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Return to the Beach.

Please Note. The comments and pictures on this blog are solely my own personal views & are not necessarily the views of Porthpean Sailing Club.

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November 24th
Finn practising hiking
The sailing season ends
Well that’s it; another sailing season drifting away into the hazy realms of memory and I think that many will say, not a vintage sailing season. HoweverI honestly think we say or think that most years, so nothing really new there. Now cast your mind back to this season’s first day of sailing – March 23rd. We were all keen to start and what happened? Yes bad weather. With an air temperature of 3.5 degrees and 2 previous days of south easterlies blowing, there was a distinct lack of interest in going sailing. Not that we could have sailed out through the waves. In fact the weather defeated us for the next 7 sailing sessions, which also included the first 2 Wednesday evening races and it wasn’t until April 22nd before we managed to belatedly kick start off the season. In fact the season seemed to splutter along week after week with either very light winds intermingled with some much stronger winds. I suppose the saving grace of the season was the summer weather itself. We did get some very nice days and it was pleasure to be able to sail occasionally in tee shirt and shorts. Fowey week in particular was hot and sunny but devoid of any good sailing breezes, though the Red Arrows flying on Thursday night was a joy to see in the clear blue sky. It’s just a shame that our climate doesn’t give us enough fine settled weather.
This autumn series has been bedevilled lately with some very light winds and it hasn’t made my enforced sabbatical feel too bad. I have the impression that I haven't missed too much at all. For the last day of racing for the season things were looking pretty good. The forecast over the preceding few days gave hope of a nice little NE breeze to see out the end of the season. In fact as the covers were coming off we were looking at quite a fresh south easterly blowing in. So strong appeared the breeze that Paddy & Steve hoping to take the big blue B14 out for a romp promptly changed their minds and switched to the RS400 instead, and that at the time looked like a very wise decision. Today’s sun, very welcome, and lightish breeze brought out our best attendance for the month with 11 boats and a wind surfer heading out for the start. The beach marks came in a couple of weeks ago, just in case the weather worsened which would have made retrieval difficult and our temporary beach mark for the day was set further in than normal by our duty rescue boat crew for the day, Andrew & Ken.
Now as the fleet launched, things suddenly changed and within 30 minutes of the wind sweeping in it suddenly stopped. The white horses seen littering the bay faded away leaving a very placid though lumpy looking sea, which took all the excitement away from those of us spectating, but ensured that nobody capsized. One of the boats sailing was the Feva that formerly belonged to James, but has now been bought and was sailed today by Piran Fisher, who has just joined us, so look forward to having him race with us regularly when we kick off again next season. We had 3 Tasars out again today. It seems like quite a long time ago when last had 3 or more, but today saw the return of Jeremy & Suzanne and a new pairing of Dennis and Finn, joining the regular Chris & Tony. The race was shortened to 3 rounds and the conditions suited Nigel & James who shot away at the start and built up quite a lead, with a spinnaker leg on both reaches, that Jeremy & Suzanne couldn’t quite match to take 2nd place, with Paddy & Steve in 3rd place. Richard left the shore with trapezing, but the lighter wind only enabled him to sail into 4th position. Chris & Tony had quite a battle with Dennis & Finn but surprisingly proved faster on the off wind legs and although finishing 5th were over a minute ahead of Dennis.
Beacky & Kelvin
The slow fleet was poorly represented today with only Beacky & Kelvin up against Janet & Pete and although Jan & Pete won the race on the water and handicap, 2nd place was good enough for Beacky & Kelvin to take the series win, with Piran sailing into 3rd place.

Now I’m not too sure what happened in the afternoon as the results haven’t been published and there were 2 races sailed to try and replace an earlier lost race, but I am pretty sure that Nigel & James lead from start to finish taking 1st place again, leaving Jeremy & Suzanne in 2nd place. Chris & Tony had a real battle with Dennis & Finn and started the last beat with a nice lead on them but Dennis clung on and by the time they reached the beach marks had pulled through to take 2nd Tasar.

fleet on the beach
With the wind still settled in slow mo mode, Paddy & Steve decided took big blue out for a race. The conditions were quiet enough not to give any capsize moments and allowed them to hoist the kite, though their lack of experience in the boat slowed them down too much to make any impression on the rest of the fleet, but then it is still early days and the sight of a B14 in full flight with spinnaker flying is a lovely sight to behold and I am sure that sometime next season we will see it regularly skimming across the bay.

Ken in the RIB was crewed by Liz in the afternoon, allowing Andrew & Jenny to pitch themselves against Beacky & Kelvin and they soon pulled out quite a nice lead before Beacky & Kelvin had to retire to sort out a faulty spinnaker system.

The 2nd race was soon under way and this time Jeremy & Suzanne managed to stay close enough to the leading RS of Nigel & James to ensure that they took the win. Meanwhile the new pairing of Dennis & Finn was starting to prove more fruitful and they put quite a bit of distance between themselves and Chris & Tony in the 3rd Tasar. Once again Andrew & Jenny got the better of Beacky & Kelvin,it seems to me that they are now starting to make a bit of a habit of this.

Tony inspecting the bay
So my friends, the countdown clock for the 2014 season is running and we have the best part of 4 months to wait but take heart there are quite a few social dates already penned into the diary, including AGM, Christmas party & Dinner & Prize Giving night. Our own Christmas celebrations are coming and once in the New Year the Sunday work parties will start again, so in no time at all we will all be out on the water once again. I know of some one running Windows 8 who can not see the countdown clock on their screen. I would be grateful if any of you who may be running Windows 8 and can see the clock to email me and let me know. Otherwise I will have to contact an “expert”. I’m running Windows 7 and have no problems at all.

It’s such a shame that I couldn’t be out there, sailing although I was told that it was quite boring and lumpy due to the easterly chop. I paid another visit to Penrice today and had the boot angle reduced by another 10 degrees, so it is now set at 0 degrees and I can actually walk without the aid of my crutches albeit rather slowly. Should all go well the boot will come off 4 weeks this Friday, to be followed by some sessions of physio and then I will have a better idea as to how well the healing process really is.

November 17th
My new boot
Another quiet day
I had my first return visit to Penrice today to have my boot angle changed from -20 to -10 degrees. Now that maybe doesn’t sound too profound, but I am now able to walk on 2 legs, though still aided by my crutches and that to me is a positive step forward. Armed with a few useful tips from the physiotherapist means that I can live life a bit more normal now, which after spending almost 5 weeks on crutches is a great relief. I am starting to feel human again. Pleased as I am with my progress so far, I am aware that there are still many weeks if not months to go before I can consider myself cured. Fortunately the next sailing season is way over the horizon and I hope and expect to be reasonably fit by then. I am aware that when I take my boot off at night how wasted my leg has become. My calf muscles have all but disappeared and I am left with a saggy looking mess and still quite a bit of swelling, so a lot of work to do yet.
Craig & Jake
The quiet weather that we had last weekend was still with us yesterday when a fairly small fleet took to the water for the penultimate race day of the year. Paddy caused quite a stir by appearing on the slip way with a B14, which he has just acquired, courtesy of eBay. All in all the boat looks quite reasonable and yesterday was a quiet enough day to try it out, taking Ken with him to grapple with the massive spinnaker that the boat sports. There were quite a few teething troubles to overcome, fortunately Jeremy came down at lunch time and helped solve a few rigging problems. The boat appeared to go better in the afternoon but the spinnaker did seem to be plagued by the old wine glass problem that everyone who uses a spinnaker gets every now and again.

The fast handicap fleet was once again dominated by Nigel & James in their RS400 and they managed to lap all the other boats before crossing the finish line. There were only 2 Scorpions out again in the slow handicap fleet but Beacky’s which races most weekends was languishing in the dinghy park as he was out on the water in the Safety Boat with Colin, taking care of the course setting etc. The other Scorpion out was crewed by Craig & Jake Varley who recently bought Paul Jenkin’s boat, and they were having their 2nd outing in it. It is nice to see the boat out on the water at Porthpean again and they did show some good bursts of speed at times on the beat when they overtook Andrew & Jenny Kendall. Unfortunately their lack of spinnaker handling let them down on the reaches and the Kendalls managed to pass them again. Roger Williams had a poor start and initially struggled in the light airs, especially down wind against the spinnaker powered Scorpions but he soon found his feet on the 2nd beat and before long had surged to the front of the fleet to record another win.

I often moan about never starting on time and indeed the morning race was another one of those days, though the breeze was so light in the morning that a late start was acceptable as we were hoping that the breeze would fill in a bit. The afternoon race was a revelation. Without exception everyone was launched and converging on the start line in plenty of time, so keen was the fleet to race that we managed to actually start ahead of time and what’s more there were no complaints from anyone. To be honest with such a light breeze people were only getting colder if only sailing around aimlessly. So an early start was the correct thing to do.

The afternoon race was almost a complete repetition of the morning race with Nigel & James’s RS400 pulling away right from the start and with their spinnaker flying on both reaches were never to be caught. Once again the B14 had its moments down wind when the spinnaker gave them some noticeable speed, but still dogged by teething problems which caused another early retirement. Roger, once again dominated the slow fleet, recording another win to be followed into 2nd by the Kendalls with the Varleys taking another 3rd.

There is no racing scheduled for next Sunday afternoon. I believe that at one time we were going to have the A.G.M. but that has been postponed until 8th December. I just wonder if there enough people racing in the morning that we could have a “catch up” race in the afternoon for a previous “lost” race.

November 11th
dinghy park on Sunday, preparing to sail
Remembrance Day
We’ll start with an update on my ruptured tendon. I have been hobbling around on crutches with my leg in plaster for just over 3 weeks now and today was the day of my return to Treliske to check on my progress. My lovely blue plaster cast was cut off to expose my, still, sunburnt leg in all its glory. The Consultant squeezed the back of my leg in different places where the tendon is, accompanied each time by the question “Does this hurt?” and fortunately for me each time I was asked, the answer was “No”. Very fortunately it looks like nature is working well and the tendon is actually repairing itself.

The next phase has started and today I have been fitted with an adjustable boot and I will still have to use crutches to keep the weight off my foot. The angle of my foot will be changed each week, and at the moment my toes are pointing down at an angle of -20 degrees. Each week this will be adjusted by +10 degrees, so next week it will be changed to -10 degrees and so on until the angle is +20 degrees. Each adjustment is designed to slowly stretch the tendon. The entire adjustment process will take 6 weeks and if all goes well my boot will come off just before the end of the year. Then it seems like I will be given some physio and plenty of exercises to try and get full movement back. My main concern is that I don’t overdo anything and rupture it again, but the repair should get stronger as time goes by. Needless to say I am feeling a lot happier, but still so surprised that it ruptured so easily in the first place. One other good thing is that my boot is removable so I can take it off at night which means that I should be able to bathe and sleep properly again, as long as I don’t put any pressure on my foot if standing without the boot on. So far so good. The other good thing for me is that all my subsequent appointments will be at Penrice which saves an enormous amount of time and expense having to visit Treliske. I know that the NHS comes in for an enormous amount of criticism at times, but so far over the last 3 ½ years I have had excellent treatment and have only praise for the people at the sharp end that I have dealt with.

Now back to sailing matters; “Why’s the web cam not working?” I hear someone cry. Well I am told that the SDS card in the camera head has blown, which means someone, Paddy?, having to use a ladder to get to the camera head, and that has not been possible over the last few weeks due to either too much wind or too much rain. However I am sure that it will be repaired soon and I will be as glad as you will be to see it up and running again.

After some quite wet & windy Sundays we appeared to have turned the corner and for once were blessed with much lighter winds and a dry day for a change, well morning anyway and this was reflected by the higher turnout today when 9 boats sailed out to the start line for one of the last races of the year. A well wrapped up Steve & Polly took the RIB to set the course and act as Safety Boat crew today, whilst I made myself useful by manning the Time keeping box. Initially there was a reasonably looking breeze blowing out from the shore and I longed to be out there in what I thought were ideal conditions, but such is the reluctance of the majority to launch to start on time that it delayed the start of racing by about 20 minutes. By the time the race started the breeze was starting to fade away and we had to shorten it to just 2 rounds and a beat.

With only 2 boats in the fast fleet it didn’t take long for Paddy & Steve in the RS400 long to open up an unassailable gap over the Tasar of Chris & Tony. There was much more competition in the slower fleet and it didn’t take Roger Williams long also to push his Blaze to the front and draw away from the rest of his fleet. Janet & Pete in their Kestrel, normally so dominant in the light stuff had a very poor first beat and had a lot of work o do to sail up through the fleet and at the end could only finish 4th behind Beacky & Kelvin’s Scorpion. Simon Robbins managed to sail his Supernova into 2nd place and that was enough for him to call it a day as did the Kestrel. The Scorpion battle just lately has always been between Beacky and the Kendalls who finished this race a minute behind Beacky but 2 ½ minutes ahead of daughter Sarah, home for the weekend, in their spare Scorpion. Also home for the weekend was Liz, who paired up with Shane in the Vago but they found the conditions just too light to generate any worthwhile speed.

A reduced fleet of 6 took to the water for the 2nd race with 3 in the fast fleet and 3 in the slow fleet and what a marathon this race turned out to be as it took almost an hour for the fleet to sail one triangle and a beat. Talk about watching paint dry, progress was so slow that for once I was glad I was not out racing. Nigel & James lead Paddy & Steve by some 9 seconds at the end of the first beat. The two RS’s split tacks on the broad reach out to sea and Steve & Paddy made some great gains to take a large lead by the time they reached the gybe mark. Despite the lighter crew of Nigel & James making better speed on the next 2 legs it wasn’t enough to prevent Paddy & Steve taking line honours by 37 seconds, which wasn’t a considerable distance in the ultra light conditions. Chris & Tony lost out big time struggling to get any drive out of the fully battened sails of their Tasar and finished some 20 minutes behind the 2 RS400s.

Once again Roger dominated the slower fleet winning by a margin of a minute over the 1st Scorpion, where this time the honours belonged to Andrew & Jenny who whopped Beacky & Kelvin by almost 4 minutes. A result that took quite a time to wipe the smile off Jenny’s face.

November 3rd
dinghy park in August
Wet but not windy
In my haste to get down to the Club this morning I forgot to bring my camera. Having admitted to that I can say that it looked pretty miserable so I have selected another picture from my files which paints a picture of better times and better weather.

We were all the battening down the hatches last weekend due to the dire weather predictions of the great St. Jude storm that was heading our way. Fortunately the storm was nothing like as bad as predicted and we all escaped unscathed. Nevertheless another not so damaging storm was predicted again for this weekend and once again we have escaped without any major damage.

Yet another set of deep depressions was forecast for this weekend and once again the majority expected strong winds to cancel racing again, but lo and behold the strong winds sweeping across most of the west country seemed to miss us out and our bay looked almost perfect for sailing. Unfortunately only 5 boats made it to the start line and fairly soon they fell into the predicted procession with Jeremy & Suzanne leading from start to finish, with only Richard in his Contender in the fast fleet and the light winds did nothing to help the Contender on handicap. However there was quite a battle in the slow fleet with the 2 Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny in close quarters with Beacky & Kelvin. The pair of them were pursued by Simon Robins in his Supernova, waiting to pounce as and when the 2 Scorpions tacking dual went on up the beat. Initially Andrew & Jenny held a good lead over Beacky & Kelvin, but eventually lost out on the penultimate beat and fell sufficiently behind to allow Simon to sail into 2nd position on corrected time; first blow to Beacky.

We made it up to the dizzy heights of 8 boats for the afternoon race. Once again the wind held off but had switched round to a south westerly but was sufficient in strength to enable Richard to trapeze quite a bit of the time and he & Jeremy were joined by the repaired RS 400 of Nigel & James. Roger Williams came over from Rock to sail his Blaze and Jan & Pete took their Kestrel out to swell the ranks of the slow handicap fleet. Although the wind held off the rain that started over the lunch period didn’t and it continued to fall quite heavily at times throughout the race, which wasn’t very pleasant for Paddy & Shane in the safety boat.

Once again Jeremy & Suzanne made the most of the first beat, which gave them sufficient distance to take another win although they were eventually overhauled and left behind by the spinnaker powered RS400. Richard had a spot of bother when he capsizes as did Simon who was forced to crash tack at the first windward mark and promptly fell in. Both boats were up and going again quickly so not too much time was lost. Quite a battle developed between Roger in hos Blaze and Jan & Pete in the Kestrel but honours went to Roger, beating Jan & Pete by some 30 seconds on corrected time. Simon closed up nicely to take 3rd which left the last 2 positions to be fought over by Beacky & Kelvin and Andrew & Jenny. For a couple of rounds they appeared to tied together by a bit of string with the Kendalls always having the upper hand but after making some good gains on the 3rd beat they almost through all their gains away by not flying their spinnaker on the first down wind leg. However they powered away once again on the last beat and correctly decided to fly their spinnaker on the last reach down to the beach marks to claim a well earned victory.

Only 3 more Sundays of racing left of the 2014 season; will you be out there trying to get one more sail in? Go on, come down and enjoy it while you can as it may be a long cold winter. As for me, well I can’t sail but am quite happy to sit and do some time keeping, which can allow another boat to sail.

October 27th
Platered leg
Anyone wanting a rub down?
I managed to visit the Club this morning to watch the racing!! Well, due to the weather there wasn’t any racing. The forecasted great storm was only hours away and the first signs of it were already showing them selves out in the bay. The sea was looking extremely lively with the bay a mass of white horses. Actually it didn’t look too bad just in our little cove, due to the wind being mainly from the south west, but even so there were some evil looking gusts blowing across from time to time.

Several people had been down and already left by the time I arrived and one or two were trying to make sure that their boats were adequately protected from the onslaught that is to come. There was enough time for our Granddaughters to go down onto the beach for a quick walk and mange to get their trouserss wet and get sea into their boots.

One job going on today was a bit of stocktaking and our Bar Steward, pictured above, was doing a bit of cleaning. I just hope that Sharron doesn’t see the picture or his domestic arrangements may be in for some changes. Now don’t forget the Wednesday socials are a fixture each week and the storm to come may encourage a few more to come down to inspect any damage that may have occurred.

There’s no real update on my ruptured tendon suffice to say that I am a week into my latest plaster and all appears to be well. The theory is that the immobile leg should allow the tendon to repair itself. I will know the answer to that in another 2 weeks when the plaster will be removed and the ultra sound scan will reveal the progress. Fortunately I don’t haven’t any pain but I am severely limited as to what I can do and where I can go, which is very frustrating, but something I am just going to have to put up with.

October 22nd
Platered leg
Has anyone got a parrot for my shoulder?
Well here is a follow up to the saga of my ruptured tendon. By writing this it saves all sorts of Chinese whispers and hopefully it is in enough detail to let you all know what is going on. I will follow up with updates on my status as and when they are relevant or available and hopefully I will put in an appearance at the Club next Sunday if the weather looks like being reasonable.

Monday 21st of October, one week after my “accident”, I presented myself at Treliske hospital fractures department to have the extent of my injury assessed. Now I am normally a glass half full sort of person rather than a glass half empty type, but I think I expected my glass this time to be something like only ¼ full.

My temporary plaster was cut off and the examination took place. Well, quite a bit of squeezing and probing took place accompanied by a few oohs and ouches from me. After a thorough examination the Consultant declared that the rupture felt about a 1cm gap, which he thought might mean surgery, and this was booked there and then for Wednesday 23rd, the date of our 42nd wedding anniversary, which is not a very pleasant way to spend such a memorable day. To confirm the diagnosis I was sent off for an ultra scan. Again I spent quite a few minutes being subjected to a very thorough physical examination, this time accompanied by an ultra sound scan. After a while the scan Consultant proclaimed that he thought he could see strands of tissue starting to knit together. A statement that suddenly made me feel a whole lot better. Then it was back to the fractures department for another consultation. This time the original Consultant accepted that there was a good chance that the healing process was taking place so he was prepared to let nature take its course as an alternative to surgery which would have involved an open wound and sewing the 2 ends of the tendon together. One drawback with surgery is the risk of infection, so given the choice I am more than happy with the “body heal yourself” attitude.

Now the bad news; it is a long, long process and can take up to 5 months. I have had a new plaster cast fitted. This time my toes are pointing as far forward as possible to push the tendon joints together and the plaster is wrapped to keep them in that position. I will keep this on for 3 weeks and then another visit to the hospital will confirm whether this approach is working. If all appears well then I will be fitted with a special sort of boot that will enable the angle of my foot to be adjusted periodically. This will in affect slowly stretch the tendon so that hopefully it will grow and stretch to give me my full mobility back.

From the Consultant’s experience I am told that the strength of repair by either nature or surgery is about the same, so there's neither advantage in either sort of treatment. How strong will the final tendon be is open to speculation. Unlike a fracture where the break actually becomes stronger than the original the tendons don’t quite follow that rule. The downside of the treatment is the length of time it might take to completely heal, which means I am very limited to what I can do and will have to spend all that time dragging myself around on a pair of crutches. Using crutches is a right pain in the backside and the lack of mobility and feeling so useless is very frustrating. There is so much to do at home and in the garden but I am just unable to do it.

Meanwhile,my magnificent wife, Sue is suddenly taking on quite a different role. She is having to get to grips with driving again, which is almost as difficult for her as it is for me using crutches and maybe I will look around for an automatic car so that at least I will be able to be slightly more mobile and be able to drive myself. So far she is doing really well, taking me down to Treliske yesterday. We always knew that parking would be a problem but yesterday we used the park & ride facility, which is a very efficient system and far cheaper and convenient than using Treliske car park. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t stop outside the main entrance of the hospital as the other bus companies do. It’s a long walk uphill on crutches, and certainly takes up quite a bit of stamina. By the time I am fully mobile her confidence and skills will be 100% so at least some positives will have come out of my problems.

If I am lucky then I should be ok for the 2014 sailing season and I suppose it also gets me out of the Sunday maintenance at the Club. Maybe I will be mobile enough to come down and make the coffees for all the stalwart volunteer workers.

One goal I have given myself is that sometime within the next 12 months I am going to walk right past the spot where my tendon ruptured and finish my journey into the sea and have the swim that I had originally set out to have. I do not intend to be beaten.

October 18th
Camp de Mar Beach
A sailor's sorry tale
Well I should have returned from a holiday in Mallorca, fully invigorated and ready for the run up to Christmas, but unfortunately things didn’t turn out so well. We had a beautiful fortnight, with very sunny and warm weather, and swimming most days in the Mediterranean. We had some very interesting trips and met some very nice people. The hotel was excellent, with good food and entertainment and I can fully recommend it. Now I used the word “unfortunately” earlier and that was because of an incident that happened on our very last day. A hot and sunny day prompted me to go for what may have been my last swim of the holiday. I walked down to the beach and for some inexplicable reason I decided to run into the sea. Previous times I had always walked into the sea until about knee level then just dived forward. I ran into the water leading with my right leg, but as my left leg hit the water, something went wrong as my foot landed and I felt an intense pain shoot up my leg and I collapsed. I managed to drag myself out of the sea and limped back to where Sue was sitting. I suspected that I had either done some serious damage or badly bruised my foot. The first aid guy at the Hotel declared that nothing was broken, so I kept quiet and managed to limp around for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to visit hospital there, and as it was our last day decided to wait until we arrived back home.

The flight home on Tuesday was ok but the walk from where the plane stopped and the arrivals area at Bristol was at least a ¼ mile walk. Foolishly I declined the offer from Sue to push me in a wheel chair so didn’t help myself at all. Fortunately I could just manage to operate the clutch on the car, so driving home wasn’t too bad. An early morning visit to Penrice Hospital the next day, incidentally a first class hospital, confirmed my worst fears. I had ruptured my Achilles tendon. They plastered me up with a temporary cast and I await a visit to the Fractures dept at Treliske next Monday for a full assessment of the damage and how long it may take to repair. I am told that I will be in plaster for at least 6 weeks, so far I am into my 3rd day and I am finding the whole process very frustrating.

My sailing season for this year has come to an end though I am hopeful that I will be ok for next year, but I am mindful that at my age recovery may take quite a bit longer than a much younger person. Assuming that my next cast will be a more substantial affair should allow me to become a little more mobile, but at the moment I am staying indoors and resting up. I have never had to use crutches before, but believe me it is a most unnatural way of moving around. Most movements around the house have to be properly planned as I can’t really carry anything, so small things can be put in my pocket, or a small rucksack that I can put on my back. Lying in bed with a plastered up leg is not too conducive for sleeping either, so my heart goes out to people who are even more disabled than I am.

One good thing that might come out of this episode is that it should get Sue driving again. She hasn’t driven much at all over the last few years. I bought a smaller car a while ago hoping that she would drive more but she still wasn’t keen, so now becoming the main driver should give her the experience and confidence that she needs. Who knows by the time the plaster comes off she may decide that she likes driving so much I won’t be able to have the car back.

I see that racing has gone on whilst I have been away though numbers have dropped off considerably, which may have been down to the lack of wind experienced in the mornings. In fact we seem to have had quite a few too light wind mornings this year, more than I seem to remember. It is nice o see another boat joining our fleet, with Craig Varley & Jake sailing a Scorpion. That Scorpion is well known to Porthpean as it was made and sailed here by Paul Jenkin, so knows its way round our bay well enough. I think that once they get to grips with the boat then they will be giving our more established crews a good run for their money.

One of the reason that the turn out was low last weekends was that some of our sailors have been competing elsewhere. Our windsurfers, comprising Finn Hawkins, who came 5th in the 3.5M class, Jeremy Whale who came 9th in the 4.5M class and Luke Bilkey coming 17th in the 6.8M class. The racing was on a reservoir at Northampton SC. The Tasar fleet held its Inland Championships at Wimbleball SC last weekend. Steve & Polly took their Tasar there and sailed away with 1st place, which was an excellent result as they haven’t sailed the Tasar for quite few months.

The picture at the top of the blog shows the beach where my little accident took place; looks quite benign really and is a lovely place to swim, but I will never run into the sea again.

September 29th
A windy old beach
Beaten by the weather today
It would take a very brave or foolish person to even attempt to launch off our beach today, so not surprisingly looking at the picture alongside, all hopes of sailing today were abandoned. The fresh easterlies that we have had all week have steadily increased the waves that could be seen pounding onto the beach. In fact the wind direction was now more south easterly compounding the unfavourable conditions. All we could do was to hang around the Clubhouse, drinking coffee and talking. All apart from some who chose to do some maintenance on their boats plus Steve Wingrove who was packing his Blaze away in preparation for the Blaze Inland Championships to be held at Bala Lake, North Wales, from Friday, over the next weekend. Good luck Steve.

We are now getting to the time of year when expectations of sailing are more in the balance and no doubt the chances of losing more races will ebb & flow determined by the weather. I usually refer to an easterly wind as a beastly easterly, and when we get them in the early part of the year they tend to be very cold, but in the autumn they are still blowing from a warmer Europe with the result that we do get some milder weather, and yes true to form, it was quite mild today.

It might be difficult to see from the beach picture but there is an enormous amount of rubbish that has been washed ashore; the majority being bits of plastic. It certainly isn't a nice advertisment for nature and it will be interesting how long it may take for the mounds of weed to disintegrate and be dragged back into the sea.

Clean up time
Now that the Wednesday series have finished the wait for the next opportunity to sail is a whole week and that for now will seem like a long time to wait. Wednesday racing is a very nice way of breaking the week up. However the Clubhouse will be open on Wednesday evenings for socialising so worry not you can still come down and be amongst friends, though with the darker evenings very much in attendance for a few months, little will be seen of the sea, nor the waves.

With the weather like this I find that it is just the right time to jet off for a couple of weeks in the sun, so no more blogs for a week or two. Make sure that you behave your selves whilst I am away and hopefully normal sailing service will be resumed soon.


September 26th
Preparing to go sailing
Another damp & mizzly evening
The moist air stream that we have been stuck with for the last 4 days almost derailed our last Wednesday race of the season. In fact we have only lost 2 races in total from the September Wednesday series over the last 4 years, which shows just how settled September can be. The conditions today were damp, almost windless with a slightly lumpy sea and arrival at the Club gave us little optimism to go sailing. A brisk south easterly on Monday has strewn the beach with weed and altogether the conditions were not very encouraging. However, poor as the weather was, 12 boats still went out to play and complete the series in the very light southerly breeze. So light was the breeze that in fact you had to watch carefully to see bits of flotsam slowly slip behind the boats as we made our progress round the course. Mike & Vicky took the RIB tonight for their duty and set an excellent course, which if we had have had a decent breeze would have given us a cracking sail.

Our biggest enemy though was the darkness with a sunset time of just after 7 pm. We knew darkness would come even earlier due to the low cloud and mist that had hung over St. Austell all day. Fortunately with the wind in a southerly direction we only had to get out to the beach marks for our start. There was just enough bias on the line to tempt us into a port hand start and it almost worked until we eventually met Jeremy & Suzanne sailing across on starboard. I was in 2 minds whether to risk sailing across his bows. I think we might have got away with it but I didn’t want to risk anything in the light breeze so elected to tack. In hind sight we should have ducked but I should have made that decision about 30 seconds earlier as the right side of the course was the favoured side. In the event we dropped back a bit and was quite a way behind when Jeremy & Suzanne arrived at the windward mark, just behind Paddy & Steve in their RS400. There was just enough breeze to fill their spinnaker and they soon pulled clear. Justin & Geoff were next around and we just sneaked in between them and a fast closing Chris & Tony in the 4th Tasar.

Our down wind speed, if you can call it that in those conditions, was just enough to pull us away from Chris & Tony and start to hunt down Justin. Well after a long luffing duel we just managed to get an overlap as we reached the beach marks, but for some reason our upwind speed was suddenly compromised and not only did we fall back behind Justin again we were also soon behind Chris & Tony who cane from behind and sailed right over us and started to pull well away and as we started the last set of down wind reaches our position looked hopeless. Once again our downwind speed came to our rescue, well almost. We gradually caught up with Chris & Tony and managed to slip through them at the gybe mark and we set off in the hope of catching Justin & Geoff. Chris & Tony then had the bad luck to become involved in the first 3 boats of the slow handicap fleet who in the light conditions weren’t that slow at all. Justin & Geoff could see us coming and once again we became involved in a luffing duel, but this time just failed to get an overlap at the beach marks and had to settle for 3rd Tasar. Meanwhile further up front Paddy & Steve’s forward progress suddenly stopped and they lost a lot of time waiting for the breeze in their area to fill in, with the result that although they took line honours, too much time was lost and Jeremy & Suzanne triumphed on corrected time.

The slow handicap fleet had a very interesting time, with the main competition coming from Simon Robins in his Supernova, Steve Wingrove in his Blaze and Andrew & Jenny Kendall in their Scorpion. They all went up the first beat the right way and due to the lack of wind managed to drift along almost as fast as us in the fast handicap fleet. Simon & Steve were incredibly close to each other round most of the course until Steve hit a poor patch of air and came to a halt, enabling Simon to open a large gap and frustrating for Steve he had to witness the slower Scorpion, aided with a drooping spinnaker overtake him, demoting him to 3rd. There were 3 juniors out, Luke Adams, Luke Bilkey & Charlie Austin, but their smaller sailed boats really lost out in the light breeze and they only managed one lap and their scores were amended with an average lap calculation.

Well we did all make it back to shore before darkness fell but it soon became quite dark and damp whilst we were putting the boats to bed. Jenny was away on holiday and once again Shane, ably helped by James, came to our rescue, providing plenty of bacon butties for everyone, so once again thanks to Shane & James. I believe that the Wednesday socials will start next week, so those in the habit of coming down to the Club on Wednesdays can still come down but will have to settle for drinks, chat and games of pool and other games to while away some time before Wednesday sailing starts again.

I write this after watching the final race in the Americas Cup and what a triumph it was for the American Team and especially for Ben Ainslie as tactician for the team. I have been watching the entire series and thought throughout that the Kiwis were the faster boat and were sailing so well. The Americans in a bit of a panic after yet another hiding, cried off for a day in order to regroup. I’m lead to believe that they made some dramatic changes to their boat, analysed where they were failing and drafted in Ben Ainslie to replace their original tactician. Ben joined the Oracle team last year when the Olympics finished so was well acquainted with the boat and team and must have relished the promotion, though the Americans still lost in one of the races when he was first drafted in. However he soon got to grips with his position and working with Tom Slinsgby, an Australian Gold medallist in a Laser, they both gelled and called the shots as the boats battled it out on the race course, with the result that we are all familiar with today. I have to admit that I was one of the sceptics when I first learned that the Cup was going to be sailed in 72 foot catamarans, but the format of choice of boats, the racing and the venue plus the television coverage, complete with expert analysis and computer graphics completely won me over and I give full credit to the men who had the vision and money to produce the spectacle that we have witnessed.

You have to feel for the Kiwis who had effectively wrapped the Cup up when leading by a huge margin in the light wind day, only to be frustrated when almost on the last leg the time period ran out and the race was abandoned. But for that, we would all have been talking about the brilliance of the Kiwis, their helm and tactician and crew instead of the other way round. It goes to show that the elements make such a difference in whatever form of sailing you participate in.

Looking ahead, the conditions forecast for next Sunday do not seem very encouraging as the easterly air flow that we have had for almost a week is set to continue right through the weekend, with fog and rain the main compounding the conditions for the preceding days. It all goes to make my forthcoming holiday in the sun more and more desirable.

September 22nd
Wainhomes destruction
The beach is ours again
The holiday season has finished and the beach is deserted of holiday makers, the beach cafe is closed and the separation buoys have been taken up. Today the beach was empty apart from our modest fleet of dinghy sailors, wind surfers and canoeists and our Autumn programme takes us up to the end of November.

Every season we get some strange weather and today was one of the strangest weather systems that we have had for quite a time. It has been the norm for the last few weeks to have hardly any wind or even none at all in the mornings, and today was one of those days, but to compound matters the visibility was almost none existent too with a thick sea mist rolling in off the sea. Not surprisingly the postponement flag was flown and we all sat around waiting and hoping for the conditions to improve; well not everybody, several went home hoping to earn brownie points doing other chores. Eventually the visibility increased and the postponement flag in the yard started to flutter so it was decided to have an early lunch and try to get 2 races in starting at 13.30. As the mist started to lift the fitfull breeze appeared to blow in small patches on the sea, so in great expectations a small fleet of 9 boats actually launched to try and make the most of the conditions. Andrew & Jenny our RIB driver and Race Officers for the day, laid a small course that fortunately for us all allowed us to see where we were going and had the benefit of keeping the fleet together.

Unfortunately our hopes of a breeze building were dashed, but there was enough to promote some forward progress so racing did commence after a fashion, demanding the most of our light wind expertise and patience.

It was great to see Stewart Page once again on the start line, after an absence of 10 years or more. Stewart took the helm of Pascal Dazza’s boat with Pascal crewing. These were not ideal conditions for anyone to come back to sailing as there was so little breeze that getting the boat to go was quite a difficult affair all together. The main object for us when going up wind was to try and coax some speed out of the boat whilst trying to keep it pointing in the upwind direction. It was no good trying to point too high but much more rewarding by sailing a few degrees off wind to generate a little speed. That in itself would then allow just a little more pointing. Anyway that was my tactics for the day coupled with the intention of not getting tangled up in a dual with anyone else. Despite a good start from us, the 2 RS400s of Nigel & James and Paddy & Steve made it to the windward mark with Nigel & James pulling well ahead on the 2 spinnaker reaches to take line honours. I thought that at one time we were pulling Paddy & Steve back but unfortunately not enough as at the corrected times put them ahead of us in 2nd place by a margin of 11 seconds. Colin Wainwright, hasn’t sailed that much this season but he did race today and how pleased he must have felt as not only did he beat the rest of his fleet on corrected time but he also beat them on the water, pushing Steve Wingrove down to 2nd and Beacky & Kelvin in their Scorpion back into 3rd. The strangest thing about racing today was the fact that the breeze was so light and the sea so calm that you couldn’t hear the boats cutting through the water. The first race was shortened to 2 laps and I thought that would be enough for the day but no, the majority wanted more of the same.

I was quite surprised when it was decided to hold a 2nd race, as it appeared to be even lighter than the first race but as it happened the breeze did start to increase a fraction and darker patches out at sea promised better things to come. Well we lived or sailed in hope but in the end the promised wind never came; instead the cloud that had been hanging just at cliff top heights decided to descend to the water, cutting down all visibility from the Club house as to where we were on the course. The race had to be shortened again and the RIB positioned itself so that it could relay to the race box as and when we crossed the finish line. Once again Nigel & James took line honours ahead of Paddy & Steve but this time we were close enough behind the 2 RSs to take the win on corrected time. Chris & Tony gained some satisfaction by beating Stewart & Pascal in both races. Beacky & Kelvin obviously dismayed at their result in the first race, managed to make a better start and hit the favoured left hand side of the beat to pull well ahead of their fleet and took the win on the shortened course. Finn Hawkins had come out to play for the 2nd race and although finishing quite a few minutes behind the Scorpion still took 2nd place on corrected time ahead of Steve Wingrove and Colin Wainwright.

Now you may wonder what the picture at the top of the blog has to do with sailing. Well not a lot, but I have been sailing at Porthpean even before I joined the Club for over 40 years and I have often marvelled at the view you can see when you glance over the hedge on Porthpean Road and look over at St. Austell Town and the Clay tips in the distance. Well in only a few weeks time that view is set to disappear forever when Wainhomes spoil more green fields around St. Austell and build another of their housing estates. The local council seem quite keen for this to happen despite the objections of the many locals who live in the surrounding area. I for one will be sorry to see the view disappear but it seems that no one can stand in the way of progress. So enjoy the view over the next few weeks as once gone it will disappear forever.

September 15th
All peaceful before sailing
Very friendly Pirates tonight; I think they may have run out of cannon balls
If our race time was 7 pm we wouldn’t have raced. If the wind strength that had been blowing most of the day hadn’t eased we wouldn’t have raced, but with a race start time of 6 pm and an easing in the wind strength, our 14 boat fleet of expectant dingy sailors launched for the penultimate Wednesday race of the 2013 season.

The tide was quite high, right up to the slip in fact but there was just enough beach to allow us to rig and launch into very flat water. Jeremy & Suzanne were our RIB drivers tonight and they both had to rush up from Hayle to make it in time but fortunately for all of us they did and we were all out on the start line ready to go just after 6.pm.

There was still quite a frisky breeze blowing when we launched and our friends the Pirates, were out in the bay filming again. As we prepared to launch a pirate RIB rushed right in to the cove and up to the beach to “request” that we kept our course away from the stern of their galleon as they were filming in that direction. Tonight there was no repeat of the previous week’s “demands” that we move our course to allow them to film. As we were approached in a far more agreeable way, we managed to conduct a friendly conversation in which they apologised for their previous weeks overbearing attitude. Fortunately for all concerned, the wind was much more northerly meaning our beat would be from the Blackhead direction towards the beach marks and our gybe mark would be out of camera shot, meaning we could keep well away from their boat and we all parted on cordial terms. No doubt we might get to meet Johnny Depp in due course!!

I suppose with that in mind Jeremy set the reaches relatively small which was a bonus for the spinnaker boats, but as tonight they were all in the slower handicap fleet it didn’t affect our 3 Tasars in the faster fleet. The ever present Paddy & Steve in the RS400 were missing tonight meaning it was a Tasar free for all and once again our small numbers were made up by Stacey & Lucy, and Chris & Tony after their respective holidays.

Steve Smith, our visitor from Chew Valley rigged his Laser with his radial rig tonight to suit the prevailing launching conditions, which were decidedly lively once out of the cove, but I think he regretted not using the full rig as the wind eased away. Ken & I had a nice clean start and successfully arrived at the beach marks in 1st position and contrived to pull away from the rest of the fleet to take an easy victory, despite Stacey pushing us hard up the 1st beat. Most of the fun was to be had in the slow fleet where once again it was dominated by Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, who were up with Stacey & Steve Smith at the end of the first beat, plus the attentive Scorpions of Kay & Craig, Beacky & Kelvin and Andrew & Jenny Kendall. The gusty breeze soon dispatched Kay & Craig whilst undergoing a spinnaker hoist and Andrew & Jenny as they gybed for the first time. Looking at the final results it is clear to see that there was some very close finishing on corrected times. Jan& Pete are shown as winning by a margin of 2 seconds over Steve’s Laser, but I believe that his handicap was incorrectly put down as a full laser rig, rather then a radial so when the race is rescored then I am sure he will be the winner by several seconds. It was a welcome back tonight to Simon Robbins, who has been working away for most of the summer. He quickly found his rhythm to take 3rd, albeit 3 minutes behind Jan& Pete. Nick Haskins was sailing in turbo mode tonight being lead Club Laser and only 7 seconds behind Simon, but for the first time in quite a while ahead of all the Scorpions. The honour of lead Scorpion went to Beacky & Kelvin, who had a very big bonus of not capsizing finished in 5th position just 4 seconds in front of Steve Wingrove in his Blaze who was just 47 seconds in front of Andrew & Jenny. Their capsize must have hurt them as I’m sure a capsize recovery must have been greater than the time deficit they suffered against Beacky. Kay’s immersion in the sea must have taken quite a while to sort out as they lost an immense amount of time as she & Craig were some 6 ½ minutes behind the Kendalls. We had 2 juniors out tonight, who obviously had a hard time in the first half of the race when the wind was much fresher and they were Charlie Austin in his Topper and Jake Varley in the Club Laser. Both finished the race which due to the conditions was very encouraging for the future.

Once again the Clubhouse was a happy place to be with plenty of Jenny’s bacon butties and a well stocked bar to be enjoyed. It may be our penultimate Wednesday race but the last for Jenny who will be away on holiday next week. Once again Shane has kindly agreed to cook the bacon so our stomachs should be well fed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jenny on our behalf for acting as time keeper and head chef for the Wednesday night series. I know that when Jenny is time keeping then the races are well run and the fact that we can have a bite to eat after racing is always welcome on an evening, so from all of us THANKYOU Jenny.

The hard luck badge of the week must go to James Dowrick who together with Luke Bilkey attended the last of the Feva series of racing at Rock SC last Sunday. Well as you all know the conditions on the day were wet & windy and we at Porthpean only managed one race with a reduced fleet in the atrocious conditions. James & Luke were leading the series and only needed a good result to clinch it but disaster struck on an early gybe when they capsized in fairly shallow water. The mast bottomed out and snapped. I know the feeling well as it has happened to me before in the Tasar. They were recovered but for them the race and the series was over and they had to settle for 2nd place overall, which is still a very good position but they both knew that without the capsize they could have won the regional event. I believe the Feva is on the market and James is hoping to replace it with a Laser for the 2014 season, whilst still crewing for Nigel at weekends. Sounds good to me.

Changes, changes, life is made up of changes.

September 15th
All peaceful before sailing
Too rough for the Pirates
Grey skies, temperatures down to 15C, darker mornings, shorts and tee shirts left in the drawers, all go together to tell us that summer is but a fast fading memory and autumn is here with us once again. To make matters worse the dire forecast for today to be wet & windy has been predicted since last Wednesday and for once the weather boys got it spot on. I think the weather may have been worse up country and I think for many of us there was hope that the predicted weather would be a little later coming in than had been forecast. At least when we assembled at the Club this morning we had some hope as it was dry and unusually calm and there was a very nice light breeze blowing across the bay. The pirate boat had been taken away, leaving it’s mooring buoys anchored up showing where it had been so I expect that it may make another return later in the week when the weather improves.

Only 10 boats ventured out to try and get at least 1 race in before the wind increased, though when we launched there was already 30 knots plus blowing at Lands End, so it was on the way. Andrew & Jenny were the RIB drivers today and realised that time was of the essence so made sure that they launched in plenty of time to make an 11.00 start. Indeed as we left the beach and crept out of the cove the wind seemed to be eerily quiet. Once we had reached the beach marks area it was starting to feel quite meaty with some very stiff gusts starting to sweep out from the shore with more of a south westerly direction. By the time Ken & I reached the starting area I knew that we were in for a blow and we soon went into survival mode, plate well up, jib cleats out further and the traveller let off to leeward. It all felt manageable, though difficult and then it started to blow harder. We noticed that Beacky & Kelvin had taken a swim, Paddy & Steve looked as though they had already taken the decision to abort as they were headed shore wards. It didn’t take me much longer to make a decision to head for home also. In fact of the 10 boat fleet, 5 of us sailed home which in some ways took some pressure off the safety boat.

From the shore it looked like the strength of the earlier gusts had diminished and sailing conditions appeared to have become more manageable. The lull came too late for those of us parked on the beach and we looked on as the remaining 5 boats waited for their start. In due course the race started. Richard was very late as he had been heading back to the shore when he changed his mind and returned to the starting area, after all he was the only one in the fast fleet so in some ways it didn’t matter when he started as all he had to do was sail round to get a 1st. Steve Smith, our visitor from Chew Valley, adopted his radial rig for today’s conditions and proved once again how fast a Laser can be, shooting into the lead ahead of Brian Reeves in his radial sailed Laser, Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, April Halls in her Topper and bringing up the rear, Richard in his Contender. Indeed it looked like those of us on the beach had called it a day too soon as the fleet appeared to be managing ok, but of the 5 boats, only Steve Smith escaped without capsizing. The others all took to the water from time to time, usually just blown in by some of the stronger gusts that were sweeping across the bay. But all due credit to them, they all hauled themselves upright and sailed on to eventually finish.

By the time they all reached the beach the visibility had started to come down as the first drops of rain started to fall and it didn’t take too long before the decision to cancel the rest of the day's racing was reached. I think today’s wind strength was the strongest we have had since August 2nd, the day of Charlestown Regatta. Hopefully if the forecast is correct, we will be back to more sublime conditions for next Wednesday, so normal service should hopefully be restored. Due to coming home early I have had the opportunity to write this sooner than normal and in fact the weather outside my window is rather vile, with heavy rain and some strong gusts of wind so the cancellation was the right one.

2 weekends ago when we sailed we shared the beach with several 100 others, all jockeying for their patch of sand and the water was littered with swimmers. Today our small fleet were the only occupants, and how peaceful & tranquil it seemed and I suppose things will stay that way until maybe next Easter or Spring Bank Holiday.

The Americas Cup is being sailed in San Francisco this month in the giant AC72 Catamarans. The New Zealand challenger is leading the Americans by 6 points to 0. The Americans actually started the competition on -2 points, but have won 2 races reducing their deficit to 0. The first to 9 wins the Cup but the Americans have started to fight back. They have taken Sir Ben Ainslie on board as tactician and he together with Tom Slingsby have started to make a difference. The American boat has also made a few changes which have increased their speed somewhat. I know that BBC is showing highlights of the days racing but if you have the time and interest the whole of each race can be seen on You Tube. I have watched all the racing so far and it is well worth watching. The TV coverage is superb, the commentary is good and is interspersed with informative graphics and to top it all off it is free to watch. Have a look and see what I mean.

September 11th
The pirate boats
Almost boarded by Pirates
Wow, what a strange evening we had for racing last night. We were almost cut down in our prime by a broadside from the Pirates of Charlestown. No doubt many of you have seen the filming going on down at Charlestown over the last few weeks. The harbour has been transformed with very authentic looking buildings. The local shipwright has been busy building some clinker boats that will be shipped abroad for further scenes. A pirate boat and other “old” boats have been moored up just off Charlestown for over a week now and quite a bit of time has been spent filming different scenes. Last evening they were still there when we launched for our 2nd race of the September series. Steve Wingrove & Tony Dunn were our RIB drivers for the night and despite their worries about setting a course, actually set a very good course indeed. The reaches were just broad enough to allow the spinnaker boats to fly their kites on both reaching legs, but not too broad to make it boring for the 4 Tasars that had launched to race. The wind was again a westerly, meaning that we were gathering out at sea beyond the pirate boats waiting for the start when a very fast RIB was despatched from their boats and made a beeline for our RIB which was anchored up preparing for our start. The “pirate” on board his RIB demanded that we move our course or stop sailing as we were visible from their cameras and would be spoiling their filming. Fortunately Paddy came alongside to talk to the “pirate”, told him that we were not moving and would most likely be finished within an hour. A not too happy “pirate” returned to his mother craft and we resumed our racing, but it didn’t end quite there. Not too long after the conversation at sea, Jenny received a phone call in the Club house again demanding that we stop sailing to allow them to continue filming without our presence in their immediate vicinity. Again the answer was no, but sometimes you know it does help to plead your case and not just demand that others obey you. Possibly if a few dubloons had crossed our palms then things could have been different.

Anyway eventually calm descended and our racing began for the 14 boats that had launched. Wednesday sailing in September used to finish after the first Wednesday but by bringing the start time to 6pm we can now mange to sail right through the month, giving us a 3 race bonus. With the overcast conditions prevailing and drizzle in the air we finally started. The start line was very heavily port biased and a long line of boats were queuing right along it on starboard all jockeying to get a good start, which also had the bonus of shutting out all those who thought they were going to get a port hand flyer. The wind strength was down to about 8-9 knots and as per usual was a little shifty especially as we approached the beach marks. Almost inevitably Jeremy & Suzanne were first round, followed by our visiting Laser helm, Steve Smith and then us, crucially ahead of Paddy & Steve in their RS400. By the end of the 2 reaches the RS was up just behind the Hawkins and we had overtaken the Laser. Stacey & Lucy were out in their Tasar as well as Justin & Geoff in another Tasar and these two were very close right through the race until the 3rd and final beat when Stacey suddenly found another gear and shot away from the surrounding pack. Yes the pack that had earlier contained Stacey & Justin comprised the 2 Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny and Beacky & Kelvin and the consistently speedy Kestrel of Jan & Pete plus John Hill in his Supernova. The absence of any decent breeze on the reaches prevented the Tasars from planing and in light winds the spinnaker boats downwind are just as fast, meaning any breakthroughs must be done on the beats.

For a while I noticed that the Kendalls were well ahead of Beacky but I think all changed on the last beat when Paul managed to wriggle past and went on to beat them by almost ½ minute, which isn’t a great distance in the light breeze that we were finishing in. Jan & Pete, however, managed to sneak across the line just 13 seconds in front of Beacky and this was enough on corrected time to beat them by 5 seconds, so very close between those 3. Steve Smith in his Laser finished a long way in front and his winning time was converted to a margin of 2 ½ minutes after the handicap corrections had been factored in. We actually had a total of 5 Lasers racing 2 of which were radials and here James Dowrick beat Clive Stephens, and in the standard rig lasers Nick Haskin beat Adam Eastham by some 30 seconds; again quite close racing throughout the fleet. Charlie Austin was sailing the slowest boat in the fleet but nevertheless managed to sail the course, so well done to him.

Team DB have been a bit quiet of late and the boat is on the market but they are hoping to go out with one last hurrah, with the last of the circuit races coming up this weekend at Rock. James & Luke are leading the competition and so one last racing session in the stronger breezes should suit them just fine. The racing will be at Rock, a place I don’t think that they have sailed at before. There is usually quite a strong current there as it is o the Camel estuary, but fortunately they should be sailing at neap tides so the tidal flow will be at its lowest. So good luck to them.

Over the summer we have had quite a good run of racing sessions, but this run looks like it may come to an end this weekend if the provisional weather forecast is to be believed with fresh to strong south westerly’s approaching in quite a deep depression.

One other thing before I go. I don’t know how many of you know but the final of the America’s Cup is being sailed at the this month and it started last Saturday, with a possible 17 races to be sailed. The racing is being televised by the BBC but these are mainly highlights. The actual races can be seen on “You Tube”. Anyone interested can watch previous racing at any time and are they are well worth watching. The Kiwis boat appears to be better upwind and they took race 5 by quite a large margin yesterday. I think the next 2 races are scheduled for this Friday and with the Kiwis winning 4 out of the 5 races sailed so far are starting to get the Americans rattled and worried. There is still a way to go yet so well worth watching.

September 8th
Cadets, getting ready to launch
It doesn’t take an expert to tell us that the summer weather has finally finished, you only need to look out of the window or step outside your door to know that it is a lot cooler than last week. Maybe just maybe we might still get some mild weather but I think we will be waiting a little longer for that soothing warmth that we have got so accustomed to. I am still wearing my shorts by day so it’s not totally autumnal yet and September usually gives better weather than we sometimes expect. I was down at the Club on Thursday, doing some minor work on my boat, basking in the sunshine and watching Jack Sparrow’s pirate boat, anchored off Charlestown. Ken & I sailed round the boat yesterday afternoon between races to look at the fearsome looking boat. It has a fierce sort of tiger like figure head on the bow sprit and an enormous skull fastened on the stern. Overall it’s quite a menacing looking craft. There was no filming going on so no sign of pirates or others on the boat, but with some more sunshine promised for later in the week I expect that more action will be taking place soon. It’s worth a trip down to Charlestown harbour where quite a few “buildings” and other artefacts have been created to fit into the storyline and when viewed from the right direction look very realistic.

The Club has just had a very busy weekend, with the Cadet’s Regatta being sailed on Saturday, with 3 races on handicap, followed by a F&C supper in the evening and a Pete Barnes quiz for the brain boxes and also the draw for the September 100 Club, all followed by the September Cup on Sunday.

Unfortunately the average age profile of the majority of our Club sailors is probably in the 50s, which doesn’t bode too well for the future, but we are fortunate enough that we do have a good crop of juniors coming through and it was the juniors who were out sailing on Saturday in what were very good sailing conditions. Not too strong to make it difficult to sail but strong enough to cause a few capsizes from time to time. Race Officer for the day was Ken, ably assisted by Jeremy who gave the youngsters some tactical tips at lunch time. Chris Bilkey & Richard Austin took the 2nd RIB and together took some very good photographs, which will appear on the web site in due course. There was quite a mixture of boats racing, including Pico, Topper, Feva, Vago and of course Lasers. The day belonged to Luke Bilkey who took the Club Laser complete with radial rig and dominated the regatta by winning all 3 races. Very close behind was a new pairing of James Dowrick & Charlie Austin in James’s Feva. They finished 2nd in the first 2 races and fell behind Finn Hawkins in his Laser 4.7 in the 3rd race. Full results are published in the results page. Below are some pictures taken by Ricahard Austin.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the F&C supper, but it was well attended. However I did have the chance to hear some of the questions that Pete had in his quiz for later that evening. I think he asked me about 10 questions and I maybe had 2 correct, with the other 8 being “don’t knows”!! It was quite hard so fortunately my ignorance was kept to myself.

So onto Sunday, the September Cup, with 3 races scheduled, time was going to be of the essence. How strange that yet another Sunday morning was windless. We have had breeze all week and an 8-10 knot westerly was forecast for today but at 10.00 we had nothing. 11.00 was the same and so the postponement flag was flown and we sat around just waiting for the breeze to kick in. Lunch was taken earlier to allow for a long afternoon on the water and by 13.00 the long awaited breeze had arrived and the bay was ready for racing. Once more the fleet for the day was smaller than of late as some declined to wait and left for other pursuits. We also had a visitor in a laser, Steve Smith from Chew Valley, who is down here on holiday for a fortnight and will be sailing with us on our race days. Steve Mitchell and Polly have for a time at least decided to switch from their Tasar to their beautiful looking Scorpion and this was readied for the fray.

Ron Barrett and a crewless Nigel took the RIB for us and set a “P” shaped course which caught a few out in the first race, when they decided to miss the “P” bit out on the 2nd lap, which helped us as we went from 3rd on the water to 1st for a while. In order to get 3 races in the course was set deliberately smaller than usual, but had the effect of keeping us closer together. The breeze was less than forecast, maybe only about 4-5 knots with some occasional variations and shifts; enough to keep everyone on their toes and meaning that there was no guaranteed way to sail the beat. Steve & Polly arrived at the beach marks first in the first race, closely followed by Paddy & Steve in their RS400, Jeremy & Suzanne, us and Steve in his Laser. The first reach was a fraught affair and the Scorpion and RS went higher to protect their wind and lost out big time when those of us sailing lower picked up better pressure and managed to sail through. We benefited the most, enough to claim the lead at the end of the first lap, but we were eventually overtaken by Jeremy & the RS400. Steve in his Laser was always snapping at our heels and wasn’t too far behind when we finished. At this stage there are no results published so I don’t know who finished where.

Steve & Polly sailed a blinder in the 2nd race, and although beaten on the water by some of the faster boats, must have saved their time when the calculations were made. Who on earth is claiming that the Scorpion has an onerous handicap? In the right hands and in the right conditions it is a very potent weapon indeed. It was in this race that we had our best chance by actually passing Jeremy & Suzanne at the end of the last beat only to make a right cock up of tacking too early for the 2nd beach mark, resulting in having to point too high and lose speed enabling them to sail over the top of us, which was an elementary but costly mistake on my part. Still we did have some very close racing all day.

The final race unfortunately turned into a bit of a farce. Just before the start the wind swung through about 90 degrees or more, turning the beat into a close reach, the first reach into a one tack beat and all the subsequent reaches and runs into different points of sailing. It literally became a drag race, with no chances of overtaking. Fortunately it was shortened quite quickly. Steve & Polly maybe lost any chance of winning the Cup when they trawled over their spinnaker on one of the legs and lost too much time in trying to retrieve it.

We are certainly in strange weather territory, because as I sit here writing this blog a glance out of the window shoes a cloudless sky and it looks just like summer again.

September 4th
safety boat ready to go
Goodbye summer and hello autumn; yes we have entered the last 3 series of the 2013 season, though with the weather still behaving itself it appears that we are still in summer. The weather over the last week or so has been superb and Sue & I have had some good walks and cycle rides and some very enjoyable lunches sitting in the sun. Unfortunately those last days of summer are slipping away and it was the start of the Wednesday autumn series last night, which was held in light winds and overcast skies. Maybe it was for the last time this year that I could wear my sailing shorts, especially as the forecast for the coming weekend isn’t the best, well not for shorts anyway. I thought for a moment as I came down the hill that racing would be abandoned as the bay was looking rather flat, but the south easterly almost non existent breeze swung more southerly and picked up a little, though nothing strong enough to get 2 on the same side deck. However it was good enough to race in.

After the heady highs of 20 boats last wednesday, including 6 racing Tasars, we were reduced to just 10 tonight with only 2 racing Tasars, taking on the might of Paddy & Steve’s RS400. The RS400 is a strange boat to compete against as in the right conditions they will disappear out of sight but at other times have a job to make much ground on a Tasar and the light conditions and course last night certainly favoured the Tasar, especially after the first beat, which saw Paddy & Steve, after a poor start, quite a way behind after the first beat. In fact rounding together in the lead were the Scorpion of Kay & Craig and the Tasar of Justin & Geoff with us dropping into 3rd. By the end of the 2nd reach we had taken the lead and were still a reasonable distance in front of the RS400 which had pulled through most of the fleet by the time they had reached the beach marks for the first time.

Now we had a bit of a fright at the start as we shot over the line at the far end from the RIB which tonight was crewed by Nigel & Beacky, when we heard a 2nd gun. Clearly someone was over the start line a little early. Was it us? Well I wasn’t sure but I couldn’t see anyone turning back, which again confused the issue. Anyway we sailed on and hailed the still anchored RIB as we completed the 1st round, asking whether the miscreant was us. No it was John Hill we were told, so everything suddenly became rosy in our garden so to speak. John is practically deaf without his hearing aid in so couldn’t hear the recall gun nor cries that he was over and so had sailed on. This must have been good news for Kay as at the end of that first round Mr John Hill was there alongside her, having made some very good speed up down the reaches. Supernovas can be very fast at times, but to no avail this time as John was relegated to last position for his earlier infringement.

Kay’s & Craig’s earlier pace wasn’t enough to keep them out of the grasp of Luke Bilkey who on corrected time took his 3rd win on the trot in the Club Laser Radial. However she did keep the Kendall’s Scorpion behind her by a minute and a half. Dropping into 3rd just behind Kay was James and crew for tonight Charlie Austin, having his first race in an RS Feva. Brian Reeves in a full rigged Laser took 5th place just ahead of Finn in his Laser 4.7. I expect Finn would have benefitted from a larger rig in the lighter winds experienced tonight.

This Saturday sees the re scheduled Cadets Regatta. Hopefully lots of our Cadets will turn out and show us some good racing. This will be followed by fish & chips at 6.30 complete with a quiz, though our normal quiz master, Tony, is away on holiday, soaking up the sun and reading his sailing tactics manual, which I believe he bought from the top shelf in some supermarket.

Jenny was away tonight, so on the face of it no bacon butties. BUT Shane stepped magnificently into the breech, donned his apron, fired up the grills, and soon had the Clubhouse basking in the warm aroma of grilled bacon and believe me they tasted delicious. Thanks Shane for cooking them and Suzanne for serving them.

September 1st
Preparing to sail
Well this is a strange blog in a way as I have no results to work from, so will have to write from pure memory, which at my age is more difficult than you might imagine. Now what a shame it was that after a 20 boat fleet last Wednesday, today we were reduced to only 10 boats for what turned out to be a beautiful autumnal day. My first thoughts as I turned down the hill for the beach was an “Oh no” as there wasn’t s breath of wind in the bay, just a vast expanse of flat water. Knowing the forecast did give me some optimism as we were expected to get a nice northerly sometime during the day. Yes in the blink of an eye, summer has passed, the early mornings and evenings now have a bit of a chill about them but fortunately the nice weather is still with us for a few more days yet. The weather has been so good and the wind so light that for the last 2 weeks which included Fowey week I have got away with just wearing sailing shorts and Tee shirt plus at times my sailing top, which has been a very nice change from a wet suit.

Fortunately about 11.00 the wind started to fill in but not from the north, no it came from the south, which probably meant that at some time during the day the wind would switch off before blowing from the forecasted direction. Anyway we could only sail with what we were given and Steve & Polly our volunteer safety boat drivers for the day set a course which gave us a beat from the beach marks out towards Blackhead before reaching across the bay to the gybe mark followed by another reach back to the beach marks.

There was no port bias on the start line so the best place to be was by the RIB and with a smaller fleet it was much easier to get to the right place at the right time and as the gun went we managed to squeeze over the line just where we wanted to be. The fast fleet was reduced to only 3 boats and very nicely for us Nigel & Paddy in an RS400 were further down the line and Richard borrowing Paddy’s RS600 was further back. The first beat turned out well for us, the only Tasar, as we were first boat to the windward mark, but inevitably once the RS400 had the kite up their increased speed took them into the lead. Our 2nd beat was nothing special but our 3rd beat brought us back up to within 50M or less of the RS and things were looking better for us. However the wind decided to switch off on our last reach down to the beach marks. Now at this time I don’t know how the results turned out as they haven’t been published yet, but the result for us could have swung either way as I don’t know who was more affected, because the wind did come back from the forecasted direction making the last reach a beat, and though Nigel & Paddy crossed the beach marks before us we may have saved enough time to take the win. In the slower fleet I noticed that Andrew & Jenny took the early lead in the battle of the 2 Scorpions, but sometime during the race Beacky & Kelvin made their move and overhauled the Kendalls to take 1st place on the water and probably 1st place overall.

Jeremy, Suzanne & Finn joined us for the afternoon race and by this time the north westerly breeze was quite established. The buoys were swiftly moved around to give us a port handed course, beating in towards the beach marks and without to much ado we were off on another race, the first in the afternoon autumn series. Once again we only had 3 boats in the fast handicap fleet and it was no surprise to see those 3 boats rounding the beach marks in the lead, lead by Jeremy, us and then the RS400. Once again the RS soon pulled past us aided by their spinnaker and without enough wind to allow us to plane we soon dropped back, though did manage to close Jeremy & Suzanne right down to make the rest of the race very tight between us with some tight covering going on up the beats, however we couldn’t quite break through the Hawkins lead and had to settle for 2nd Tasar. Again without results I am not sure how we did against Nigel & Paddy, but I think they finished far enough ahead to take the win on corrected time. Maybe if Jeremy & us hadn’t been so tied up with our tacking duels then we may have prevailed. Beacky & Kelvin were having an inspired race in the afternoon, being not far behind us on the 1st beat and then closing right down on the ensuing reaches with the aid of their spinnaker, leaving the rest of their fleet trailing behind them. A good 2nd beat kept them well ahead and it wasn’t until the 3rd beat that we started to notice a bigger gap opening between us and them. Again I’m not sure what the final results for the slow handicap fleet will be but I noticed that Luke Bilkey, sailing the Club Laser with a radial sail was making enormous gains and finished a long way ahead of the other 2 Lasers, of Nick Haskin and Fin Hawkins. I suspect that Luke may have had built up enough time to actually beat both Scorpions on corrected time.

The final results should be published sometime this week. The sail wave files for the autumn Sundays and September Wednesday series haven’t been created yet, but Ken is on the case. Don’t forget the September Wednesday series starts this week with an early start time of 6.00. The forecast is still looking good for the next few days so there is no reason why we shouldn’t get another good fleet out, though I know of at least 3 Tasar sailors who are away on holiday, so the fast fleet may well be depleted somewhat.

August 28th
Preparing to sail
Another 20 boat fleet
A beautiful late summer evening was enough to tempt 20 boats out for the last Wednesday race of the summer series. Our next series of Wednesday racing will be in September and it will be the start of the late autumn series of 4 races and most importantly have a 6.00pm start. The nights are starting to really draw in now but by starting early we can prolong the Wednesday series by another 3 weeks.

Our last 3 Wednesday evening races have been bedevilled by light winds, so much so that I haven’t bothered to sail in them but tonight’s race did have a bit more promise to it and that coupled with some late evening sunshine was the catalyst to tempt out the larger than average fleet. I had spent an hour or so earlier this afternoon sailing around the bay with 2 of my Grand children in a light but steady southerly breeze, but by tonight the breeze had swung to a north westerly, which usually promises a bit of stability, unfortunately it did die away as the evening wore on, forcing the RO to shorten course.

Nigel & Beacky took the RIB and set a good sized course that suited the early conditions. The start line was fairly biased and I think everyone started on starboard but the usual bunching at the pin end caused quite a bit of shouting and incidents. Yes Ken & I were in the bunch there, but our intentions were to tack away early and thus avoid some of the dirty air from the main bunch. I’m not sure if that really worked as Stacey & Lucy sailed underneath us on a stronger puff and overtook us. Jeremy & Suzanne were one of the 7 Tasars out and reached the beach marks first before the faster RS400 of Paddy & Steve, but their spinnaker pulled them through into a lead that they never relinquished. We just reached the end of the beat a boat length in front of Mike & Vicky and crucially held them off on the reaches whilst managing to catch & pass Stacey & Lucy. In fact things were looking up for a good race, but on lap 2 Mike & Vicky showed much better upwind speed and overtook us again and started the reaches with a good lead. Looking back I could see that Colin Wainwright was having an excellent race, leading the slow handicap fleet for most of the race before Roger in his Blaze suddenly switched into gear and made some massive strides forward to take 1st place overall, pushing Colin down to 2nd. With only 2 Scorpions out then the battle was between the Kendalls and Kay & Gary, with Kay’s Scorpion coming out on top. The 2 Scorpions were split by the Feva of James and Luke, who sailed a round less but average lap scoring did the rest. Liz was sailing her last race before leaving us for a few weeks to take up her appointment “up country” was in the Club Vago with Shane, taking it into 9th. Brian Reeves beat Fin in the battle of the lasers and Charlie Austin managed to sail hi Topper round, beat Nyles in his Topper.

The very last beat proved more than tricky for Ken & me as in our quest to overtake Mike & Vicky in the fading breeze, we took a similar course to Stacey & Lucy, across the bay, hoping to strike some fresher conditions, but alas no. We appeared as the watching Justin told me afterwards to be stuck in a bit of a hole. Based on that, he and Geoff decided to head for the cliffs and what a bonus it proved. From being quite a long way back they overtook not only us & Stacey but almost passed Mike & Vicky to claim 3rd Tasar. Very fortunately for us we just managed to stay in front of Stacey by no more than a boat’s length. Talk about getting things wrong, I think I deserve to go to the bottom of the class!!

Once again it was good to be able to sample the delights of Jenny’s bacon butties in the Club house after sailing. She did give me the devastating news that she won’t be down next week, but panic not, Shane has agreed to stand in and cook for us next Wednesday, so hopefully we won’t go home hungry. I see that our next scheduled race on Sunday will be the 1st of September and deciding how you judge the seasons could be classed as the first day of autumn, but I suppose you could put that off by 3 weeks if you go by the equinox later on in the month. No matter how you judge it, summer is almost at an end, but hopefully we will still have some more sunny days to come and more importantly some good sailing to come.

August 25th
The Club
Sunny & Windy, but still wearing sailing shorts
Where’s the blog been hiding? Well here at last is my latest attempt which is rather late as time and sailing elsewhere has taken its toll. Following on from Falmouth week came Fowey week and after an absence of 3 years or more I decided that I would have another go at it. Sailing at Fowey can be very frustrating yet on the other hand when things go right then it can be very satisfying. Weather wise it was almost perfect with hot sunshine every day meaning tee shirt and shorts were the clothes to wear every session. The only thing missing was that all important ingredient, wind. It was one of the most windless weeks of the entire summer. James & Luke also sailed in their RS Feva, claiming quite a bit of success in their class, but were beaten by fellow member, April Halls sailing with her father. Now one of my gripes from sailing at Fowey in the past was having to pay launching fees but what a surprise this year, the Council in its attempt to cut back has dispensed with the services of the launching attendant as it was obviously more expensive to pay him a wage than the takings charged for launching; so that was a result for us mere mortals.

Racing started off reasonably well for us on Tuesday with a 2nd and a 1st. The 2nd was the result of being over 3 minutes late across the starting line due to lack of wind and a huge blanketing affect of 20 plus Troys hanging about the start line waiting for their start. The wind on Wednesday wasn’t much better, in fact it was even lighter, so light that when we returned to Porthpean for the evening race we declined to spend anymore time crouching down in the bottom of the boat, so elected to keep the boat under wraps and just enjoy the nice weather instead. Wednesday was followed by another windless Thursday, but at least the weather was perfect for the Red Arrows. Yes this was one of the best displays for years as the sky was almost cloudless, allowing them to climb really high as part of the display. I think everyone was impressed by the large heart with one of the Red Arrows flying through the middle streaming white smoke. For just over 20 minutes they swooped and soared around the estuary, performing several death defying manoeuvres. Friday was by far the lightest day of the 4, so light in fact that the morning sea race was abandoned at 11.00 with well over 150 boats just drifting aimlessly on the sea awaiting some breeze for a start that never happened. The Friday pm race was sailed in the harbour but once again we were bedevilled by an extremely light wind that switched off from time to time. I know that I have criticised their race management before but this time things seemed spot on and it was a shame that the wind didn’t play ball. Although dinghy numbers are down it still seemed better attended than Falmouth Week. Although the sailing at Fowey was frustratingly slow, I still found that after yet another week of packing and unpacking the boat, rigging and de rigging I was feeling once again shattered and quite happy to have a Saturday off.

Quite surprisingly it was all change for Saturday with quite a fresh northerly blowing, but by this time the week had finished. There was still a fresh northerly breeze blowing today and once again typically of Porthpean it looked so innocuous from the beach but once we were out there it was a full on wind, with some savage gusts blowing and to compound matters even more the varying direction, especially round the beach marks. I think it was probably the strongest racing conditions we have had for a long, long time. Quite honestly I was looking forward to a nice easy sail today, but those hopes were cruelly dashed, what’s more, now that I have looked at Polruan’s weather station history I see that the wind has been up around 20-25knots all day. Several boats capsized during the racing and Ken & I had one or two moments when I thought that we were going to get blown in. Reactions had to be lightning fast and luck played a strong part as to a safe and fast passage past the beach marks; the wind direction changing over 30 degrees at times in unpredictable phases. In fact it wasn’t particularly enjoyable apart from some very tasty reaches on the down wind legs. Quite often sailing towards the cliffs on a starboard rounding course pays quite handsome dividends, but not today, no today was a day for taking any suitable shift that came along and just hoping that they lifted us up towards the beach marks.

The morning race seemed to suit the faster boats with Paddy & Nigel in an RS400 and Richard in his Contender blasting away the fastest up the beat, leaving us to battle it out with Dennis & Brian, Chris & Tony and a very late starting Jeremy & Suzanne who started several few minutes late, but they managed to overhaul Chris & Tony who completed the race but decided that they had had quite enough frights and excitement for one day and declined to race in the afternoon. Victory in the slow handicap fleet went to Andrew & Jenny Kendall, in their Scorpion, beating Brian Reeves in his Laser by some 18 seconds but more satisfying for them, beating Beacky in his Scorpion who finished 3rd.

If anything the wind was even stronger this afternoon and once again Paddy & Nigel charged off into a good lead with Richard again hanging on to their heels. Jeremy & Suzanne started on time and soon lead our depleted Tasar fleet of 3 and once again we found our selves battling it out with Dennis & Brian, with their weight helping them up the beats but our faster down wind speed helping us along on the reaches. We swopped positions several times before we made some enormous gains on one of the beats, which gave us a good lead over them. We even had the good fortune to come within 50M or so of Paddy & Nigel and Jeremy & Suzanne on the penultimate beat before we suddenly became becalmed at the beach marks. Becalmed when the wind was so strong? Yes it was that unpredictability that caused several frustrated shouts of anger from us, especially as just before the becalming we had almost been blown in by the strength of one of the gust sweeping out from the land. Jeremy & Suzanne managed to pass Paddy at the end of that beat and held them off to win on the water. Ken & I closed up enough, despite being becalmed for what seemed like forever to take 2nd from the RS by some 5 seconds, which was a very fortuitous result for us.

In the slow fleet it was Luke Bilkey who took the win, this time sailing his Topper rather than the Laser of the morning, beating the Kendalls by some 6 ½ minutes, with Steve Wingrove in his Blaze back in 3rd ahead of Brian Reeves and Finn who sailed his Topper for this race. Dave Mackrell spent some time in the water when his Laser capsized but sailed on to eventually finish 6th.

You may wonder what that strange looking machine is being driven by Nigel on the photograph at the top. It is a small 4 wheel drive truck that the Club is trying out, to help us get the RIBS and the heavier boats up the hill after racing. It’s only here for this weekend but I’m sure its merits will be discussed at length before nay decision to purchase one will be made. Oh and just to make you really happy, it’s only 4 months to Christmas!!

August 18th
The Club
Porthpean at its Best, Sunny and an Offshore Breeze
What another great day of sailing; despite some really dour days today turned up trumps with a warm sunny day and a brisk shifty offshore breeze that had everyone on their toes. But first let’s go some 4000 miles away to Cascade Locks where the 2013 Tasar World Championships have just ended.

Jeremy will be the first to admit that the first few days were very frustrating, especially sailing down wind at the venue, but with the help of some good results including 2 4ths and a 7th they managed to finish a creditable 20th. No doubt Jeremy has learnt quite a lot from the very fast Americans. The first 4 boats were from Seattle YC, and they had been practicing sailing at the Gorge quite a bit this year. Practice that eventually paid dividends. The pair who won the event, male and female led from day 1 with 3 1st s which held them in good stead for the next 5 days of sailing. By now the boats will have been packed away and taken to the docks ready for their journey home. I think Jeremy, Suzanne & Fin will be home some time on Wednesday.

Wiggy with Rebecca and baby
So on to today and what a hard day of sailing it was. In fact I was already shattered from Falmouth Week, so much so that I was in bed by 21.30 on Friday night, I felt so tired. Anyway by today I was feeling ready for another bout of sailing and soon had the boat offloaded from its trailer, rigged and ready to do battle. Chris & Luke, just back from holiday abroad took the safety boat and as there was a good Westerly breeze blowing set quite a large course for the 16 boats that launched. It was the usual serene scene as we left the beach with the boats just gliding slowly through the crystal clear water before the first gusts hit us and sent us flying out to sea on our way to the start line. Chris set quite a long line but we noticed that it had quite a bit of port bias on it, which made it very tempting, but when I saw Paddy & Steve, Nigel & James in their RS400s and Richard in his Contender lining up for a port start I decided that we would come in on starboard at the pin end and try and force them behind us. The plan worked and we shot out of the blocks into clear wind, but couldn’t stop Paddy & Steve from breaking through and being first boat in front of us at the beach marks. Now let me make it clear, the beats were not at all easy. The wind proved quite shifty and the gusts were strong when they arrived, keeping everyone on their toes. Eventually both Richard and Nigel & James passed us, well they have faster boats, but the 4 of us pulled well away from the rest of the fleet. There were 4 other Tasars out, but 2 dropped out to sail on their own but it left Dennis, sailing with Granddaughter Lucy battling it out with Chris & Tony for 2nd Tasar. A battle that appeared won by Chris on the downwind legs but the position retaken by Dennis on the beats. Sarah & Ollie in what was the slowest boat in the fleet managed to get the most out of her Feva, flying the spinnaker to great affect on all the down wind legs which was enough to give them a handsome victory on corrected time. Brian Reeves managed to take 2nd in the tricky conditions and Steve Wingrove had a magnificent sail in his Blaze to finish just 9 seconds behind Brian on corrected time and Matt Searle, again only 9 seconds again behind Steve took 4th place in the Club Laser radial, beating the more experienced Scorpion teams of Beacky & Kelvin who pulled well away from Andrew & Jenny Kemdall. Liz Saunders, Shane and Jacques were three up in the Vago were quite a way further back but despite the crowded boat managed to finish ahead of Richard Morley in his Comet.
John & Sue relaxing after sailing
The wind direction and strength were the same for the afternoon race but Chris extended the course to give us one of the largest triangles that we have had this year. There was not enough port bias on the line to tempt anyone so we all shot off on a long starboard tack towards the beach marks. There were one or two hairy moments just after the start when some large “backers” caused some consternation, but all survived, but it was enough to knock us out of our stride and enable Paddy & Steve to sail out from under our protective wing and escape to round the beach marks first and pull away to take another victory. Richard found the conditions more to his liking and sailed into 2nd position which demoted us to 3rd as fortunately we were close enough to Nigel & James to save our time. Dennis & Lucy had the better of Chris & Tony right from the start and put enough distance between them on the beat to offset any extra downwind speed by Chris & Tony.

Sarah & Ollie had a big time problem with their spinnaker and the time it took to sort it out dropped them way back in the fleet from where they eventually retired, leaving Brian Reeves to take a well earned victory to go with his previous 2nd place. Steve Wingrove again had a good race but couldn’t finish ahead of Beaky & Kelvin this time though he did split the 2 Scorpions by finishing between them. The conditions were strong enough to force all the other slow handicap boats to retire.

Now my next challenge is Fowey Week, starting on Tuesday, It is 3 years since I last tackled racing there, and over the years have had some very mixed conditions. At this stage I don’t know who we will be up against and by Tuesday when the racing starts the wind is forecast to be much lighter so not what I would call good Tasar conditions, but we will have a go. Thursday is the night of the Red Arrows and Fowey is bound to be packed by lots of visitors seeking to watch them perform. James & Luke are also entering again. They won their class last year so looking forward to a repeat performance this year. Steve Mitchell & Polly are the sole Club representatives at the Scorpion Nationals that are on this week in Sidmouth. Steve is having a busy fortnight as last week he was in Tenby competing in the Merlin Rocket Nationals.

August 17th
Ready for home
Falmouth Week, last few days
We brought the boat back from Restronguet intending to sail in tonight’s race but when we arrived we were greeted with an almost windless sea. There was the lightest of breezes out by and beyond the beach marks, but in the beach vicinity nothing. The chances of racing looked very slim. Nevertheless quite a few wanted to drift around, but for me after a hectic day decided that we had had enough and the boat stayed under wraps. The 7 crewed boats that decided to race proved the winners as the breeze did fill in a little and by the time the race started the light wind covered the race course.

The fast fleet was down to just 2, represented by Nigel & James in their RS400 and Justin & Geoff in their Tasar. The slower fleet comprised of Jan & Pete - Kestrel, Beacky/Kelvin & Kay/Craig in Scorpions, Steve – Blaze & Shane in the Club Laser. The usual ever present Andrew & Jenny were Safety Boat drivers tonight and showed their expertise by laying a nice little port handed course with the first beat in towards the beach marks. Nigel & James lead from the off and the down wind legs allowed them to make full use of their spinnaker to pull well ahead of the rest of the fleet. Jan & Pete found the conditions well to their liking and finished ahead of the faster Tasar, far enough in front to take the race on corrected time, some 1 ½ minutes in front of Beacky & Kelvin, who beat the far newer Scorpion of Kay by another 1 ½ minutes.

In truth I didn’t feel too had about not sailing as the racing today at Restronguet had been quite lively with the Race Officer at last giving us 2 longer races. I had a terrible start in the first race and never really recovered. The beat was quite long but the reaches are nearly always too broad for a Tasar to enjoy. The 2 courses layed have a common gybe mark, but our windward mark is further up the course than the windward mark for the slower fleet, hence the reaches are usually quite broad. I was determined to get us a better start for the 2nd race and as the start approached realised that this looked like being a good one; we were starting down the line at speed, when a large bunch went too early and we had the first and only general recall of the week. That was very frustrating. Fortunately we did manage a good start in the 2nd race and by the end of the beat were in front of the 2 Icons, though the 2 Fireballs and 2 of the Blazes were well on their way on the first reach. Eventually both Icons passed us on the downwind legs but we were given a gift by them and 2 Blazes when on the completion of the 3rd round they set off for another beat, we however sailed on to the finish line. I think the 4 immediately in front of us realised their mistake when they saw us heading for the finish and turned back to finish behind us. The good news is we beat the Icons, the bad news, we were beaten on corrected time by most of the Blazes, and 2 Fireballs. I think even Jeremy would have struggled against some of the Blazes if he had been here this year.

Talking of Jeremy, I note that he has had a couple of good results in the Worlds with a 4th & a 7th. Unfortunately he has also had some disappointing results, but he is now on the verge of breaking into the top 20 and with 3 days to go could improve still further. I have had mail from him and he tells me that they have been in the top 10 several times after the first beat but loses out down wind when he says that local knowledge is paramount to speed. Yesterday he managed to claim top European in winds that were a bit lighter than those experienced at the start of the Championship, and he as well as others are starting to get their heads round which way to go. The final days look like being quite interesting with the initial pace setter being pulled back by his closest rivals.

Prizes for Falmouth Week
The good weather that we have been having at Falmouth Week broke on Wednesday afternoon when the clouds rolled over the town, low enough to prevent the Red Arrows from appearing and overnight rain brought us back to reality. Thursday was the day of the long distance harbour race and with a gusty south westerly blowing proved a much harder race than some previous ones. The start was frustrating as we were luffed over the line by one of the Fireballs. We were right by the Committee boat and I knew we were over so immediately tacked back to re round. Well I suppose poetic justice was served in a way as the Fireball was also adjudged over and he too as well as an RS100. The south westerly wind direction gave us a really tough start as the first half hour was all beating, which in itself was quite tiring in a gusty wind. The first reach that we went on was extremely tight and most of us lost the wind from time to time as we sailed past the docks, under the coastguard lookout. The long run into St. Mawes finally allowed the spinnaker boats to start to make ground. There was a series of reaches out from St. Mawes up the river which helped our cause a little but we were a long way behind the leaders and although both Icons were not too far in front of us we were still behind them on corrected time. Rather frustratingly we don’t get access to the actual times so no way of knowing how far we were behind, though I’m sure that Jeremy would have been in front of them judging by last year’s performance. Sometimes you have to accept that you are beaten by better sailors on the day and not by favourable handicaps.

Friday was the last day of the Regatta and turned out to be the best day of weather of the week. We started the day off with heavy overcast skies and a light breeze blowing out on the roads, and we sailed out from the moorings with a much reduced fleet of 21 total. The Laser 4000s had finished their Nationals on Wednesday and had all left for home, whilst some of the dinghy fleet went home early for other reasons. At last we had a decent length race to look forward to, 4 triangles. This was the sort of length we had been promised on Sunday but had never materialised and believe it or not it took about an hour for us, though we were quite a bit behind the Blaze of Mike Lyons who took first place on the water, ahead of the faster Fireballs, Icons and us. The pattern was repeated for the 2nd race with a total fleet this time down to 17.

Falmouth Week has certainly lost it’s zip and over the last 10 years the total of dinghies has shrunk dramatically, so much so that there is quite a bit of doubt as to whether there will be a dinghy class at all next year. Even the Red Arrows failed to give their display due to the low cloud base. Restronguet hasn't helped itself too much as every year they seem to make a mess of the results. Even this year there has been problems and I note that an RS Vareo won one of the races and as far as I know he was miles back from the rest of the fleet and his other esults were not sp good. It’s Fowey week next week and I have entered for the first time for 3 years. This Regatta too has been suffering from lack of entries so I don’t know what to expect this year. At least the weather forecast is quite good for next week, so we will see how it goes. Meanwhile it is back to Club sailing for Sunday; though in truth I could do with the rest as my body is aching.

There’s better news for Jeremy as he & Suzanne have now broken into the top 20 at the Worlds but only have today to try and improve on that, before the event finishes. They should be home sometime next week with lots to tell. Steve Mitchell has been sailing in the Merlin Nationals this week with one of his previous crews and has finished 46th. Next week he will be at Sidmouth, this time sailing with Polly. I have sailed there once with Neil in our Mirror dinghy days and apart from the beach which is rather stony is a very nice bay to sail in.

August 15th
Party time at Restronguet
Falmouth Week Day 3 and the wind goes light.
We brought the boat back from Restronguet intending to sail in tonight’s race but when we arrived we were greeted with an almost windless sea. There was the lightest of breezes out by and beyond the beach marks, but in the beach vicinity nothing. The chances of racing looked very slim. Nevertheless quite a few wanted to drift around, but for me after a hectic day decided that we had had enough and the boat stayed under wraps. The 7 crewed boats that decided to race proved the winners as the breeze did fill in a little and by the time the race started the light wind covered the race course.

The fast fleet was down to just 2, represented by Nigel & James in their RS400 and Justin & Geoff in their Tasar. The slower fleet comprised of Jan & Pete - Kestrel, Beacky/Kelvin & Kay/Craig in Scorpions, Steve – Blaze & Shane in the Club Laser. The usual ever present Andrew & Jenny were Safety Boat drivers tonight and showed their expertise by laying a nice little port handed course with the first beat in towards the beach marks. Nigel & James lead from the off and the down wind legs allowed them to make full use of their spinnaker to pull well ahead of the rest of the fleet. Jan & Pete found the conditions well to their liking and finished ahead of the faster Tasar, far enough in front to take the race on corrected time, some 1 ½ minutes in front of Beacky & Kelvin, who beat the far newer Scorpion of Kay by another 1 ½ minutes.

In truth I didn’t feel too had about not sailing as the racing today at Restronguet had been quite lively with the Race Officer at last giving us 2 longer races. I had a terrible start in the first race and never really recovered. The beat was quite long but the reaches are nearly always too broad for a Tasar to enjoy. The 2 courses layed have a common gybe mark, but our windward mark is further up the course than the windward mark for the slower fleet, hence the reaches are usually quite broad. I was determined to get us a better start for the 2nd race and as the start approached realised that this looked like being a good one; we were starting down the line at speed, when a large bunch went too early and we had the first and only general recall of the week. That was very frustrating. Fortunately we did manage a good start in the 2nd race and by the end of the beat were in front of the 2 Icons, though the 2 Fireballs and 2 of the Blazes were well on their way on the first reach. Eventually both Icons passed us on the downwind legs but we were given a gift by them and 2 Blazes when on the completion of the 3rd round they set off for another beat, we however sailed on to the finish line. I think the 4 immediately in front of us realised their mistake when they saw us heading for the finish and turned back to finish behind us. The good news is we beat the Icons, the bad news, we were beaten on corrected time by most of the Blazes, and 2 Fireballs. I think even Jeremy would have struggled against some of the Blazes if he had been here this year.

Talking of Jeremy, I note that he has had a couple of good results in the Worlds with a 4th & a 7th. Unfortunately he has also had some disappointing results, but he is now on the verge of breaking into the top 20 and with 3 days to go could improve still further. I have had mail from him and he tells me that they have been in the top 10 several times after the first beat but loses out down wind when he says that local knowledge is paramount to speed. Yesterday he managed to claim top European in winds that were a bit lighter than those experienced at the start of the Championship, and he as well as others are starting to get their heads round which way to go. The final days look like being quite interesting with the initial pace setter being pulled back by his closest rivals.

The good weather that we have been having at Falmouth Week broke on Wednesday afternoon when the clouds rolled over the town, low enough to prevent the Red Arrows from appearing and overnight rain brought us back to reality. Thursday was the day of the long distance harbour race and with a gusty south westerly blowing proved a much harder race than some previous ones. The start was frustrating as we were luffed over the line by one of the Fireballs. We were right by the Committee boat and I knew we were over so immediately tacked back to re round. Well I suppose poetic justice was served in a way as the Fireball was also adjudged over and he too as well as an RS100. The south westerly wind direction gave us a really tough start as the first half hour was all beating, which in itself was quite tiring in a gusty wind. The first reach that we went on was extremely tight and most of us lost the wind from time to time as we sailed past the docks, under the coastguard lookout. The long run into St. Mawes finally allowed the spinnaker boats to start to make ground. There was a series of reaches out from St. Mawes up the river which helped our cause a little but we were a long way behind the leaders and although both Icons were not too far in front of us we were still behind them on corrected time. Rather frustratingly we don’t get access to the actual times so no way of knowing how far we were behind, though I’m sure that Jeremy would have been in front of them judging by last year’s performance. Sometimes you have to accept that you are beaten by better sailors on the day and not by favourable handicaps.

August 13th
Party time at Restronguet
Falmouth Week Day 3 and the wind goes light.
Today was a very overcast day, with a very light breeze. Indeed at 09.00 there was a distinctive lack of breeze on the flat water of the Carrick Roads and things weren’t looking very promising. However by 10.00 there was enough of a breeze to state that racing would take place from 11.00 so the fleet set sail for the starting area which was on the far side of the Carrick Roads from Restronguet. The breeze was and remained frustratingly very light with rarely enough strength to get 2 on the side deck and the chance of planing on the reaches was absolutely zilch. With less than 2 minutes to the start of the first class we had the dreaded sound of 2 horns and a postponement flag as the start line bias had gone unacceptably port biased. Some of this was due to the outgoing tide as well as the veering of the wind, but on the 3rd attempt we were off. Unfortunately once again we were only given 2 triangles, which meant once again we were saddled with a short race of less than 30 minutes for the leading boat. What made the situation worse we finished ahead of the slower handicap boats who still had another round to do so we just had to sail too and fro for over 20 minutes whilst they and the 5 boat Nationals for the Laser 4000s to finish. There would have been more than enough time for us to have sailed a 3rd triangle and still finished in front of the slower fleet.

Most frustratingly we actually had quite a nice breeze whilst we were waiting, but as the clouds started to thin out the wind went much lighter. Once again we didn’t cover ourselves with glory but the day belonged to one of the Icons. The father and daughter team had 2 very good starts and made the most of the speed of the boat to pull well ahead of most of the fleet, showing that it really has got a fast turn of speed. Dennis had come down for the day to inspect the boats, watch the racing and pick up some go faster tips, so expect some fresh enthusiasm and extra speed soon from Dennis & Brian.

We managed to hold the other Icon behind us for a lap and a half but he managed to pass us just before the end of the3 2nd beat and once past managed to gain distance all the time. Some of the Blazes are still absolutely flying, Mike Lyons in particular, the current Inland Champion. He has so much extra speed than any of the other Blazes, even the others don’t know how he does it. He is sailing a brand new Blaze with the latest carbon fibre mast, which may give him an advantage, but he isn’t the only one with a carbon mast, though they too appear faster than the other tin masted Blazes.

Sometimes we talk about dying classes, well one good example is the Laser 4000. The boat was one of the many classes that Laser produced several years ago and together with the Laser high profile and the vast publicity that was generated, quite a few boats were sold. How sad it is to see just 5 boats at their Nationals. One boat in particular finishes most races miles in front of the last boat. There seems to be very little infighting as the fleet soon gets spread out and apart from being fairly fast on a spinnaker reach which I suppose is normal for asymmetric spinnaker boats, doesn’t give one the urge to want one. In fact Laser have introduced quite range of dinghies over the years and most of them are now dying a death.

Our 2nd race today started off in very light winds and we were given the fantastic course of 3 triangles. With the lighter breeze it did have the affect of taking almost an hour to complete, so from that point of view things were better. I haven’t seen the results yet but I think the Icon may have won as 03 finished with a good lead on the entire fleet.

Today was Restronguet’s day to host the racing and as usual a jazz band set up its instruments to give us all a rendition of trad jazz, whilst many of the Club’s Ladies set up tables of food for us sailors. Many of the sailors stayed around for the food, music, drinks and chat, but it was quite alarming looking round and seeing how old the majority of the competitors are. I would say without doubt the majority are all over 50. This year there aren’t many youngsters sailing, which in turn makes you wonder on the future of dinghy sailing. Maybe it is just a temporary blip, another casualty of the recession which is still taking its toll on our perceived normal life style. Hopefully things will improve as time goes by. Fortunately we do have a reasonable amount of youngsters sailing at Porthpean.

Tomorrow promises more light breeze but the direction will be a south westerly and we may also have some rain, but the forecast is to remain mild, so my sailing shorts may come out of the sailing bag yet again. We also intend returning to Porthpean for the evening race and will be looking forward to some bacon butties.

August 12th
Some Working Boats
Falmouth Week Day 2
Day 2 and full confirmation that the BBC weather forecast is a complete farce. Anyone who looked at the BBC weather site linked from our Club Web page would have seen a big yellow blob for the whole of today day, which looked fantastic. Unfortunately they were wrong again, yes we did have some sun but we also had a lot of cloud. Anyway we did have a good breeze. The scheduled 10.30 am starts have for some reason been postponed to 11.00 which does give us all extra time to prepare for racing, and as we are travelling down each day does allow some leeway should the traffic prove to be heavy.

Ken had to work today and I managed to persuade Sarah to come out to crew for me, which was really like old times. Sarah used to crew for me when she was in her 20s and I was in my 40s. Now she is in her 40s and I am a now a few more years older. Time certainly marches on, so from my point of view make the most of it. Well we certainly didn’t set the world alight with our sailing today. Once again I chose the wrong side of the first beat to sail and from then onwards it was a matter of trying to get into clear wind. At least this race was longer than yesterday’s as it took us some 45 minutes. Unfortunately we were well beaten by the 2 Icons and by most of the Blazes. The Blaze is a very fast boat and it is very difficult to acknowledge that it is supposed to be slower than a Tasar as some managed to beat us on the water most races and those that were behind were near enough to often beat us on handicap.

We had a long wait between races and I think the whole fleet was getting more than restless, but suddenly we could all see the reason why; a large barge and floating crane was being shepherded up the Carrick Roads on its way to the King Harry Ferry area, where they anchor up some very ;large boats. Once it was out of the way then we were back under starter’s orders and normal racing was resumed. By the time we started the wind had increased to about a force 4 and white caps on the water were quite visible. A congested start line gave us some very bad air but this time although behind the usual fast boats we made up some lost ground. At last, on the 2nd beat, we discovered the right way to go up the beat and started to make inroads into some of the boats in front, including one of the Icons. The first reach after the beat was a full on Tasar dream and some of the Blazes that had been pacing us were suddenly left in our wake. The 2nd reach, each time, was much broader and it was usually a case of flying the pole and having to sail much slower. All in all it was good day to be sailing and the earlier clouds eventually dispersed somewhat to give quite a sunny afternoon. In fact it was more than pleasant to be able to sit in the sun, after racing talking to several of the different boat teams that had been out racing and watching the working boats and others coming round Penarrow point to finish their races..

It seems that we may get some rain during the week but the prognosis is that we should have good breeze all week with none of the howling 20 plus knots days of the last few years.

August 11th
Rigging for sailing
Falmouth Week Day 1
Today was the first day of Falmouth Week and for once the weather looks rather promising with good sailing winds forecast for the whole week and even quite a bit of sun to boot. Once more the entry has dwindled and I counted some 32 boats out racing which included 7 Blazes and 5 Laser 4000s. The Laser 4000s are using the week for their National Championships, but with an entry of 5 makes it a very nondescript Championship.

We were promised at the briefing races of around 45 – 75 minutes duration. What we actually had was one race of 20 minutes and the other about 30 minutes. I consider that very poor value for money and unfortunately we also had some races kike that last year. Hopefully things will improve tomorrow, but I think that this will be last Falmouth Week for me. By the time you add up the entry fee, cost of parking for boat and car then you have to question is it worth it?

Our fleet comprises something like 2 Fireballs, 7 Blazes, 2 Icons, 2 RS200s, RS100, RS Vareo, Laser Vago, & us, one Tasar.

Things started off quite well for us in the first race. The start line was quite heavily biased for a port start and so we went for it. We had to dip 2 boats but then hardened up to get a long port hand tack, which almost took us to the windward mark in one. We were beaten to the mark by the 2 Fireballs and a Blaze but we were also passed down wind by one of the 2 Icons and one other Blaze. The Icon is a very fast boat down wind as also the Blaze. The course set was 2 triangles and the 2nd beat was a one tack beat so you can understand why we only took 20 minutes .

The course was reset for the 2nd race and we were given 3 triangles, big deal!! This time the start line was even more biased and I made a right hash of it, getting completely stuffed up. By the time we extricated ourselves I made matters worse by sailing on the wrong side of the beat in very light winds. I thought we were out of the tide but there was much better wind on the left side of the course and we reached the windward mark, almost last boat, which was very disappointing. I haven’t seen the results posted yet but I hope that it will be the worst result of the week for us. Hopefully things will only get better.

August 7th
Rigging for sailing
Back to Summer Again
This is rather a late blog as my retirement has been rudely interrupted this week by a four letter word; work! Yes for one week only I have returned to work and what a hard time it is. I am really out of condition and getting up at 6.00 again is no joke, thank goodness it is still summer and light at that time.

Just to make my job easier I have merged a report from Mike Ward about the Cat racing last Saturday over at Charlestown. In my haste I originally credited Richard Armstrong with winning the Cat races. Unfortunately I was wrong there as the following report will show.

The 2013 Charlestown regatta had a real windy start this year. In fact, so windy that a number of sailors were put off. Those that did turn up put on a spectacular display for the locals and visitors at Charlestown. The first capsize of the day happened off Blackhead on the way to Charlestown when Michael Dixon managed to pile in while gybing in big seas. The aim was to complete 2 races as close to the harbour as possible. With the SSW wind blowing 6 gusting 7 according to the NCI lookout we were able to set the start/finish just outside the entrance of the harbour. In Race 1 son and father team Chris and John Pearce set a blistering pace pulling out a big lead in the chasing pack Richard Armstrong was battling with father and daughter team Mike and Katherine Ward. Michael Dixon had more capsize problems and Steve Game and Nikki Carrington pitch poled spectacularly losing Nikki from the boat in the process.

After the 1st race Chris Pearce decided to take his boat to Charlestown beach to repair a parted mainsheet, where he damaged a rudder in the surf. Having repaired it, he launched only to damage the other rudder putting and end to his racing.

The second race started with the wind even stronger. In the absence of Chris and John the battle for 1st place was between Richard and Mike. Michael Dixon managed yet another capsize bringing his total to 4 for the day. While Richard led the way to the finish Mike and Katherine managed to be close enough to beat him by 5 seconds after handicap.

After racing the cats had a very windy rough and exhilarating sail back to Pentewan.

A big thank you goes to Roger Lewsey and Janet Preston who provided the safety cover for the day.


Race 1

1st Chris and John Pearce Dart 18 1625 Seconds 2nd Mike and Katherine Ward Dart 16 1708 Seconds 3rd Richard Armstrong Dart 18 1716 Seconds 4th Steve Pitcher Dart 18 1837 Seconds 5th Clive Pryor and Alan Dart 18 1908 Seconds DNF Michael Dixon Dart 18 DNF Steve Game and Nikki Carrington Dart 18

Race 2

1st Mike and Katherine Ward Dart 16 1453 Seconds 2nd Richard Armstrong Dart 18 1458 Seconds 3rd Steve Game and Nikki Carrington Dart 18 1543 Seconds 4th Clive Pryor and Alan Dart 18 1612 Seconds 5th Steve Pitcher Dart 18 1779 Seconds DNS Chris and John Pearce DNF Michael Dixon

Final Positions

1st Mike and Katherine Ward 3 Points 2nd Richard Armstrong 5 Points 3rd Chris and John Pearce 9 Points (best position 1st) 4th Steve Game and Nikki Carrington 9 Points (best position 3rd) 5th Steve Pitcher 9 Points (best position 4th) 5th Clive Pryor and Alan 9 Points (best position 4th) 7th Michael Dixon 12 Points

Now on to our Wednesday racing; and what an enormous change around in the weather from the weekend. From survival weather on Saturday and too strong for racing on Sunday to a very light breeze and return to summer on Wednesday. Last night was a very pleasant night indeed as shown by a turnout of some 19 boats and for me a return to sailing shorts. A very light offshore north westerly produced some excellent sailing, marred only by the threat of rain, which whilst we were sailing never actually materialised.

Nigel & Harry Fryer took charge of the safety boat and set a starboard handed course to take us on our first beat to the beach marks. With only a few minutes to the start an enormous wind shift caused the start to be aborted and for a short time it looked like we would be beating to Charlestown first, but then the wind swung back again and the original course was sailed. The beats were quite tricky as quite a few of us found out to our cost. We had quite a good start in clear wind and took the middle route up the first beat, looking quite good but those who banged hard right gained the most with Steve & Polly out in their Scorpion, getting to the beach marks first. Paddy & Steve were a close 2nd which frustrated us as we had actually been in front of them half way up the beat. Chris & Tony, in their Tasar were another team who had been behind us but came out well ahead as were Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, but probably star of the show on the first beat were Sarah & Ollie in their Feva. In fact as we arrived at the beach marks there were quite a few of the fleet with us, but somehow we managed to get clear of most and just hung on to the back edge of the Kestrel. The breeze was rather light so no planing for us but those with spinnakers really made hay as their extra speed benefitted them the most. I think it was on the 3rd set of reaches that we eventually passed Janet & Pete and Chris & Tony, putting us 3rd on the water and then we tried in vain to catch up with Steve & Polly. By this time Paddy & Steve had pulled well clear and what’s more managed to fly their spinnaker on every reach.

I think for the first time this season we had 4 Scorpios out racing and sailing very impressively were Andrew & Jenny, who finished 4th being well in front of Beacky & Kelvin and Kay & Gary. There has been some moaning about the Scorpions having a disadvantageous handicap, especially compared to say the RS Feva, but Steve & Polly proved that was certainly not true tonight as they took a massive win over the 2nd boat of Jan & Pete, with James & Luke in, yes, an RS Feva. Sarah’s good first beat, stood her in good stead as she was 5th, only 20 seconds behind the Kendalls. Richard, in his Contender, really suffered in the light breeze, proving that a Contender needs to have a much fresher breeze to sail to anything like it’s handicap. In fact give a Contender a force 3 plus and they can almost disappear over the horizon. Dennis & Brian in the Icon, also lacked speed in the light stuff and suffered accordingly.

We also had 4 Tasars out tonight and it was nice to welcome probably our furtherest travelled members, John & Sue Trip from Scotland, who are holidaying with us for a few weeks. It was also good to welcome Justin Phyall & Geoff Richards, making their first outing of the season.

Fortunately for us, once we passed the Kestrel & Tasar we started to make some forward progress and by getting the following beats right managed to make enough time up to take 1st place in the fast handicap fleet. Paddy & Steve, although finishing first on the water just managed to keep 2nd place finishing just 3 seconds in front of Chris & Tony. All in all there was some very close racing throughout the fleet and with a nice high tide it was also nice to be able to land almost on the slipway.

Darkness was starting to fall as the boats were washed and tidied away and it was a very busy and happy Clubhouse that continued the après sail with Jenny’s bacon butties going down a treat. Unfortunately the evenings are noticeably shorter now as the daylight hours are starting to slip away.

Jeremy & Suzanne start the Tasar Worlds this Friday, don’t forget they are several hours behind us so their first set of results won’t appear until Saturday. They know they have a real tough job on their hands to excel at this event as they only managed 17th in the pre Worlds Regatta series. Sailing in that venue is much more difficult than UK type venues. Even the current World Champions are struggling to get good results.

Ken & I will be sailing at Falmouth Week from Sunday onwards. So far the weather looks quite breezy for the first 2 days then becoming lighter. The entry list looks quite low at the moment, which may prove to be a disappointment, and it looks like there will be 2 experienced Icons in our fleet, plus at least 2 Fireballs, so it will be rather a challenging week.

August 4th
Un-inviting sea conditions
Strong Westerlies defeat us Again
Oh no, another Sunday of the sailing season lost due to the weather, as the latest low pressure system swept in from the west. A few days ago, today’s forecast wasn’t too bad, but by Saturday that had changed to one of strong south westerly winds accompanied by driving rain. Unfortunately they were right and so the August Cup, just like the July Cup was blown out. We almost got to the minimum number of 5 who were ready to risk life and limb to go out to race and for a while us wimps who voted not to race looked rather foolish, as the winds started to abate and the sea looked lumpy but sailable, but within another 30 minutes a squall raced over us, whipping up the breeze and lashing the Clubhouse with rain. The decision not to race was a no brainer and we felt justified. The 35 knots of wind blowing at Polruan showed that the wind further out in the bay would have been far too strong for a Club race. Fortunately some of us did get some sailing in on Saturday as it was Charlestown Regatta. Last year we managed to persuade quite a few Club sailors to sail in it and together with quite a few Darts and other cats that had sailed from Pentewan we had quite a spectacular fleet. The weather forecast wasn’t too good for Saturday. The south westerly wind that had started the day was increasing in wind strength and quite a few white tops were visible in the bay. Maybe that had something to do with the low turnout, when only 4 of us rigged to go racing. Sarah & Ollie were the first victims of the weather, finding it very heavy going trying to beat through the swell in their RS Feva, with the boat constantly being flooded, so they turned for home. This left only 3 of us to start the race, the other 2 being Dennis & Brian in a Tasar and Paddy & Steve Coello in an RS400. I guess the wind strength was in the force 4 area, with some stronger gusts coming from different directions thrown in for good measure. Dennis reached the windward mark 1st just in front of us with the RS some distance behind. By the time we reached the gybe mark Paddy had caught us up but trying a gybe with the spinnaker up was their undoing and a very dramatic capsize was witnessed by all and sundry. We pulled through Dennis down wind and held the lead for a couple of rounds before Dennis pulled through us at the end of the 3rd beat. As I tacked to go round and free off for the downwind legs I got it all wrong, we broached took on quite a lot of water but managed to avoid the capsize, this dropped us quite a way behind Dennis. Our downwind speed was temporarily lost as we had to sail the water out of the boat. Dennis & Brian sailed on to take a good victory. The wind had been rising during the race and it was getting quite bumpy out there, sufficiently so that all 3 of us decided that enough was enough and sailed back to the shelter of Porthpean. How calm and quiet it seemed on the beach but looking out to sea we could still see an awful lot of whitecaps. As luck would have it within half an hour or so the wind had dropped sufficiently to flatten the sea down and make sailing quite feasible again. Richard who has been sailing his Contender at Porthpean brought his Dart over and sailed with the Cats. He managed to win both races, but their races looked quite hairy at times with several cats capsizing during the races.
July 31st
Kelvin & Beacky preparing to race
A misty night at Porthpean
A fortnight ago we steamed in that incredible burst of hot weather and thought that we had been given a summer that we had been hoping for. Unfortunately that was then and this is now, yuk! Now it is more or less situation normal as a series of lows flow across us. Such was the weather as we gathered down at the Club for the last race in July. Just to remind us it was summer, fog and mist descended on us, but with a nice south westerly blowing, 15 boats were encouraged to race.

Peter Pope, along with Pascual Dazza took the safety boat for the first time this season and I must say what a cracking course they set, with 2 good reaches that had the spinnaker boats fling their kites and good enough to promote planing in the non spinnaker boats. The start line was of good length and enough bias in it to allow Paddy with Sarah in the RS400 and Richard in his Contender from shooting across the bows of the rest of the fleet to take an immediate lead. Hot out of the blocks alongside us was Pete & Tristran in the Kestrel, Janet being given a night off, and Roger Williams in the first of the 2 Blazes. The first beat is usually the most exiting part of any race as the fleet tends to be close together before the faster boats start to pull away.

Fortunately we managed to get to the windward mark first just in front of Paddy and Richard. Richard would have been first round but a tacking mistake on his approach dropped him down to 3rd. Only just behind our group of three was the next group which included Dennis and Brian in the Icon, Pete and Roger. By the time we reached the beach marks, Paddy & Sarah had taken the lead and our task now was to try and stay close enough to stop them gaining enough time on us by the end of the race. Roger was showing some incredible speed, like wise Dennis in his Icon. Both at times were challenging us with their down wind speed. Roger showing just how fast a Blaze can go in the right sort of conditions. Richard managed to snap his tiller joint off on one of the beats resulting in a capsize and had to sail with reduced power for the rest of the race. Dennis and Brian’s improvements was shown in the results when they sailed the Icon into 2nd place, just ahead of Paddy & Sarah.

I thought that Roger would easily walk away with first in the slow handicap fleet, but once again we all misjudged the performance of James & Luke in the RS Feva, almost the slowest boat in the fleet, but once again turned in an excellent performance to take first place on corrected time. Beacky & Kelvin took the newer of their fleet of Scorpions out and for a time were looking handily placed but a spell of trawling their spinnaker, resulting in Kelvin crawling along the foredeck to sort it out slowed them down, so much that they actually tied on corrected time with Chris & Tony in their Tasar.

By the time we all packed our boats away, the evening dusk was well and truly falling, but from out of the darkness the aroma of Jenny’s bacon butties was wafting out of the Clubhouse to remind us that food and drink were awaiting us. It was nice to welcome fellow Tasar sailors John & Sue Tripp who joined us last year, arrived back at the Club for their summer holiday with Tasar in tow. They managed to launch but due to technical problems couldn’t get to race with us but all should be well for Sunday.

Anna was also down, taking a break from all her packing and all being well (for her) she should be jetting off for Oman within the next few days, so there were lots of hugs and kisses from everyone as we wished one of our most popular members good luck in her new career.

Congratulations to Steve & Polly who entered and won the Plymouth Regatta week in their Scorpion. Their next challenge is the Scorpion Nationals which will be held in Sidmouth from August 17th. I think that they will be the only representatives from Porthpean there, so we will watch their progress with interest

July 28th
The Hawkins Family
Tasar World Championships beckon for the Hawkins
Sorry Guys, it’s a very short blog today as I am rushing off to Bristol after today’s sailing, so time is of the essence but I will be back for Wednesday racing. Hence no proper report about today’s racing.

Jeremy, Suzanne & Finn will be leaving on Wednesday for the USA for the forthcoming Tasar Worlds. Jeremy has quite a bit of toing and froing from docks to sailing club when he gets there to pick up the 3 Tasars that have travelled over for the Worlds. The container holding the boats has already arrived.

Some of the top Australian teams are already out there at the moment and have been out sailing, getting in some invaluable practice which they are hoping will give them the edge. Jeremy & Suzanne will certainly be sailing against some of the proven best Tasar sailors in the World. Several ex World Champions will be competing so I know competition will be very hot. The winds are forecast to be in the wind range that Jeremy likes so that should go in their favour. Due to the restricted area that the racing will be held in, the courses will be largely windward, leeward legs, so from that point of view slightly different than our normal courses.

The Worlds actually start on August 10th but the North American Championships will be held the week before, which is designed to allow everyone to get race practice in before the main event. Finn will also be sailing, he will be racing in a Laser in another competition that will be going on at the same time, so he will have quite an exciting time too. I have put a link to the Worlds results on our web site so you should be able to follow the progress daily, assuming that the organisers out there keep the results page up to date. Anyway I am sure you will join with me and wish all three the best of luck for the events and we look forward to seeing them again and hearing about it all in a few weeks time.

Well not only has the sunshine been turned off but the wind machine has been well & truly turned on when a very fresh southerly force 4+ greeted us this morning. Nevertheless 19 boats rigged to try their luck in the “challenging” conditions. By the time the race started we were down to only 14 and I was one of those who decided that it was too much for me to race in. Congratulations to all those who completed the race as it was a struggle and capsizes were had by many in some of the stronger gusts. Jeremy & Suzanne were looking unbeatable as they galloped round the course but disaster struck them eventually when the rivets holding the stay assembly on the mast parted company and over the side went their mast. One by one the rest of the fleet struggled in and a beach party managed to haul them all ashore without any dramas. 5 boats went out in the fast fleet but only Richard in his Contender managed to finish even though he spent quite some considerable time capsized at the gybe mark. Well done also to Finn as he sailed round the course and finished the race in one piece. One race appeared to be enough as quite a few of those sailing declined to go out again for the afternoon race. The forecast for the next few days isn’t good but if believed the strong winds that are forecast should abate in time for our Wednesday race.

Meanwhile Porthpean will tick over as normal with racing next weekend taking place on Saturday & Sunday. Saturday being Charlestown Regatta and it will be used as part of our August Cup races. I believe that we will be having a BBQ after racing and a quiz, this time set by Ken, so make sure your old grey cells are fully polished and raring to go. I expect that there will be a missive sent to us all sometime this week with full details about the weekend.

July 24th
Sarah & Ollie
We almost beat the rain
Well it had to come to and end but why oh why on a Wednesday when we all want to go sailing!! Nevertheless neither the threat of rain nor an exceptionally high tide was enough from stopping 13 dinghies from launching for the penultimate Wednesday race of July. The turnout could have been 17 but 4 declined to venture out into what looked like quite lively conditions. However it really was quite benign out there and I think the only boat to capsize was the Scorpion of Kelvin & Beacky. I’m told that the low hanging spinnaker pole caught in Kelvin’s buoyancy aid as they tacked. He was trapped and over they went, result, down the pan.

Due to the fine weather of late there have been loads of people down on the beach in the evenings and I thought that we may have had some troubles as we went to launch as due to the tide there was only about 25 feet of beach left and the tide was still rising. Fortunately the overcast clouds gave us a deserted beach to launch from and all the trolleys were stacked up on their ends leaning against the wall as the tide was expected to get to the wall. There was a small swell but nothing like Sunday and every one managed to launch without any problems. The breeze itself was a light southerly and we haven’t had many of those this season either. Anna & Liz in charge of the safety boat set us a nice sized course, with the start line over towards Charlestown, which had the benefit of giving us a reach down the swell when sailing towards the beach marks.

The start line was rather congested and we thought we had quite good start. So good in fact that I got it into my head that we may have been over the line as the gun went so elected to head back and start again. Hmmm back of the fleet is not the place to be. By the time we arrived at the windward mark there were 7 boats in front of us. Jeremy & Suzanne rounded first, closely followed by Andrew & Jenny who had started alongside us. Paddy without his trusty crew Steve (on holiday) took Sarah out to show her the delights of spinnaker handling and it was just the night for the spinnaker as both downwind legs enabled all the spinnaker boats to fly them, much the pity for us poor souls without them. By the end of the 2nd beat we had managed to crawl up into 3rd and for a while starting to make inroads into Jeremy’s lead, before they crept away again. Still all was not lost as though we finished 3rd on the water, our time was good enough to push the RS400 down into 3rd place. Strange as it may seem, the corrected times of Chris & Tony in their Tasar & Dennis & Brian were identical.

Dennis & Brian were out in the Icon and it was quite interesting to see how the Icon & Tasar performed on the same stretch of water in the same wind. Well it’s still early days to be able to say too much yet as Dennis is still trying to get to grips with a new way of sailing. Upwind we appeared to have the edge, but downwind the Icon was definitely faster, though when we got up onto the plane the speeds seemed quite similar. No doubt as the season goes on the pendulum may well swing into the Icon’s favour.

Despite Andrew & Jenny’s early lead they were soon passed by Janet & Pete in their Kestrel and Simon Robbins in his Supernova, still in one piece after his fun & games in the surf last Sunday. Jan & Pete won on corrected time with Simon 2nd and Finn in his Laser 4.7 shot into 3rd. I think the Topper may well be sold off now as Finn seems quite happy & competent in his Laser. Brian Reeves claimed 4th to push the early pace setters of Andrew & Jenny back to 5th. Steve Wingrove finished 6th not helped by running into the back of us at the start and then doing his turns. Fortunately the sound of the impact was worse than any marks. I think the contact was with my rudder rather than the hull.

Sarah lent her Feva to Shane who had Sarah’s middle son Oliver crewing for him and I see that they beat the more experienced team of James & Luke, though they were handicapped by starting late. Bringing up the rear was Kelvin & Beacky in their Scorpion. Their capsize earlier dropped them so far back that they were unable to make up sufficient time. Ken & I nearly joined them in the capsize club. Just as I bore away at the windward mark for the last time I inadvertently bore away too much, which with our weight still on the side was almost enough to pull the boat on top of us. Very fortunately we managed to save ourselves from the ultimate embarrassment and only shipped a small amount of water which was quickly dealt with by the bailer.

No sooner had all landed than the heavens opened and down came the rain. Our long run of hot, superb weather had at last come to an end. I just hope that we have another spell or two of good weather, it certainly fits well with my life style of retirement.

The rain and its resultant dark clouds were a rude reminder that the longest day passed by a month ago and we are now seeing the evenings starting to draw in. Yes like it or not summer has only a month or so left. Still it was nice to come into the Clubhouse to be greeted to the aroma of Jenny’s bacon butties and by the time I left a busy Clubhouse they had all sold.

BTW I asked Anna whether we were over at the start and was told NO we were ok. She even had a photograph to prove it. Well I got that one well and truly wrong!.

July 21st
The Return of the Waves
The fantastic weather that we have had for the last 2 weeks is apparently set to disappear later this week. The long windless days are already at an end and the temperatures are starting to fall to a more seasonal level. The start of the current weather pattern has unfortunately started with an easterly breeze that was especially strong on Saturday and that had the unpleasant side affect of producing quite a strong swell, with waves rolling in onto the beach. Fortunately the breeze dropped off somewhat on Saturday night and by the time we assembled on Sunday morning there was only a light hearted southerly blowing, but the previous day’s legacy of waves was still with us. Initially no one was tempted to remove their boat covers but Jeremy & Nigel managed to persuade enough people that the conditions weren’t that bad and very soon enough people declared their willingness to sail and so the days racing was declared on.

I am the first to admit that I do not like sailing in and out of waves. I have seen enough damage over the years to make me feel rather apprehensive at the thought of what could go wrong during launching and recovery that I can’t summon enough desire to want to push myself and the boat through such challenging conditions. However I did hedge my bets by preparing the boat and taking it down to the beach to test the water so to speak. Fortunately there was enough of a beach party present to help get all the boats out through the surf. Chris & Tony had a bit of a set back when they were caught sideways by a large wave and were driven back to the beach with a boat full of water and with Chris showing his scars from having the boom smacking him in the mouth. A badly bruised lip and maybe a chipped tooth spoiled his day. The boat was rolled over enough for the water to drain out and a determined Chris & Tony were pushed out through the surf and set off for round two. This time it was successful and off they went through the surf. The wind was so light that speed through the water was painfully slow, especially when wave after wave seemed determined to push not only them but others too back to the beach. Richard Armstrong only just managed to get through the surf and quite a few times it looked that he was doomed, like wise Steve Wingrove in his Blaze, they and the rest of the heroes gradually clawed themselves out to sea and the safety of deeper water. Finally the full compliment of 8 sailed out ready to do 2 races back to back. Meanwhile my boat stayed firmly rooted to its trolley and ashamedly but intact we took the boat back up the slip to the yard.

Steve & Polly who we haven’t seen for a few weeks took the Safety boat for their duty and were the first boat to be launched through the surf which gave them plenty of time to set the course whilst the fleet was going through the launch process. Eventually the racers were off on a port handed course that took the fleet out to sea from the beach marks for the beat. I am told that progress was quite slow as there were plenty of waves around but a distinct lack of wind slowed boat speed considerably. At the end of the first beat Jeremy & Suzanne had a commanding lead over the entire fleet with the faster boats of Richard in his Contender and Paddy & Steve in their RS400 trailing in their wake. For a change the fast fleet had the largest turnout with 3 Tasars which included our newest, well not yet joined, Tasar owners, Simon & Sophia Bennett, who must have found quite a change from their inaugural sail last weekend when we sailed in the flattest sea possible to the lumpy, bumpy stuff of today. Fortunately the forecast is to change to a south westerly in the next couple of days, which should make launching a lot easier. Simon & Sophia had a bit of a tussle with Chris & Tony before beating them on the last round of 3. Beacky and Kelvin sailing their newer Scorpion made good use of their spinnaker down the last leg to split the 2 Tasars on the water.

To prevent some of the problems with launching and recovery it had been decided to have the 2 races for day raced back to back so the 2nd race was scheduled to start almost immediately after the last boat finished the first race. By this time the wind was starting to become stronger and quite a few white horses could be seen decorating the bay. Erring on the side of caution this race was reduced to just one round and then the tricky stuff of recovery took place. Fortunately there were still enough people around prepared to get wet and with a few dramatic moments all the fleet landed safely with their boats swiftly picked up in the surf and carried ashore. The only casualty was Simon Robbins in his Supernova who managed to find himself broadside to one of the waves and was bowled over. Again there were enough people around to quickly right the boat and carry it out without any damage occurring. It was a very good day for Nigel who found himself crewless but took charge of the beach party, leading from the front. Well done Nigel.

I thought that I would take some videos of the fleet as they attempted to land through the surf and so I positioned myself high up on the slip to give myself a good view of the proceedings. Unfortunately my little camera is only a point and shoot and although the video came out it wasn’t good enough quality to bother committing it to the web. Next time I will get down to the water’s edge which will not only be closer but may look more dramatic.

I expect you all know by now that Anna will soon be leaving us at the end of the month for a new challenge which I am sure she will handle with her normal aplomb. She will be a great loss for us at Porthpean, both she and Liz have fitted in fantastically well. She is going for at least 2 years and it is quite possible that the job could expand into even greater things which may keep her away for even longer. At least I am hoping she will go with some good memories of life amongst our Club members and by the power of the www, she will be able to keep up todate with the goings on at Porthpean. I am sure you will all wish her the very best of luck in her new venture in the heat of Oman and we will all be hoping that she returns to us one day.

July 17th
Dennis and his Icon
23 boat record turnout
What a difference 3 days make. The weather is still as hot and sunny as ever, the beach is still packed daily, now give us all that plus a beautiful F2-3 offshore breeze and we have all the ingredients for the largest Club fleet to race at Porthpean for quite a few years; and there were still a few regulars not out, which could have made the numbers even higher. Without doubt this is turning out to be an excellent summer and the prospect of even more settled weather to come is most welcoming. Needless to say quite a few of us elected to sail in shorts once again.

Janet & Pete were in charge of the Safety boat tonight and launched early enough to ensure that we would be able to start on time, which is really essential as a prompt start on an evening gives us the benefit of sailing in a constant breeze before the breeze fades away for the night. The relatively short start line caused quite a bit of excitement at the pin end, with several boats fighting to obtain the “best” start. Anyway despite all the shouting thatI heard we all appeared to get a clean start as we headed up the first beat. Once again Jeremy & Suzanne were amongst the 2 RS400s at the end of the beat followed closely behind by Roger Willimas who had a perfect first beat, then Richard in his Contender and us heading up the rest of the Tasars with the Icon of Dennis. Anna in the Club Laser and Kay in her Scorpion were also in the pack chasing for honours. Poor Jenny in the race box was hastily trying to get all the times written down as there wasn’t much distance between the boats to record anyone’s time before the next boat came along. Fortunately Liz was on hand to help her out.

The reach out to sea was a huge disappointment as it was an almost dead run. Us Tasar sailors were not happy bunnies, instead of a nice planing reach we had to contend ourselves with poling out our jibs and plod along. Fortunately we did manage to keep in touch with Roger and mange to pass Richard. Like wise Jeremy made the most out of it ensuring that his Tasar was the first boat round the gybe mark, but even he had to surrender to the pace of the RS400s once their kites were up and pulling. Jeremy tacked off and hit the right hand side of the course on rounding the leeward mark, which was enough to pull through the RS400s but at the end of the beat he sailed back to the beach and retired ( a business meeting beckoned) . Paddy & Steve opened up a huge gap over Nigel & James, and both RSs managed to take the first 2 places on corrected time. Chris & Tony had some brilliant rounds for the majority of the race, trading positions with Mike & Vicky and Dennis & Brian in the Icon, before Mike & Mandy made good gains on the last beat. Meanwhile Roger was steaming on in his Blaze and despite it being a slower boat than a Tasar always had the edge on us both upwind and downwind and finished a few seconds in front of us on the water ensuring a huge win for him in the slow handicap fleet. Anna was out in the Club Laser and proved that a new Laser is quite a bit faster than an older one and showed her experience and versatility by sailing it into 2nd place and only 2 seconds behind us on corrected time.

With the school summer holidays now upon us it is pleasing to welcome back to Sarah Desjonquers, home again in Cornwall with her 3 sons for the next 6 weeks and she was straight into action with son Oliver in their Feva, slotting into a very creditable 9th place. Finn is starting to get to grips with the power and size of a Laser, his rig is a 4.7 but still powerful enough for a youngster and he sailed it into 5th place which was ahead of the more experienced Laser sailors of Brian, Nick and Clive who finished in 7th, 10th & 11th.

I see on the sailing programme that we have a day cruise to Polkerris scheduled on Sunday. Well due to quite few reasons I believe that the cruise may well be cancelled and instead replaced by Club racing and I believe the intention is to try and sail some of the races that we lost earlier in the season. No doubt an email to this effect will be dropping through our inboxes soon. The even better news is that the superb weather is set to continue for the foreseeable future. The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, is that there is a chance of some thundery showers on Sunday and the breeze may go round to a north easterly for a few days which may make launching and recovery trickier than normal but I don’t think it will be too bad as we are very close to neap tides. I expect that there will be some grumbling from holiday makers trying to set up camp around our launching trolleys. It won’t be too bad in the morning as most of us will have launched by the time the majority of beach revellers arrive but I am sure that they will take over our parking area when we move them to sit the boats on at lunch time. Yes it may be very interesting indeed and it would be nice to have a beach master in attendance like the good old days when the Council was rich. They still would be if they hadn’t wasted so much money over the last few years.

July 14th
A spot of housework for Chris
Porthpean bakes in heatwave.
On Thursday morning Sue & I were shopping in ASDA, when we overheard a woman claiming that she had slept in her garden overnight as it was too hot to sleep indoors. Since then we have had probably 4 more days of equally hot if not hotter weather, especially Saturday, so it just goes to show how hot it can get given the right conditions. One of the ingredients for such hot weather is lack of wind and for most of that time it has been just that. We lost last Sunday due to lack of wind, like wise last Tuesday and again Wednesday and it was looking like we were about to lose this Sunday also. A glassy, flat, windless sea greeted us as we arrived in, yes you’ve guessed, it blazing sunshine. Encouraging as it was a very nice breeze had filled in on Saturday afternoon and the promise of similar wind to come later today, meant a postponement was inevitable with the hope, promise? of the breeze to come. The morning was spent swimming by some, maintenance by some and gossiping by others. The most pessimistic went home promising to look back later on in the day in the hope that we would actually sail.

The forecasted breeze was to be a north westerly which was going to do battle with the sea breeze that wanted to establish itself in response to the enormous amount of heat generated by the land mass. I was confident the breeze would eventually kick in around 1 o’clock as some dark shadows on the horizon heralded the fact that there was some breeze out there and we knew it would eventually reach us. Sure enough by 1 o’clock a VERY light sea breeze manifested itself and a 2 o’clock start was scheduled for the 8, yes only 8 who decided to launch. Steve and Nigel took the safety boat and laid a fairly short but perfect size course for the conditions and at just after 2 we started the countdown. By this time the breeze such as it was had decided to almost switch off. In fact it was quite eerie to glide over a completely flat sea, no swell whatsoever, and with the speed so slow not even the sound of water splashing from any ripples as we glided over it.

We only had 2 Tasars out today but the other one was a newcomer to Tasar sailing and hopefully a new member to Porthpean to boot. Yes, welcome to Simon Bennett and family who live in Liskeard, so not too far away, in fact he told me that he was surprised as to how it only took 45 minutes to get here, towing his Tasar. Simon bought his Tasar in January but a busy lifestyle has meant that he has had to wait until now to be able to try it, so today for him and his daughter Chloe it was an inaugural launch and sail and by the time we all landed again they were very pleased as to how they sailed and how they enjoyed sailing a Tasar.

The conditions were so light that one didn’t dare stray too far from the start line. We also had 2 Scorpions out sailing as well as Brian Reeves in his Laser, Simon Robins in his Supernova, Simon fresh back from a 55 boat fleet Supernova Nationals at Brixham where he finished about mid fleet and Steve Wingrove in his Blaze, just back on the water after waiting for a spare part that needed replacement after sustaining damage at the Blaze Nationals that were held in Paignton. Paddy made up the 8th member of the fleet, taking his RS600 out for its first sail of the year.

Fortunately for us Jeremy was off sailing in the Laser Masters at Lyme Regis, whilst Suzanne & Finn spent their day as part of the hundreds of people who were spread out over the beach and sea, which meant that we had an almost unchallenged run at a port hand start, that catapulted us into an unassailable lead as the beat was very one sided and could almost be sailed on one tack. Very sensibly the “S” flag was displayed from the safety boat as we approached the beach marks and the race was terminated after only 1 lap as the breeze started to fade away. Andrew & Jenny Kendall were absolutely delighted to be leading boat in the slow handicap and they put quite a considerable distance between themselves and rivals Paul & Kelvin in the other Scorpion. Simon showed good speed in his Supernova but to achieve it he had to sacrifice pointing for distance and consequently was too far back at the end of the beat to make any inroads into the Scorpion and Steve’s Blaze which were in front of him.

A 2nd race was hastily set up using the same course configuration for what was even less wind. This time I was very late getting over the start line, whereas our new Tasar sailors Simon and Chloe were at the right end of the line and generated enough speed to take a very nice lead by the end of the beat. At least this time it was a more pronounced beat. After being virtually last boat at the start, we managed to drag ourselves up the beat to round alongside but crucially with our nose just in front of Supernova Simon as we started the long reach to the wing mark. Maybe it was down to our familiarity with the Tasar and Simon trying to get used to his, but we managed to claw ourselves up to about 20 meters from him as we gybed to start the reach into the beach marks. It was soon quite noticeable that what should have been a reach was turning into a beat and joy of joys a very dark patch of wind was coming towards us from Charlestown! Within no time at all a full on north westerly (it was predicted) descended on us and we all rocked up fairly quickly to the beach marks. This time there was no “S” flag flying which gave us at least one more lap of good breeze to sail in. Simon was rather confused and thinking the race was over momentarily sailed off towards Charlestown which let us through to take a lead, which we held to the end. Supernova Simon, this time, was having a much better race and took an easy win. In fact the finishing positions for the slow handicap fleet in race 2 was almost the complete opposite from finishing positions in race1 so I suppose at the end of the day everyone had something positive to take home.

At least all who wanted to sail today did actually sail in quite a variety of conditions and whilst not quite as adrenalin draining as some of our races this season quite a few of us managed to sail in shorts and tee shirts. Sun tan lotion and hats were very welcome accessories today also. The forecast for the immediate future promises plenty more sunshine and very warm temperatures, so we could be in for a period of very light sailing winds, which may encourage some of our members who we haven’t seen much of this year, let's hope so as those 20 plus fleets are quite achievable to get out on the water.

July 10th
The beach at 18.30
One could sense a certain amount of resignation last night as people turned up at the Club. I don’t think anyone expected to sail so no one was disappointed and one look at the oily swell on the windless sea signalled to all and sundry that there would be no sailing at Porthpean once again. Fortunately that didn’t stop the bar from opening and it really was a splendid evening to sit outside on either the decking or front wall in the sun enjoying a beer or glass of wine. Sometimes life in Cornwall and Porthpean in particular couldn’t be better.

The web cam had suffered a glitch during the day with a blank screen greeting anyone who tried to look at it and 2nd guess the weather. Fortunately Paddy was down, diagnosed the fault and soon had it back on line. I think that there are several people who tune in from far away places who like to keep tabs on us, so they should be happier this morning also.

James playing hide and seek
The superb weather looks set to continue into the weekend and the chances of sailing on Sunday look a lot better with a light north westerly breeze forecast to drive us along. Shorts and tee shirt sailing look very appealing to me. Hopefully the offshore breeze will ensure that we have no nasty surf to contend with otherwise it will be wet launching.

It looks like that we will be without Jeremy on Sunday as he is competing in the Laser Masters at Lyme Regis. He is hoping the experience of a crowded start line will help him with his starts when he and Suzanne sail in the Tasar Worlds in August. It is a 3 day competition and at the moment the forecast is for light winds, after all Lyme Regis isn’t much more than 100 miles due east of us, so must have similar weather conditions, though our peninsular dictates that we can and do have a different set of winds than most other places.

July 7th
Swimmers Beach
Unfortunately we have just lost another Sunday sailing day, but somehow nobody minded too much. Just for a change the reason for abandonment was good weather and not bad. We have just hit a spell of really good summer weather and after the recent poor summers that we have endured, a good spell is welcomed by all. So, yes, disappointment was felt by all but it was still nice to be able to sit and relax in tee shirt and shorts, drink beer for some and just enjoy the hot sunny, windless, weather. Judging by the numbers on the beach that is exactly what most of the population of St. Austell were also doing. Don’t forget the schools haven’t broken up yet, so the huge numbers down on the beach were in the main, locals. The water temperature hasn’t warmed up very much yet but that still didn’t dampen the spirits of the huge numbers who went in for a dip. The picture alongside shows how flat the conditions were. We have had days like it before and it is often the case that a sea breeze kicks in around mid day, but today that just didn’t happen and with much reluctance the towel was finally thrown in around 13.00 and prospective sailors drifted away.

Quite frustratingly I had quite a nice little breeze in our garden but a quick check on the web cam showed that it was still completely calm on the coast. Strangely enough a look out of my window this morning shows a nice breeze in the garden but again a check on the web cam shows no breeze at all on the sea. The good weather spell seems to be set for quite a few days yet and could stretch beyond next weekend, so the outlook for sailing at the moment, unfortunately appears not too bright.

Quite interestingly, our sailing committee is thinking of changing some of the handicap numbers that we use in calculating the results. The “official” figures are published by the RYA but they do encourage Clubs to change them if they so wish to suit local conditions. Over recent years the figures for our main dinghies have altered quite a bit. The Tasar took a hit and had the handicap reduced in 2012. This year the RS400, Contender, Scorpion and Blaze have all seen their numbers go down whilst the Laser and RS Feva have actually been raised. Unfortunately the majority of our racing is handicap racing and as such results can vary quite significantly due to wind strength alone. A good example of this is the Contender. It sails very fast in a good breeze but is considerably slower over the water in a light breeze. Condition of boats is another good example. I would never expect an old Scorpion to sail anywhere near as fast as a new Scorpion. A Laser with a new sail is also much quicker around a course than a tired old laser with a tatty sail, the hull alone is much stiffer. There are so many contributing factors that have to be considered. The most important of all is skill factor. Sometimes people think that their boat is unfairly handicapped yet it is often their own failings that slow them down. Poor helming technique, especially upwind, not spotting windshifts that others see, chickening out on a gybe, poor starting techniques and even age are all contributing factors to our own performance.

To be honest it is very difficult to set a “correct” handicap. We all know that sometimes we can have particularly good days and equally bad days. The trick is to analyse your performance after every race. Pick out the good points and pat yourself on the back. Note the bad things and work out what you may have done wrong and see if you can either talk yourself into correcting it or seek out someone you perceive as better on the day and talk to them about performance. I personally don’t think there is any point in whinging about other class handicaps unless I know that I am consistently at the top of my game.

July 3rd
The beach tonight
There is a clear pattern around the country that Wednesday night sailing usually brings out better turnouts than on Sundays. That’s a trend that we also see at Porthpean but alas not last night when only 13 boats launched. I took the picture alongside just after I arrived at the Club so you can see how peaceful and tranquil the beach looked with a falling tide and very few people on it. It would only have to be about 10 degrees warmer to rival anything in the Med. Those that launched tonight sailed in extremely good conditions in a very nice westerly breeze that had been quite fresh during the day but was showing signs of easing back by the time we launched. We were even greeted by a nice spot of sunshine, in fact the weather was so good that I elected to wear my sailing shorts for the 3rd time in a row!! A decision that I was starting to regret as we lined up on the beach, because by then a mass of grey clouds had taken the sunshine away and the chill from the wind was more noticeable. Anyway it was too late to change my mind, so into the cold water I stepped. The water close to the beach was Chrystal clear, mainly due to having a week or so of off shore breeze that had allowed the sea to clear from its suspension of sand.

Paddy & Steve took charge of the safety boat and what with them in the boat and Nigel in the Race box it meant that we had no RS400s sailing so our fast handicap fleet comprised of 4 Tasars and the Contender of Richard Armstrong. The other 8 boats made up the slow handicap fleet, with 3 Scorpions, 1 RS Feva and the Kestrel flying the flag for spinnaker boats. The other boats all being single handed and they consisted of Laser & Laser radial and Supernova.

A quick look at the start line showed enough bias to tempt us into a port handed start, this was also spotted by James & Luke and John Hill, so there was a bit of jockeying for best position. As the start approached it was obviously going to be close run thing as both Jeremy & Richard were sailing hard down the line to cut us off. A quick bear off behind Jeremy & Richard was enough for us to cross the line straight into clear wind and very nicely through the rest of the fleet, who still on starboard. I suppose the start wasn’t too bad as we arrived at the beach marks in 2nd place behind Jeremy & Suzanne and right on the transom of Richard. Just as we bore away onto the reach a stronger gust hit us all and over went Richard. We even closed Jeremy right down on the 2 reaches, but he pulled out on us on the next beat.

The slower fleet had some quite interesting racing and Kay & Craig showed some good early form taking a good lead in their fleet and were well in front of the other Scorpions. Jan Pete had a very tardy start by their standards caused by an errant spinnaker halyard and had a lot of catching up to do. Beacky & Kelvin in their 2nd yellow peril slipped down the fleet quite a long way leaving Andrew & Jenny to do all the chasing of Kay & Craig. Alice Burford in her laser Radial, a slower boat than the Scorpions, pulled through to take what looked like a race winning lead but the little RS Feva, fresh from its success at Helford at the weekend was showing a good turn of speed and although lurking at the back of the fleet finished with enough time in hand to take another win, beating Alice by just over a minute. The closest finish on corrected time was between Pete & Jan, Kay & Craig and Andrew & Jenny with only 15 seconds separating them.

Well the yellow peril seemed to have sorted its leak out but tonight was bedevilled by other failures & problems. Mike & Victoria in only their 2nd appearance this year again showed some good speed and were not too far behind us at times. Chris & Tony were not so fast and spent the majority of the race in the bosom of the handicap fleet, losing out on the beats but making up for it on the reaches.

It was the annual schools regatta held at Restronguet SC today and some of our junior sailors were racing there. Not only sailing but also taking away prizes; the youngest sailor being Finn Hawkins who surprised many older kids by winning their class in the double handed Picos. Finn sailed with a young lady called Poppy from the Polkerris sailing school. April Halls came 2nd in the Topper class and Tom Bittle swept to victory in his Laser. It will be the last year of competing there by Tom as he leaves school in July. Well done to all our young sailors and it is encouraging that the next generation of sailors are coming through showing an abundance of talent.

Not that she will read this but I would like to wish our daughter Sarah a Happy Birthday today July 3rd, reaching the grand old age of 37, which is only a few years younger than me!! I wish. We also had a famous actress watching us on the beach tonight as we launched. Dame Judi Dench is down here on holiday staying in a house not too far from the Club, so have a look round on Sunday, she may still be here.

June 30th
ICON heading for the beach
Wow, there was some very competitive racing yesterday in both races, with some huge gains and losses dependant whether you got the beats right or wrong. Sometimes the right hand side paid and sometimes the left hand side, but never the same side every beat.

Before we get to the racing lets dwell for a moment on Saturday night. Unfortunately for me I already had a prior engagement over in Newquay, but judging from the reports that I have had, those at Porthpean had a better time with a first class BBQ followed by a raffle and eventually the dancing; a Celidiah (spelling?) I also think Porthpean had the better weather because as we drove up the hill out of St. Austell we drove into low cloud and mist and that’s how it was all the way over into Newquay, summer? Yuck. Tony has sent me some pictures from the evening and with a bit of luck I should be able to publish them by tomorrow.

So onto today’s racing; now one thing, don’t forget I am starting to get old timer’s disease, which means that my memory isn’t quite as good, but with 20 boats out sailing then trying to observe what is going on whilst trying to race isn’t as easy as sometimes you might think. Yes the good calm weather was good enough to encourage more out to race and with almost another 10 boats not sailing for one reason or another gives some optimism that we could make the magic 30 if we were really lucky. I think the largest fleet I can remember for Club racing was in the late 80s when we reached 27.

Now obviously the events that happen to me are more firmly entrenched in my mind than some other things that go on during the races. Richard Armstrong & Shane took control of the Safety boat today and set us a very nice triangular course. The wind was very similar to last Wednesday in both strength and direction. Correction, the breeze was better than on Wednesday because we could actually plane at times. Sea conditions were very flat, probably as flat as many reservoirs, and much flatter than at Restronguet where I sailed for about 8 years prior to joining PSC. The breeze whilst fairly docile did change direction quite a few times, which produced some excellent highs and lows form maybe all of us racing.

Once again we had a reasonable start but paid the price for staying on the left hand side of the course. Those who had banged right came streaming in to the beach marks well ahead of us. Amongst those was the Laser Radial of Alice Burford who has just rejoined us after finishing her exams. Unfortunately for Alice, she could only make the fisrt race, but she started off her new campaign with an emphatic win. She was joined at the front of the slow handicap fleet by Roger Williams in his Blaze and Tom Bittle in his full rigged Laser. Not far behind them was Jan & Pete’s Kestrel. Roger was pulling away from us all the time and started the last beat comfortably ahead of us on the water and well placed to take the race, but suffered greatly from taking the wrong route and fell down into 2nd place behind Alice but pushed Tom back to 3rd. Beacky & Kelvin took 4th and today were sailing the newer of their 2 Scorpions. They had sailed the older of the boats last Wednesday but found that it was leaking, filling with water and slowing them down, hence their poor performance. April Halls, sailing the slowest boat in the fleet still managed to split the 2 Scorpions of Paul & the Kendalls, taking 7th place. Finn has now graduated up to a Laser 4.7 and after a brilliant start slipped down to 8th place but still managed to beat the more experienced Brain Reeves in a full rigged Laser.

Today was the first race for Dennis and Brian in the new ICON. Dennis has re-rigged the mainsheet and felt more at home with it. The boat looked great on the water and Dennis still needs to get to grips with a completely different style of sailing but first signs were looking good. Ken & I had a very poor first beat, hitting the left hand side of the course which didn’t pay off at all, and we found ourselves at the beach marks well behind 4 of the slow handicap fleet along with Dennis. Paddy & Steve in the RS400 blazed the way with Jeremy & Suzanne not far behind them. Close enough to beat them on handicap and were some 6 minutes in front of us which I put down mainly to my poor decisions on direction on the beat. Unfortunately for our RS stars there was only 1 reach that allowed them to fly the spinnaker, which helped them but the 2nd reach was a 2 sail reach and was a bit of a Tasar benefit. The speed of the ICON was quite apparent on the reaches as it was slightly faster than our Tasar, but we did pull away on the beats owing to our more familiarisation. However Dennis still managed to beat Chris Hazell, who was crewed today by Colin Wainwright.

The afternoon race saw some very strong massive changes of fortune during the race. We noticed that there was a bit of port bias on the start line but as the line was rather short for 20 boats so elected to go for a conservative starboard start. During the last minute the wind shifted dramatically and we couldn’t lay the line at all and ended tacking and sailing behind some of the fleet in order to cross the line. Janet & Pete had a blinding first beat, just reaching the beach marks before another fast charge from Paddy & Steve in the RS400. For once we managed to beat Jeremy & Suzanne up the first beat and held them off on the reaches, overtaking Jan & Pete in the process but Jeremy’s better upwind technique pulled them through on the next beat, whilst we had a horror of a beat finding ourselves behind Jan & Pete again when we reached the beach marks. Things were not going well. The spinnaker reach was enough to keep the Barnes in front of us but the planing reach was always ours and could easily pull through. I had noticed that as the race was going on the RS was not pulling as far in front as it should and Jeremy was not too far behind. We for once had a very good 4th beat and closed the gap on Jeremy, the down wind legs were particularly kind to us as we seemed to have our own extra pressure allowing us to close up considerably. We even got the last beat almost perfect and within a few minutes we were up with Jeremy and closing on the opposite tack in what must have been a lift. Jeremy tacked on us and we immediately split tacks but that meant sailing for a while on the headed tack, which cost us dearly. In the meantime Paddy & Steve had gone for SOB tack, banging the right hand side of the course which had paid so handsomely earlier. This time it all went wrong as when they eventually tacked for the beach marks they hit an enormous header, which put them behind Jeremy & us on the water, let alone on corrected time; talk about weeping and gnashing of teeth. Grown men crying was so painful to see. In fact so disastrous was their last round that they fell back to last boat in the fast handicap fleet. Dennis & Brian taking 3rd place, once again ahead of Chris & Colin.

Janet & Pete started to drop back as the race progressed but still had enough time in hand to beat the rest of their fleet. Now I can’t quite understand the race results as the elapsed times for Jane & Pete don’t equate with their corrected times, but the results show them in 1st place ahead of Tom & Roger, who both had another good race. Well into the race I noticed that Andrew & Jenny in their Scorpion were ahead of Beacky & Kelvin but youth (?) prevailed and the yellow peril saw off the red machine by almost 30 seconds.

After the racing Dennis kindly offered me the chance to sail in his ICON. This is a boat that I have followed with interest from its initial conception over the last few years and I am a great fan of the boat. To me it is a beautiful looking, fast 2 person boat and it was with some trepidation that Ken & I sailed out of the cove. I found the boat very well balanced, the main problem for me was slipping about in the cockpit. The rounded side decks made sitting out easy, but the false floor in the boat made the boom seem very low. The boat cut through the water very quietly, with hardly a murmur, the most sound coming from the wake. Dennis has modified the main sheet arrangement to provide a pulley & cleat on the centre of the hull to make the sheeting easier, but after a while sailing like this I switched to the recommended sheeting directly from the boom. This initially felt strange but it was surprising how quickly I adapted to it. In fact it is the way most Blaze sailors and B14 sailors control their sails nowadays and it gives a lot more control down wind and also makes it easy to ease the main in a gust upwind. The downside of this technique is that I found it difficult to maintain a tight grip on the mainsheet, so sometimes reverted to winding it around my wrist which then negates the ease of easing when needed. The boat is very light on the tiller and any movement is instantly transformed into a change of direction, sometime quicker than you expect. The big problem comes when tacking with tiller extension in one hand and mainsheet in the other. Eventually you have to do the big swap and a new technique requires learning. I did find that dropping the tiller was ok as it stayed in place ready to be picked up by the rear hand when ready. The boat doesn’t come with jib cleats, which makes crewing hard work on the beat as maintaining tension is difficult as Brian found out whilst racing. Offwind we soon had the boat planing and it skims the water beautifully, the straight bow cutting through the water like a knife through butter. The rig is very powerful, even in the light breeze we were easily over powered, though I am told the cure is plenty of kicker and downhaul, but the kicker and some of the other sail controls require some extra tweaking as they are not working as well as they should.

It’s not the easiest of boats to sail but I think it will be very rewarding when Dennis gets used to it and manages to sort all the controls out. Yesterday was quite light and I felt reasonably confident sailing her, but if the wind had been another force or two stronger then I think I would have had all sorts of problems, especially when I slipped about so easily. Overall impressions to me was of a beautiful boat with lots of potential and I am sure that some of our other rock stars will want to sail in her soon. In fact Brian will be away on holiday for the next 2 weeks so a crew’s position is available for a very agile person.

James & Luke were missing from our racing yesterday as they were sailing in the RS Feva travellers series on the River Helford. I am told that they finished 3rd in both races giving them a 3rd overall which sits very nicely with their previous results. With only one meeting left in the series they are in a top position to take the series. Keep it up guys. I believe this Wednesday will be the schools regatta racing down at Restronguet SC. Amongst the sailors there will be, at least from Porthpean, Finn & Tom so we wish them lots of luck, though the weather forecast doesn’t look to be too good.

June 26th
Anna rigging a Laser
It’s almost impossible to describe how bizarre last night’s race turned out to be. The forecast was for a medium north westerly, which if true would have produced some fine racing, so something to look forward to. Sue & I were down at St. Michael’s Mount during the day and the wind direction down there was anything but the forecast wind. Down there it was a very light southerly, which was exactly the same as the day before and that unfortunately had put an end to the capsize club on Tuesday as typically that breeze dies away to nothing on an evening. But the forecast came good for a change and by the time we assembled for the evening race the breeze, what there was of it, had swung to the north west and although light, did cover the bay and that together with a cloudless sky promised an excellent night’s racing. So good were the conditions that I actually wore my sailing shorts and it also produced our biggest fleet of the season so far, with 21 boats on the start line, which included 6 Tasars, 4 Lasers, 3 Scorpions, 3 Supernovas. The 4 Lasers included Finn, racing his new Laser for the first time.

Steve Wingrove & Brian Reeves took charge of the safety boat, which in itself took 2 boats off the water. They soon discovered what we all later discovered that the breeze although fairly constant was varying round somewhat in direction. Nevertheless they still managed to set a very fine course, which gave a tricky beat into a starboard rounding of the beach marks. The start line was of good length, though lack of port bias caused the majority of the fleet to try and start at the pin end.

With only a minimum of a delay we were off into another adventure of racing at Porthpean. As you could imagine the start line was pretty congested, but I think we all crossed without any undue drama. Our start wasn’t the best but we appeared to have clear wind and so stood on a long starboard tack towards the cliffs, with only Jeremy, of the 6 Tasars to windward of us, and it wasn’t very long before my first mistake of the evening came along – I held the tack for too long. In fact I was just debating whether to tack or not when we started getting a good lift. Now why couldn’t we have got that one 3 minutes earlier? Tacking when lifted is a soul destroying moment, so we hung on hoping that when it had passed we would have been able to tack and then almost reach in towards the beach marks. Unfortunately by the time we had tacked and reached the beach marks, several others were there before us, including the other 5 Tasars!, Kay & Craig in their Scorpion, Paddy & Steve in the RS400, Roger in his Blaze and Jan & Pete in their Kestrel. Suddenly life was going to be very difficult, especially as the wind was much lighter than we had hoped for. It was no surprise that Jeremy & Suzanne were at the head of the group reaching off to the wing mark. It was also a nice surprise to see Mike & Vicky Voyzey up there in 2nd Tasar, actually ahead of Stacey & Lucy. All Ken & I could do was to try & keep upwind of the boats in front and try and squeeze the best speed we could out of a very tricky occasion.

Kay & Craig were just in front and to leeward of us, but with their spinnaker pulling were almost matching us for speed. In fact their speed was slightly better than ours until they fell into our wind shadow. Each time that happened they dropped back a bit until they found some clear wind, then they would accelerate up and once more get their bow in front before our wind shadow overcame them again. Fortunately for us, they dropped the spinnaker for the gybe nark, which gave us enough clear space to not to have to give them water, but even luckier for us their wind shadow slowed a gaggle of boats to leeward, allowing us to pass Chris & Tony and Dennis & Brian. There wasn’t enough breeze to plane down wind, but enough to move us serenely along to the next beat. The in fighting that we had experienced on the 2 reaches allowed Jeremy & Suzanne to pull well clear and were suddenly looking to be in an impregnable position, even staying ahead of Paddy & Steve, but the 2nd set of reaches allowed the spinnaker driven RS to surge to the front, never to be seen again.

The slower fleet were well and truly dominated initially by Kay & Craig, Janet & Pete and Roger Williams, all 3 of them having moments of personal glory, heading their respective group, but it was the extra speed that Roger could generate down wind that proved the dominant factor in finishing positions but corrected time gave the race to the Barnes’s Kestrel by 2 seconds. Now here is where some injustice comes into the equation. The wind on our last reach out from the beach marks died away to almost nothing and quite a few of us apart from Paddy & Steve struggled to make any head way. To our horror a group of boats including the other Tasars, the Kestrel, the Blaze glided (it wasn’t sailing) up and joined Jeremy & Suzanne, Stacey & Lucy and us in a desperate fight to round the gybe mark. Jenny, in the race box seeing our dilemma decided to finish the stragglers as they came to the beach marks and then, I think the slow handicap would have been scored on average lap times. In itself not unreasonable but actually to the detriment of those who had already crossed the beach marks as it took them a disproportional amount of time to sail the final lap, thus raising their average lap time. I am sure that this will be looked at in due course. Maybe the best way out would be to use the times when all the slow handicap boats passed the beach marks the previous time.

Andrew & Jenny must have been very pleased as they managed to beat the other 2 Scorpions, Kay & Craig by almost a minute and Kelvin & Beacky by near to 7 minutes! John Hill showed his mastery of the Supernovas beating his nearest rival, Jeremy Rowett by almost a minute and a half. I was looking at the results to see where Anna finished in the Club Laser but her name seems to be missing, but I am sure I saw her out there!

Very fortunately for us, we managed to round the gybe ahead of Stacey, held our position on the next reach and then had quite a tactical battle with Stacey on the last beat, but we managed to make best use of the wind shifts to finish only a few seconds behind Jeremy. All in all it was a thrilling (at times!) evening of racing. Then onto the bliss, Jenny’s bacon butties and Ken’s Birthday, a pint and the tales of snakes and ladders as all re sailed various parts of the race. It was one of those summer evenings that we all dream about but only rarely come along. Tonight was the longest daylight Wednesday race of the year and unfortunately it will only start to get darker earlier from now on, though we won’t notice much change until the end of July. On the plus side the air temperature should start to become nearer to the norm. After all it is Wimbledon fortnight, the British GP is on this weekend and the Tour de France is almost with us. Suddenly summer is knocking on the door, although I hear that the weekend weather may not be what we want.

James & Luke are off on their travels again this weekend, taking their May, Whetter & Grose sponsored RS Feva to Helford River SC for another round of the RS Feva series that they have signed up to, so we wish them all the best in their quest. They won the last event so another good result will take them to the top of the leader board. I think their ambition is to be sailing a 29er next season, which we await with interest.

Dennis is waiting for some new parts to fit to his new boat to try and fool it into thinking it is a Tasar. The technique of controlling the main sheet directly from the boom is to be replaced by a more conventional block & pulley system ala Tasar. Hopefully this will all be fitted by the weekend and the promised lightish winds for the weekend will see him & Brian whizzing wound the bay.

Unfortunately I will be missing this Saturday night for the latest social at the Club, when Anna is organising a Ceileidh and food. It looks like it will be a good night and well worth coming to.

June 23rd
Tom sailing in
Yet another Sunday fails the weather test. Gales swept in over the weekend to force us to cancel not only the Cadet’s Regatta on Saturday but also our weekly dose of Sunday sailing. I think the weather stats this year are already adding up to make this season yet another record year for lost races, so hardly a surprise. 2 hardy souls did go out for a sail though. Tom Bittle in his Laser and April Halls in her Topper launched to show us all how to do it. Actually launching was dead easy as the wind was a very strong offshore westerly and the bomb blasts on the water showed how strong the wind really was. Both sailors could cope with the majority of the gusts but both were blown over from time to time and although most of the time it was only a matter of quickly climbing onto the dagger board to bring their boat upright, occasionally it was rather more dramatic. It certainly proved to us with more conventional dinghies that we too would have been blown over, possibly many times and the safety boat would have been fully employed motoring from upturned boat to upturned boat that it might have made us look rather fool hardy if we had sailed. Fortunately the majority of us took one look at the conditions and the current weather forecast and that was enough to convince us that staying ashore was the right thing to do today. Incidentally, Tom has put a video up on You Tube, showing some of his sailing today. It makes us all look wussies for not sailing!! His video shows a very flat sea and apparent easy sailing. Having witnessed his progress from the shore I can assure any readers that the conditions were a lot more extreme than appears on the video. It’s a pity he hasn’t included any of the capsizes as they would have made interesting viewing and maybe a lesson to all Laser sailors how to react when you get blown over.

I was home for an early lunch and then persuaded Sue to accompany me for a trip to Mylor. Restronguet SC is the host this week to the I14 Prince of Wales Week. The I14 is the equivalent in the sailing world of GP racing. Not for nothing do these extreme racing machines cost somewhere in the region of 20K. As it happened the winds at Restronguet were even stronger than at Porthpean. The Carrick Roads were covered in white horses and the wind was shrieking through the rigging, so no wonder that all sailing for both Club and I14s was cancelled. The only sails to be seen on the water were of 3 wind surfers who were blasting about. Only one cruiser was out, sailing up the river and that one sported heavily reefed main and jib. Some of the I14s were lying on their sides in the dinghy park whilst work was being carried out on them and it did give me the opportunity to look at some of the fittings etc. There was only one “classic” 14 and from a distance I mistook it for an Albacore. The rest of the 36 boat fleet were a mixture of carbon and FRP and looked quite extreme.

The forecast from Monday onwards is for lighter winds and I hope to get down again this week to see them launch and sail off. The racing itself will be out in Falmouth Bay and the only hope of seeing them racing is either from the headland or out on a spectator boat. Their big race is on Tuesday and is the POW Cup. This Cup carries a lot of prestige. Winning this one is the equivalent of winning the Derby, Wimbledon, British GP or the Golf Open; get my drift?

Dare I say it but the weather for the forthcoming week is looking much better than of late and should allow the capsize club to get out this week. Last Tuesday it was cancelled due to thick mist and, how strange, lack of wind, whereas last Wednesday was rather windy which actually was the start of the low pressure system that produced the strong winds that have affected us this weekend.

Jeremy takes his Tasar up to Southampton on Monday to load it, together with 2 other Tasars to start their journey to the USA for the forthcoming World Championships. It will be several weeks yet before Jeremy and Suzanne jet off to meet their boat and sail in the Worlds.

June 19th
Clive preparing
Yesterday, very quietly and without any fuss, I helped Dennis launch his new Icon. It was a beautiful sunny day with quite a lively offshore breeze that at least made the launching part quite easy. Unfortunately the wind further out was quite gusty, making the inaugural sail interesting but actually there were no dramas nor capsizes. Crewing was fairly conventional at that stage as all I had to do was play the jib sheets and balance the boat. Mind you there are no jib cleats and keeping the jib in properly on a beat is quite a difficult task as inevitably you tend to ease without realising it. The designer claims that cleats are not necessary, but I would say they are almost imperative for normal Club sailors. Dennis had a harder task than me as the main sheet is fed directly from the boom to hand. Trying to keep the tension correct as you move out to balance the boat is quite a skill to perfect and again not easy for a Club sailor. So our inaugural sail lasted only about 20 minutes, before the increasing breeze sent us home. Our outing was witnessed by Ken, who was walking along the cliff path and he commented that the boat was sailing quite fast. Yes it is a fast boat, the only drawback is that it will take plenty of practice to perfect. The boat cuts through the water, very effectively. It is powerful, faster than a Tasar, slower than a RS400 (maybe?). I think that will depend on the course and level of skill in either boat. I spent a lot of my time kneeling to try and keep Dennis on the side deck, but there is plenty of crew space and the side decks are very comfy when hiking. There is a lot more to come from this boat once the steep learning curve has been overcome. I am sure we will be out again in the coming days when we hopefully get some lighter winds, some hope!!

That takes me nicely on to tonight. The forecast for once was very accurate, as they gave increasing north westerly winds as the day went on and by the time I returned to the Club for the evening race I could see quite an increase from earlier in the afternoon. The wind was probably as strong as the previous Wednesday when the direction was a south westerly. Not many people decided to race that night as the white horses and gusts were more obvious to anyone watching from the shore. However with a different wind direction, bright sun shine, a flat sea, tonight’s conditions looked far more friendly. Friendly enough to tempt some 17 boats out on the water, despite the dark patches & bomb blasts hurtling out from the shore occasionally and with the Polruan weather station showing gusts of 30 knots at times, the scene was set for some interesting racing.

Kay & Craig were our safety boat drivers for the night and managed to set a massive beat from almost the muscle farms into the beach marks, and out there the wind definitely had more meat in it. One of the first casualties was Roger in his Blaze, who never made it to the start as one of his wings collapsed whilst sailing out. Andrew & Jenny were the first of the capsizers of the night, taking an early bath on their journey to the start line. To preserve our strength we hove to whilst the countdown was evolving. Yes it was a strange count down as there were no flags to see, only a couple of substitute paddles being waved around. The flags were safe and sound ashore, being given a night off for a change. I hope they appreciated it.

Anyway after enough paddle waving we were off, beating into a very gusty breeze, which has the habit of also moving around quite unexpectedly at times. We had a good start, being just upwind of Dennis & Brian, this time Dennis was back in his trusty Tasar, feeling much more at home and for several minutes managed to outpace them, but our tacking too early proved a mistake and I think they made the beach marks just before Jeremy & Suzanne, who inevitably took the lead. There were 2 RS400s out tonight and the heavier crew of Paddy & Steve showed their mettle by being first boat to the beach marks and with spinnaker flying shot up the first reach, which was far too broad for us Tasars. Nigel & Shane were out in the other RS400 but lagged a long way back. I have to admit it but the conditions were right on the edge foe me and as we came to the beach marks for the 2nd time I elected to sail in. I’d had enough, especially as one savage gust on the 2nd beat almost blew us in. We just managed to save the boat going over but shipped a good amount of water in the process. Others weren’t so lucky with capsizes galore. I won’t dwell on who capsized, sufficiently to say that the majority of the fleet went over at some time or other and we weren’t the only ones to retire. Mike & Vicky making their first appearance this season, retired due to a broken tiller. Mike has promised that he will be sailing regularly from now on so that will make a nice increase to out Tasar fleet. Probably the most dogged of the fleet sailing tonight was Chris & Tony. Apparently they capsized 4 times in all, but kept going when they realised how many others of the fast handicap fleet had retired and knew that just finishing would give them a good result, well done boys.

There was some mixed news doing the rounds tonight. Firstly the good news; it appears that the Club has won its battle with the rates review and the draconian proposed rate increase has been rescinded to an acceptable level. I believe an email to us all will soon be forthcoming from Paddy. The bad news is that Anna will be leaving us for a new job abroad. She will be leaving at the end of July and will be sorely missed by us all. She and Liz have been great assets to the Club since joining us a few years ago, taking control of the Cadets and running their own sailing school at Pentewan. Liz has already partly left us to work “up country” in a school, though she does return here every holiday, but Anna will be moving much further away and her visits back to us will be far less.

On Saturday we are hosting the Cadets Regatta, which in the past has been very popular and well attended. We are once again expecting great things but unfortunately the great British summer is conspiring against us as it looks like we will once again be bedevilled with strong winds and rain, which I am sure will have a negative impact on us. Sunday too looks doomed if the forecast is to be believed. It is so frustrating, but recent history is now showing that our summers are a pale imitation of the ones we used to have.

One good thing about tonight’s sailing was Jenny was down, serving up lashings of bacon butties, which once again went down exceptionally well. Jenny did wonder whether I could put out an appeal for any generous souls to provide an odd cake for tea to be served after sailing on a Sunday. That was a custom quite a few years ago when we used to have a lot more ladies connected with the Club. It would be nice to resurrect it, so if anyone feels the same way then please get in touch with Jenny and I am sure she will be very helpful as to how to approach it.

June 16th
A short and sweet blog from me today today, which is not surprising, considering the weather. Not for the first time this season we let the weather defeat us. I for one feel guilty again for not pushing to sail. Some did want to go, but the majority didn’t. Unfortunately there were not enough in the “ayes” camp to make up a fleet, so the “nays” won. Actually the conditions down at the Club, in truth weren’t too bad. Yes it was a bit breezy and maybe more pertinently it was forecast to increase as the day went on, but apart from the rain there was nothing else to prevent us racing. Despite the wind being south easterly, it hadn’t been present for long enough to have built up any appreciable waves to make launching & recovery too difficult. The tides are on neaps and so high water at 11.00 meant that the walk on the beach wouldn’t have been too bad and with the rain, the absence of visitors meant that we had the entire beach to ourselves.

One other problem we would have had to overcome was the marquee in the yard which was preventing the Race Officer in the time keeping box from being able to see the beach marks, but I think a committed re think would have overcome this problem. Maybe the sound of the rain beating down on the roof was the biggest determining factor. It sounded dreadful and unpleasant, whilst further out to sea white horses could be seen dancing around. Having sailed in similar conditions in the past I knew that the beat would be a two tack affair, followed by a reach along the top, broadside onto the swell so a bit rock & rolly and then a very nice reach in with the waves towards the beach marks. That particular reach would have felt very satisfying, enabling a boat like the Tasar to achieve some thrilling speeds.

Fortunately the forecast, if believable, from Tuesday onwards sounds most promising with much lighter westerly winds and higher temperatures. I expect quite high numbers out for the Tuesday “Capsize Club” and also on Wednesday for the first of the summer series. Summer? Possibly; sailing shorts? Possibly; bacon butties on Wednesday? I hope so.

June 13th
Preparing to launch
Strangely there was very little breeze in my garden this evening but with the Polruan weather station showing a consistent 28 knots of wind for the last few hours and the forecast for it to rise even further by the morning, then it was no surprise that not many turned up tonight. Where have all those idyllic Wednesday evening racing nights gone this year? Anyway, despite Polruan still showing 25knots of wind there was very little breeze down at the Club and the bay looked reasonably calm so 5 boats elected to race. Rather ashamedly I didn’t; in fact I expected it to be cancelled so was one of the first to haul my boat into the field. I did have the option of bringing it down again to race but decided that it may be windier out there than it looked. Fortunately there were enough people down to help move the rest of the boats so before the first boat even left the beach the yard was almost empty.

The tide was almost full but there was enough room and fortunately no waves so launching was without any dramas and the fleet left the cove in very light airs. Things had changed somewhat by the time they reached the beach marks and sailed out towards the beacon where the starting area was. Nigel & Shane had launched the safety boat earlier and had a course set up in good time and were sitting out there waiting for the racers to turn up. After the obligatory delay, the fleet finally started and by the end of the first beat Jeremy & Suzanne, sailing their spare boat just squeezed in ahead of Paddy & Steve who were relishing the stronger conditions. By the time they reached the beach marks, the Hawkins had increased their lead, but for us watching in the Club house reckoned that the power of the spinnaker would pull Paddy & Steve through into the lead before they reached the leeward mark. Wrong!! The RS400 capsized, to the merriment of all watching from the Club House. So good was their capsize, that they performed the entire operation of righting the boat then promptly capsizing it again several times. We liked that. It was obvious to us watching, that the wind was much gustier out there than it appeared on shore. Jan & Pete headed the 3 boats in the slow fleet, but noticing the problems with the RS400, decided to wear round at the gybe marks to avoid a capsize. We, sensing more drama, weren’t too impressed. Andrew Kendall in the Radial Club Laser, added to the chaos by having a capsize and righting session out by the windward mark, where I think the breeze was so much stronger. Sailing quite blithely through it all was the RS Feva of James & Luke and aided and abetted by their spinnaker finished not far behind the Kestrel to take a win on corrected time.

Charlie launching the Bug
Charlie Austin took a heavily reefed Bug out for a sail but found the conditions far too strong for him and capsized in the stronger stuff, out by the windward mark. I think that they realised that the conditions were too strong for him so he was taken onboard the safety boat and the Bug was taken in tow. Within an hour the entire fleet had made it back to the shore in one piece, some wetter than others.

The spring series this year started off with a blow and finished with a blow. Tonight and last weekend saw the end of the Spring series and come Sunday 16th we will be starting the Summer series, so technically we are about a third of the way through our season, which is quite a sobering thought, especially when you realise that out of 11 Wednesday scheduled races, we have actually only sailed 6 of them. Surely the summer series will not be as bad?

June 9th
Preparing the Safety Boat
I know the weather, especially the British weather is one long change, but I have come to like the “long – 2 weeks” spell of fantastic weather that we have had. Apparently it has been the longest fine spell of weather for over 2 years. How incredible is that? Well unfortunately this spell is about to come to an end, but I hope it isn’t too long before another settled spell comes along. Now one down side of this particular settled spell is that the wind has been predominantly from the north and east, which has made it colder than it should at times & has also impacted adversely on our sailing programme.

In fact for the last few days we have had a light south easterly breeze, which has had the affect of dying away in the evenings, which this week has prevented the “Capsize Club” sailing on Tuesday, racing on Wednesday and the Polkerris night sail on Friday. The breeze became quite fresh on Saturday and a very unfriendly surf would have prevented any launching at all. Fortunately for today the breeze had moderated quite a bit and had swung round to the south. We still had a bit of surf to contend with but at least we could launch and recover without any undue dramas.

Many of us have been waiting for the arrival of Dennis's new boat, the Icon. Well today was the day for everyone to see it in its glory. A pristine looking boat, manufactured in grey hence its name “Shades of Grey”, which has something to do with the series of books Dennis has been reading. I must ask him what they are all about sometime. The boat was in the field in the morning before being transferred to the green and by the time we arrived ashore at lunchtime it had made its way down to the beach and was sitting there, sails aloft just waiting for its first meeting of St. Austell Bay. Whilst we were having lunch Dennis & Brian went to launch the boat, getting it off its trolley, but the surf was hampering them as they were trying to sort out all the different sheets. At the moment the boat does not have any cleats for jib or main. The intention of the designer is to keep hold of sheets at all time to give better feel for the conditions. The mainsheet itself is controlled directly off the boom, which for us normal jocks is something completely different for us though I think B14s, & the Blaze has off boom sheeting and it is supposed to give the helm better control, but I am sure it will take a bit of adjustment before Dennis feels as confident. Unfortunately the strength of surf proved too much and the main sheet kept getting wrapped round the tiller so they decided to call it a day and wait for a nice, light offshore breeze before trying again.

So to the racing; Richard & Shane laid our course today and it was a benefit day for the spinnaker boats as the wind was light enough and the reaches broad enough for them to be able to fly their spinnakers on all reaches. It was a real bonus for Nigel & James, who won both races of the fast handicap fleet by a massive margin. Paddy &Steve Coello have just had their RS400 returned after being repaired by Kim Furniss, and hat a superb repair he has done. There is no way anyone not familiar with the boat would have known that a repair has been carried out at all. I saw the boat before it went away and it looked quite bad, but I am completely amazed as to how good the damaged section now looks.

The only down side of today’s racing was the fact that the breeze was quite light and seemed settled, blowing from the south, which did bring in a bit of predictability into the racing but nevertheless there were some places changes going on. We even had 3 Scorpions out racing and that could have been 4 if Kay & Garry who were down had been keen enough to brave the surf. Despite that we still had 18 boats and 2 wind surfers out, which I think was the best turn out of the year so far.

The conditions were far too light for Paddy & Steve who fell a long way behind the Dowricks, but there was more place changing in the Tasars with 5 out today. Very surprising for some but Ken & I lead our bunch at the end of the first beat and managed to hang on for 3 rounds before Jeremy & Suzanne managed to pass us on the last beat. Most telling for them is their better down wind speed than the rest of us but I was pleased that we managed to hold them off for 3 rounds. Clearly the race should have been shortened to 3 rounds, but it seems nobody has any time for us oldies. Steve & Polly were recalled at the start and had a long battle to sail through the entire fleet to take 3rd Tasar which certainly helped Ken & me.

Roger Williams was flying in the morning race, especially on the down wind legs, showing that a Blaze is a very potent sailing machine. Roger finished first on the water and with enough time in hand to confine Jan & Pete Barnes, who had also been flying along with the benefit of their spinnaker to 2nd place. Beacky & Kelvin won the battle of the 3 Scorpions to take 3rd place, a minute ahead of Andrew & Jenny in 4th place who in turn were just in front of Tome Bittle, who couldn’t get his Laser around the course quick enough.

The wind for the afternoon race dropped off quite a bit and even caught a few out at the start when a sudden shift gave a fed of us a worse start than we had planned. Once more the lighter pairing of the Dowricks shot away into the lead and with spinnaker pulling on the down wind legs soon took an unassailable lead. Both Jeremy & Suzanne and Steve & Polly had better starts than in the morning and this time Jeremy & Suzanne made the best progress up the first beat to lead the 5 Tasars quite comfortably. We managed to stay right on the heels of Steve & Polly for 2 rounds but fell back in the 2nd half of the race. Ian & Clare Whale were out today for only one of a handful of races they have tried this year and were trailing us all in the morning race, but after some set up advice from Steve showed that they are capable of much more speed by beating the more experienced Chris Hazel. I think there is a lot more from them to come.

Janet & Pete returned to form in the afternoon, easily winning the slow handicap fleet, finishing a minute ahead of Beacky & Kelvin, who in turn were quite a way in front of the other 2 Scorpions. Tom Bittle had a better race to slot into 3rd. The lighter conditions of the afternoon didn’t suit Roger as much and he finished down in 4th. I note that 7th place in the Club Laser was accredited to Anna but was in fact sailed by Luke Adams who I believe is about to join us full time. I hear that Jeremy has picked up an old Laser for Finn to be able to use and I bet Finn wished he had been out in that today rather than his Topper, though in the afternoon I think he took a Club Pico out in order to do some practicing for the schools regatta, which will be held down at Mylor in a few weeks time.

June 6th
Awaiting the decision
The weather; such a simple pair of words, but what an important pair of words they are with the affect they have in all our lives. The weather affects us continuously, but more so for us sailors and especially us at Porthpean. Now, everyone is enjoying the fine spell of weather that has finally arrived and those of us sailing last Sunday really appreciated sailing in such fine conditions but unfortunately for us, sailing off an easterly facing beach does have its own problems, and that was manifestly clear again last night.

The high pressure system dominating our weather is valiantly holding off a low pressure system seated over the northern part of Europe. The 2 opposing weather systems have the affect of producing north easterly / easterly wind directions, which usually result in a choppy sea and waves on the beach. A choppy sea we can deal with but the waves on the beach are another matter. Launching can often be achieved by waiting for a lull in some of the wave patterns but recovering after sailing is often very much a lottery as to whether you can actually reach the shore in a lull and get the boat back onto its trolley or whether you get swamped and then struggle with a very heavy dinghy, which in itself can cause damage to both boat and crew.

No room at the bar
Anyway those were the conditions we were presented with last night, though in truth the waves were not too big, I think many would have managed, but a light south easterly wind has a habit of dying off in the evenings and that was probably the main factor governing last night’s decision to abandon racing before we even launched. So by 19.00 the bar was open and drinks were flowing, in the main to congratulate Jeremy & Susanne on their winning the Tasar Nationals for the 3rd time in succession, plus their large feature on the back page of the Cornish Guardian. I’m not too sure about my description there as “Veteran Tasar Sailor”, am I really that old? Well maybe I am, but more importantly for me I am still enjoying my sailing.

Unfortunately the same factors forced the cancellation of the “Capsize Club” on Tuesday and may even affect any sailing of the Polkerris cruise on Friday and maybe Club racing next Sunday. The forecast at this stage isn’t too good. Our ratio of sailing days as opposed to cancellations is far too low this year and the number of times we have had to cancel frustrates us all.

June 3rd
Colin launching at 80
Here we go with some congratulations. Firstly to Jeremy & Suzanne who retained their National Championship status by claiming their 3rd Tasar Nationals in a row. They did it in style by winning 6 of the 8 Championship races, and with a discard of 2 then they had a perfect score. Well done to the pair of them and maybe now that’s why I appear to be so slow. The next big event for them is the Tasar World Championships, which will be sailed in the USA at Cascade Locks in Oregon, between the 10th & 17th August, and they will start as one of the pre Championship favourites, though there will be some very stiff competition from previous Worlds winners. Well done also to the May, Whetter & Grose, sponsored team of James & Luke, who won the 2nd of the SW RS Feva traveller’s series at Penzance yesterday. After 2 events of the series they have a 2nd and a 1st which puts them at the top of the pile. Good going lads, you have a great future ahead of you. I expect they will be in a 29er next year for a while, before they step up to the ultimate challenge – a Tasar. Now another bit of Club history was made today when as far as we know, Colin at 80 is the oldest Club Member to have sailed in a Club race. The conditions were nice and light, in fact too light for him really but at least he managed to sail round without any dreaded capsizes AND he didn’t finish last!! The picture above was taken today as he launched.
Best dressed sailor
Well now we are into June, the first month of summer and believe it or not we actually have summer weather. Yes Blue skies, a much lighter northerly wind and plenty of sunshine and the temperatures starting to get towards the 20C mark. How long it will last is anyone’s guess but we found it very welcome today. So good was the weather today that for the first time this year I sailed in Tee shirt and shorts, and how nice and free it felt, not quite like skinny dipping but certainly along the lines.

Sailing today, but not racing, was the newest members of our Tasar fleet, Pascal & Sue Dazza. They bought their boat over the winter and are slowly getting to grips with it. The weather today gave them some excellent practice in boat handling and hopefully within a few more weeks they will have gained enough experience and confidence to join in the racing.

What with so many people away sailing and at other events it certainly gave Ken & me a good chance of claiming some silverware as today was the day of the June Cup. Brian & Shane launched the safety boat in very light airs and laid a very nice little course; consisting of a beat across the bay from right to left, a reach into the beach marks followed by a reach out to sea. Well I managed to produce one of the best starts I have had all season, hitting the line right on the gun, and right in the best place, which in the light winds enabled us to make good progress up the first beat and we rounded with a very comfortable lead, which we improved upon on the first reach; things were looking good. Then disaster struck, or so it seemed. We sailed to a stop, unfortunately the boats behind refused to conform to the same problems and both Richard in his Contender, Simon in his Supernova and Janet & Pete Barnes in their Kestrel, sailed past us to start the next beat ahead. Knowing in light conditions anything can happen we soldiered on and with lots of luck and the right curse words we managed to pull most of our losses back on the next beat, overtaking both Richard and the Barnes’s, rounding the windward mark right on the transom of Simon, who politely decided to fall behind us on the tight reach back to the beach marks. Yes unbelievably we were back in the lead, and very luckily managed to extend it to take a very happy win. Simon maintained his gains and took 2nd and what may appear to be a slow boat, namely a Topper but sailed well by April Halls, slotted nicely into 3rd place on corrected time.

You do need luck to win things as you get older and our luck today probably turned on the fact that Jeremy & Suzanne and Steve & Polly had gone to the Nationals, Paddy & Steve were doing the time keeping and Richard decided to pack up as there was no sign of conditions improving for the afternoon, but improve they did and we launched for the afternoon races in a sea covered in lots of darker patches. Now this is where old timer’s disease starts to have more of an influence as we had 2 races in the afternoon and it is quite difficult trying what to remember what happened in which race. I know that the wind was swinging round quite a bit, so full attention had to be the No1 priority as good and bad tacks made an enormous difference. Once again we had good start and sped away to round the windward mark first and then on the reaches the Tasar really started to stretch her legs and we just hung on, giving the boat its head and fortunately we took another win. Anna who had weighed up the conditions in the morning had decided to sail the Cup in a Laser radial. She probably regretted it after the light airs of the morning, but her decision proved correct with the windier conditions in the afternoon and she pushed Simon back into 3rd by taking 2nd place.

By the time we started the 3rd race the wind was really playing silly beggars and after another good start we elected to head inshore with Chris & Tony tucked in behind us, whilst the rest of the fleet went across the bay. By the time we reached the windward mark it was obvious that we had made the correct decision and our 2 Tasars had a very good lead over the rest. The wind moved round quite a lot whilst we were on the broad reach out to sea, so much so that as we hardened up for the beat we realised that we could make it in one tack, which we gratefully benefitted from. The wind had not only moved round but also started to gust quite a lot and the Lasers of Nick, Brian Reeves and Luke Adams all succumbed for an early bath. Anna’s decision to take the Radial rig paid off again, giving her another 2nd place and cementing 2nd overall also. Simon could only make 5th but his earlier positions were enough for 3rd overall. I thought that Chris & Tony had done enough to take 2nd place in the last race but Anna had eaten into their lead enough to push them down to 3rd.

Not only is summer finally here but it’s that time of year again when the field needs some TLC so I believe a works party will be meeting on Thursday around 18.30 to cut some grass and burn some wood. We cut back quite a few overhanging tree branches over the winter and they will be dried out by now so should make a good fire, so come please down and lend a helping hand. From past experience you may need a decent pair of gardening gloves, and boots and jeans are almost essential. BTW a drink in the bar afterwards goes down really well. Come along and try it.

Just looking through the sailing programme, I note that we have a Polkerris evening sailed scheduled for Friday 8th June, yes this Friday coming. I am sure that further details will be mailed to you, but the 5 day forecast indicate that we could have some nice weather for what could be a very interesting sail.

May 27th
After sailing
Waking up to a cloudless sky in spring is a wonderful feeling; waking up to it on a Sunday morning gives it so much more pleasure as hopefully it means that you are going to have a good day on the water. We really are blessed with living in one of the most beautiful parts of the country so making the most of the area when the weather is good it is so special. Fortunately many of you must have thought the same as the turnout today was exceptionally good with 18 boats at times on the water and it was good to see an almost deserted boat yard at lunch time with the majority of our fleet on the beach.

Once again it might be difficult to describe most of the racing as we had one race in the morning and then in an attempt to catch up with some of the lost races from earlier in the season we had 3 races in the afternoon. However for the morning race we did have quite an extreme difference in ages, with the youngest being my Grand son James at 9 and the oldest, Colin on the cusp of his 80th Birthday, a difference of 70 years. Also in the mix were the some of our young cadets, now trying to give some of us older ones a run for their money.

It was a welcome first sail for young Charlie Austin, sailing his newly acquired Topper, which will allow him to race against Luke & Finn. Charlie was doing fine until the stronger winds in the afternoon tipped him over and made it difficult for him to right the boat. Fortunately Shane in the safety boat managed to sail the boat back to the beach for him.

My son & Grand son were down for the weekend and on Saturday we launched the Tasar to allow James to get some sailing in. The breeze was a good 10 knots or so and enough to get the boat flying and I know I might be biased (me?) but the Tasar makes an impressive sight as it cuts through the water without any drama, showing a clean wake behind it. The sail plan looks just right, the boat looks perfectly balanced and has over its 36 years made many admirers, as from a distance it still looks very modern. Anyway Neil & James had a good hour exploring most of the bay & although James has been sailing before, he was a lot younger then, but clearly enjoyed it.

Steve Coello’s broken RS400 was towed away on Saturday for some major surgery, which came along at the right time as they were scheduled for time keeping duties on Sunday and Liz, returning home for the weekend and Shane were in charge of the safety boat and course laying. The wind was fairly steady in direction, a south westerly, and was sufficient for them to lay a good starboard hand course. Jeremy & Suzanne, back after a 2 week break from Porthpean were quickly back into their stride, leading at the first mark and then pulling away as per usual, leaving Steve & Polly and Ken & I further behind. Also in our mix today was the Contender of Richard and the RS400 of Nigel & James, who despite sailing a faster boat managed to pass Jeremy on the down wind legs only to fall behind on the beats.

The slow handicap fleet had a better cross section of boats and was dominated by the Blaze of Roger Williams and in the early stages by the Kestrel of Jan & Pete. I don’t know what disaster befell the Barnes but they eventually finished back in 8th place on corrected time. The 2 Scorpions of Beacky & Kelvin and Andrew & Jenny had a very close race with Andrew being in the lead most of the time but eventually were overtaken to be beaten by 8 seconds. Brian Reeves scored another 2nd place, beating Jeremy Rowett by just 3 seconds. Finn who is normally seen racing his Topper, moved up to the Club Laser, with a much reduced rig, finished just 9 seconds on corrected time behind Andrew & Jenny. Could this be the end of his Topper days?

We had the delight of seeing the entire Whale family out today sailing, an event we hope to see more of in the coming weeks. It was also good to see Stacey & Lucy out sailing again. There outing last Wednesday week must have whetted their appetite for more so were down for the afternoon sessions.

Well for the first time this year the sailing shorts found their way out of the bag and from the sailing aspect were nice, but the waiting, holding the boat whilst Ken fetched the launching trolley proved too much. They became soaked and I became cold, so my wet suit was worn in the afternoon. Also for the first time this year the beach was fairly full with people, making the most of the Bank Holiday weather. Unfortunately the forecast for the rest of the week isn’t very encouraging, so Tuesday & Wednesday nights sailing may be in a little doubt. Though we have had a sunny weekend the underlying wind is still very cold. In fact we have had the coldest May for over 30 years and the previous months for this year have all being record breakers for poor or wet weather so hopes for a good summer, in my opinion are not very good; so make the most of whatever good weather comes our way.

Now just to show how senile I am becoming, may I remind you that we were told that there would be 3 races in the afternoon. Well we were on the last beat of the 2nd race, when Ken looking back, told me that the 2nd safety boat was making its way to the leeward mark to retrieve it. So my addled brain told me that we would be finishing at the beach marks and sure enough we had a hooter as we finished, just behind Stacey & Lucy, who also had a hooter. Some who had finished earlier sailed off towards Charlestown, but Stacey headed back to the beach. Seeing quite a few boats behind still to finish I decided to follow Stacey to the beach. We were de rigging whislt occasionally there were hoots for finishing boats. Anyway at some time when hearing a hoot I looked over to see who had finished, but there was no boat there. I queried this with Ken who said that the hoots I was hearing now was the starting sequence for the 3rd race. I had completely misread the situation, otherwise we would have been doing the 3rd race as well. At least the early return to the beach did give me ample opportunity to put the boats to bed and avoid the stampede for the hose. Dohh!! The safety boat heading for the leeward mark was actually moving it not retrieving it.

It is the Tasar Nationals at Lymington next weekend. I think only Jeremy & Suzanne are making the journey to defend their title and we wish them every success, though judging by the speed they carry at the moment I think it will be nigh on impossible for anyone else to get anywhere near them apart from Steve & Sarah Cockerill.

May 23rd
Dennis's new Icon
How very disappointing, with yet another Wednesday race night lost from the sailing calendar. Quite a few members arrived for their mid week sail but were greeted by the site of strong gusts sweeping out from the shore and then further out the sight of many white horses just beyond the beach marks were enough to put us off. The northerly wind had been rising all day and was peaking at around 30 knots on the Polruan weather site, so it wasn’t surprising that the abandonment flag was flown, though the flags flown indicate that the race itself may be sailed sometime in the future. Wait for an email from the Chimp.

Alongside here is a picture of Dennis’s new boat, the ICON. He picked it up this week but due to holidays and other arrangements I don’t think it will be down at the Club for at least 3 weeks, when I expect that it will come under the scrutiny of you all. I have already had a good look at the boat and I can assure you that you will be more than impressed when you see it in the flesh, so to speak. A lot of time has gone into the layout and choice of fittings. I think Dennis will be well pleased with the boat when he gets used to some different sailing techniques.

James Dowrick was telling me tonight that he & Luke, sailing under the name “Team DB” have just secured sponsorship from the Estate Agents, May, Whetter & Grose. The company have agreed to pay their entry fees for RS Feva events, which will be a great help to them both. Expect to see some sponsors names on the boat & kit soon.

So far this May we have had predominantly cold northerly winds, which have had the affect of keeping temperatures below average for May, though we have had some quite sunny days. However I get the impression that we may soon be into the track of westerly winds and that should mean the temperatures rising significantly. I for one am looking forward to that, in fact I hope the transition comes sooner rather than later.

The Club new Laser arrived back tonight after its coming together with the post on the top corner of the slipway, plus the arrival of a new top section to replace the one that sheared off a couple of weeks ago, so all being well we will have a full compliment of boats for members to borrow at the weekend. Sunday at the moment looks like it mat be a light weather sailing day so expect to see a good turnout of boats.

May 20th
Chris's exploding wheel
What a fantastic weekend we had weather wise, wall to wall sunshine on Saturday and almost as good on Sunday for sailing. The breeze was predominantly light in the morning but freshened up somewhat for the afternoon. Nigel was anxious to try and catch up with some of the lost races from earlier in the season so decided that we would have an extra race in the afternoon. So a 3 race Sunday, which was rather tiring for me, both physically & mentally as we battled all day with Paddy & Steve Coello also sailing a Tasar.

The weekend started off differently for some, namely Beacky & Kelvin. They both had their heads in one of their Scorpion fleet when they were frightened out of their skins when there was a terrific explosion. Alarmed, they hunted round to see what had exploded. It wasn’t long before they realised that a wheel on a lop sided Tasar belonging to Chris Hazel had exploded. The actual plastic wall of the wheel had blown out, probably due to being fully inflated during the cold spell. The hot temperature on Saturday caused the air in the tube to expand and boom, off it went. Picture of the wheel alongside.

With 3 races it is very difficult to try and give blow by blow accounts, so this recollection may be rather hazy. It was good to see Stewart Page & Shane down in the safety boat, and they soon had a nicely weighted course laid to suit the north westerly wind blowing out from the shore. It was almost tempting to wear my sailing shorts for the first time this year in the spring sunshine, but common sense prevailed in the light of the coldness of said breeze. It was nice to see Pascual & Sue Dazza out in their Tasar. They weren’t interested in racing, just wanting to get the feel of the boat. Today was the first suitable day for them to try the boat out and I am pleased to say everything went well. Now all they need is a lot more practice to build up their confidence.

As for the racing, well it was action right from the start as Andrew & Jenny Kendall, luffed 3 boats out of the crowded end of the start line. Ken & I had borrowed Dennis’s Tasar to try and there was no way I wanted to get into a conflict sailing his boat so made sure we stayed well out of the problems. Fortunately Steve & Paddy were one of the other Tasars to be luffed, so we both started late and made our way up the first beat. Paddy, pointing higher than us just managed to round the beach marks first, but we were slightly further back, rounding just behind Chris & Tony in the 3rd Tasar sailing today and 2 of the Scorpions of trouble maker Andrew & Jenny plus Beacky & Kelvin, also in the mix there was Janet & Pete in their Kestrel and Steve Wingrove in his Blaze. The leg out to sea was a good spinnaker reach and it took us almost the whole of the leg to overtake the gaggle in front of us & round the gybe mark in 2nd spot and what seemed a bonus, slowly closing on Paddy & Steve. It was on the 2nd reach that I realised that the rudder was feeling rather heavy and realised that I hadn’t put the rudder blade down properly. The feel grew so bad on the beat that just before the end of the 2nd beat I had to stop and adjust it properly. This gave extra time for Paddy & Steve to pull away. I don’t know why but on the 3rd beat we suddenly hit a different patch of wind and lifted up quite a lot higher, so much so we almost caught Paddy port & starboard on our next crossing and then actually passed them as we reached the beach marks. I thought our faster down wind speed would see us home and dry but they came back on us on the last beat and we only just held them off to take a very tight win.

Meanwhile back in the handicap fleet, Steve Wingrove made more than a passing acquaintance with his centre plate when he head butted it whilst tacking. The resulting gash caused his retirement and a visit to our first aid post. Kay tempted Gary out for a “light” weather sail and at first it really was light but as the day passed by the breeze slowly increased and in the afternoon became rather fresh, which was too fresh for Gary and they called it a day. Colin, fast approaching his 80th birthday also had a pleasant morning sail, launched for the afternoon races but soon retired when he felt the full force of the breeze by the beach marks.

Having 2 safety boats really is essential as the brand new safety boat broke down just after the first afternoon race started. The 2nd boat was launched and secured the drifting RIB. Fortunately the trouble wasn’t major and once the throttle mechanism had been re fixed, all was well again.

Richard Armstrong made his first appearance of the season in the afternoon and as per usual became tangled up with the Tasars, well, tangled up between Paddy/Steve & ourselves. We made an excellent start for the first afternoon race, starting right by the pin and and found that the wind had shifted round enough to make it a one tack beat. Gratefully we made the beach marks first and set off to make some hay down wind, but once again our upwind performance sagged off and Paddy & Steve passed us and made large gains upwind, beating us by a good margin. Richard showed that 6 months off had made him a bit rusty and he capsized on the last beat, dropping him to the back of the fleet. .

May 15th
Clive rigging for racing
Goodness me, there was snow in Devon today, but the weather for our early spring / frost bite Wednesday series was good enough for racing to go ahead. Yes it is very unseasonably cold at the moment & I am told that the water temperature is still 2 degrees colder than it should be at this time of the year and the wind chill temperature is very low. I suppose that should have been expected last night as the wind was from the North West, blowing about 12-15knots but set to fade away, the skies were clearing and a very pale with not much warmth in it sun was coming out to play. The bay was flat and showing plenty of windier patches as the not too vicious gusts swept out from the shore. Experience tells me that this sort of condition moderates quite a lot as evening comes on and once again this is what happened.

Most encouragingly 16 boats left the shore to join Ken & myself running the safety boat for our last duty for several months. Hopefully now we can concentrate on sailing. The fast fleet was represented by 5 Tasars and we were pleased to see Stacey making his first appearance for well over 12 months as he brought Lucy down to crew and in many ways it was as if he hadn’t been away as he was immediately back on form.

We launched the safety boat in good time and soon had a course set up. The wind was swinging quite a bit, but I think we set a good beat. We could have caught a few of the fleet on the hop as we were all set up for a 19.00 start, but a kindly OOD sitting in the warmth of the Clubhouse delayed the countdown for a few minutes to allow the tardy to reach us, and they all did apart from Jeremy Rowett, making his first appearance of the year who was still a minute late to the start. A clear start line saw the fleet closely bunched up at the at the start and most pleasingly they split into different lanes for the uphill leg, meaning that the beat must have been considered fair. Jeremy & Suzanne made their customary appearance at the head of the fleet at the beach marks rounding, closely followed by Stacey & Lucy, but there was no holding the Hawkins back and they slowly built up a commanding lead. Paddy & Steve Coello & Dennis & Brian in 2 of the other Tasars were a bit further back and having their own battle, with Chris & Tony further back, but also having an excellent 1st beat was the Kestrel of Jan & Pete, well in front of the rest of the handicap fleet and making full use of their spinnaker on the down wind legs built up a massive lead on the rest of their fleet. I thought that their lead was good enough to take first place but the Feva of James Dowrick & Luke Bilkey finishing more than 7 minutes later moved up to first on corrected time by 16 seconds. Finn Hawkins, sailing his Topper had a friend for most of the race with Clive Stephens in his Laser Radial were at the back of the fleet but saw his position zoom up to 5th on corrected time.

We soon realised that the first reach was far too broad which we saw with dismay as the leading Tasars cane round the beach marks and immediately set their whisker poles. Fortunately the 2nd reach was tighter allowing some planing in the marginal conditions. We managed to drag the wing mark further across the bay once the last boat had rounded it and that helped tighten the reach but not quite enough for the Tasars but fortunately the spinnaker boats could still fly their kites.

Dave Mackrel was out for his first sail of the season and unfortunately had a capsize, which must have chilled him to the bone in that cold, cold water. Andrew & Jenny had a fine battle with Kay & Craig in the only 2 Scorpions out and very pleasingly for Andrew & Jenny they had a good lead over Kay at the end of the first beat and by using their spinnaker, pulled away down wind, only for Kay to take an appreciable chunk out of their lead each beat, so much so that by the end of the race Kay & Craig were no more than a boat length behind (5 seconds), which put an enormous pressure on Andrew & Jenny, making their victory so much sweeter.

By the end of the penultimate beat Paddy had actually caught and passed Stacey, but Stacey re took his lead on the down wind legs and closely covered Paddy up the last beat ensuring his return was successful.

We were driving RIB 2 last night and I am pleased to report that the engine is running a treat and the throttle control is nice and smooth. Paddy spent quite a time on Tuesday, cleaning out all the dried out grease that was impacting on its operation and packed the control box with fresh grease; a job that was missed over the winter. It goes to show that water especially seas water and mechanical bits don’t mix and in the interests of safety and reliability should be regularly checked and serviced. We still have to put some more sash weights on some of the marks to make them stand up better and find a better way to attach the Tribute marks to the beach marks. Maybe a think tank should devote some time coming up with a good idiot proof solution. I know that we have used large crampons before and although good they do have their limitations, but they are not cheap.

Bacon butties, yum yum; I haven’t mentioned them yet but there was a plentiful supply of them last night served up by a beaming Jenny. They somehow taste so much better after an evening on the water and are now an integral part of Wednesday racing.

May 13th
rigging for racing
What a poor day, weather wise, to be sitting in the safety boat. It was typical May weather, cold, overcast and eventual rain. Just what you expect and now only this Wednesday to do and then I’ve completed my share of duties.

Is it lethargy or just the poor weather but the numbers out sailing today were not particularly good? Jeremy Suzanne & Finn were away sailing and what with Ken & me in the safety boat & Chris & Tony in the OOD box, the Tasar fleet and indeed the fast handicap fleet were reduced to just 2 Tasars. It was good though to see a couple of juniors, April & Luke, out in a Topper & Pico.

Setting a course proved once again to be a difficult task. The forecast was for a westerly breeze but in the bay it was more a south westerly, which we eventually settled on for the morning race. Anyway after moving marks around we managed to lay a reasonable course and went through the start sequence. First over the start line was Dennis & Brian closely followed by Paddy & Richard Armstrong. Richard is still in the “work in progress” on his Contender. However by the end of the first beat Paddy had gained an impressive lead & was followed in turn by Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, Roger Williams in his Blaze, Beacky & Kelvin in their Scorpion, Simon Robbins in his new Supernova and then Dennis & Brian, the light conditions not suiting them at all.

Paddy & Richard drew progressively further in front as the race progressed and to us watching there was much more excitement in the slow handicap fleet as Roger eventually overtook Jan & Pete to claim 1st place. Simon actually finished behind Beacky, but his handicap allowance pulled him through to 3rd. Andrew & Jenny handed their Scorpion over to Sarah & Martin and took the Club Vago, but unfamiliarity with the boat cost them dear, though still in front of Sarah, who was 3 minutes late to the start, trying to deal with an errant spinnaker on their way out to the start line.

The wind had freshened somewhat for the afternoon and appeared to have swung more to the west, so the leeward mark was towed into a new position and this time we had a port handed course, beating into the beach marks. Once again Paddy & Richard had the better of Dennis & Brian but this time by a smaller margin and grabbed themselves a brace of wins. Likewise Roger Williams who lead the slow fleet right from the start. Simon fresh from his torrid time of capsizes on Wednesday managed to capsize once more only 30 seconds after clearing the start line and had to play catch up. Beacky & Kelvin produced a better performance to stay ahead of the faster boat of Jan & Pete to give them a 2nd. The wind which was slowly increasing and the temperature was starting to fall eventually saw off the challenges of Anna In the Club Laser, Andrew & Jenny back in their Scorpion and a suntanned Steve Wingrove, back from his holiday and they all returned to the beach for an early cup of tea.

I mentioned earlier that Jeremy, Suzanne & Finn were away sailing, well they attended the Glynn Charles pursuit race at Hayling Island. I checked the results and am pleased to say that Jeremy & Suzanne came 7th out of the 52 boats that had entered. I guess that it was quite windy as only 24 boats actually raced.

May 9th
launching the safety boat
Well let’s start off with the good things about Wednesday. The day itself started out bright & sunny, followed by some heavy rain about mid day and then the day brightened up with plenty of evening sunshine. Unfortunately that was all accompanied by a quite fresh south westerly wind that slowly increased as the day matured. Anyone keeping an eye on the Polruan weather station could see that by late afternoon the wind was up to 30 knots and forecast to climb even higher. Our drive down to the Club was particularly pleasant as by now almost all the trees are out in tgeir fresh pale green spring colours. The sea had an intense blue about it apart from the white horses that could be seen out beyond our beach marks; visually not quite as good as it looked. The conundrum was whether to sail or not. My experience told me that it was windy out in the bay, very windy, so I decided fairly quickly that I wouldn’t be sailing, a decision, which may or may not have turned out to be correct.

There weren’t too many people down anyway; I think the combination of having access to the web cam and a nearby weather station – Polruan gives enough information to stop some making a dedicated trip down to look first hand. Finally 5 people decided that they would sail. Paddy & Steve, with Dennis & Brian in Tasars, Nigel & Anna in his RS400 and John Hill & Simon Robins in their Supernovas made up the fleet. Jeremy & Chris Hazell took the safety boat. It was whilst launching the safety boat and watching the others leave the beach that I had a sudden doubt as to whether my decision not to go was correct as the conditions down at sea level looked quite benign. Paddy was the first to launch and was soon out in the stronger winds, quickly followed by Dennis. Meanwhile Jeremy & Chris were busy setting the course All the boats sailed out of the cove without any dramas until one of the inevitable downwards bomb blasts came along and over went Simon. Hmm maybe it wasn’t as benign as I first thought. Nigel & Anna were last to leave the beach and in order to try to reach the starting area in time hoisted the spinnaker, which was all fine until they tried to pull it down. Unfortunately the rope on the down haul jammed in the pole mechanism and no amount of heroics by Anna on the foredeck could free it, hence preventing them even making the start line. John Hill by this time realised that the conditions were exceptionally strong and decided to call it a day as did Dennis & Brian. Meanwhile Simon was experiencing capsize after capsize and he too was forced to sail for the shore. This left Paddy & Steve as the only boat on the start line and they had one of the easiest races they will ever have, as the race was shortened to just one round. So in a nut shell, 5 boats went out to race, only one made it to the start line and started and the other 4 retired before they reached the starting area. I suddenly felt quite justified in deciding not to race.

Do you recall me commenting about the street light at the bottom of Porthpean hill, being permanently on and then one day I realised that it was out, thinking someone had fixed the fitting. Well it wasn’t until it was dark that I realised that it was out because the bulb had failed. Well guess what? It is on during daylight hours again, meaning someone must have changed the bulb so now it is back on 24/7.

May 7th
Apologies as the blog is rather late this week, but a hectic family life, work and sheer tiredness have all contributed to this tardiness.

I think we have all had a stark reminder over the last few days of the dangers that can occur when driving the rescue boats. The tragedy that happened at Padstow when 2 people were killed and 4 seriously injured demonstrate what can go wrong if an engine does not cut out if the driver is thrown from the boat. I would not want to speculate as to what caused the accident or whether a kill cord was fitted to the driver or not. Those facts should come out when the enquiry is completed. Nevertheless it demonstrates so vividly why it is SO IMPORTANT that the kill cord is secured to the driver’s person correctly. I think most of us wrap the cord round our right hand leg and secure the clip onto the cord. Thus if you were unfortunate to be thrown from the boat the cord should pull out from the cut out position on the control unit and the engine should stop. I think the next time that I’m in the boat I shall ensure that this does happen by simulating an emergency. Incidentally I always stop the engine should I come alongside a person in the water, just in case the throttle is accidently pushed. Anna gave a very detailed lecture on safety boat handling just before the sailing season started, so hopefully all who attended will be safer persons when in the safety boat.

Our annual Tasar Open meeting took place over Saturday & Sunday in glorious weather with excellent sailing breezes, though I found Saturday just a bit on the fresh side for me. The weekend was only let down by the lower than normal numbers, only 5 of our own boats made it to the start line together with 4 visitors. The 9 who raced experienced Tasar sailing at its best.

James Dowrick took the opportunity to be Race Officer for the first time this weekend. His training over the last few years came to the fore and I think we all realised that he did an excellent job together with his team of Nigel, Pete & Jan Barnes, Andrew Kendall & Simon Robins and he may well be first call for future events.

Saturday was the windier of the 2 days and a fresh westerly gusty variable wind proved the first challenge for Race Officer and sailors alike. The “P” shaped course worked a treat, giving quite along beat with 2 screaming reaches on every lap plus a short but full on run. The race order quickly settled down into regular pattern, with Jeremy & Suzanne soon hitting the front and finding their main competition in each race to be Malcolm & Fiona Davies, visiting us from Teignmouth SC. The pair of them putting an embarrassing distance between them and the rest of the fleet. Slotting in behind them in each race was Rod & Maureen Porteous from Hayling Island SC. I think that the Saturday racing was a complete déjà vu from last year, same race area, same wind direction, same wind strength and almost the same people at the front.

Sunday dawned a little lighter and the wind had swung to the south. The course was configured to be smaller than Saturday’s as we wanted to get 3 back to back races in. Once again Jeremy & Malcolm contested the lead with Jeremy winning 2 of the 3 races and Malcolm one race. Steve & Polly had a much better race on the first race taking 2nd place behind Malcolm and ahead of Jeremy & Suzanne, with the Porteous boat back in 4th. However normal service was resumed in the last 2 races with the same 1, 2, 3 as in the Saturday races. The back to back format brought everybody back to the beach by 15.00 allowing a very leisurely lunch and après sail to take place in the afternoon sunshine. The prizes were presented by Paddy, who we had been chasing all weekend & I suppose the highlight for Ken & me was just getting past them on the very last run of the last race.

Fortunately we are back into Club racing from now until the end of the year as there won’t be a Contender meeting nor any Nationals to organise this year so if the weather is kind then we should have some good Club sailing to come.

May 2nd
Cornish Cross
Well let’s start with the good news; Jennys back, yes bacon butties, the first of the 2013 season were back on the menu, which was first class as I don’t usually eat before coming down to sail on a Wednesday, and judging by the way they were flying out of the grill, I wasn’t the only one to appreciate the hot food.

Oh how I ache today. My legs and arms feel like they have really been stretched, all as a result of last night’s race. Last night was the first time that we have had an offshore breeze this season; a quite cold and feisty, shifty breeze to boot, with gusts in the high teens. 16 boats launched on a rising tide to journey out to the start under blues skies and sun shine, but as mentioned accompanied by the cold wind. Colin & Nigel set us a very nice triangular course and shortly after 7pm we were away and chasing up wind towards the beach marks. Jeremy & Suzanne had the best start, we just managed to squeeze up into a gap to windward of Kay & Craig, making their first outing this year. Looking at the fresh conditions before we started convinced me that Ken & I would be struggling against the more powerful crews of Dennis & Brian & Paddy & Steve, so it came as quite a surprise to find ourselves right on Jeremy’s heels as we swept round the beach marks with Paddy a nice distance behind us and Dennis even further back. I think Dennis was pushed out at the start and had to re round, which gave us a good advantage. We managed to stay with Jeremy for most of the first round, but once he started the next beat his superior upwind speed and pointing gave them a lead they would never yield. Roger Williams was flying along in his Blaze and overtook Paddy down wind on the first round of reaches, but fell back on the next beat, though he still took a good win in the slow handicap fleet. The fast handicap fleet comprised just the 4 Tasars so no clock for us to sail against.

Paddy & Steve inexorably closed us down on the beats and we usually pulled away again on the reaches, but on the penultimate lap they squeezed in front of us as we reached the beach marks. Unfortunately for them we managed to drive through them on the first reach and struck very lucky by staying on a gust all the way down the reach, slowly increasing our lead over them. For a very nice change our last beat was better too and we easily held on to 2nd place.

The slow handicap saw the 2 Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny up against Kay & Craig. Kay worked out a good lead over Andrew only to see all their hard work wiped out by a capsize on the gybe mark. Mind you the gybe mark was very exposed and in the gusty conditions was not for the faint hearted, and they weren’t the only ones to succumb; Clive Stephens was another one that I saw upside down there at one time. James Dowrick, sailing a Pico had a good race to finish 2nd, only 11 seconds in front of 3rd place Janet & Pete Barnes in their Kestrel. We had 3 Lasers out and the first of those was Anna in 4th overall. Another one struggling a bit last night was Simon in his brand new Supernova. A slippery finish on the decks gave him some anxious moments including a capsize, but overall he was very pleased with his down wind speed. Finn in his Topper cut a lonely figure at the back of the fleet but still took a very creditable 7th, beating some far more experienced sailors.

Now you may wonder what the picture tonight has got to do with sailing, well in a word nothing but we were in Saltash on Tuesday so I took the opportunity to have a good look at Cornwall’s latest attraction, which has been erected next to the Tamar Bridge. It’s a very imposing sculpture but I can’t help feel that it would be better placed alongside the A30 as people enter Cornwall, after all that is the major route into Cornwall. Anyway it does look rather splendid and only cost £600,000!!

April 28th
leaving the beach
Here we are at the end of April and the temperature is still in single figures, but at least the strong cold easterlies appear to have disappeared replaced by quite cold southerlies, which has had the effect of calming the seas quite noticeably, but most important of all is allowing us to go sailing.

Today was Ken’s & my turn to take on the Safety Boat task and we had some quite challenging conditions to deal with, mainly the wind direction. Initially the breeze, only about 9 -10 knots was from a southerly direction which meant a beat from the beach marks towards Blackhead with a port hand course. However the wind didn’t play ball for long and swung to the south west, freshened up and we ended up setting the course to beat across the bay with a starboard rounding. All appeared well at first and then we realised that the wind was starting to swing back to the south again. We had to wait until the slowest boat started the beat again and then rush over haul out the mark and move it to reset the beat for boats to sail the 2nd and subsequent rounds. This helped quite a bit, though the beat did become a little one tacky towards the end, but most people seemed pleased as it gave a broad reach for the spinnaker boats and then a close reach for the Tasars.

13 boats contested the first race, with 3 Tasars, RS400, 3 Lasers, 2 Scorpions, & 2 Toppers making up the bulk of the fleet. The fast handicap fleet was easily won by Jeremy & Suanne, who built up a good lead only to see it almost disappear as Steve & Polly made some massive gains on the last round. The 2 Toppers of Finn and April always appeared round the wing mark as though they were tied together, with Finn just in the lead, but on the last beat April overtook and claimed a good lead to easily beat Finn. Janet & Pete in their Kestrel had quite a battle against Tom Bittle in his Laser and though beating him on the water failed to make enough time and fell behind on the corrected results.

I may have confused some with the 2nd race. The wind over the lunch break appeared to have swung back to a good southerly direction and so I drew an Olympic type course on the whiteboard showing a start and finish at the beach marks; with 4 rounds being assigned to the fast handicap fleet and 3 rounds to the slow handicap fleet. That was the plan and we left the beach half an hour before the scheduled time just to make sure that the marks were in the right position. It was apparent that as we reached the beach marks that the wind had swung once again to the south west (the forecast direction), so we hauled the windward and leeward marks and repositioned them to hopefully give us a good beat and reaches. All was fine for the first 20 minutes or so and then the wind once again moved back to the south, making the beat once again largely one tack. At least the run became a better reach which was a help for the spinnaker boats. The fast handicap fleet sailed the course as shown on the board but the leading slow handicap boat started a 2nd run rather than a reach to the beach marks and lo and behold all the rest of the slow fleet followed the leader all apart from Brian Reeves who obviously had read the course notes and sailed on to take the win.

Paddy’s race timer is working well and the persons in the race box are getting user to it. The finish light that comes on when a boat crosses the finish line is bright enough to be seen at sea, so from that point of view things are working well. We were using RIB 1 today as the engine still needs a few hours of running in but I am pleased to say that the engine runs very smoothly, starts instantly and if looked after will give us several years of reliable use.

April 24th
Waiting to sail
Boring, boring, boring, well that’s what last night’s race turned out to be. The wind was quite light so there was no dramatic planing to look forward to. The wind swung to the south west, just after the course had been laid which changed the dynamics to give us a one tack beat, a run and a fetch, which is almost a complete waste of time. The race very quickly developed into a procession, putting the emphasis purely on boat speed in a straight line. It might be unconventional but it is quite easy to reverse the course after the completion of the first round, before any lapping takes place. Jeremy & Suzanne were in the lead by the end of the first beat and away they sped, showing more boat speed than anyone else. We did have a tussle with Paddy & Steve in their RS400 but once they had passed us under spinnaker down wind then we were left to play catch up if we could on the one tack beat, which proved impossible. Anyway enough of my moaning, though I am aware that Ken & I will be on the safety boat on Sunday so the onus will be on us to set a good course; talk about pressure.

The turnout was a disappointing low of 9 boats. I would like to think numbers will increase as the weather bucks up. Yes the weather once again proved to be erratic, a light breeze during the day started to fade as late afternoon came along. However the breeze was forecast to become a south westerly and that’s what happened. I know one or two looked at the recorded wind and the web cam and decided that racing would more than likely be cancelled, but hey we are desperate to sail what with missing the first 7 races, we will practically go out in anything now.

Unfortunately Jenny couldn’t do her duty last night and alas no one else took up her mantle to make bacon butties, which was a shame as I had missed my tea completely so not having eaten since lunch time I was feeling rather peckish. I suppose the lack of bacon butties should be beneficial to my waist line, so mustn’t grumble too much. A bowl of soup had to make do instead.

April 22nd
new weather station
Halleluiah (thanks spell check), after the longest period of consecutive cancellations in Porthpean’s history today we are officially up and running. The weather had been showing signs of improving over the last couple of days; though Friday was still quite breezy but the blue skies and sunshine have raised not only the temperatures but also our spirits. Saturday was brilliant; hardly a cloud in the sky, the breeze down at Porthpean was almost onshore and as a result quite chilly. The water temperature is still very low, so beware anyone who wants to or is made to have an early capsize.

It was almost quite a strange feeling waking up this morning knowing that I was about to embark on my first sail of the year. Up until now I had felt quite blasé about sailing again, but knowing that today would be the first day sent a few nerves pulsing through my veins. I knew the water would be cold, but hey we are wearing the proper clothing and the energy used to keep the boat upright and driving soon warms us up.

The weather today though still wasn’t playing ball. Just to make sure that we didn’t enjoy things too much, Mother Nature ensured that the sun shine of Saturday was replaced by dull cloudy weather with a top temperature of 8.5C showing on the car temperature gauge as I drove down this morning. The wind too wasn’t ideal as initially there wasn’t any but a light southerly breeze filled in to make sure that we could at least start. Very encouragingly we had something like 16 boats on the water. The safety boat was run today by Chris & Tony with Janet & Pete in the race box, using the new race count down timer. There were a few problems that arose during the race but deep down these were expected and they can all be ironed out.

I was quite pleased with our first start, hitting the line at speed right on time quite a bit up wind of Nigel & James, but whilst sailing the first beat I realised that we were not pointing as well as I had hoped. The jib luff wasn’t tight enough and as the light breeze freshened as the race went on we started losing out quite a lot each round, especially upwind. Steve & Polly were late leaving the beach and must have started at least 2 minutes late but they had terrific boat speed and made ground on the entire fleet, eventually passing us on the last round and making enough inroads into Nigel & James’s lead to take the win on corrected time. Nigel & James main concern was beating Paddy & Steve Coello in the other RS400 and this they managed to do in both races. As also was Beacky & Kelvin, sporting a new suite of sails against Andrew & Jenny in the Scorpions. Beacky & Kelvin claimed line honours over Andrew & Jenny in both races. New to sailing with us today was a young lady called April Halls. She normally sails a Topper at Fowey but was delighted to sail with our fleet and hopefully will return and sail against our other Toppers on a more regular basis.

Jeremy & Suzanne returned from their trip from London for the afternoon race & celebrated in style by being the leading boat around the 1st mark. We had quite a bad start as we were trying to tend to a newcomer as I could see that they were struggling. Unfortunately we were late to the start and were 6th boat to get to the windward mark. Well it should have been the windward mark but the wind was playing strange games with us and the beat actually became a one tack beat followed by a run and then a fetch. Conditions like that tend to make the race very processional, but on the 2nd round the fetch turned into a beat and though Ken & I were further back we took the advantage of a couple of wind shifts to take us into the lead. This worked well for us until we started what should have been the run, but it was suddenly our turn to run out of wind, which enabled Jeremy & Sue to catch right up and overtake us. Fortunately the 2 RS400s were stuck further back and couldn’t quite close on us until Nigel & James just overtook on the last hundred meters or so to the finish line.

Owing to the low turnouts of Tasars last year it has been decided to even things up a bit by having a fast & slow handicap fleets. This pitches the Tasars against the RS400s and Contenders. The fastest boats in the slow fleet are the Blazes, though the way Roger was sailing today they maybe should be considered to be in the fast fleet. Down wind a Blaze can be faster than a Tasar. Roger’s closest rival today was Tom Bittle sailing his Laser, but Roger made up enough time to beat Tom into 2nd place in the morning race with one of Anna’s friends sailing the new Club Vago into 3rd. Last year we had Finn in a Topper beating everyone in one race on handicap. Today this afternoon that feat was repeated, this time by Luke Bilkey, who actually beat everyone fast & slow on corrected time. Well done Luke. Roger was 2nd this time but Anna, sailing a Laser, claimed a good scalp by beating Tom to take 3rd.

The new weather station mentioned in an earlier blog is now working. The transponder is sitting on a pole on top of the Club Roof. The beach marks are laid though at the moment they seem far too close together. The sea is cold and by now I am finishing this blog off on Monday morning and I can tell you that I am feeling very sore every time I sit down. The side decks on a Tasar are very hard to the soft state of my backside. Though I don’t think they are as sore as Tony’s might be. Unfortunately he slipped down whilst putting the safety boat back in the garage and is sporting a very red weald where he made contact with the ground.

April 17th
The Notice says it all
The picture alongside says it all and rather frustratingly tonight was the 7th successive racing session that we have missed, which I am sure is an all time record for Porthpean. What was even more frustrating was that the conditions last night, Tuesday, were nigh on perfect for a first race. How do I know? Because the Capsize Club had its first sailing session of the season when 6 boats sailed out into the bay, under the watchful eye of Ken & Shane in a safety boat. There was certainly not enough wind to cause capsizes nor to promote too much excitement but enough breeze to be able to sit the boats comfortably upwind. They were a mixed bunch of boats but all were sailing well, though due to the clouds the daylight was starting to fade quite quickly, and they weren’t out for too long. As it was there weren’t too many down hoping to sail and if the truth was known if it was a late August race then I am sure we would have sailed as the winds in the cove were light enough to have encouraged people out and by that time of the year we would all have had more confidence in our abilities and just gone for it. Mind you the air temperatire at this time of year is fairly low and the water temperature even lower.

Anyway just a little more patience is required as the forecast for Sunday looks like we will be sailing at last and our delayed start to the season will finally come to an end. Even next Wednesday looks like it will be ok so hopefully we may have turned the corner. One of the first tasks will be to lay the beach marks and a settled spell will be a good thing to allow the tackle to bed itself into the sand.

I expect by now you will all have seen the new improved web cam, fitted by Paddy. He has also been working on a weather station project and a link to it that can be found on the web cam page and also on the “weather page”, take your pick. At the moment the only live data on the page is the internal temperature of the Clubhouse. The main weather station sensor has yet to be mounted on the Clubhouse roof and when that is installed then a lot more data will be available to be seen. Keep checking and it should appear soon.

April 14th
Car stuck on the beach
The 4th Sunday in a row without any sailing, that plus the cancellation of the first 2 Wednesdays and the first of the Tuesday training nights means that this is the worst start to the season that any of us can remember. There’s no getting away from it, easterly winds are a killer. However this Sunday it is the strength of the south westerly wind plus the rain and low visibility are the main reasons for the lack of sailing. One other major reason for cancelling today was lack of customers. I think quite a few people looked at the web cam and made up their minds from the comfort of their home. In fact if enough people had come down and we had the patience then we could have actually sailed in the afternoon. Ken & I were down for Safety Boat duty so at least we did keep our gear dry for another day. I know its early days yet but the weather patterns look like changing sufficiently by next weekend to allow our delayed season to get under way, though no promises just yet. Another positive with the wind swinging round to the west is that the air temperature has moved up into double figures, which starts to give us a feel of the summer to come.

There was a brief respite from the wind direction and strength on Friday when a few took the opportunity to launch the Club boats in a very light offshore breeze. I couldn’t get down for that but did see some very slow movement of boats sailing, on the web cam. The main excitement on Friday evening for those down at the Club was the sight of a 4 wheel drive being towed out of the sea by a tractor. The picture alongside was taken by Ken on his phone so the quality of the enlargement may not be too good. How the car came to be stuck I do not know, whether the owner parked it there whilst doing something else or more likely drove down onto the beach to offload the punt from his roof rack and got bogged down and was then caught by the incoming tide. Whatever the cause, I would think that the vehicle will cost quite a bit to put right and will be an expensive lesson for the owner. I have in the past seen several cars being very close to becoming stuck on the beach but usually they all manage to get away with it, this guy wasn’t so lucky.

I have just found out that James Dowrick crewed by Luke Bilkey came 2nd in the first of the SW Feva Travellers series, yesterday at St. Mawes. Hopefully some pictures to follow on Wednesday. Well done guys.

April 10th
The beach tonight
One glance at the picture alongside will tell you why once again sailing was cancelled. Unfortunately the weather men have been spot on ever since our sailing season should have started. I know I am one of their fiercest critics as their inaccuracies, especially with all those super computers, annoys me. Once again they were predicting last weekend that tonight, Wednesday would be wet and windy and once again they have been proved right. Not only that, but Sunday coming is also predicted to be wet and windy, this time with a southerly breeze, but it should be slightly warmer, which I think we will all appreciate. Ken & I are down for Safety Boat duty, so if we sail then we will have to wrap up well as it will still be cold on the water.

One thing that gave us problems last year and I think may well cause a few problems this year is that every other week the tide will be high on a Wednesday when we want to race. The tide tonight was breaking on the slipway which if we had sailed would have made launching and recovery rather awkward. When the tide is so high we will have to launch one at a time so if we want to start on time then it will be essential to launch early so as not to clutter up the slipway and hope that no third parties are trying to get their 4 wheel drives down to launch a speed boat or anything else.

Nothing else to report save to note that the Tuesday evening sailing started this week and the first outing was cancelled due to ……………….. lack of wind!! I went down on Tuesday evening for a look see and found that there was still a lumpy sea present and that, together with no wind, was a recipe for non sailing again.

April 7th
James & Luke launching
Arriving at the Club and staring at the wild seas is becoming too much of the norm for my liking as once again we were prevented from starting our sailing season by the ever present cold easterly wind, which was giving some ferocious looking surf on the beach. The fresh to strong easterly wind was particularly cold today, taking away any desire to go sailing. I think we are creating another record for number of consecutively missed races this season and it looks like it could go on for a little while yet. Unfortunately, the weather men give at least another week of unsettled weather, before things may pick up, although it may become somewhat warmer as the wind is forecast to move round to the southwest but remain fresh. Even racing next Wednesday is under threat at the moment and possibly Sunday too is under threat if the forecast is to be believed.

Strange as it may seem, yesterday gave a glimpse of what weather we should be having at the moment, and I think if that had been repeated today then we would have put a couple of races under our belts and made us all feel better. Yesterday brought slightly different conditions, much lighter winds and plenty of sunshine. James & Luke took full advantage of it by launching their Feva through the surf for some much needed practice for their outing to St. Mawes next weekend. There will be RYA lead training on Saturday and racing on Sunday. I am sure you will join me in wishing them the best of luck in their venture. James & Luke are intending competing in the SW Travellers Feva circuit around the County this year, before hoping to move up into the 29er Class next year.

RIB 2 on its new trailer
There was plenty of time and people around today to finish off the No2 RIB launching trailer, made by Brian Phillips. RIB 2 was lifted off its corroding trailer, whilst the new one had its final bits and pieces bolted to it and then the old trailer was cut up and the RIB hoisted onto the new trailer. After a few repositioning of the supports the job was passed as ready for use and the RIB and trailer were put back into its shed waiting for a race day. Meanwhile No1 RIB sits in the garage with its new engine on it, but requires quite a few “running in” hours yet before it will be ready for maximum power.

The trailers have been made by Brian in mild steel and then they are galvanised to protect then from rusting. However the corrosive powers of the sea is such that over time even galvanised steel succumbs to rust and the trailers require renewing every 5 years or so.

Countdown Box
Paddy has been busy lately, working on an automatic count down system for the OOD box. Today it underwent its final testing and a few of us were treated to a demonstration of it working. An automatic countdown, OOD driven, will start from either a 6 minute signal, used when we have had a postponement or a 5 minute signal for when we actually start on time (I bet that one won’t be used much!!). Paddy’s box of tricks has an alphanumeric display showing the countdown and it automatically sounds the Clubhouse based horn and powers a light, when needed during the countdown.

The OOD will still communicate with the Safety Boat crew via radio so that they can operate their start line flags and horn. The countdown clock also starts to count up when the race starts, and displays the elapsed time. Paddy has also included a printer that can be operated by the OOD as boats pass the beach marks, which prints out, at the press of a button, the elapsed time of rounding, thus relieving some of the pressure the OOD can get when trying to accurately record times when several boats round in close succession. Like all new things it may take a little getting used to, but full training will be given to all as required, but it is a very useful addition to our race procedure. More often than not the horn cannot be heard out at sea, so Paddy has installed a very bright light in the Race box that should be easily visible when beach mark rounding at the finish. We used to have a horn and light for finishing several years ago, but the light hasn’t been working over the last 2 seasons. Now we should have a much better functioning system.

As a little footnote, this week I have email from Paul Jenkin. He has decided to sell his much beloved Scorpion. Paul built the Scorpion from scratch and for quite a few years it was an ever present part of our racing scene, but hasn’t been used since he moved to Fowey. I can remember seeing it at various times during its construction. The boat is extremely well built and incorporated all the latest ideas at the time of is construction. It would make an ideal boat for anyone wanting to join our racing scene, especially as we have 2 other Scorpions racing regularly at the Club. Full details on our “For Sale” page.

Finally, our Tuesday night taining sessions start this week at 18.00. Personally I think that this is a bit too early due to the cold and windy weather but I am assured that there will be some alternative training carried out in the Clubhouse if sailing is prevented.

April 3rd
Simon's new Supernova
Oh no yet another lost sailing day, but the writing was on the wall so to speak last Sunday as it was forecast for a brisk easterly wind for Wednesday. In actual fact the wind wasn’t as strong as forecast but there was still enough swell from previous days to keep the surf running on the beach. I walked down to the beach to check the height of the surf and it was immediately apparent that we were going to suffer from the usual south easterly / evening affects and that is a dying wind. So there we are, a light enough breeze to sail, though it was bitterly cold, but quite a surf running in. Well in the event there weren’t enough people wanting to chance their arm in the conditions so racing was abandoned.

Tom Bittle still wanted to try out the conditions in his Laser so rigged up, changed and took the boat down to the beach and launched. Then he found the problem that we all encounter now and again when trying to sail off the beach into the wind. He couldn’t make enough forward progress to get through the surf and was repeatedly swept back onto the beach, until he decided enough was enough and called it a night. That was enough to tell all the doubters that the conditions once again were unsuitable.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for Sunday. The wind at the moment is expected to swing back to the south and settle about 12 – 15 knots, which may be enough to allow us to attempt to sail at last. The weather men have a habit of getting their forecasts wrong and I don’t think that it will be until Saturday before we know how accurate the Sunday forecast will be. The other bonus that may come at the weekend is that the temperature may start to rise. Just to reach double figures will be an achievement, that couple with a more westerly wind flow will definitely improve our chances of sailing.

Simon Robbins is itching to see how fast his new Supernova is. He has had a trial sail in Fowey before Easter but since then the weather has been far from ideal. Anyone looking at his new boat will see a huge difference over the earlier Supernovas in the stern area. The new ones are now open at the back, which may make righting them and climbing back in easier than the original models. The boat is looking very nice and comes complete with an cockpit controls.

March 31st.
wave swept beach
Well this is getting beyond a joke. This being the weather, not only has March been the coldest on record but the forecast for April isn’t much better. So far we have missed the first 2 sailing days of the season and today’s racing was for the Easter Cup. Next Wednesday is also looking rather iffy at this stage if the current weather forecast is anything to go by. This is certainly not the start to the 2013 season that we were all anticipating last November when we put our boats away for the winter. Last March, 12 months ago we had unseasonably hot weather and we all thought that we were seeing the start of an extraordinary summer. Well in some ways we were, but not the extraordinary summer we were expecting. Relentless rainy spells causing floods up and down the country, below average temperatures and hardly any settled periods of sunshine at all were actually what we had. At this stage we just don’t know whatever this summer has in store for us but whatever comes we will just have to put up with and accept it. I am sure that however cold it is now it is only a matter of time before we will get some better weather in the coming months, allowing us sit outside on the decking at lunch times and even on some Wednesday evenings, which makes it all the more important that we take every opportunity to sail when better weather does come.

Quite a few turned up today, just to see if the wave strength was anything like that shown on the web cam and I can assure anyone who didn’t turn up that the waves were very strong, the surf was pounding down on the beach as can be seen by the accompanying photograph. What wasn’t shown however was the temperature of the biting easterly wind. It had the affect of pulling the air temperature down to about 0-1 C.

Last weekend I reset the countdown timer on the web page in the expectation that we would start our sailing this weekend. Unfortunately the weather once again conspired against us, so I am just going to have to accept the fact that the clock has ticked to zero, BST is finally here, and the sailing season has started, albeit without any actual sailing.

One nice thing about sailing on the sea is the thrill of sailing off the beach for the first time after quite a few months shore bound. That first moment when the sails fill and the boat glides out over the sea are so satisfying that another adventure has started again. Our boats themselves are inanimate objects, sitting for most of their lives on their trolleys yet take on a life of their own when they get back into their natural element. We will all have to wait a little longer before we can experience that thrill of that first sail.

Someone who has already experienced that thrill already this year are Jeremy & Suzanne who took the opportunity last Sunday to travel to Wimbleball, way up on Exmoor to take part in their “Beastie”, a 3 hour pursuit race held at about this time each year. Despite temperatures below zero the race still went ahead. J & S sailed a fantastic race to be well ahead of all other boats when the finish signal was sounded. Unfortunately Jeremy realised that he had missed one of the marks out during the early part of the race and honourably retired. Several other boats also sailed the wrong course but J & S were the only ones to retire. Such a shame for them especially as some of the prize winners had also sailed the wrong course. Jeremy was telling me that the weather was so cold that they had trouble cleating the jib as the sheets and cleats had frozen solid and neither he, nor Suzanne, could feel their feet at all by the end, despite having full sets of Rooster thermals on.

I was hoping that our Tasar fleet was going to expand a little this season, but unfortunately I see that Dennis has put his Tasar up for sale. It is an excellent opportunity for someone to buy a fully fitted out, modern Tasar. One that Stacey sailed to 2 Championship wins at Torquay a few years ago. Dennis is thinking of changing Class and he was the one who introduced the Tasar to Porthpean back in 1986, yes 27 years ago. The Scorpion dinghy was the boat that propelled Porthpean into the 1960s, sustaining it for over 20 years but by the early 80s there were very few sailing here. The introduction of the Tasar rejuvenated the Club and by the end of the 80s we had a fleet of about 17, with at least 10 sailing regularly every race. Although our numbers have slumped somewhat since then we still have about 15 boats in the Club, with enough keen owners to make up a reasonable regular fleet. There are also quite a few of reasonably priced Tasars around the country for sale. I’m talking less than £2000, so not mega bucks. You will pay far more than that for a good Enterprise, Laser or any competitive boat. Even a humble Mirror dinghy can cost more than that if you look at a modern one. Some may need a few £s spent on them but I can guarantee, despite the opinion of a few Luddites in our Club, that you will get some fantastic sailing from them.

You may have noticed that over 2 years ago the Council changed all the street lights in St. Austell to modern, efficient, smart lighting. I was told by an Engineer changing the lights that these were smart lights and they could be controlled and monitored remotely. This would save people having to report them when faults occurred. Well I don’t know how many of you noticed that there was one street light near the bottom of Porthpean road that never went out. For over 2 years it remained on, wasting I don’t know how much electricity during daylight hours, which made me doubt the accuracy of the self monitoring system. I noticed a short time ago that it was out during the day so I assumed that they had finally got round to fixing it. It was only when I went down to the Club one evening that I realised that it was still out at night. No they hadn’t repaired it, the bulb or fitting has finally failed. At least they are not wasting electricity during daylight hours any longer. Unfortunately there is no light at night in that area!

So the question now on our minds is: Will be sail this Wednesday??????? Let’s be more practical: Will we sail in April??????

March 24th.
wave swept beach
The countdown clock has finally ticked away the days and here we are today, Sunday 24th March, all ready to sail and………………..But what a damp squid our first day of sailing for the 2013 season turned out to be. Once more we have been bedevilled by the weather. The signs from Wednesday onwards had been quite ominous, the forecast was dire and so it turned out to be. With 2 or 3 days of strong south easterlies the sea had boiled up into a most unfriendly state. No one wants their first sail of the season to be off an easterly wind swept beach. Don’t be too despondent yet, I have reset the countdown clock for another 7 days and there are still plenty of Sundays and soon to be Wednesday nights to come.

The outside temperature on my car read 3.5C as I drove down to the Club and my first sight of the sea confirmed what I had seen on the webcam; waves and enough of them breaking in a confused state was sufficient to end any hopes of sailing. There was no way that I was even going to attempt to launch in the bitterly cold conditions. Looking around, there weren’t that many people with boats to sail anyway so the turnout would have been quite low.

The new RS Vago that has been bought by the Club was brought down by Andrew, whose barn the boat had been stored in since purchasing over the winter. The mast was raised, equipment checked and then the boat was covered over with its new cover and put to bed in the dinghy park waiting for its official launch. The new Laser will be brought down soon.

The Club has some new toys for this season. Paddy has installed a high intensity light which will shine when the horn button is pressed in the race box. Our existing horn can be difficult to hear as we pass the beach marks but hopefully the light will have enough intensity to be easily seen to tell us sailors that a race has finished. Paddy has also produced a “still in the making” countdown / race timer clock that will also have some extra user friendly additions, which will all be explained soon. I am hopeful that he will have a working model that will be demonstrated on Wednesday, after Anna’s talk on safety boat use and rescue at sea, an important lecture for all who may use the safety boat from time to time.

Slipway covered in sand
Quite often over the winter we actually lose a lot of sand from the bottom of the slipway and we have in the past even had to resort to bridging the gap with ramps in order to get the safety boat and dinghies onto the beach. This year, at the moment we have a surplus of sand covering the end of the slipway, a sight that I have never seen before. I am quite surprised that after the downpour that we have had this week that we haven’t had more cliff falls. The conditions have been right and it may be more down to luck that the cliffs haven’t given way in a few places, though there is still time for something untoward to happen. I just hope that our access to the filed will not be compromised.

The racing today was scheduled to start at 12.00 with normal times next week but there may be a change to that, especially as British Summer time starts next Saturday night meaning an hour less for us in the morning, so I don’t think many people will be ready for what would have been a very early start to our body clocks.

I know that it has been decided that the first series of the season will be divided into fast and slow handicap fleets but I see signs that there may be enough Tasars sailing to allow a proper Tasar fleet. I say that because Ian & Clare Whale should be racing and we also have a new Tasar to the Club in the yard and also the promise of a new member with a Tasar about to join us. Those together with our regular numbers should give a useful 6 plus Tasars most weekends, which will be great.

March 11th.
New RIB tailers
Oh no, only 2 weeks to go before we start sailing again. I should be saying that with a more positive emphasis, but for those of us down at the Club yesterday realised that any thoughts of sailing would have been nigh on impossible with the conditions that greeted us. The tide was way out and the exposed beach looked decidedly rocky in places but the height and sight of the surf sweeping in dashed any thoughts of sailing. There was no way that any boat could sail through that or land safely back again on the beach without becoming swamped. To make matters worse the strong onshore breeze kept the temperature down to sub 4 degrees and the rain made the Clubhouse the place to be.

Brian Phillips has made 2 new trailers for the RIBs and they were duly brought down after being galvanised, so we took the opportunity to haul No1 RIB onto one of them and then managed to bolt on the new engine to the RIB. That still needs a lot of work to fully connect and run up, but is achievable in the time we have left. I don’t think much will be done during the week as the weather at the moment makes it so cold and difficult to work outside at the moment, so a lot will depend on the weather next Sunday.

Those of you who look at the web cam will note a definite improvement on the quality. The Club have bought a new camera and electronics and Paddy has fitted the new camera in the housing and connected it all up. I have just looked at the view today and see that the sea conditions are no better at all than yesterday, still with 2 weeks to go there is still plenty of time for the present weather system to fade away and be replaced with more amenable conditions.

I am hoping that Nigel & James will have completed the sailing programme for the season by the end of the week. They are still waiting for volunteers for some of the sailing days, but I am sure all vacancies will be filled soon. We have had some speculation as to what the fleets will be for 2013, whether to have Tasar & handicap or fast & slow handicaps. The Tasar numbers dropped off quite a bit last year but potentially we have enough to give plus 6 most outings so maybe the status quo will prevail. There is also a distinct chance that we will have a new prospective member joining the Tasar ranks and I also see that Ian Whale has bought a new suit of mylar sails for his Tasar, so he could be sailing on a more frequent basis, plus we just might have Justin starting to sail again.

I could speculate all day about who will be sailing what this season, and it would be fantastic to get regular turnouts of over 20 boats but 15 -18 may be the average size of fleets again, who knows. We do however have 2 new training boats in our rank sand I expect both of them to get plenty of usage, especially on Tuesday evenings when the training nights start. We are blessed at the moment with a good number of cadets and every opportunity should be taken to get them on the water whenever possible.

There will be no blog from me next week as we will be away for part of the weekend on family matters, but don’t forget it’s the fitting out supper on the 23rd, though I am sure that Anna will be in touch with everyone before then and then the following day our 2013 season should start. Please, please let it warm up a little by then and let us have a fairly light breeze to let us get our sea legs back again.

March 5th.
Just waiting for the breeze
The blog is a little late this week, mainly due to sickness and work but at least I have managed to put some words down. Don’t you find it rather annoying that some parts of the UK are now getting a proper taste of Spring, but unfortunately for us the cold weather still persists, driven in the main by the very cold easterly winds. The wind is set to swing round to the south west soon and will then bring milder weather for us but yet more rain. At least it has been pleasant having a dry spell recently. The daffodils are coming out and leaves are starting to appear on various bushes and shrubs and the sailing season is getting closer.

We had a very well attended and good lecture from Jeremy last Wednesday on tactics and starting procedure. He produced a good set of notes explaining why he did various things on the race course as different circumstances presented themselves, whether it was defending his position from an overtaking boat or trying to get past a boat that he was catching.

Last weekend was the annual dinghy show exhibition at Alexandra Palace. I was very lucky to be able to grab a spare ride with Jeremy, Finn, Nigel & James. I think that I have been every year for the last 6 years or so and in that respect I suppose it is losing some of the allure for me, but it is still an excellent place to spend a day for a dinghy sailor. Unfortunately I felt rather off colour at the show, which I am sure impacted itself on my enjoyment and I was in the early stages of the dreaded stomach bug, which I managed to control until I arrived home late on Sunday night. I think the cause was something that I had eaten, and boy did I pay the price. I must give a big thank you to Jeremy from me for a speedy journey in his very comfortable Peugeot 508.

The dinghy exhibition does give one the opportunity to look around and see virtually every sailing dinghy on the market, and living down here there are certainly quite a few that we never see. This year there was quite an exhibition of Mirror dinghies, ranging from quite old, poorly loved examples right up to the latest all singing and dancing racing version. There was also an attempt to build a new one straight from a wooden kit, though the chap building it was constantly getting badgered by various people, especially those who had built their own many years ago. It’s amazing to see how thin the ply wood is yet when all is joined together forms a very strong hull which will take some amazingly hard weather. Neil & I spent 3 seasons in a Mirror dinghy and they were very enjoyable years. We sailed at Restronguet in those days and we had quite a strong fleet. Handicap sailing is always a mish mash, with the result often dependant on weather conditions on the day but fleet sailing is the ultimate as you know then that you are sailing one on one.

Despite us being in the grip of a recession there are still quite a few people around with spare cash, for a good dinghy. You only have to look at the development classes of the N12’s, Merlin’s I14’s and moths to see where the money goes and you can also marvel at the technical equipment and the designers who have worked on these machines. LDC had its complete range of RS dinghies on show. There is a dinghy for everyone’s taste in their range, starting from the very junior RS Terra right up to the latest developed RS800. Another company that now has a very good range of dinghies is Hartley boats. Their range includes, Supernova, Osprey, Kestrel, Wayfarer & Wanderer, plus a host of small dinghies that I haven’t seen before including the very impressive H12. A Pico sized dinghy but far more spacious and the price was very competitive.

The Icon
The Moth stand, showed how a very limited set of rules can be so differently interpreted, with some quite subtle differences all designed to squeeze that extra bit of speed from very futuristic looking sailing machines. Against all these super looking craft the Tasar looked so mundane, but on the other hand was so simple in its layout. Yet unfortunately due to marketing forces and an unfavourable exchange rate of £s to $s the price of a new Tasar is becoming poor value for money. Fortunately the quality of the existing boats is such that there are still enough good second-hand boats around to purchase if someone is looking for one. There was one of the new Devotti built Icons on display. I don’t know whether this boat will ever get the publicity behind it to sell in vast numbers, nor at this early stage whether it will live up to some of the hype that it has, but to me it is a fantastic looking boat, very modern and very well built. I would class it as a modern Tasar, the only reservation that I have is that the rig may be too powerful for many lightweight crews. I was talking to one of the designers and I think they realise this too as they are thinking of having a modified sail with a zip parallel with the foot of the main sail to reduce its size, similar to the way they do it on the RS600.
Nick Thompson
On top of all the dinghies there were some very good lectures and demonstrations going on at different times of the day, ranging from racing seminars to safety at sea lectures. There was something for everyone. I attended one given by Nick Thomson on starting procedures. He kept an enthralled audience in the palm of his hand for well over 45 minutes as he explained in detail his procedure when starting a race. One tip for anyone going there in the future; take along your own food and drink. The prices charged there are extortionate. I paid over £6 for a small bottle of water and a chocolate muffin.

Now I see next Saturday March 9th is the date of the annual Club walk. Normally the walk is on a Sunday but this year it has been arranged for a Saturday so that it will not impact on the Sunday work parties; a decision not gone down too well with Sue as she will be working on Saturday and she does enjoy the walks.

Paddy has acquired a new web cam, which he has installed. At the moment the camera is in the clubhouse but will soon be positioned where the old one was and should give a more clear view than at the moment. I think the Clubhouse windows are very dirty, with salt spray, after prolonged weeks of easterly winds. This one gives a quicker uprate than the old one and I don’t think you need java to view it so the picture should appear quicker than in the past.

One other thing before I go is that the RYA have just published the new PY figures for the 2013 season, check on the appropriate web page for the latest figure but I see that they will have some influence on our results, with one or two classes taking a hit. I am sure that this may cause a few moans amongst some of our sailors of boats that have taken a hit, especially the Contenders, the Scorpions and Blazes, some, like the Laser have been given a bonus. The Tasars were hit last year, but, fortunately have escaped any more pain this year. The penalty in every case is only a few seconds and is not dramatic for any one class but I am sure that there will still be some results this year decided on the odd second, which may cause annoyance or joy dependant on which boat you are sailing. There is a great debate raging on the Y&Y Forum on the changes, but the figures are easier to adjust now that so much data comes in via “sailwave”. Two boats that have taken big hits over the last few years are the Phantom and Merlin Rocket, but both dinghies have been radically overhauled over time, making them faster but haven’t received the handicap figures they deserved. This is an ongoing attempt to smooth out discrepancies as modifications progress. Look at the difference between an old and modern Scorpion as a good example. Honestly it's quite ludicrous to race it off the same figure as the original model, though it does make it more difficult for an old one to sail to its new handicap. I'm sure that this topic will reign for a long time to come.

February 24th.
John Hill repairing the entrance
I would be hoping that with less than 4 weeks to go before we start sailing then it would be beginning to warm up a bit, but no; it’s still very cold out there. I always refer to the wind when in the east to be a beastly easterly and unfortunately over the last few days it has lived up to its name. The wind for over a week now has been in the east and as a consequence the temperature has plunged and thoughts of sailing for me are rather lack lustre. However with 4 weeks to go then there is enough time for the thermometers to start to head upwards and for the sun to make more regular appearances. Actually this morning it wasn’t too cold at the Club as the wind had swung more northerly and had dropped somewhat and in the occasional sunshine it almost felt spring like.

You may remember that last weekI placed some pictures of an old Topper being cut up and loaded on a trailer, ready to go to the tip. Within 2 days a picture of the Topper in a skip appeared on the web pages of the Yachts & Yachting. You will find it by following this link.

Club Enterprise, ready to go
A few more tasks were started today, whilst others were completed. One almost completed job is the clean up of the Enterprise that was donated to the Club a few years ago. I think the intention is to sell it on EBay as it is deemed no longer wanted by the Club, now that we have a few more training boats. But to me, who did all my early learning to sail on an Enterprise, this seems to be rather a shame to sell it as I am sure it could prove an ideal addition for those learning to sail to increase the thrill side of sailing. I know an Enterprise can be rather tippy, but that extra power generated by the larger sails over a Pico can be a thrilling experience. The only thing it needs now is a proper rudder and tiller and it would be a complete boat. It would be rather nice to see it sailing across the bay on a Tuesday evening.
Colin working on the flag pole
One important job completed today was the repair of the concrete between the road way and the yard. John Hill has undertaken to carry out the repair. Last week the gap was excavated and made ready for new cement and today said cement was duly mixed and laid. The flag pole was lowered, ready for cleaning and an overhaul of the halliards’. The PVC frames of the changing room windows were cleaned. The windows of the Club house are absolutely filthy after all the easterly gales that we have had lately, so they will need a complete hose down and wiping where possible.

The web cam camera and or electronics are in a bad way as anybody who has looked at the web cam lately can testify and Paddy tells me that he is looking into a replacement in the very near future, so that will be a welcome addition.

Jeremy, Suzanne & Finn have all been off sailing this weekend at the Steve Nicolson memorial race, part of the Sailjuice series. The race this weekend was at Northampton SC. Jeremy & Suzanne were in the double handed class, whilst Finn was in the single handed class. The winds were predominantly light, not suiting the Tasar, which must have disappointed them, though their result was much better than the only other Tasar there. Finn suffered a DSQ in his first race which destroyed any chance he had of a good result as only 2 races were sailed and both counted. The 3 of them will be down at the Club this Wednesday when Jeremy is giving a talk on race tactics, so a blow by blow story of the weekend will be available.

February 17th.
Topper being loaded
Another dry day, what a miracle, but I guess we were due some dry weather sometime and according to the weather forecast it could stay dry all week. Unfortunately a very brisk south easterly wind was blowing and that kept the outdoor temperature very low indeed, reminding us that we are still only in February. Cold weather or not, the dry day persuaded quite a few members to come down to work which allowed us to tackle quite a variety of jobs. A few more days like this and we will be looking something like it.
Topper being loaded
The poor old Topper, cut in two last week, was loaded into Pete’s trailer ready for its penultimate voyage to the dump. The old Enterprise that was donated to the Club was dragged down to the yard for a clean up and then it might be sold as it has been deemed surplus to requirements. The engine, formerly on RIB 1 was transferred to RIB 2 under Beacky’s supervision. Colin managed to get a ladder up to the extension of the Clubhouse roof and filled all suspicious areas where water may be getting in with heavy duty sealant. Ken was busy snipping overhanging bushes in the yard. The gate post on the top gate was re sited to allow the new gate to fit properly up aginst the post. Andrew, complete with his ever ready chain saw made light of quite a few overhanging branches round the field perimeter which were cut down. Another bonfire is on the way, when all the branches dry out. Now stones, did I say stones, yes a few more bucket loads were removed, not that you can really tell, but I guess every little helps and it is a few less to step on.
Rough water out at sea
Last year we had quite a gap on the joint of the club yard to the road way, luckily we managed to persuade the contractors who were repairing the slipway to fill in the gap with some surplus cement. Unfortunately the mix was very weak and over the season and especially this winter most of it has disappeared. John Hill came down with his angle grinder and cut away some more making an area which should take a good mix of cement to repair the damage.
February 10th
The old Topper being cut up
There’s not much to report today, the damp, bleak weather saw only mainly the enthusiasts down today, so this should be fairly short and sweet. The weather was damp enough to prevent any outside painting from being undertaken but at least today saw another week ticked off towards the oncoming sailing season. Sailing didn’t seem too appetising this morning when looking at the gusty wind sweeping out over the sea. However by late morning it had eased sufficiently to start to look very inviting. Unfortunately the showers that came through did cause most of us to make the Club house the place to be.

The old club Topper that had been inspected last Sunday was deemed to be a write off. The sail is missing as are most of the other good bits and pieces. It would cost too much to get it back into a good sea worthy state, so out came a saw and it wasn’t too long before rather magically it was cut in half, but unlike a magician’s trick there was no way that this could be put back together again. I’m afraid that the 2 halves will end up in a land fill somewhere.

Several more buckets of stones were scraped up from the dinghy park, maybe 20 plus in all since I started, but the yard still looks to be littered with them. I think it is one of those tasks that will be with us forever, but at least some of the pain and discomfort felt when stepping on them may have been averted by the removal of so many.

There was an organised walk and cycle ride yesterday (Saturday). Unfortunately I couldn’t make it so not sure how it went or how many attended, but at least the weather was dry and not too cold. The ride / walk involved some of the clay trails surrounding the northern side of St. Austell. From my own forays into that area I can attest that it is not the most exciting of scenery to behold, but it does get walkers etc away from local traffic and it does show how the environment can take over from man made destruction.

The annual fish & chip supper is organised for next Saturday evening. Anna has sent out quite a few emails informing every one of the times and prices etc and I am sure that we will see another well attended function which will be crowned by one of Tony Dunn’s brain scratching quizzes.

Anyone want a cheap boat and a challenge? Then look at the “for sale” page.

February 3rd. The day the music died.
John Bittle painting the changing room door
February 3rd 1959 saw the death of the Buddy Holly. As I am a big fan of his I have been playing a selection of his music whilst writing today's blog.

Well there weren’t as many people down today but nevertheless work still went on. For those who did come down there was a bit of a bonus at coffee time as Janet brought down some home made mince pies for the workers and delicious they were too. The weather today was quite drizzly, with a light offshore breeze. Fortunately the drizzle eased off enough for several external jobs to be carried out. John Bittle is well on the way to completing his task of painting the changing room doors. Colin, Tony & Andrew completed the fitting of a new top gate to the top dinghy park. Incidentally I walked up through the dinghy park to take the accompanying photographs and realised that the grass is completely saturated and I don’t think it would be possible for any normal vehicle to drive in and out without becoming bogged down. I have never seen it as wet as this before. I think we will need quite a sustained dry spell before it becomes useable again.

New gate being fitted
Last week saw the arrival of a new engine for RIB 1 and therefore the moving downwards of the other engines saw RIB 2 engine fitted to RIB 3 (the love boat) and today that boat was loaded on its trailer to be taken away by Andrew for storage. I managed to remove a few more buckets of stones, in a vain attempt to make the dinghy park easier to walk on, but there are still almost 1,000,000 more to get rid of yet. Out Club Topper which has been stored on its end over the last season was taken down. It has suffered from a leaking problem resulting in it being difficult and unsafe to sail. It was stripped down, removing its buoyancy bags, which were leaking and full of water and this in turn exposed a seam where water may have been getting in. We will have one more go at making it waterproof and if unsuccessful will see it cut up and disposed of, but if we can salvage it then it will make a good addition to our training fleet, as a spare Club boat.
Cliff path, with missing trees
Access to the dinghy park from the lower gate may become an issue before long as at least 2 of the trees that bordered the pathway have now relocated themselves on the beach below. Yes erosion has really cut into the cliff, and the pathway, although looking safe enough from the road way, looks very precarious when viewing upwards from the beach. I suppose eventually the existing roadway up to the field will require relocating, though that will be up to the council to decide when and how. With money being so tight then it wouldn't surprise me at all if they just cordon it off, which will definitley give us problems.

The breeze today would have made a good day for an early season sail, with a nice light westerly blowing, which gave a beautiful flat sea. There was maybe enough to be able to hike nicely but not quite enough to be able to plane down wind. Nevertheless Tom Bittle took his Laser out for a sail and it made a graceful sight in the gloomy drizzle that prevailed today. With only 7 weeks to the start of the season then it won't be long before the rest of us are out there again.

cliff erosion showing trees on the beach
Jeremy, Suzanne & Finn travelled up to Rutland Water this weekend to take part in the John Merricks regatta, along with over 200 other boats. There were 3 races sailed on Saturday with 2 to count. Jeremy & Suzanne had an excellent set of results and finished the day in 12th place, beaten only by a handful of 420’s, 2 Fireballs, a 29er and RS800 in the fresh winds of up to 30 knots that prevailed. Finn was probably the youngest competitor there, sailing in his Topper and he finished 147th, sailing in probably the strongest winds that he has had to sail in to date. Sunday was a pursuit race which was a non discardable result and had to be combined with the best 2 Saturday results. The wind was apparently lighter but I suspect was still rather strong as only 137 boats finished. J&S must have been disappointed to finish that race in 88th, which dropped them down to an overall finish in 38th place, somehow I suspect they may have been late starting or had some other problem though that's pure speculation on my part. Finn didn't sail on the Sunday which dropped his final position down to 162nd, which in the circumstances was still an excellent result. Seeing some of the wild pictures of the Saturday racing on Y&Y then I was more than pleased not to have been sailing in the event myself, though once a race starts, thoughts of adverse conditions usually disappear as the mind concentrates on the task at hand. The Sunday pictures looked more manageable.
January 27th.
winter makeover
Happy New Year to all, it’s 2013 and here we go with the start of another sailing blog. January, the first month of the year, heralded the Prize presentation and dinner night and has almost gone. Next up is February and once that month has gone by then we should be cruising towards the start of the sailing season. Right now we are in the process of the winter maintenance getting the Club ready for the new season. In contrast to most of the country that is buried under snow, we have actually had quite a mild weather, wet of course but then we are probably used to that by now. The green has had water pouring off it for the last few months of 2012 and it is still pouring off it today. I suppose inevitably it will eventually stop raining and we will have one of our dry warm spells and all will appear to be well with the world.

Today down at the Club it was quite dry and surprisingly mild, though there was quite a blustery south westerly blowing across the bay and to me did not look too appealing for sailing just yet. Anyway the dry, mild weather gave us opportunities to carry out some external work, which included painting changing room doors and the stripping down of the No1 RIB launching trolley. I am trying to get rid of some of the 1000’s of stones that litter the yard surface. I’m sure that I am not the only one who suffers when I stand on any when wearing my sailing boots. I don’t think I will ever get rid of them all but I did fill quite a few buckets with stones today. The interior of the Clubhouse is having a thorough clean, damaged paint work is being made good, and the Race Box & kitchen are having a spring clean. Fortunately this year’s work isn’t too onerous as we undertook some major work last year with a new floor covering in the Clubhouse and some damaged concrete in the dinghy park, ripped out and replaced. Still it is no time for complacency as I am sure more work than originally planned will come to light and require attention.

Boat maintenance is another piece of work that is being undertaken by most of us. One of the joys of owning modern FRP boats is how little work we have compared to the amount of time spent maintaining a wooden boat. I have almost forgotten the endless hours I have spent in the past stripping off old paint & varnish, making good before getting to the pleasurable bit of applying new paint & varnish. There is certainly something about the smell of new paint and varnish that always heralds the start of a sailing season. My boat has had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in Jeremy’s garage where it has undergone a bit of a makeover, see the above picture. The alignment of dagger board and rudder blade were out and we have refitted the dagger board case and rudder gudgeons to try and rectify this. The hull has had a good clean up and polish, the leaking bailer has been out and refitted, the compass has been removed, I am intending to go electronic this season, and some new cordage and elastics have been changed. At the moment the rudder blade is in my garage, being filled, sanded and repainted. All being well the boat will be on the starting line for the new season.

Jeremy and Suzanne have been the most active of us all so far this year. They made the long pilgrimage to Queen Mary early in January to compete in the Bloody Mary. This is probably the largest pursuit race on the racing calendar with an entry of almost 300. An excellent finishing position of 20th shows just how well they are sailing and also how difficult it will be for us to beat them this season.

I am not sure what format our fleets will be this next season. For the past 2 or 3 years we have had a Tasar & a Handicap fleet, but the Tasar numbers actually racing have tailed off quite a bit, so the fleet balances may be restored by having a fast and not so fast handicap fleets. If so where the dividing line will be drawn is debatable, something for Nigel & his sailing Committee to discuss and decide. We also had quite a few cadets racing last year and maybe it would be appropriate to have a cadet fleet, which would consist of Picos & Toppers, again something for the powers to be to decide.

Anna has just published a list of forthcoming socials, which include the ever popular F&C supper plus walk and cycle ride, check out the diary dates on the front page. The F&C supper is usually very well attended. There is something about the odour of fresh F&C that lures us down year after year. I see the dress code for the fitting out supper is "onesies" hmm I am not sure which one I will be wearing, maybe the one I had for Christmas.

Now just to whet everyone’s appetite for the new season, follow the link below to see some of the most exciting sailing dinghies in the world in action. Watching this makes me wish that I was 40 years younger. Moth Worlds

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