 40 minutes waiting for other boats to finish and eventually we started race 2. The biggest dramas in this race were the terrific headers experienced towards the end of the beat. The Contender and Fireball and RS 200 rounded in front of us at the end of the first beat and tore away down the reach. The RS gybed early and capsized, we clung on, starting the 2nd beat in 3rd, and we were still 3rd at the end of the beat The Fireball under spinnaker powered down the reach and then was hit by a massive gust just at the gybe mark and capsized. I thought we might make 2nd in this race but once again, the Vago, although some way further back, beat us all on handicap. At this stage we havenít seen the results, so not sure where we are, but unfortunately it looks like we are set for a similar wind tomorrow with even stronger winds forecast for Tuesday and gales for Wednesday, so it looks like a very wet & windy week, and most unlikely that we will sail every day.
As for the Club racing, well I am told it was very exciting, with several capsizes and several breakages for some, and a NEW Tasar for Dennis. This is one of the new moulded hulls, complete with all the bells and whistles and by all accounts he was flying, though did not complete a race as he is still in the process of getting all the fittings sorted out. Meanwhile I am told that Steve won in the morning and Stacey sailing Dennisís old Tasar won in the afternoon, hopefully all results will be posted on Wednesday.
Our topsy turvy summer goes on. The last 2 days have been nothing but heavy mist and drizzle. Today in particular was dreadful, but by the time we arrived at the Club this evening, the rain had gone, but the air was so still. Not a breath of wind on the bay. All the burgees on various boats in the yard pointed in different directions. But slowly, ever so slowly the merest hint of a breeze could be felt, and the sky started to get lighter. It was decided that we would get enough wind to race so all the preparations took place. I rigged the Tasar but was most sceptical whether we would have enough wind to launch and indeed the most optimistic did launch but initially appeared to be going nowhere. Reluctantly Ken & I launched and to my surprise found a very light zephyr to move us forward. Almost bang on time ie 19.00 we started the race. Peter Pope had a very good start but unfortunately Simon was squeezed out at the start, and never ever recovered. Nigel, with Kelvin had a poor start right behind us and quickly tacked away, to sail into a lead by the end of the beat. A lead that grew round by round and eventually finished with enough time in hand to claim their first victory of the season. Probably Peter/ Elaine and Beacky with Adam had the best racing of the evening. Beacky getting the upper hand on the beats and Peter passing them down wind, however Beacky held them off on the last round to win the duel by only a few seconds. Denis, returning from Aaronís wedding & Sabine had a good couple of rounds, easily in 3rd position but a bad decision to head for the cliffs on the 3rd round took them out of the game, though they did tie with Steve Coello sailing with Tony (Tonyís helm had done a runner and never appeared) on equal time.
Another very light, frustrating Sunday sailing, but at least we did get out. This weekend was the Contender Open Meeting and we had a very good entry of 16 visitors, with only Allan Orton flying the flag for Porthpean, Stacey was in Scotland for the weekend at his Brotherís Wedding, so he was excused. Nevertheless the Saturday racing was sailed in superb conditions with a good 15 knot westerly breeze which allowed them all to trapeze up wind and down. The racing was followed by a BBQ social, with Simon & Sarah cooking for a good turnout of visitors and members. Today was an unbelievable contrast, with the wind so light the Contenders could barely move. The Club boats started on the same course, way out at sea, as the Contenders but 5 minutes behind them. We only sailed one triangle and then had a long beat back to the beach in a wind that allowed us some hiking and was slowly swinging more southerly. Steve Mitchell with Jo Barnes got away to a good start and pulled into a fine lead. Chris and Luke Bilkie, sailed the first beat well and managed to be 2nd boat at the windward mark. Meanwhile we had a terrible start, tangling with Russell on the start line with an infringement for him, which resulted in turns. Anna & Liz in their Bahia, stormed up the first beat and we only managed to overhaul them just before the mark. Their spinnaker pulled them up to us during the reach but the next reach allowed us to overhaul them and Chris & Luke.
The afternoon race was sailed rather differently, we waited until the Contenders had finished their 2nd and final race and then we had a ďPĒ course set for us. Steve had a bad start, reaching the line too early and was squeezed out, however he re started and made best use of the shifts to get to the windward mark first followed by Simon in his Laser. By this time the rain was falling steadily and the wind was getting lighter, what joy for the 3rd of August, but then the only difference between summer and winter this year is that it is slightly warmer. We started the 2nd round and what turned out to be the final beat just behind Simon. This time we seemed to have a bit of luck, passing Simon and eating into Steveís lead, so much so that approaching the beach marks we had actually eked into the lead. The wind by this time was so light that we could hardly move, but nevertheless there was just enough to allow us to creep across the finish line in the lead. Simon too had closed on Steve, enough to be able to beat him on handicap. Anna & Liz gave themselves a bit of a handicap by sailing 3 up and lost out quite a bit, the lighter the wind went. There are no results on the web yet for todayís racing as somehow the memory stick I use hasnít been updated, hopefully all we on the web on Wednesday night.
Surely only the British weather can be so temperamental, in contrast from the weekendís beautiful weather, tonight we were back to most unseasonal conditions again, rain, mist and a southerly breeze, which gave a lumpy bumpy set of waves on the beach. At least it was mild, the weather had been so bad during the day that I didnít think we would sail, but a ďwindowĒ appeared and enough bodies turned up to sail. Unfortunately the number of boats out was reduced to 9, a far cry from the 20 of the previous week. Tonight was John & Tonyís night. They had a good start, an extremely good first beat which gave them enough of a margin to be able to sail the rest of the race in comfort and take their first win of the season in style. We were one of 3 boats adjudged to be over the line at the start & though we re rounded as necessary, couldnít produce enough speed to make up the deficit. We swopped positions a couple of times with Peter Pope with Adam in the Enterprise and arrived at the end of the first beat behind Simon. In the light airs there was no way that we could pass him down wind and had to wait until the next beat before we could get past. Very fortunately for us Simon let his main sheet go on the beat and in the ensuing muddle, managed to capsize and then had to swim after his Laser. He did make a good comeback and finished in front of 3 Tasars. Behind, Anna & Liz appeared to be going well in the Bahia, but they too slipped further back as the race progressed. Anna told me that the boat was not cutting through the waves too much and the slamming was killing the boat speed. The wind was very frustrating as there was rarely a moment when both helm and crew could hike in comfort. It was also quite noticeable that the evenings are drawing in as dusk came round far too quickly, in fact in only another month we will be reverting to the 18.00 start times to try and race right through September.
Maybe it was the first real summer Sunday of the year,with clear skies, hot sun and a very light southerly breeze or the fact that I knew that it would be Tee shirt and shorts today,that I made the biggest error in my sailing career. We were one of the first on the water, we sailed part of the beat and checked the start line and waited for the stragglers to get to the starting area. Eventually enough were in the starting area to start the count down. The 5 minute gun was sounded and then Gary Lewis shouted to me telling me that I wasnít wearing my buoyancy aid. Panic stations; I had brought it but where was it? It was still lying on someone elseís boat, in the dinghy park, on a boat that I had moved to allow me to get my boat out. It was too late to get back to shore to get it so we allowed everyone to start, then sailed the first round to check boat speed which was good enough and then sailed for the shore to let the rest get on with the race. So a disqualification for an oversight, well rules are rules but it was an honest mistake, and at the end of the day seemed like rather petty to disqualify us as we had retired anyway. Russel & Colin were looking very handily placed but blew it on the 2nd beat when they allowed Chris & Luke Bilkie to take them on the next beat. Kay & Gary sailing together for the first time this season sailed well, closed the leaders down and won the race. However we bounced back for the 2nd race, winning it by a good margin in what was very light winds & was almost a torture to sail in. The 3rd race was sailed in even lighter conditions and a poor start prevented us from tacking to the right hand side of the course, which was the favoured way to go. Richard King & his son James, started well and sailed hard right, found the better wind and sailed into a large lead followed closely by Andrew & Jenny Kendall in their Scorpion. We managed to round 4th just behind Simon Price in his Laser, but in the light conditions couldnít make any headway until the start of the 2nd round. We passed both the Laser & the Scorpion on the next beat and closed on the Merlin but couldnít make up enough time to catch him. Meanwhile Adam & Sabine who had been deserted by their helms for the day, used the Club Lasers to sail in but unfortunately the conditions were too light for them to really enjoy their freedom. John & Tony managed to set a very good course in the very trying conditions, which if the wind had been a bit stronger would have been a joy to race on.
It was quite a memorable sail tonight as we had the best turn out of the season with 20 boats launching through the surf, into a light south easterly. I forsook my yellow sailing shorts for the wetsuit tonight as I knew I would be standing well over my waist in waves, whilst holding the boat Actually launching wasnít too bad as the tide was only about ĺ height, but was coming in. Sailing conditions them selves were horrible. The beat was straight out to sea, with no wind shifts and just a lumpy sea to try & punch through, then quite a broad reach followed by another broad reach. I think this course was set for conventional spinnaker boats and certainly didnít suit the Tasars & RS400s. However over the course of a season you do have to get used to sailing in all sorts of conditions. The fun started as we made our way back to the beach to try and land through a dumping sea. Oh how at times like this it would be so much easier to be sailing on a pond. We actually finished 3rd on the water, behind the Contenders of Allan & Richard, but they didnít realise that the race had finished and headed off up the beat for another round, so we were the first boat to attempt the perilous landing, unaided. Well for once luck was with us; we sailed in on relatively flat water which was flat enough for me to hold the boat whilst Ken found the trolley. Even then we managed to get the boat on and haul her out of the water, onto a very pebbly beach, that was sinking and sucking with the undertow, without too much difficulty. John Mark followed us in and he too landed with our aid, again without any untoward dramas. Now for some reason as the rest of the fleet crossed the beach marks, they were unable to hear the horn so headed off for another lap. I think they had seen the Contenders on the beat and thought that the race still had another lap to go. Anyway that was their undoing as the wind was starting to do its usual trick towards sunset and that was dying away. Eventually they all made their way to the beach in very little wind and by now much larger surf. Kay out for only her 2nd race of the season, managed to capsize about 15 metres from the beach, when her crew trying to disembark jumped out with the mainsheet tangled round his legs. By the time her Scorpion was righted it was full of water and had to be dragged up the beach. What a way to treat a nice wooden boat. Anyway one by one we managed to gather all the boats onto the shore and onto their trolleys, until finally it was the safety boatís turn to land. Simon swam out to it and then drove it hard up the beach. I think he got 10 out of 10 for it as he managed to get the boat much further up the beach than Beacky normally does. Maybe it was beginners luck, but it looked very impressive to all who were waiting. The worst thing of all though was no Jenny March down tonight which in turn meant no bacon butties. So we had to go home wet and hungry, but full of tales of high adventure. I see that south easterlies are forecast for Sunday, so we could be having more of the same. Time will tell.
Today was one of the more exciting day's races that we will get this summer & we should have had more than the 16 boats sailing than we did. I hadn't realised that today was the July Cup which would mean 2 races in the morning and 2 in the afternoon which would give 1 discard. I knew that due to family commitments I wouldnít be down until lunch time so told Ken that I could only do the afternoon races. When I arrived at the Club I discovered that the July Cup was today, so I thought I would have enough time to rig the boat and make the 2nd morning race and then compete in the afternoon, which would give me 3 races with the 1st morning race as a discard. Complications set in when I found Ken was out crewing for Steve Mitchell. Panic, now no crew, fortunately Brian Phillips was down and he very generously agreed to crew for me. So we set off to make a start for the 2nd race. The wind was a very gusty westerly, blowing mostly around the 18 knot mark with some very strong gusts thrown in as an extra challenge. Steve & Ken won the first race and went on to win the 2nd. Brian & I finished 2nd but only 40 seconds on corrected time in front of Simon who is sailing very fast in fresh breezes. Inevitably some boats fell bt the wayside and the safety boat was kept busy attending capsized boats and towing some in. The reaches were awesome. The Tasars seemed to go into hypo drive, absolutely flying through the water, and I even wore my yellow sailing shorts, yes it seemed like summer had arrived if only for a few days. As it was a cup day it seemed only right that Ken continued with Steve and Brian was quite willing to occupy the front seat again, so off we all went with a changed course for the 2 afternoon races. The wind this time was even stronger in the gusts and almost caught us out several times. Stacey & Millie rigged the RS Feva for the afternoon races, and it just goes to show how well the little RS Feva goes when sailed by a good helm, with Stacey & Millie finishing 3rd in that race, but the strong conditions were a bit too much for Millie so they called it a day. Steveís jib halyard parted company at the end of the 2nd beat & we sailed on to claim a victory. During the interval we sought a quieter life by sailing in close to the shore. This almost cost me my top section as a sudden gust caught us off guard and we were literally blown over. Yes the boat inverted, and it was obvious that the mast was touching the bottom. Well lady luck played her part as we quickly pulled the boat upright and the only damage was a bent wind indicator, phew lucky indeed. We sailed out again for the 4th race, but the race officer decided to cancel it due to the high toll in broken boats. The cup was then decided on 3 races and Steve & Ken even with a retirement and the vagaries of the scoring system still came out on top just beating Simon by a point. Unfortunately by not racing in the first race our score was too high to get into the prizes, so all our efforts and capsize were to no avail. Luckily the boat is still in good repair and lives to sail another day.
I had been watching the wind all day whilst at work and was hoping that the fresh westerly was going to last into the evening & sure enough it did. The bright weather of the day tempted 20 boats to launch for the start of the 4th race of the summer series. The conditions looked nigh on perfect with a northerly breeze, that produced a flat sea and a breeze that changed in intensity and shifted round quite a lot. Nigel, James & Kelvin set quite a large course, which gave a long tricky beat and 2 good reaches that varied from close to broad and were never the same twice, so it was important to sail to the conditions at all times. We got out onto the course early, which enabled us to check the line for bias, well there was no appreciable port bias so we knew where we wanted to start. We sailed the beat for about 5 minutes, noting the mean compass readings, which would allow us to know when the shifts were present, then practiced a start and we were ready for the gun. Again we had 6 Tasars and 5 Lasers racing, plus a good mixture of other classes to add to the spice of handicap sailing. We had quite a good start and were soon able to tack across the fleet to what we had judged to be the better side of the course. The wind coming out from Charlestown was considerably fresher than that if you took the often lifted, under the cliff course. Tonight was a good night for having a compass & I credit that with all the distance we put between us and the rest of the fleet. Peter Pope made an uncharacteristic error when he let go his tiller mid tack and rolled his Enterprise into the sea, giving his crew Elaine her first ever capsize. One she was laughing about afterwards as she had always been dreading it. Unfortunately Peter couldnít sail the water out so he had to retire. We managed to stay in breeze for the entire race but those finishing later than us were subjected to the wind slowly dying, hence plummeting some of them much further down the results than they should have been. The Tasars had a good night as they took the first 3 places on handicap, showing what a good boat they are for racing at Porthpean. John & Tony maintaining their improvement, holding off Stacey who was sailing Denis's Tasar.
Above is a picture of Craig & Adrian taken by Stacey a couple of Sundays ago. The boys are obviously enjoying sailing the Kestel.
At half past 5 this morning I was woken up by our Granddaughter Jessica, who was staying with us for the weekend, deciding that she wanted to sleep in our bed. The up side of that is that I did awake to bright sunshine shining in the window, so by 6.00 I was up and about thinking we were going to get a nice summers day for a change, well we almost did, & I even decided that the yellow shorts would be worn no matter what, but by 10.00 the clouds had rolled in and although it was mild, was still far away from a proper summers day. We had a light, south westerly wind, which was very constant without any wind shifts to play with. 17 boats sailed out to do battle and it was a welcome return by Brian Reeves, in his Laser, who has had a lay off due to an injured leg. Our safety boat team for the day was Pete & Janet Barnes, who set a very good course, but forgot to take the flags with them, so they improvised. The 5 minute gun became a paddle and the 4 minute gun became Peteís spray top. All in all a non conventional set of flags, but so what, this is Porthpean and it would take more than a missing set of flags to stop us sailing . Anyway we all got off to a clean start. Our own start was terrible, I struggled to get any sort of boat speed up the beat, before I realised that I had the main cleated down far too tight, with the result that the air flow over the sails was next to nothing. Nigel & James had a very good first beat, actually crossing ahead of us at one time. We eventually got to the windward mark with 3 Tasars and Beackyís Ent in front of us, with Steve & Jo in a Tasar leading the fleet. In the light wind there was nothing we could do down wind though John & Tony actually sailed past Steve & Jo, before Steve re took his lead. John & Tony managed to pass Steve again on the next beat, but again he passed them down wind. This time sailing off to a respectful lead which he kept to the end. We slowly nibbled away at those in front of us. Beacky was passed on the first reach, but it took us 2 more beats before we passed Chris & Luke Bilkie and we eventually passed John & Tony at the start of the last beat, which allowed us to pull away from them, eventually giving us a 2nd.
The afternoon race started as a windier affair, well it was for about 10 minutes, and the fresher breeze lasted long enough to allow us to round the first mark in front of Steve & Jo. A game of cat & mouse then went on for the rest of the race, in a dying breeze. We, pulling away slightly on the beats and Steve pulling us back down wind. We started the last reach with a reasonable lead but Steve, sailing much faster, almost caught us and fortunately for us, even allowing for my mistake of gybing right on the beach marks of the last round, still managed to hold him off by 3 seconds, which was very close sailing indeed. But summer itself is still eluding us. Sorry no picture this week, my time has been in short supply, helping Sue look after 2 Granddaughters.
Today must have been the wettest day for a long time. It was raining when I woke up at 6.00 this morning and has rained quite heavily all day. It was still raining quite hard and blowing quite strongly when I joined the other dismal faces at the Club tonight. All of them were suffering from the unseasonal weather conditions. I suppose sailing wise we have had a good run lately for our Wednesday races, not missing one for over 6 weeks, usually most lost Wednesdays over past seasons have been due to beautiful weather and no wind, but tonight is the complete opposite. Horrible weather and lots of wind, add the two together and the sailing goes out the window. Well at least I can sit down and watch the Tour de France with its very pleasant looking scenery. Actually the weather did relent but not until after the abandonment decision was made. The forecast for the weekend is for better weather & maybe just maybe my yellow sailing shorts will come out again. The picture here was taken by Stacey on Sunday and illustrates a very important sailing tip ďKeep your crew happyĒ, notice the smile on Kenís face, enough said.
What unbelievable weather, for the 3rd weekend on the trot we have been assailed with quite strong westerly breezes. When I saw the forecast last Friday I thought that there was no way that we would sail today, not with 29 knot winds and heavy rain forecast. In the event the wind in the morning was light enough to sail in without any undue dramas and the sunny periods looked well set for the day. So it was that 14 boats sailed off the beach out into the bay. Fortunately for us, Stacey was on the safety boat, so at least we had a chance of a first, although Alan Orton turned up to sail his Contender. No body wanted to sail the new format of windward leeward course in the fresh breeze, so we compromised by sailing an Olympic configuration instead. A very good decision indeed as we did have 2 excellent reaching legs, which pleased everybody no end. Steve Mitchell turned up today with his Laser and he and Simon had a very good battle with Steve taking an early lead but Simon pulled him back and eventually beat him by about a minute. Our 7 second lead, which we had last Wednesday over John & Tony turned into several minutes this morning as Ken & I made the most of the shifty beats to take the gun, even finishing in front of Allan on the water. For those watching from the shore the conditions looked quite manageable so much so that Chris Bilkie rigged his Tasar for his first outing this year and launched for the afternoon races. Well we hadnít been on the water more than 15 minutes when the next squall came over. This one had some teeth in it and Chris sailed back for the shelter of the shore. The wind was strong enough to blow Beacky & Adam in so the rest of us knew that we had to keep alert to prevent us suffering the same fate. The wind had backed more south westerly for the afternoon and Stacey soon altered the course configuration to give us a starboard hand course with a P shaped down wind leg. A course that really suited the Tasar & we took full advantage of it on the downwind legs. The wind was freshening all the time and took its toll enough, with several capsizes, so that only 3 of us finished the race. Well that was enough for the day. We were all tired and just glad to get back to the shore where it seemed so peaceful. A further squall came along and the bay turned white with the increased wind strength, which made us feel that our decision was the right one, so none of us felt bad about refusing a 3rd race.
Above is another picture from Tina Thomas's collection showing the Merlin Rocket on the beach in 1952. Note the wheels of the launching trolley on the right. There was no such thing as dinghy trolley wheels in those days.
Well here we are in July, with the 2008 season almost half way through. A fresh westerly wind had been blowing all day and was enough to show a few white horses at sea as we arrived for tonightís race and then it rained and really tipped it down in a very heavy shower and when it had finished, the wind died with it, well almost. We still had enough breeze to hike and to plane off wind but the early strength had disappeared. Our race officer for the night made a few fundamental mistakes when he first went out, which caused a certain amount of hilarity, which to save his blushes I wonít mention here, but having said all that he did set a very good course and even better start line. We had a good look at the line and detected a certain amount of port bias, so to try and improve my starts after being caught napping by Simon on Sunday afternoon I decided to try and get away with a port hand flyer. In the event we just made it, being right on the line, at speed, as the gun went and just cleared the faster boats that were coming down the line to try and catch us. A lovely feeling indeed, but unfortunately the wind which had been so promising at the start slowly faded on us and we were left with quite a sedate sail. John and Tony hounded us around the course, always managing to pull us back on the very broad reach, yet we would pull away again on the beats. We started what was to become the last reach in to the beach marks with what I thought was a comfortable lead, but they gradually caught up and despite plenty of cheering and encouragement from the spectators in the Club house just failed to catch us with a deficit of only 7 seconds. Back in the pack, Tim Baily sailed a blinder in his Laser, finishing in front of the rest of the Tasars, but could only make 4th on handicap, being only 10 seconds behind Nigelís RS400, nevertheless Tim was quite a distance in front of Simon who has been performing exceptionally well over the last few weeks. In fact the race was quite boring; no wind shifts, no planning and no real hiking, and apart from almost being caught at the end lacked excitement. It was one of those races you just had to get through, so I was glad to get a good result. But at least we were out there, enjoying the delights of Portpean and the pleasures of the Clubhouse, with bacon butties and a pint afterwards.
After the strong winds of last weekend, we were all hoping for something a little more sedate today & at first it appeared that was going to be the case. The wind was still in the west but from the shore did look as though there was much less wind. However once we got out close to the beach marks it was obvious that we were being lulled into a false sense of security. The wind was there in abundance with similar sudden gusts to last weekend but were marginally less fierce. The first race was the new format of windward leeward course & again it was a monster beat. I made a complete mess of the start, just getting to the end of the line a few seconds too early which left us no choice but to gybe round and cross behind the entire fleet. Richard Armstrong in his Contender blasted away & John & Tony in their Tasar hammered up the long beat leaving us woefully behind in 3rd place. Well there was nothing we could do on the run and we started the next beat quite a way behind them but encouraging enough we managed to make some good inroads into their lead, this time turning onto the run only 6 or 7 boat lengths behind them. The 3rd beat gave us our chance. They tacked early, we stood on and when we next crossed it was us in the lead, well Richard was really leading and built up an enormous distance on us. Meanwhile Simon Pryce had sailed well in his Laser and managed to sail into 3rd on handicap.
The wind strength stayed with us for the afternoon, in fact had increased somewhat, for a P shaped course which turned out not too well as the first reach was a run, the 2nd reach was too tight, but there you are it is the same for everyone, but what a waste of good reaching with the wind at that strength! This time our start was much better and we led at the end of the first beat, but we couldnít keep Richard behind us for long. He again built up a big lead which converted into another win. Stacey was out in the Feva with Millie and sailed well, even finishing in front of Beackyís Enterprise on the water, giving them a 3rd overall. The safety boat was kept in full use dealing with quite a few capsizes further down the fleet.
A depleted fleet of only 4 of us started the next race and I was caught napping by Simon at the start. I had to severely kill our speed otherwise I would have been luffed into the safety boat. This time the 505 of Justin tore up the first beat & increased his lead over us on the runs. These spinnaker things do help, much to our annoyance, but the next beat suited us better and by the end of it we had squeezed past them. Trouble with their kite kept them behind us and we started the last beat with a comfortable lead, which did give us our first win of the day. The morning race results are not up yet as they are missing from my memory stick, but will update during the week. Oh yes another rimder about the BBQ next Saturday evening, only £3.50 per head.
6 months to Christmas today!!, yes we are half way through the year already, but hopefully still have some good sailing times to come. We had quite strong winds today at work, so I was anxiously looking at the wind strength wondering whether we would actually sail tonight. As I drove down the hill to the Club I could see that the white horses, so evident on Sunday were missing, which assured me that we would be racing with a better turnout than Sunday for the Wednesday race. Indeed the conditions were nigh on perfect, with a good westerly sweeping out into the bay, which gave us a flat sea and plenty of windshifts. Enough wind to keep everybody on their toes and enough movement in the wind to ensure you were constantly looking for wind shifts and having to endure the frustrations of mega wind changes in the beach mark area. In the event we did have a good turnout though missing some of our regulars. Well for those who missed it let me assure you that you missed a first class sail and we wonít get many better than that of tonight this season. It was another Stacey Bray victory in the conditions but we had a good chance against Richard Armstrong in his Contender and the 2 of us battled throughout the race and we eventually ended up just 6 seconds behind him on the water, which easily favoured our handicap. Elsewhere back in the pack there were some good Tasar battles. John Mark pulled away from Denis & Brianís Tasars but those two had a very good tussle before Denis eventually broke away. Simon Pryce in his Laser sailed very well actually beating one of the Tasars on the water, meanwhile Beacky with his more experienced crew, Adam who had been competing all day in the local schools sailing championships at Restronguet pulled out a large gap on Peter Pope & Elaine before Peter retired. As we quietly sailed in to the beach after the race we could smell the waft of Jennieís bacon butties cooking, promising the end to a very enjoyable evenings sailing. As we congregated in the bar, the entire bay could be seen with by this time a very flat sea and the Eddystone Lighthouse flashing in the distance. There is probably nowhere better in the UK on a summers evening than the peace and sight of Porthpean Bay, with the sea gently lapping the shoreline. I thought I would dig into the archives for this picture which was taken whilst Colin was working on the Clubhouse balcony conversion with John Hill in 2003
It was the longest day yesterday and many of us will remember it as a very wet, miserable day, so it was much more pleasing to see drier, sunnier conditions for today, albeit with a fresh, very fresh westerly wind, which unfortunately became stronger as the day went on. Last week saw the end of the spring series and today the start of the summer series. For this series of races we are trying a different format, with a windward leeward race in the morning and 2 ďPĒ type courses in the afternoon. Iím not sure how the windward leeward races will be received, in fact I have heard some grumblings in the dinghy park that it doesnít suit their type of dinghy. Really they are designed for asymmetric type spinnaker boats and as we donít have many of those out it does seem a waste of good reaches. However it does make us practice another discipline of sailing, as the Tasars usually have a run in their National races. Anyway back to today. The wind was a very strong gusty westerly, which started to really make its presence felt as we sailed out of the shelter of the cliffs into the main confines of St. Austell bay. The wind strength started off about the 18 knots range but increased to somewhere in the 20ís in the afternoon, so much so that the 2nd race was called off as nobody wanted to sail in it. Today was Contender weather and Stacey took full advantage of it winning both races by a huge margin. Behind him was chaos at times with the majority of the other boats succumbing to a capsize or two. Steve Mitchell with Pete Barnes crewing just managed to beat us on the finish line.
Iím certainly glad I wasnít sailing a Laser as that was really hard work, so itís well done to Simon & Tim who sailed on getting absolutely soaked. The same fleet set off for the afternoon races but it was noticeably stronger as we sailed out to the start. This time the beat was even harder with some very vicious gusts coming through, so much so that we bailed out at the end of the beat and sailed back to shore, for me enough was enough. The others sailed on, and all capsized apart from Steve, yes even Stacey but that wasnít enough to stop him winning again.
Weíve had quite a nice summery spell for the last few weeks, but the Cornish summer finally ground to a halt today. Rain showers swept in to the accompaniment of a fresh to strong south westerly wind. A wind forecast to reach gale force later in the night. This was the background but with a deceptive scene of apparent light wind for us as we turned up for the mid week race. Yes deceptive is right. There was only a light breeze blowing at the Clubhouse but out at sea it was a different matter. The constant white horses told the real tale & that was force 5 with gusts. Tonight was the last race of the spring series & Ken & I were in the fortunate position of not having to sail, so I took the easy way out and declared that I wasnít going to sail, after all I donít see the point at my age of flogging the sails and boat to death just for a good soaking. I was fortunate enough to leave that to others. Mind you if I had needed the points then I think I would have made the effort. In the end only Stacey in his Contender & Nigel & Kelvin in Nigelís RS 400 decided to go. A not too large course was laid and an encouraging audience in the Clubhouse, with lots of oohs and aahs watched them launch and race. Stacey powered into a quick lead and managed to capsize on the 2nd reach but was up & running before Nigel reached him, then on the 2nd gybe Nigel elected to wear round. His subsequent broad reach to the 2nd beach mark proved fatal & in he went. This was enough for him and back to the beach he came, leaving Stacey to race on unopposed. The showers gave way to heavy drizzle and stronger wind as they came ashore & the visibility quickly deteriorated. Nevertheless, because there had been a race Jenny still cooked her bacon butties, but it was a much smaller crowd than normal who were left drinking in the Clubhouse. Well that is the end of the spring series of races. Next Sunday will be the first of the summer series, though the weatherman promises us some rain, just to make sure we donít enjoy our sport too much.
Above is another picture from Tina Thomas's collection, showing an early Merlin Rocket on the beach just in front of the toilet block, which is still there today.
This has been quite a busy weekend. On Saturday we had some social sailing, taking one or two newcomers out and then in the evening there was a curry night at the Club, when some 30 plus sat down for the meal, which unfortunately I missed. There will be some photographs on the social pages soon, so watch for the updated logo to appear on the front page. Today was the June cup, and it was the Tasar fleet that were down to run the event. The intention was to have 4 short races, lasting about 30 minutes each. We selected the ďPĒ course and Ken & I elected to run the first race. The wind was very light & variable & it took us quite a time to set what looked like a good course. Unfortunately the wind was not playing ball with us and went very light and variable forcing us to up anchor and move marks more than once. Eventually we started and 15 boats raced in the most frustrating of conditions. Alan Orton took an early lead, but Steve Mitchell pulled him back and then took a comfortable lead which converted into a win, with Simon Pryce in his Laser 2nd & Allan Orton 3rd. By the end of the race the wind had veered so much that we tried to set a new course. Each time we thought that we were ready the wind would change direction again. Fortunately it died completely so we decided to have lunch and try again in the afternoon. Tony & John took the safety boat for the next set of races & we managed to get all 3 races in, but what difficulties we had. The wind was constantly changing in both direction and strength. One moment you could be planning quite hard and the next sit there with no wind. Many places were swapped around due to this. We even started the last race off on a dead run, just to try and get some sailing in. Steve won all the rest of the races, we were 2nd in the first, and Stacey & Mille in the Feva managed a 2nd in the next race, with Simon 2nd in the last race. Adam Eastham started all races in the Club Topper, but the very light & fickle winds did not suit him much at all. The format for 4 short races was well received and will hopefully be repeated in the next cup race which is in either July or August.
Our brilliant spell of fine weather coupled with excellent sailing winds continued into this Wednesdayís race. At 18.00 we still had blue skies and sunshine with a moderate to fresh westerly wind. Not surprising then that we had the largest turn out of the season with some 19 boats, including 7 Tasars, which is the highest Tasar turnout this century. Unfortunately Peter Phillips capsized on the way in, turtled, and broke his top section.
A large, starboard hand course was set by Pete & Janet Barnes, which allowed us all to really stretch our legs and test the wind shifts as we beat in from far out at sea. Tonight was a good time to have a tactical compass on board. Yes as we approached the beach marks the shifts became more of a challenge but were hugely rewarding when they turned out right. The start line had a nice bit of port bias on it, just enough to tempt Simon Pryce to try his luck, and it almost paid off. We just managed to call starboard on him, before he could escape the pack and claim his freedom, which in turn dropped him down the results. Tim Baily taking full advantage of a new top mast for his Laser sailed into an overall 3rd position. Ken & I had a real ding dong throughout the race with the Contender of Richard Armstrong and the RS400 of Nigel Dowrick & Kelvin. We all shared the lead at the end of each beat at different times, though Richard did eventually take line honours. Back in the pack it was good to see the two Enterprises of Peter Pope & Paul Beacon racing each other, with Paul holding Peter off to the end, though there wasnít much in it. Kay Ecclestone probably had the slowest race of the night, sailing the Club Topper, instead of her Scorpion as her crew did not arrive in time.
The Club house was a relaxed, comfortable place to be in, with the aroma of Jennyís bacon butties permeating the air. This was Wednesday night sailing at its best. As I made my way home I could see the mist forming on the hills overlooking St. Austell, which was heralding the end of this spell of good weather. Still it had given very good sailing conditions for the last 2 weeks, & no doubt it will return again soon.
PS don't forget: This Sunday is the June Cup,. A one off race day comprising 3 races.
No shadow of a doubt but today was Porthpean at its best. A beautiful sunny day, wind force 2-3 north westerly, plenty of shifts and wind strength up & down & so unpredictable. Those who missed today missed one of the best days that we will get this year, though it is only June so there is plenty of time to replicate the conditions. Yes it was Tee shirt and shorts weather again, which makes it so much nicer. Actually the morning race was steadier, in as much as the wind was more predictable, for the 15 boats that raced. It was nice to see Stacey & Millie racing the Feva against that of Nigel & James. Stacey pulled into a big lead but Nigel ate into it and finished very close behind him, both boats finishing 3rd & 4th overall, which shows how competitive the little Feva is. Allan Orton made his first appearance of the season today, so hopefully we might see more of him in the coming weeks. I made a hash of the start being recalled for being over the line at the start but luckily a quick jibe allowed us to shoot to the starting buoy and re round, which effectively gave us a free choice of which way to sail the first beat, which by the end of we had sailed into 3rd, slotting in behind Simon Pryce in his Laser. He was having a very good race and it wasnít until the 2nd reach that we managed to overtake him.
The afternoon race gave us slightly different conditions,the wind was in the same direction but it had increased a little and was coming in gusts and was so changeable and was set to catch many people out. Our start was much better this time and we shot over the line without any problems. Stacey decided to sail his Contender for this race and after a good first beat promptly sailed off into the distance. The wind was at its most tricky around the beach marks which made the concentration factor so special. It was so easy to be caught by a sudden header. Some times the reaches were blindingly fast, but never the same 2 rounds running. Looking back I could see several different battles developing, especially between John Mark- Tasar, Pete Barnes- Kestrel & John King- Merlin Rocket, before Pete managed to beat the pair of them. Dennis Bray & Brian Phillips were also having a ding dong, with Brian leading but Dennis hauled him back & passed him on the last beat. Yes this was a race you could never relax in and there were plenty of opportunities to make or lose a good position. Every body returned to the beach with huge grins, and tales of fast reaching and frustrating beats.
Iíd been watching the weather all day, as Monday & Tuesday had been really nice days with good sailing breezes. Today, Wednesday, was forecast to become wet and windy as the day went on, coming in from the south west. The burning question was what time would it reach St. Austell. Well it did spit a bit about 5 oíclock, but that didnít come to anything and there was a nice breeze, probably in the 10-12 knot range from the south, so a good fleet launched, including 6 Tasars, from the slipway into a confused sea, but at least no waves and no drama. Tonight Ken & I had a very good race. The start line was very biased for a starboard start & we shot out from under the safety boat into a comfortable first beat. It was a real joy to be able to hike and drive the boat after the light airs of the previous weekend. We lead at the first mark, only to be passed by the Contender of Richard Armstrong & the RS400 of Nigel Dowrick/ Kelvin Kirkham down wind. However at the end of each of the 4 beats we always managed to round first, but always losing out to Nigel on the broad reach when his spinnaker came into its own. There were several capsizes and Tim Baily even managed to break the mast of his laser, unfortunately tearing the mainsail at the same time. Dennis Bray with Sabine came 3rd which was very encouraging for him as he is making a come back. John Mark & Tony Dunn recovered well after a very bad start to overhaul, Mike Voyzeyís & Russell Mooreís Tasars It started to drizzle whilst we were out and became heavier by the time we were all ashore, but we managed to beat the worst of the weather and the forecast is set fair for the weekend and even the wind direction looks favourable. Yes summer has sort of arrived, please come and sail and enjoy it. Donít forget that there is a curry night at the Club on Saturday 14th June.
Today was certainly not a vintage day for sailing and at 10.00 there was not a breath to be seen. The bay was like a mill pond and even the day marker some 3 miles away was showing a reflection in the water. Nevertheless by 10.30 the hint of a breeze could be seen making its way past Blackhead and slowly, ever so slowly making its way towards us. The decision to have lunch and sail 2 races back to back starting at 13.30 was made and so the morning race was started slightly later than usual in a very light 3 knots of wind from the south. The hot sunny weather at least allowed the yellow sailing shorts to make another appearance and those, together with a Tee shirt was my preferred sailing gear for today. Well today was another day for firsts. Yes it was June 1st (first day of Summer) and also the first time this year that Kay has sailed in her Scorpion, where she enjoyed a very good first beat. Nigel who was intending to sail the RS Feva with James, elected instead to sail his RS400 and teamed up with Beacky. James then teamed up with Adam Eastham in the Feva and from what I hear they thoroughly enjoyed the sail. In fact we had 17 boats out, which was higher than we have had for a while and how nice it looked to see so many boats on the water. Needless to say the breeze that we had was very, very light. There was no way that 2 could sit on the side deck, but there was just enough to drive the boats through the water.
Midway through the 2nd race the wind appeared to drop completely and those of us who sat it out just managed to creep home. Though we always say that there is no apparent tide in the bay, in fact there is a slow flow from right to left when the tide is making. A fact that caught a few out as they attempted to round the wing mark, only to drift either onto the buoy or drift in towards the beach.
The above picture was taking a fortnight ago when we did have wind plus a tricky surf to contend with.
I discovered on Monday that we were down for Safety Boat duty again, so felt rather peeved when I saw that the forecast was for westerly winds, instead of those interminable easterlies that we seemed to have had for so long. Anyway like good boys Ken & I turned up for our duty, only to find that the moderate westerly that had been blowing all day was gradually fading. By the time we started it was down to just over 3 knots and the 10 boats sailing were making painfully slow progress, so much so that I was quite relieved to be on the safety boat and not racing. The race itself was dramatically shortened, even then only 4 boats managed to crawl round the 1 triangle of a moderately short course. The bacon butties tasted even better after coming ashore. Yes tonightís sail was a far cry from the adrenalin fuelled reaches of Saturday, but then that is sailing. You rarely know from one day to the next what sort of conditions you are going to get.
Our long awaited Tasar SW Areas finally arrived & how typical the forecast was, still for easterly winds. Fortunately on Saturday the wind had veered round more to the north east which did allow us to launch without too much trouble through the waves. Out on the course the wind was generally in the 12-14 knots range, with some stronger gusts and weaker areas thrown in for good measure. Ron Barret had agreed to act as Race Officer and on Saturday was ably assisted by Anna Weld. An immaculate course was laid, with it being just the right length. The course was the Tasar favoured course the reverse ďPĒ. This course invariably gives good reaches and today these were excellent, with a strong swell to surf down. Everyone & I mean everyone came ashore beaming with the speeds and thrills they achieved planning down them. I think we were all dreading the sail back to the beach through the surf but in the event we all managed to land without any undue dramas, and it was a weary fleet who trudged up the slip way at the end of the day.
A special Porthpean BBQ was laid on in the evening with live music supplied by ďHigh TideĒ. The Clubhouse was really rocking later on, with well over 100 people enjoying the food and music. Pictures of the night are on the social pages.
Sunday almost became an anticlimax. The dire forecast of wind and rain seemed to have blown itself out in the night as we were greeted with just some showery rain and hardly any wind. At least the launching was easier as the waves although still powerful did allow reasonable launching. The little wind that we had was still in the north east, but the adrenalin lead planning of yesterday was not to seen today. We had 3 races scheduled and they were all going to be sailed back to back over a triangular course. The first 2 races were dominated by Pete & Charlotte. Ken's & my first race, proved a bit of a disaster when I elected to take the scenic route up the 2nd beat which dropped us down from a very close 4th position to a long way back 6th. Our bad luck turned out to John Marks & Tony Dunns advantage when they shot into 4th place which they held on to the end. The next race was more to our liking when we rounded the first mark 2nd in much lighter winds, which we held to the finish. I think at this stage we were overall 2nd, but a very poor start on my part for the last race and a very good first beat for Steve Mitchell sailing with Jo Barnes, which saw them take the lead which they gradually extended to give them the last race. I was pleased that after our very poor first beat we did manage to climb to 3rd position. By this time the weather had improved no end, the clouds had broken up and the fleet returned home in glorious sunshine. Overall it was a very good weekend for the Club as a healthy profit was made from the event and the visitors returned home with good memories of Porthpean.
It was purely frustration that made me race tonight. Three weeks of none sailing were taking there toll & although we still had a south easterly wind blowing I decided that the waves were not too steep nor too strong. Big mistake on my part, I watched Nigel launch his RS400 without any drama, so far so good. I watched Nick on his Contender get launched and drift back to the beach before a launching party pushed him out again. I watched Steve Coello launch his RS 400 and get pushed back onto the beach before a launching party thrust hime out into the waves again. I watched Chris Hazel launch his Supernova and manage to sail through the surf so why not me? Well I summoned the beach party and before they could change their minds, we lifted the Tasar off the trolley and into the water & then we were hit by wave after wave. The boat was swamped, right up to the top of the dagger board case. The choice now was whether to carry on launching or lift back on to the trolley. Sheer bloody mindedness made me carry on with the launch and with an effort we lumbered through the surf, with a Tasar that probably weighed more than double its normal weight. We should have capsized the boat to drain the water out, but didn't dare do that in shallow water as we could have broken the mast, so we struggled on and just made the start line as the gun went so we sailed on hoping the water would drain. Well it slowly drained, but there was so much sea weed around that it was blocking the bailer, so emptying it was very slow, in fact it wasn't until the last set of reaches that the level was low enough not to be slowing us down. Anyway we struggled on and fortunately Steve capsized on the firts gybe mark, then Nick capsized, so we only had Nigel to chase. The water slowly drained out and as the water went so the speed of the Tasar crept up, so much so that when we eventually finished we had just enough time in hand to beat Nigel on handicap, though I didn't know it at the time. The next problem was to get the boat back through the surf and onto the beach. Fortunately we did have a very good recovery team waiting. Nigel went first, and landed without any dram. We sailed in next, lovely landing, caught by many hands & then a set of waves struck us and poured over the transom. Anyway with enough people around we lifted the boat onto its trolley and dragged her clear. The boat still felt very heavy and that's when I discovered that several gallons had poured through the hatch covers, so we had been carrying even more weight than I thought. No wonder the boat had felt so sluggish sailing round the course. So there we were, safe and sound on the beach, the boat covered in weed, but most importantly no damage, apart from a very wet crew. We have had easterlies for over 2 weeks now & it's about time that the weather changed and the south westerlies returned, and then maybe the sailing season can start being more pleasurable again.
That's another of Tina's pictures above showing a Redwing sitting on the beach, photo taken in the 1950s when we all lived in a black and white world.
A very difficult decision to make today as the wind as forecasted was from the south east, which inevitably produces waves. There were three of us Tasars down to sail & we all came to the same conclusion, no not today, we do have the Tasar SW Areas at Porthpean next weeknd and today was not the day to break anything. However a few stalwarts did decide to launch & race, so I think they were quite glad that those of us not sailing decided to give them a hand get out through the surf. Amongst them was my son Neil who is down with us for a week & has just bought a blaze and today was his 4th sail in it. He managed a creditable 3rd which was very good as he did have a capsize which dropped him back from a certain 2nd. We safely launched all the boats and even managed to retrieve them all when they finished.
The reduced fleet was enlarged in the afternoon when Nigel took Kay out in his RS400, Anna took Ken & Adam out in the Bahia & Richard King joined the racing in his Merlin. Simon excelled today winning both races, he was telling me that he is fitter than last year mainly down to his training for the London marathon. The actual wind strength wasn't too great, probably about force 4, & only Richard had a capsize this afternoon. The race was stopped aftre 4 laps and then the interesting part, returning to shore!! They all headed home to be caught one by one, by the beach party, all except Anna who manged to surf down a wave and sailed straight up the beach. Good job too as the Bahia is a weighty machine. As you may guess by now I was feeling rather annoyed with myself for not being more determined to launch as I haven't sailed for the last three Sundays and the forecast for this week is for more easterlies. Still it was my decision & I would have felt very annoyed if I had damaged my Tasar with the SW Areas scheduled for next weekend, so at least I live to sail another day. Will Wednesday be any better? Don't think so but Watch this space.
Canít believe I was suckered into going out again when it was fairly obvious that there wouldnít be enough wind to sail. We had an easterly blowing all day, but by sailing time it had died down a lot and even swung into the south, before moving back with a very light wind to the east. The surf itself wasnít too bad so Craig & Kay launched the Kestrel and lo & behold it started to move. That was enough to convince 10 other helms to launch also. Well we did sail out in enough wind to move and for a while it appeared that this was the right decision, but as the one minute gun went the wind disappeared totally, and Ken & I were left floundering around trying to get over the start line. Then the rain came, lightly at first but ominously the Gribben had disappeared in a very dark cloud, then lo & behold thunder & lightning descended on us. With that 11 boats turned around and headed back for the beach. The abandonment flag was soon flown, but by then we had all decided to avert the chance of being struck by lightning and were paddling furiously for the beach. Anyway the rain came down heavier & heavier, turning into a real down pour. Thank goodness Jennyís bacon butties were ready for us when we eventually changed off and made the sanctuary of the Clubhouse.
Congratulations to Stacey Bray, who has just returned from the Contender Nationals, where after a very curtailed racing programme due to exceptionally light winds he emerged as 2nd overall.
The EGM was held tonight. Anna & Liz who are members, wish to start a sailing school at Porthpean & to do so would require to rent some of our field to store their boats and equipment. Over 40 members attended the meeting and were given a very professional presentation by the ladies as to what they wanted to achieve, how they could help the Club & what they would require from the Club. After the presentation there was a question & answer session when quite a few points were raised by members who were concerned whether the liaison would be to the Clubís benefit. A sub Committee had been discussing the proposal over a period of several months. Gary explained what safeguards the Committee had negotiated and what benefits we as a Club would gain, he also explained how any liaison would be controlled via regular reviews. He finally recommended to the Membership to accept the proposal. A vote was taken and the motion to allow a sailing school to integrate with the Club was passed by a very large majority. The next step for the girls is to get permission from the council to trade from the beach. So the first big hurdle has been climbed and we will now wait and see how their further negotiations fare.
It was a good job we werenít racing tonight as the bay was completely flat with no wind on the water anywhere. The forecast for the next few days isnít very encouraging with fairly fresh easterlies promised.
What a fantastic hot Sunday we had, spoilt only by very light winds, but enough wind to race and make the racing interesting to boot. The sea was very flat & unfortunately the beach was full of sea weed and absolutely filthy with rubbish. Not a very good advertisement for visitors, and there were a lot of people on the beach. In fact it seemed like the first good Sunday of the year for everyone.
Well this was another weekend of firsts. First time out this year for Nigel & James and a win in their first race, a first race this season for Brian Phillips, and the same for Peter Pope, also a first sail for Jeremy Hawkins in his B14 plus a first win in the afternoon for Anna & Liz in their Laser Bahia. Ken & I were down for safety boat duty today & at first it seemed like a very good move as there was hardly any wind, but a light northerly appeared and we managed to set a course that wasnít too bad, though it did go very light again for the early part of the race which really helped Nigel and James as they were still reaching along in a bit of a breeze whilst many others were stuck at the beach marks. Worst affected here was Craig & Adrian who had a blinder of a first beat and led the fleet for 2 legs until they managed to park themselves on the 2nd beach mark. Simon sailed consistently well and opened up a substantial gap over Nigel and the Tasars but eventually lost by only 4 seconds.
The wind had swung more to the west for the afternoon race and this time Anna & Liz tore up the first beat into a considerable lead. Although they were overtaken by the flying 505 of Justin Phyall & the Tasar of John Mark and Tony Dunn, they had enough time in the bag to win by a good margin. In hindsight it was a very good day for racing and served a point for one or two who came down early, took a look at the almost flat conditions and decided to do something else. It was their loss as I am sure they would have enjoyed the challenges of wind shifts and wind strengths.
It was interesting sitting in the safety boat that one or two people sailed up and asked which way round we were going. Well as a little help, the starting boat always sits on the outside of the course and as we nearly always try and start on a beat then it should be fairly easy to work out which way round we are going. Don't forget that the Race Officer shouldn't say a thing as it could be construed as offering outside assistance!!
This season continue to be a season of firsts. For a start I have missed my first weekend sailing of the year, due to going to my brotherís funeral in Barbados. A very exotic place, but a very sad occasion. It was a first sail for new members Andrew & Sarah Kendall in their GP14 when they finished a creditable 6th in their first race. Also another first sail for Dennis Bray making another comeback in a Tasar. Dennis introduced the Tasar to Porthpean in 1986 and has just bought his Tasar back from Colin Wainwright, and keeping it in the family it was another first for Stacey taking daughter Millie out for her first race in an RS Feva, sailing it into 3rd place. Although quite a small boat the Feva is a very competitive boat and should Nigel & James sail theirs more often then we could be in for some good competition.
Last Sunday saw the first cup race of the season, which produced 2 races with a different winner in each race, Russell Moore winning the first race in a Tasar sailed in very light airs and Simon Pryce taking the 2nd race in his Laser in fresher conditions, which gave Simon the overall win.
This Wednesday produced the largest fleet of the season so far with 18 boats launching into the faintest of south easterly winds, but as so often happens on an evening the breeze faded away to nothing forcing the abandonment before we even got to the start line. However because we had made the effort to race Jenny did cook the bacon butties.
What an incredible day today turned out to be. We arrived at the Club this morning with spitting rain & no wind. By the time we were ready for launching the rain had stopped but the breeze was still refusing to play ball. Nevertheless we launched and moved very slowly to the starting area. Progress was so slow that you couldnít hear the boat moving through the water. However 10 minutes into the race and the first glimmer of a new breeze started to show. Ken & I rounded the first mark in the pack, even managing to drift onto the mark, resulting in a 360 for us. By the time we had finished our pirouetting, the majority of the fleet were heading up the 2nd leg which had by now turned into a beat. 2 or 3 lucky windshifts later we had mysteriously ended up at the head of the fleet & managed to pull well ahead on the subsequent reaches. All in all a job well done, by the time we had finished, the clouds had broken and we were bathed in hot sunshine with a nice offshore breeze.
It was so hot sitting around at lunch time that I decided to dispense with the long john and instead I donned the yellow shorts for the first time this year, and we are still in April!! Paul Beacon, safety boat driver for the day, reset a very good course for the afternoon & a larger fleet turned out for what I thought were absolutely ideal sailing conditions, hot sunshine, force 2-3 offshore breeze that was shifting around all the time, and a very blue calm sea. There were some good personal battles going on throughout the fleet, the 2 Kestrels of Craig Varley crewed by Kay up against Pete & Jan Barnes, with Craig coming out on top, and the Tasars of Russell & Colin up against John & Tony, John & Tony always having the edge, though at one time Russell closed them down quite considerably. The Laser of Steve Coello was up against that of Simon Pryce, before a breakage put paid to Steveís challenge. We enjoyed a very close battle against the 505 with the new pairing of Justin Phyall & Kelvin Kirkham trying to get to grips with their machine. We had quite a ding dong for 2 laps before we managed to shake them off on one of the shifty beats. Yes a perfect day for sailing.
We had a very pleasant surprise tonight as we arrived at the Club & that was to see that the local council had been cleaning up the beach of all the weed that was left over from last weeks south easterlies (see picture below). Clearing it away was not before time as the remnants of weed still around were starting to give off a very unpleasant aroma. Sailing tonight was better attended with 12 boats coming to the very starboard biased start line, with the inevitable crunching and shouting. Rather than get involved in the melee, we elected to start further down the line, going as fast as we could, which helped as we managed to keep enough speed to round the windward mark just behind the 2 Contenders of Stacey & Nick, who finished 1st & 2nd, Stacey in particular winning by a big margin. The course itself was rather small, which inevitably meant some lapping by the faster boats of some of the slower boats. We actually had 7 different classes out tonight with the first appearance of the season of Nigel Dowrick in his RS400, with Kelvin siting in as crew. The breeze was a good force 2 with some stronger gusts, which also gave some subtle shifts on the beats, subsequently meaning that no one side of the course was any better suited than another, but the challenge of the wind shifts did allow some big gains for some.
Again the weather men let us down. The promise of strong north easterly winds didn't materialise, so we were able to sail after all, but we are suffering from the legacy of the long spell of south easterlies. The beach was covered in sea weed, & piled up quite high in places. We had to clear weed from the slipway in order to get the safety boat onto the beach before launching, through the waves. Normally I won't launch in waves, as it can be very tricky when it comes to landing & to me a Tasar can be a bit frail when sailing through the surf. I would rather have an intact boat to sail another day than needing to repair or replace a broken mast but today was a little different as the tide was dropping, leaving a flat area bereft of wind, the waves were smaller and further out so took the chance to sail through them.
However several others turned up to race but declined to sail, once they saw the surf and weed. As the tide dropped it became apparent that launching would be easier than first thought so several of us decided to go for it. Once again we only had a small turn out, but we still had a fascinating race in the light north easterly conditions, which gave a beat across the bay from right to left and then a very nice swell to surf down the waves towards the beach marks. Unfortunately the wind slowly swung round and then died, so we all finished in a drifter which was worse for the slower boats. The tide had turned at lunch time & we were left with little wind and a dumping surf, so prudently we abandoned racing for the day.
Take a look left and then you will realise why we had to cancel for the first time this year due to a typical very fresh south easterly. I would estimate that the wind was blowing a good 25+ knots and being a south easterly also felt very cold. The beach had fallen by at least 6 inches at the bottom of the ramp, though this may be a part blessing as the beach had been very soft near the top, which made it very difficult to recover our boats after sailing. So it was an evening for opening the bar early and talking sailing rather than actually sailing. The forecast is for this weather to last for a few more days yet before turning northerly so even the forthcoming weekend sailing is doubtful at this stage.
A big round of applause & congratulation is extended to Simon Pryce who has just completed the London Marathon in a time of 3hrs and 32 minutes and in doing so raised a lot of money for the RNLI.
Despite a dire weather forecast of rain and strong winds, we actually had a very npleasant day. We started off with hardly a breeze, but fortunately it filled in quite reasonably from the west and our small 8 boat fleet had a very good sail. Just after the first beat an ominous black cloud appeared & with it much stronger winds, which kept us all on our toes. The 2 Contenders of Stacey & Nick pulled away into what appeared to be an unassailable lead, but Stacey retired as he had some business to attend to & on the penultimate beat we managed to wriggle past Nick on a very useful wind shift, which gave us the win. The fresh breeze was too much for some who decided that one race like that was enough for the day. The wind had backed more northerly for the afternoon and we had the beat from Blackhead direction into the beach marks for the first time this season. We were joined for this race by Anna & Liz, sailing their Bahia for the first time in a race, where they took a third, to put some noses out of joint, with mutterings of a bandit handicap, so it will be interesting to see over the season how well the boat sails in different conditions. Back on shore the sea looked so peaceful & flat but those of us who had sailed knew how strong the wind really was.
We had a lovely day today with very little wind but by late afternoon a light westerly breeze had filled in and gave us a very nice start to the 18.45 race. Actually it was quite fresh at the beginning and the force 2 wind had some quite strong gusts sweeping out from the shore, but as usual as the evening progressed the breeze started to fade away. This caused quite a few problems for some, as the last lap took much longer for those sailing 5 laps than for those who only sailed 4 laps as it added extra time onto their results. Paul Beacon gained well from this, pulling through to 2nd overall. By the time Ken & I finished we were getting quite cold as there was not enough strength in the wind to make us work enough to generate body heat. So far this year it has been a very cold start to the season. We are still down on numbers with quite a few regulars missing at the moment, so I am hoping that they will all come back & join us soon.
Today saw the 2nd Sunday cancellation so far this season & unexpectedly, this time for snow. Yes even in Cornwall we couldn't escape the predicted forecast for snow, though ours wasn't as bad as for Stacey who was sailing at Oxford. There they had 6 inches to contend with. We also had some very strong blustery cold winds to put up with which when taken into account was enough to deter even the most heardened of our Club sailors. I didn't mind too much as I was scheduled for Safety Boat duty & I knew that would have been a very cold experience, so the abandonment was well received by me.
The quality lunches continue, today saw Maria, Katie & Amy in the galley & they turned up with home made vegetable soup, which together with fresh, crusty rolls went down very well. The poor weather continued after lunch, with a succession of blustery showers bringing hail & snow flurries so the remaining members had a game of rounders on the deserted beach, before we closed the Clubhouse for the day.
I left work at 4 o clock this afternoon, from Treviscoe, in heavy mist & strong winds, so I fully expected that racing, the first of the Wednesday night series, would be out of the question. The mist was rolling in from the north coast, pushing way in land. By the time I reached St. Austell the mist had disappeared, yes it was still cloudy & the breeze was still quite fresh, but I was starting to feel more optimistic. By the time I reached the Club I could see that although there were quite a few gusts racing out into the bay, it was looking possible to race. Experience tells me that when we do get an offshore breeze it invariably starts to drop off in the evenings & tonight was no exception. Unfortunately only 8 boats turned out, but those that didnít make it missed a very good, force 3 sail, which was disappointingly a little on the short side but that was necessary due to the early onset of dusk. After all the clocks only went forward last Sunday, but by the end of April we will have plenty of daylight left for longer races. However the best part of the evening awaited us as we pulled the boats up into the yard and that was the waft of bacon being grilled, coming out of the clubhouse galley, meaning that Jenny's bacon butties were back on the menu. A most welcome ďapres sailĒ, enjoyed by all.
Firstly here is another picture sent to me by Tina Thomas, showing what I believe is a Redwing in the yard, probably taken about 1952. The boat is called Cherokee. Note the building in the background, that ran the whole length of the yard and occupied the space where the Lasers are kept today. Part of the original wall is still with us & seperates the 2 paths in the dinghy park. Here is a good link to some exciting footage of an RS400 sailing at Bala over the Easter weekend found on Youtube Wait for the gybe!!
Despite the poor forecast earlier in the week, we actually had a first class sailing day. Sunny skies with a light south westerly breeze gave us good sailing conditions in the morning, with a beat from left to right across the bay with the gybe mark off the beach marks. The wind swung round to the south in the afternoon and raised a notch; making it lively enough to give a few capsizes for the unwary, but also some fantastic planning reaches. Today saw the inaugural race with us of Richard & James King in their Merlin Rocket, Craig Varley & Adrian Rapson in their new Kestrel, Anna Weld in the Club Laser and Sabine who crewed for Pete Barnes in tje morning & John Mark in the afternoon. We also witnessed the first sail of Alex Nelís latest acquisition, an International 14. Within 5 minutes after leaving the beach, he managed to have his first capsize and breakage. Yes, this is a beast of a boat to sail & it will take quite a few outings to get the hang of it.
The Easter Cup this year turned out to be a non event. The galeforce northerly winds forecast for Easter materialised on Thursday night & blew all weekend. The bay on Saturday was seething with white horses, wild enough to deter anyone who thought that we would sail. Reluctantly the abandonment flag was flown and we all went home for the day. Sunday dawned not much better, but the wind had moderated a little, but by the time we assembled at the Club, the wind was ominously rising again as strong gusts started sweeping out over the bay. The pool table suddenly came into its own, but by 11.00 hours it was obvious that we wouldnít be sailing the morning race so again the abandonment was flown. However not all was lost, Simon & Sarah were down for galley duty & instead of the usual fare of a pasties & toasted sandwiches menu we had Simon, prepared trays of Lasagne, both meat & vegetarian options, to be followed by an Easter cake that had been baked by Sarah. So at 12.00 we all sat down to eat the exquisite feast. I can still taste the garlic bread!! No one was surprised that by 13.00 it was still obvious that we wouldnít sail so reluctantly the Easter Cup 2008 was officially abandoned. Not a very good start for the season, especially for me after my capsize the week before, but at least it will give Ken another week to recover from his flu. I just hope that the temperature will have risen somewhat for next week & the winds will have moderated, so that we can start the season in a proper manner.
Now a quick word about boat maintenance. I know that one or two have been looking at their boats over the winter, and time taken then to examine all the potential week points could be well rewarded later in the year. This is the time to make sure that all cleats are moving freely, take some time to ensure that all pulleys run smoothly, salt can and will build up around the moving parts and prevent them running properly. On a Tasar it is well worth giving the jib furlers special attention as they should furl and unfurl without any undue pressure. Again on a Tasar it is important to check the carpet restrictors on the dagger board to ensure it will stay where put and not slip down the plate case when you donít want it too. Toe straps are common to most boats and they all wear at some time or other. This can be a good time to check the anchor points and also the state of the shock cord that can keep them in an accessible position. How about your rudder? Is it firm in the stock? Does it sit on the pintles easily? Does the down haul rope work properly and keep the blade down at speed? How about the universal between tiller and extension? I use a rubber joint that allows the extension to move in any position, but check for cracks in the joint, as failure here will ruin any race, and could also cause an involuntary capsize. Check your stays where any swaging takes place. This is an area that can fail at any time, so look for any wires that may have broken and if found change the stays immediately. I say stays because if you change one than you may as well change the other, because unlikely as it may seem they will stretch, so this way should ensure that they will stretch at the same rate. Thereís lots more to mention, but that will do for the moment.
Yesterday I capsized, the first capsize for 18 months, which was very annoying so I have spent some time analysing what went wrong. Well for a start the conditions were rather challenging. The wind was gusty, blowing a good force 4 around the Charlestown gap, and I was sailing with a new light weight young crew. We attempted to tack from port to starboard when it all went horribly wrong. There was a series of errors, mainly on my side. The jib was released and the helm put about; so far so good. However I donít think the crew moved across quickly enough but more importantly Iím sure I messed up the swapping over of tiller and new traveller sheet and donít think I got onto the new windward side deck quickly enough. The jib was sheeted home in the new position and whilst I was fumbling the gusty wind just blew us over. Normally the Tasar always inverts but I can usually get onto the plate to start the recovery process. Yesterday was different; I couldnít reach the plate from the water. I think the main reason for this was the fact that my buoyancy aid, which I always wear under my spray top, had ridden up too high and consequently I wasnít floating high enough to be able to stretch for the dagger board. (This was the first time I had capsized wearing this buoyancy aid) Therefore an important lesson here is to make sure that the buoyancy aid is much tighter to try & prevent it riding up. Eventually I did manage to reach the dagger board and get my weight onto it, but I still had difficulty righting the boat. I'm sure the reason for that was that both jib & main were still cleated, therefore creating a water break to the righting moment. Well eventually I did manage to haul the boat upright & because the sails were still cleated she immediately blew over on the opposite side, which meant starting the whole righting process again. Therefore another important lesson to be learned is, ensure that the sails are uncleated before attempting a recovery. To really compound the problems was the fact that the water was very cold and both Adamís & my strength was rapidly fading, fortunately we did have the assistance of the safety boats. So at the end of the day we were both safe, the boat wasnít damaged & more importantly lessons have been learned.
Well despite a poor weather forecast, the actual weather was quite nice for the first sail of 2008, sunny with a force 3-4 north eaterly blowing, & 11 boats made it to the start line. Ken had a dose of flu, so I took Adam out as crew, for what turned out to be a traumatic time. Now I can vouch for how cold the water is, because just as we tacked for the windward mark, we dropped the Tasar in. One unfortunate trait of a capsized, turtled Tasar, is that it is very difficult to get to reach the dagger board. Anyway I eventually managed it & after quite a struggle I did manage to pull it up only for it to fall over on top of me. The jib was still cleated!! By this time we were both tiring, mainly due to my lack of fitness & the cold of the water. Fortunately the 2 safety boats came over & between us we managed to uncleat the jib & right the boat. We clambered on board and set sail back to the beach. Firts port of call was to the showers to try & warm up. Meanwhile the fleet sailed on, though the 2 Lasers & a Supenova took several dunkings. Fortunately all who remained sailing finished & returned to the beach. What is really infuriating is that it looked so serene from the beach, which belies the gusty winds that were present out at sea. Congratulations to Ray, who has offered to learn to use the safety boat. He certainly saw first hand what sort of emergencies the safety boat may be called to deal with
So there we are, the ice breaker is over with, the season has started, all we need now is another 11 boats out & we will really be in business.
Last night we had an OOD course as part of a learning curve. Gary outlined to his audience how to run a race from the race box. He suggested that the OOD should be at the Club up to an hour & a half before the scheduled race time, in order to prepare everything before we went afloat. This involves checking the weather forecast, deciding on the course, number of rounds etc, preparing the race recording sheets, signing on forms & lunch forms if the race day was a Sunday. He explained what the various flags meant & when to use them. All in all a very good review of what needs to be done each week before we race. Now donít worry too much if you missed the talk because there is a booklet available in the race box where all these tasks etc are listed. So if you havenít had to do OOD duty for a while then make sure you are familiar with all the necessary steps before your duty day arises.
Now I notice that the countdown clock is under 10 days, so the 2008 season is literally now only a matter of days away. The yard is still full of boats left from last season. How fibreglass boats have changed our sailing habits. 30 years ago almost every boat was made from wood & they all went home each winter for a lick of paint & varnish. Now with fibreglass itís often just a case of a good hose off, cover off and launch off the beach.
The ladies, Liz & Anna, who are going to start a sailing school at Porthpean were also down last night & they intend racing with us on Sundays, so I hope that they will enjoy their racing & I am sure that over the course of the season they will experience some fabulous sailing conditions. Also joining us more for racing will be Graham Pomeroy who has bought a Comet. The Club has also bought a new sail for the Club Laser, so I can see an eager queue building of people wanting to try it.
What another superb day weatherwise it was this morning. It looked absolutely brilliant out in the bay for a first sail of the year. The wind was north westerly, blowing about force 2 with some easily spotted, light gusts coming through. The sea looked very flat & inviting. A repeat of this in a fortnight will be very much appreciated.
Last Wednesday we had a showing of the early days of sailing at Porthpean video. The video is almost 2 hours long & covers the very early years of the Club up to the Scorpion Area Championships in 1964. So much to see so cannot give full details, but things that were really noticeable were lack of sailing clothes as we know them, certainly no wet suits and very few buoyancy aides. The boats themselves looked ancient with cloth sails & heavy equipment. There was quite a menagerie of boats until 1960 when the Scorpion became the preferred fleet boat of the Club. But these Scorpions were nothing like the Scorpion of today. The boat being wooden was suitable for home construction and indeed several at Porthpean were home built. These early ones certainly up to 1964 didnít have spinnakers or much in the line of adjusters for the rig etc. Even sailing techniques were different than today with very few people hiking , in general merely leaning out of their boats. There were some good scenes of an early regatta showing some Ospreys probably from Newquay where they had a small fleet, sailing 3 up. The ragatta looked far better attended than those of today.
The yard itself looked far different than that of today. Heavy walls surrounded the park & the entrance was via a narrow entrance where our wider gate is today. There were some scenes showing a hut being erected in the yard which served as changing rooms. Most noticeably the people did look happy so they obviously derived a lot of pleasure from their sailing. A very old Merlin Rocket looked very elegant skimming along in the bay.
The beach in general looked terrible, far more stones & rougher than it is today. They were also prone to strong south easterlies which did prevent the aforementioned Scorpion SW areas sailed on one day, with a shot showing the strong seas and the competitors sitting around. Back then the races were started from ashore by a ďstarterĒ, who fired a shotgun, I canít see that being allowed today! No doubt the video will be shown again sometime soon & if you know about it then take the opportunity and go and see it. Knowing how much different our boats are today makes me wonder what boats in 50 years time will look like, especially when you think we are now entering the phase of "foiling boats". Seeing a boat whizzing along, completely out of the water is almost unbelievable, and no doubt other classes or new designs will come along that will exploit that form of sailing.
Last Sunday 10th February I had my first sail of 2008. I went to Chew Valley in Somerset to have a sail in an NS14. Whatís an NS14 you may ask? Well the Tasar hull was derived from an NS14 in 1976, but the NS14 is a development boat and has a few basic rules which allow for much development in hull shapes & sail plan and as you can imagine has changed a lot over the last 30 years. There are a few thousand of them in Australia but none over here. I have been reading over the last few months about an NS14 on the Y&Y forum. A chap called Toby Peacock bought one, the only one in this country from an agent in Germany. He has produced a web page about the boat which is NS14 web page the photographs show it as a very pretty boat and it sails about the same speed as a Fireball. I was intrigued enough to contact him to see what the boat was all about, so I ended up travelling up to have a trial sail. Well as luck would have it the day was almost completely windless, so the sailing was very frustrating, but I did get on the water. The boat sailed very nicely but I am not convinced it is set up as well as it could be yet as we were definitely slower than Lasers & a Scorpion upwind in what was a very , very light breeze, so light that you couldnít hear boats cutting through the water. The NS14 of today is very different than the Tasar. Itís slightly lighter, has less sail area, no thwart & a much more pronounced, very stiff wing mast. The main sheet comes straight off the boom, which feels quite different. The boat has a false floor, which provides plenty of buoyancy, so the deck to boom height isnít as much as you would think; consequently I spent quite a bit of time whilst crewing on my knees. The helm felt very light. The boat is designed to perform best in wind strengths over 10 knots, apparently it is very quick to plane & that is where it derives most of its speed. Meanwhile our season at Porthpean is almost here, with only 4 weeks to go to what I am sure will be quite cold few weeks & will test out quality of wet suits & dry suits until the warmer weather eventually reaches us.
A beautiful weekend brought quite a few more people down to the Club for a spot of maintenance or a look around, which gave me a good chance to catch up with some gossip for the coming season. So what have I learnt so far? Well, Beacky intends sailing his Enterprise again, Adam has grown a bit over the last season & Beacky thinks they will be heavy enough to be able to drive the Ent better. Jeremy Hawkins has bought a B14 & intends joining us again this year, and will most likely sail on Wednesday evenings. Ken Higman is intending to do some sailing with his grand daughter Emily crewing. Kelvin thinks his Contender needs quite a bit of work doing to the hull & to keep him sailing fancies crewing in a trapeze boat if possible. I also hear that Alex Nel has bought an old I14 & is teaming up with Tristran White, so be prepared to witness quite a few capsizes until they master the art of keeping it upright. Simon Pryce has taken a membership form for a friend who wants to join us, but at this time I donít know what sort of boat he may be sailing. Duncan & Debbie Spencer-Smith rejoined late last year so we are hoping to see them down more often this season, racing their Enterprise. Craig Varley is still looking for a newer Kestrel to better compete against Janet & Pete, he had too many breakages last year so needs a more reliable boat. Steve Mitchell is sailing the first few months of this year at Plymouth where they have a very competitive Laser racing series. Unfortunately there is a rumour that we might be losing Nick Eggett this year. Heís moved to Mt. Hawke to live, which is a fair distance from Porthpean & may decide to sail his Osprey at Mounts Bay. So all in all quite a few changes for 2008, but whatever happens let's hope it turns out to be a very enjoyable season, The new decking had the glass panels fitted last week and is now ready to be used. Roll on the summer.
Yes, today is December 21st, the shortest day of the year and it has also coincided with Restronguetís Christmas pudding race. Restronguet, on the Carrick Roads, is a place I like to sail at, as I was a member there for about 10 years from the mid 70ís, before joining Porthpean. The weather today was exceptionally mild, with a light south westerly breeze blowing over the Clubhouse out and across the river, giving very flat water, similar to our bay when we have westerlyís. We had an entry of 54 boats in total, though 6 of them were Optimists, sailing in their own race. We had a triangle, sausage, triangle course, which really should have been a round longer as we finished in a little over 35 minutes. The light breeze filled in just before the start and appeared to be ideal Tasar conditions, but faded during the race, enough to stop us planning on the reaches. How sailing boats have changed over the years. This year there were no Enterprises, no Mirror dinghies, nor Fireballs. Those sort of boats were the back bone of the Club in the 70s and 80s, whilst now there are considerable numbers of RS800s, RS400s and other fast, asymmetrical classes. In fact apart from a handful of Fireflies the entire fleet was made up of fibre glass boats. Our first attempt to start, proved lucky for us. The start line was so biased that practically everyone tried starting next to the committee boat, which caused chaos, and we were caught up in a bit of a melee. In fact one of the Fireflies was holed by an out of control Laser, so things were rather fraught!. Fortunately a general recall and a change of start line brought back some semblance of order for the next start. This time we elected to start further down the line, and we started in almost clean air, which allowed us to get to the end of the first beat well in front of some much faster boats. I underestimated the tide and the fact that there were too many boats just in front of us and tacked just too early to round the buoy, resulting in 2 more tacks to round it. That mistake cost us too many valuable seconds as we ended up 8th overall. The 4 boats that finished ahead of us on corrected time were within 30 seconds of us, which is at least the time we lost trying to round that first mark. Apart from that, the breeze rather than building as forecast died away to become quite light, which took away quite a lot of planing. However the course laid was a good one and it was really nice to sail in a fleet again. The first 3 boats on corrected time were an International 14, RS600 and RS800, which gives an idea what we were up against.
Now before I sign off for the year, I have written a bit of a review of the season gone by as I saw it. To me the 2008 season has been much better than for several years. No doubt some will disagree, but it all depends on how you view things.
Everyone moans that the summer of 2008 was one of the poorest for many years weather-wise. Conversely the weather that we had was actually quite good for sailing, as we lost far fewer races than in a normal season. Generally if we get a settled spell that is ideal for beaching, then it usually brings very light winds, or even sometimes no wind at all. Wednesday evenings are often prone to this as quite often the winds fade away to nothing at all just before we are scheduled to start racing. Like all seasons there are a few days when it is perfect for sailing and this year was no exception to that and those who prefer the wind stronger were not disappointed.
As usual we have lost one or two sailing members, but on the other hand we have gained some more. We lost Nick Egget quite early, as he moved away. Ron & Michelle took a sabbatical but we hope to have them back again next season. Duncan & Debbie had moved back into the area and we expected them to rejoin us but unfortunately an illness has stopped Duncan from sailing for a while.
On the plus side we have had Anna & Liz join us, first sailing a Laser Bahia and now a Laser Vago. We also welcomed Richard and James King from Plymouth, sailing a Merlin Rocket, and we have also welcomed Andrew, Jenny and Sarah Kendall who between them own a Scorpion and a GP14. We have also gained quite a few cadets, and hopefully we will get them all out sailing next year.
Craig Varley bought one of the newer modern Kestrels and he and Adrian have had some good results, but unfortunately didnít get enough races in to benefit. They have had some good competition against Jan & Pete Barnes in their Kestrel. Justin Phyall, teamed up with Kelvin in Justinís 505 this year and have had some good results on the water. They used to trail the Tasars but now are more than capable of finishing in front of us all. I will remember for many years to come, on a the sight of Kelvin diving over the mainsail as they broached in a particularly strong gust one day, when it was obvious that the boat was about to capsize. Justin managed to save the boat from the capsize but Kelvin had to swim quite a way to get back to the boat.
The Laser fleet was dominated this year by Simon Pryce, being first Laser on the water time after time. Tim Baily and Steve Coello were Simonís closest adversaries, quite often swopping places with Simon. Brian Reeves had a leg injury early in the season and consequently lost quite a few racing days. Itís a shame that Clive Stephens can only sail on Wednesdays as I feel more sailing would see him improve immensely.
Our little Supernova fleet spluttered into life very occasionally this year. John Hill made very few appearances and even Nick Haskin has sailed less than in previous years. Robin Hadlow hasnít taken to his Supernova and has now sold it and replaced it with a Tasar, as also has Chris Hazell, Chris has sold his Supernova to Colin.
Beacky went back to sailing his Enterprise this season, again sailing with Adam Eastham and I hear a rumour of a new suit of sails for them next year. James Dowrick, has proved his liking of sailing by crewing for his Dad Nigel in their Feva. This might appear to be a slow boat, but with the spinnaker up is a real flyer, and does very well on handicap. I well remember watching them one day, powering past Beackyís Ent on a particularly blowy reach. They are now almost an ideal weight for an RS200, which could be their next boat. Kay & Gary didnít sail much at all this year, mainly due to Gary damaging a tendon in one of his hands, but their first time out on a beautiful summerís day saw them take a win. Richard Armstrong seems to have deserted us, hopefully only temporary, forsaking his Contender for the charms of a Dart at Pentewan.
The Tasar fleet has been the mainstay of the Club again this season, quite often having 6 Tasars on the water and I expect to see this number increase next year. Denis Bray has made a welcome return to sailing, buying Colinís old Tasar, which was replaced halfway through the summer by a brand new Tasar, which is proving very fast. Stacey borrowed it for the Tasar Nationals and together with Alan Orton as crew, won both races on the last day giving them an overall 2nd. Incidentally Stacey also came 2nd in the Contender Nationals earlier in the season, a very good year for him indeed. Stacey has also taken over Denisís older Tasar and is racing it with his daughters. Steve Mitchell teamed up with Jo Barnes in his Tasar to show that he is still devastatingly fast, winning the last race in the Tasar SW Areas which we hosted in May. Steve also won quite a few of the ďCupĒ races which were introduced this year. Chris Bilky bought a Tasar last year to sail with his sons and made a late appearance in the spring series (Iím afraid football had a higher demand). It wasnít very long before Chris handed the helm over to Luke who has performed very well and we look forward to seeing them out next season, with a new suit of Mylar sails. John Mark too, has ordered a new suit of mylar sails and will be teaming up with Steve Coello for the 2009 campaign as Tony has decided to crew for Chris Haszel. Russell Moore, sailing with Colin, missed quite a few races this year mainly due to the stronger than normal winds that we experienced. The two of them sail with what is probably the highest combined age in a dinghy in the country, somewhere in the 150s. Peter Phillips and Nicky sailed most Wednesdays. Mike Voyzey missed quite a few races in the middle of the season, whilst waiting for his Tasar to be repaired. Mike bought a Dart and has also been sailing at Pentewan, maybe we should persuade Richard and Mike to sail here with us. Brian Phillips is another helm, who didnít sail much this season but is looking for a crew, which we must try and remedy for next season.
The season started on the 16th March on a blustery cold day, with the wind from the north. 10 of us launched, Ken acted as OOD and I took Adam out to race and we ended up capsizing, and the water was COLD, very cold. What was worse was that we couldnít get the boat up for a long time. The cold water meant that our strength was rapidly waning. Eventually with the help of 2 rescue boats we managed to get the boat up and going again, and promptly sailed straight for the shore to try and get warmed up. I donít think hyperthermia was too far away. The next weekend heralded the Easter Cup. Easter was very early this year and we were unable to sail any of the races scheduled due to strong winds, so all in all not a good start to the season. However the next weekend saw the start of the Sunday spring series. This was a 10 race series and we sailed them all apart from week 2, when we were blown off. We had a total of 37 boats sailing at different times over the series. The Spring Wednesday series started on 2nd April, which seemed very early as the evenings which although starting to draw out, werenít really light enough, and it was still very cold but then we are keen arenít we? Wednesdays usually give us our largest fleets and our attendance soared to 20 boats in the middle of June.
The ďCupĒ races were introduced this year as a one off race day each month for a dedicated cup. This has the affect of breaking up the long series races. We tried to get 4 races a day in, but if not 4 then certainly 3. These were all dominated by Steve Mitchell and Simon Pryce, Simon actually winning the Commodores Cup due to completing more races than Steve.
Porthpean hosted the Tasar SW Areas in late May and we had a few visitors, which brought the fleet up to 11. The racing was won by a ďvisitorĒ but Steve ended up 2nd with us 3rd, so Porthpeanís honour was not disgraced. The summer Sundays racing had 11 scheduled races and again we sailed a high number of 10. We also sailed 2 afternoon races in the summer Sunday series, but the numbers for these races were a bit depleted, so not sure how popular they were.
The Contender Open meeting was arranged over a weekend and shared one of our Sundays. We had quite a few visitors but sadly not many of our own members sailing. Stacey was away at his brotherís wedding and only Allan flew the flag for Porthpean. Still Porthpean is a very popular Club with the Contenders, and I think we will still have a good number of them returning again next year.
The highlight for the Club this year was hosting the RS800 Nationals. Porthpean really suited the RS800 and what a sight they made as they flashed by on the water, with both helm and crew trapezing from their racks. This was interspersed with some spectacular capsizes. The RS800s proved a very popular fleet and we look forward to hosting them again in a few years time. The season went on, with sailing every weekend, though blowy at times, right up until mid November. Our last racing day of the season was scheduled for the 23rd, but the weather finally caught us out and the very strong winds curtailed any more racing for the season. Unfortunately we did miss 2 of the Wednesday, September races due to poor weather, but the early start times did allow us to sail the other last 2 Wednesdays.
Another bonus for us this year has been the addition of a web cam, which is positioned in the Clubhouse overlooking the bay. This allows anyone to watch us on the web or check out the conditions before they make the journey down to Porthpean, especially useful for those members who live some distance away. Hopefully this will be repositioned during the winter to a better location to give a more complete view.
One horrible statistic that I hate to admit to is that the average age of our sailing fleet is rising. We desperately need more, younger members to swell the fleets, so it is imperative that we all work together to get cadets trained and encourage new members to join us. The best way is to get them crewing regularly and then if they are keen then they will progress to buy their own boat. Porthpean provides one of the best bays in the country for sailing in. We have a superb Clubhouse and facilities, an enviable location and a history of running some excellent Nationals. Well that was 2008, roll on 2009.
So there we are; the sailing is over for another year, the dinner dance and prizegiving is 2 weeks away, which will be followed on the Wednesday after by the AGM. I believe all dinner tickets are sold and just to remind you all that this is a chance for all the ladies to revel in their best ball gowns and for the men to wear their dinner jackets.
Pete Barnes set off yesterday, destination Tenerife, where he will meet up with Dave Mackrell. They are joining the crew of a yacht to sail across to Antigua in the West Indies, intending to get home just before Christmas. So we wish them both a good journey and look forward to hearing from them about their voyage which will be published here some time.
Next weekend is our last day of sailing this year, so I hope that we can get a good turnout. We have had a very good run lately, managing to sail every Sunday, since the start of the summer series. I will have to look back at the race results to get an accurate count, but we have missed very few races this year.
Very soon we will be saying au revoir to Pete Barnes when he will be flying off to Tenerife to help sail a yacht across the Atlantic to Antigua, he expects the voyage to take about 3 weeks and I should think it will be a very nice experience. Hopefully he will keep some sort of log which I hope to publish on the web in due course.
Adam has asked me to remind you all about the Cadets afternoon next Saturday, when they will be baking cakes and scones for us to eat in the Clubhouse. They are hoping to see lots of you there when you will be greeted by hot cups of tea and coffee plus home baked produce. All proceeds are to be donated to the RNLI.
Well only 2 more Sundays of racing left before another season comes to a close, and once again we have had a season of tremendous contrasts, with hot, sunny days (yes there were one or two) with perfect sailing weather and some very windy and trying days such as today. Unfortunately our Contender fleet has taken a down turn this year. We have lost Nick Egget who has moved away from the area and we havenít seen much of Allan Orton, nor Richard Armstrong. However we have gained several new members with boats and so we look forward to seeing them sail with us next season.
The afternoon race was the most exciting, mainly due to the fresher breeze which was very changeable both in direction and strength near towards the end of the beat. More than once we had to react very quickly to the changeable conditions. It was a very hard sail for one so early in the season & most of us were aching by the end of the 2nd race. Getting back on shore was hard work too as there were a few waves, breaking on the beach & over us too, plus the sand on the beach was quite soft, so it was difficult getting the boats back on the trolleys and then hauling them out of the water. Still we all made it back ok, rather battered, bruised and tired, but judging by the smiles on everyoneís faces it had been a very enjoyable day's racing. This Wednesday coming sees the start of the Wednesday night spring series. We will be starting at 18.45 as the evenings haven't pulled out too far yet & it is still rather cool. Yes the clocks have gone forward and summer is on its way.
The majority of modern boats today are built from fibre glass & if you are interested then follow this link to see a Tasar being built. This Tasar went on to win the World Championships last year in Phuket. I met Simon Pryce in Truro this week & he told me that he will be missing the first few weeks of sailing as he is in training for the London Marathon, which takes place in April, so we wish him all the best for that.