Porthpean Sailing Club  
Webmaster's Sailing Blog 2016
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Return to the Beach.

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December 23rd
A windswept beach
Grab a cup of coffee, it's a long one!

Here we are, the last blog of the year and a bit of a summary of the 2016 season:- I am sure that we all have memories of events during the season; some good and some not so good.

Well the countdown clock ticked down towards zero and we were finally ready for the off on the last Sunday of March. The new changing rooms (see the projects page) were ready for us to use. Club maintenance had been completed and the fitting out supper had been a nice success. Once again the sailing numbers had been split into 2 fleets with a balance of numbers being drawn to give us “fast” & “slow” fleets.

Yes we were ready to go sailing but unfortunately the weather had other views. We were hoping for a nice, light north westerly to get us back into the old routine for our first race but instead we had (quote from the blog)
“Rather frustratingly our first Club race for 2016 was blown off by yet another low pressure system sweeping in from the Atlantic. Our brief respite of a high pressure area finally left us on Friday night and now for this week at least we are back into the low pressure systems, with storm Katie set to arrive sometime tonight. The usual keen fanatics came down prepared to sail in what seemed like reasonable weather. The wind had abated somewhat but we were soon rudely awakened when one of a series of squalls came along. The wind soon picked up, white horses appeared in the bay and the popular decision was taken -“Cancel”. I think that was a fairly popular decision as the air temperature was only about 8C and the wind chill probably made it a lot lower. Not all was lost however as the safety boat was loaded up with the permanent beach marks and Nigel & Andrew accompanied with a GPS system, lowered them in to the same position as last year, give or take the odd metre.”

Well that set the pattern for the next few weeks and it wasn’t until Wednesday April 13th that we finally had our first race of the 2016 season and again I quote from the blog.
“Well the fight back started tonight in earnest. The south easterly breeze had fallen surprisingly light and launching posed no problems at all. Ken & I were down for RIB duty and we managed to launch early to ensure that we started on time. Our first job however was to locate a missing beach mark. Unfortunately the beach marks hadn’t had time to become bedded down before the gales arrived and the left hand mark had moved and we found it loitering amongst the rocks to the left hand side of the beach. We could see that it still had some of its tackle connected, as the mooring rope was draped across a rock. Fortunately there was enough water surrounding the rocks to allow us to gingerly creep in and pick the buoy up, then circle the rock with the rope draped round it and start to pull in the tackle. Lo and behold as the tackle came into the RIB we found that the ground tackle was still attached so it was a fairly easy job to motor out to the right area and lower the mark and tackle back into its rightful place and with a bit of luck and no savage gales it will stay there with its brother until November.”

Sunday 17th brought us our first day of Sunday sailing. “A good forecast of sunshine and light winds finally came to our aid for our Sunday sailing series. It was a joy to turn onto the Porthpean Road and see the vista of a sunny St. Austell Bay spread out in front of us. Not wall to wall sunshine I hasten to add but enough fluffy clouds and glimpses of blue to reassure us that we had been provided with a very nice spring morning. The breeze was offshore but light and also very cold. Yes we aren’t out of the woods yet, but we finally started the Sunday racing in very nice conditions.”

sweeping sea weed
Yes we were well and truly off but the brakes soon came on again the following Wednesday when another gale blew in and left us with a seaweed littered beach. And then on April 25th.-
“My first sight as I walked down from the field was of Ken & Colin with rakes in their hands sweeping mounds of sea weed from the bottom of the slipway, which had been deposited there on a high tide and was blocking our access to the beach. One hazard we always get at this time of year, especially when the easterly gales come is vast amounts of sea weed, which usually gather in large mounds and we usually have to wait until the weather settles and a good set of offshore winds blow through and also coincide with a decent set of spring tides. The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great but it turned out to give us a beautiful day with a fresh offshore breeze that ebbed and flowed in both direction and intensity. The bay was looking resplendent in wall to wall sunshine, though the fresh northerly breeze managed to keep the temperature lower than we would have liked. However it was very pleasant sitting out in the sunshine at lunch time providing we kept out of that wind.”

No doubt about it but we certainly didn’t get off to a smooth sailing season as on May 8th we were once again halted in our tracks when yet another easterly gale swept in. We actually had one of our better weeks weather later in May and my sailing shorts made their first appearance of the season on May 15th as the weather was starting to warm up; summer was on its way, and the nights were becoming noticeably shorter. However the weather closed down at the end of May to leave us once again sitting around glaring at the unsatisfactory conditions.

Newly weds
Suddenly we were into June and the Club celebrated the nuptials of Sarah & Martin and what super weather they had for it. This is also the time of year when Wednesday evening sailing really takes off, especially when the après sail scene is blessed with the aroma of Jenny’s bacon butties. A good evening's sailing is made all the better when we smell the bacon cooking on the grill. Fortunately for us, this year we also had some willing volunteers for the times when Jenny wasn’t around. Charlie Austin showed us, more than once, his expertise with the grill. Colin too also provided for us so thanks Jenny & Charlie & Colin, I don’t think Wednesday sailing would ever be as good again without the bacon butties.

Jenny at work
Sailing fleets were dominated by the usual classes, Tasars and Scorpions and Lasers, and to some extent Supernovas. The Tasar fleet has suffered a little with a declining numbers, with usually only Chris & Tony and Ken & me turning out though we were joined every Wednesday by Justin & Charlie. Jeremy & Suzanne raced their Tasar quite a bit at the beginning of the season but switched to a B14 to get in much needed practice for the B14 Nationals which would be in September. Their battle was always against Paddy & Steve in the other B14 and I think on the whole they were very evenly matched when competing against each other. It was also good to see Pascual & Sue out in their Tasar and quite happy to have a go in what were sometimes rather trying conditions.

The Scorpion fleet ebbed and flowed a little with only Beacky & Kelvin and Andrew & Jenny being the main contenders. Steve & Ashley were starting to feel that their Scorpion was a little bit cramped for them and switched across to an RS400, which gave them more excitement and certainly more duckings. The Scorpion fleet grew a little on Wednesdays when Kay made her appearance and also Craig & Jake Varley made a few appearances. Occasionally Steve & Polly came down with their new Scorpion and really dominated the fleet.

The Laser fleet is now predominately headed by the radial version and I think it is only Nick who still sails with the original Laser rig. Sadly James who was very competitive in his radial hasn’t sailed much with us this season as his RYA coaching duties are taking up most of his weekend time. The mainstays of the Laser fleet this season has been Brian Reeves, Janet Preston, Clive Stephens, Nick Haskins, and James. The Club laser has been pressed into service on quite few occasions.

We haven’t quite got a Supernova fleet but we have seen both Simon Robins, Jeremy Rowett and John Hill out in theirs at different times over the season. In fact both Steve & Polly have one each in Plymouth so we have the potential of 5 if they were all here at the same time.

Janet & Pete have really got to grips with their Kestrel this year and have had some very good results this season, making very good use of their spinnaker at every opportunity. The boat has proved to be a good sea boat when conditions have been a little rough but is a real handful when trying to get it back onto its trolley when the surf is rolling in. Nick is a master at landing when there is surf running. He just points his boat at the beach and surfs in on a wave until he just steps off the boat straight onto the beach. It looks very neat. Richard has been a regular attendee but many a time he has been frustrated by winds that were too light for his Contender, though when he can trapeze on every leg of a race then he dominates.

Paddy & Steve have had quite a few frustrating sails this year and get their best results when we have a larger course and a longer race, or at least a race where they can fly their spinnaker on all the reaching legs. I think quite a few races this year were too light to generate enough speed to overcome their handicap.

Sailing numbers as per normal fluctuate but I guess that we were nearly always in double figures and sometimes up to the 20 mark. Dinghy sailing as a sport is declining from the heady number experienced in the 60s and 79s. This is not just a local decline but a National one as well. In today’s modern world there is just too much diversity of hobbies and sports that have the affect of reducing numbers in total. Well in no time at all we were suddenly into June and the lovely May weather that we had had disappeared as flaming June it certainly wasn’t.

Steve & Ashley
Well almost exactly half way through the year we had the Tasar Open, which brought in a couple of welcome visitors. Once again the event was dominated by Jeremy & Suzanne. Saturday gave some splendid Tasar conditions and Nigel & James set us a cracking “P” shape course. The fresh breeze allowed the Tasar to plane to perfection, and a good weekend was had by all. At least the wet weather had rescinded and we had a very good weekend, supplemented by Colin & Tony’s tin pan ally for the evening’s social.

July, again had some unsettled weather and we missed one or two racing days due to strong winds and then again sometimes through complete lack of wind. Days like that in summer do allow us to do other things and sometimes it is quite nice just to be able to sit around and chat and to this extent the decking has proved to be a very popular spot. At least the temperature was up to normal July temperatures and T shirts and shorts were the order of the day. I had a day away to watch the Merlins up at Salcombe and a very entertaining day it was. A quite fresh wind blowing up the estuary gave plenty of capsizes right in front of us in the gallery. I also witnessed some superb boat handling from some of the top sailors in the country.

Into August and the first event on the calendar was Charlestown regatta. James took the RIB for this one and we were joined by the cats from Pentewan who see this as their annual cruise, sailing round from Pentewan. The course was much further out to sea than normal and we all benefitted from better sailing conditions.

I will revert to an extract of my blog again, taken from August 7th:
“Shattered, absolutely shattered ; I know I have used that word before to describe my feelings after sailing but today is another day like that and its almost too much for a man my age, but what the heck I’m not that old yet so I should have plenty of energy left; but I was getting rather tired out there today. The weather today was first class for summer, with plenty of sunshine, interspersed with some clouds and when the sun was out it was very, very hot. Unfortunately the breeze was not really suited for summer, normally we expect it to be light and steady this time of the year but instead it was a very fresh and variable westerly, promising us all a challenge and a good work out. Once again the sunny conditions persuaded me to forsake my wetsuit and wear my sailing shorts once more, though I did wear a shirt and my spray top. Very fortunately we avoided a dreaded capsize but several others succumbed to the conditions, though we did have one or two moments. The wind was much fresher than originally forecast last Friday.”

August also brings Falmouth and Fowey weeks. Once again Ken & I made the pilgrimage down to Restronguet to sail in another reduced fleet. Numbers have really dropped off over the last few years and there will be no dinghy week at Falmouth next year. James elected to sail at Fowey and he had some better racing there and he finished 2nd overall in his class. Suddenly summer had almost disappeared but we did have a few new members who we expect to see more of next year. The most competitive at this stage is Chris & Kathy Isles who joined us for the autumn series and sail an RS400. They were sailing the boat at Saltash, but river traffic, tides and lack of suitable courses frustrated them enough to travel down to us, where they are getting proper courses and more importantly better competition. In fact Nigel & James teamed up in their RS400 for the autumn races and have managed to just have the edge over Chris & Kathy, though boat positions swapped round quite a few times during racing. Another new member is Duncan James who is in the process of moving down to Cornwall. He has brought with him an International Canoe and I expect to see him and the Isles competing regularly next season.

Roger is still an occasional visitor to us and has the advantage of being able to sail at his home club Rock or if the tide is wrong can forsake his Shrimper for his Blaze. Phil Harrison sailed with us several times in the early part of the year but has since moved back to Saltash and rejoined the yachties, so we may not see him next season.

The autumn series heralded the last of our racing and we did have quite a pleasant October but November was much tougher and we went from quite light moments to some heavy races as the weather gradually changed to autumn.

I always feel a little sorry for anyone who joins us late in the season as they have often missed some of our idyllic summer days with offshore breezes and flat seas. Instead this autumn we have been dominated by easterlies, which have usually had enough northerly in them to allow us to launch ok but the landings have sometimes been rather fraught. In fact I am sure that we sail in harsher conditions at the ends of the season than we do early in the season before we gain our confidence.

Our junior fleet sailors have changed over the years. James is now no longer a junior. Charlie has forsaken his Toper to crew for Justin, and we have seen Harry out crewing for either his Dad, Ciaran, or sometimes out in his own Topper. Much to our delight, Thomas Dazza has also been out single handed in his Oppie. Finn was showing very good potential in his Laser but has found his forte in a windsurfer. He has had excellent backing from Jeremy & Suzanne and has travelled the country and Europe, competing very successfully in many competitions. The pinnacle, finishing 3rd in the World Championships only a couple of months ago. Still only 14, Finn has the potential to represent England in a future Olympics and even win the World Championships one day. Other wind surfing juniors who sail at Porthpean and compete on the wind surfer circuit are Ian & Jeremy Whale.

Our big event this year was the B14 Nationals which we held at the beginning of September. 10 races were scheduled over 3 days and Ron Barrett – race officer, managed to get all 10 races sailed in what was very hard sailing conditions and those of us who witnessed the racing from RIBs or on shore saw some excellent racing. The Championship was won by Nick Craig, possibly the most talented amateur sailor on the circuit over the last few years.

Next season the Tasar fleet has asked to return to Porthpean for their Championships. This again will be a 3 day affair and will take place from September 1st -3rd. I expect to see a fleet of about 25 racing, so should be a very successful Nationals for us. I see that Paddy has bought himself a Tasar so he too can compete in the Nationals and I hear that Nigel & James fancy entering as well. Anyone else?

Lionel & Ken
Well that’s enough of blogging for this year and its time to finish off, but before I go I would like to give my thanks to Jenny, Colin, Stewart & Nigel who have often, at very short notice, filled in for us for OOD duties when we have had no cover. Without people manning the OOD box and the RIBs then we couldn’t have any racing. We are a Club and a Club is made up of many people who come together and when all is in harmony the Club becomes a very successful Club and I would put Porthpean into that bracket. Long may it continue. The year is drawing to a close and it will soon be Christmas followed by New Year and the cycle will start again. Maintenance and a few socials will keep us all going until the spring and the start of the 2017 season. The count down clock is already below the 100 count. In fact as I write this we have just had the shortest day and though we won’t see much difference for a while, daylight per day will slowly increase. It’s time to wish you all a Happy Christmas. Our next proper event will be the Prize giving for this season which will be in the Club house on January 21st. See you there.
Nov 27th
The yard
All done and dusted

The beach marks were pulled up today after racing to be returned to the yard, where they will stay until late next March when the 2017 sailing season will start. I was too tired to write a thing yesterday on our last day of racing and even today, this Monday morning, I am feeling quite sore and aching after yesterday’s exciting conditions. Sadly our 2016 season has finally come to an end but we did go out yesterday with a bit of a bang. November has been a month of easterlies veering from north easterly back to south easterly, almost on a daily basis. Anyone looking at the web cam over the last week would have seen quite a few days of surf rolling onto the beach and yesterday was no exception. The only saving grace for us wanting to race today was that the tide was low at 10.30 which gave us lots of sandy beach to launch from and as the beach is quite flat when the tide is out we consequently have a reasonable distance between the waves and the wind had swung to a more northerly direction, but it was COLD.

Beacky & Kelvin were our RIB drivers for the day and they were also tasked with the removal of the beach marks after racing, which wasn’t the easiest of jobs as the tackle, as designed, had sunk into the sand to hold them in their anchorage positions. The RIB was the first to launch and had to smash through the inshore rollers before getting to the main swell outside the cove. The beach mark buoys were clipped into place and then they were off to set the triangular course for the day. I ought to remind everyone that the constant easterlies of November have succeeded in bringing the air temperature right down and it was a case of donning full thermals in the hope of staying warm out at sea.

The beach
9 boats launched for the last day of racing and the centre board boats made short work of cutting their way through the waves. The 2 Tasars and 2 Lasers found the conditions more taxing as we all need to get some depth under our hulls before the dagger boards can be deployed, which means quite a bit of sideways sailing and we are also at the mercy of the waves which at water level looked quite daunting and sometimes knocked us back towards the beach which hindered our progress. I think Ken & I were the last to actually get out through the surf. Once again I was having a few problems with the rigging of the new Tasar but eventually all was sorted, we waited for a break in the waves and sailed off. The sea conditions were quite lively and we had a few waves break over the foredeck as we sailed towards the starting area off Blackhead. The wind out at sea was more north easterly which was a similar wind direction to our last outing but this time a little bit fresher. Indeed a north easterly is quite rare at Porthpean, we only get 2 to 3 days like that per season. The difference today was that we had quite a sea running, which is most un-Porthpean like.

I was quite pleased with our first start as we led the fleet away from the RIB end of the line. By the time we reached the windward mark we were behind Nigel & James in their RS400 and Richard in his Contender. We just managed to squeeze in front of Chris & Kathy Isles in their RS400 and all 4 of us set off on the wild ride down through the swell to take us to the beach marks. I would guess the wind at that stage was only just over a force 2 so most generation of speed for our Tasar was by trying to ride the waves down wind. The 2 RS400s had the extra grunt of a spinnaker and soon took quite a distance out of us on the first reach. The 2nd reach was tighter and benefited both Richard and ourselves more as the spinnakers had to stay in their sail lockers. We made up some ground on the Isles but Richard, who was revelling in the conditions which really suited the Contender, caught and passed the Dowricks. Jan & Pete were a little late for the start and though they made up some ground on the spinnaker reach lost out to us on the faster reach out to sea. Nigel & James caught and passed Richard on the last time down to the beach marks, but he had enough time in the bank to take a comfortable win. We managed to come between the 2 RS’s on corrected time, being just 16 seconds behind Nigel. Jan & Pete also made up some ground and managed to take Chris & Kathy by the small margin of 4 seconds, thus ensuring them taking the Sunday Autumn morning series. Pascual was helming the only other Tasar out today and he was crewed by Brian Phillips who we expect to see helming his own Tasar next year. Though they were quite a bit behind us they survived without a capsize in the, shall we say, “Challenging” conditions out in the bay.

The slow fleet only had 3 entrants, consisting of Paddy in the Club Laser and Brian Reeves in his Laser and both boats were sporting radial rigs. They were up against the only Scorpion out today of Andrew & Jenny. Paddy had trouble with the bailer, not working properly and having to sail with a full cockpit of water. He elected to retire and take some time out to try and fix it. Meanwhile Andrew & Jenny took the line honours but couldn’t save their time on Brian. His win ensured his 2nd place in the series, demoting the Kendalls to 3rd with Beacky & Kelvin taking overall 1st.

The beach
We had quite a quick turnaround for the 2nd race but the Kendalls came to grief whilst waiting, capsized and never recovered in time before the start so elected to head for home. Pascual & Brian also decided that they had had enough and they too headed for the beach, leaving a smaller fleet to race in the by now windier conditions. I made a bit of a hash of the start reaching the line far too early and had no option but to sail off down the line towards the unfavoured end. We must have started at least 50 M below everyone else so we faced a real uphill struggle to recover, but I suppose we had a bit of luck on our side. Richard was unstoppable in what by now were proper Contender conditions with full hiking mode being adopted up wind and down and he was off never to be seen again. Our first bit of luck happened when the Kestrel had to throw in a crash tack to avoid the incoming Starboard tacked RS400 of Chris & Kath, managed to hit the mark, resulting in a 360 which allowed us to make up much of our loss. Though the speed of the Kestrel with spinnaker flying was more than a match for us on the first reach the 2nd, closer reach levelled things out more and in fact we eventually pulled quite well clear of the Kestrel. I noticed midway through the race That Nigel & James slowed up significantly after gybing when they had trouble dropping the spinnaker, which I found out afterwards went under the boat and subsequently ripped. I realised that our time against the RS400s was in our favour and a much needed 2nd was within our grasp as long as we saw off the Kestrel. Although I reckoned that we had enough time in hand over the Isles’s RS, the result was turned into a certainty when they capsized on the last reach and then subsequently retired.

The slow fleet for the 2nd race was down to just 2 Laser radials and the result was almost too close to call with Paddy taking the eventual win by just 4 seconds, which was probably no more than a boat’s length in todays breeze. All the time that we were racing the wind had been increasing in strength to about force 4 then after the racing we all had to sail in to the shore through the by now large breakers that were starting to pound on the beach. One by one we went in, trusting in those who had gone before us to help prevent the boats being damaged. I must thank everyone who helped us. Our approach to the beach was fairly easy but once out of the boat the waves seemed to pick up and once again I ended up with the boat on top of me as I tried to hold it against a strong wave. Fortunately I came up soaking wet but unharmed as was the boat. The down side was the boats were all plastered with seaweed. I don’t mean those big strands that litter the beach but by those thousands of small pieces not much larger that tea leaves that are floating around in the surf. The boats need hosing off whilst still wet as once dried the weed will bond to everything and then take even longer to clean off.

Fortunately everyone reached shore safely and the last boat home was the RIB, weighed down with lots of tackle. The RIB too was brought safely to shore and we managed to get it onto its trailer without any further dramas. And that was almost that. I was by this time very cold and my first thought when I reached the yard was to get changed into some dry and warm clothes before I tackled the cleaning of the boat. There are still some jobs that I need to do, such as ensuring the rudder blade stays up when I want it up and replace the launching trolley wheel that has suddenly deflated. I’m not sure if that is a puncture or faulty valve. I should think it will mean a new inner tube after towing the boat up from the beach on a flat. Hopefully all will be sorted when I get the boat home in the next few days.

The beach
One good thing about the sailing season ending is that I won’t have the pressure of having to write a blog so often. However there are still quite a few social events still to come. The first is the AGM which will be held next Sunday in the Clubhouse at 11.00. The agenda and previous minutes have already been sent out. The Wednesday evenings nibbles and drinks socials are still ongoing. The Christmas party / meal is in early December. I believe Tony has almost 40 people coming so that should be a very nice convivial affair. I think Tony is also organising a New Year’s Eve party in the Clubhouse and then in early January we have the annual prize giving.

Back to the present and the count down clock is displayed on the front page, ticking down to the start of the 2017 season and it will be well below 100 by the time the New Year starts. No doubt there will be lots of Club maintenance to do before we start again plus some other socials in the pipeline. All will be revealed in future emails. I will sign off now by wishing you all a Happy Christmas and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the start line next March as well as the socials to come. I will try and write one more blog before Christmas with a summary of what I have noticed this year. Yesterdays vigorous workout has left me aching and sore, which all goes to point out that sailing for me is getting harder as the years roll by, but I am not quite ready to hang up my tiller just yet.

Nov 20th
The yard
Becalmed after the storm

The weather forecast for this weekend was appalling, but there was to be a glimmer of hope for Sunday; the day that really matters. The forecast was for the Saturday rain and wind to clear away for Sunday and then return again on Sunday evening;very decent of it really. That was enough to tempt the usual suspects down to race on what was to be the penultimate weekend of the 2016 sailing season. However Sunday morning dawned ominously quiet. The wind that had raged during the night had completely disappeared. Only the amount of leaves and some other debris in the garden gave a clue as to the weather that we had just had. Indeed Cornwall escaped quite lightly with the main strength of the gale tracking up the Channel but far enough south not to worry us too much. The rain came down in bucketfuls but once again we escaped the worst of that. On the other hand, Exeter only 80 miles away had a good 50mm of rain.

I expect that most people had looked at the web cam before they came down. The sea conditions looked rather benign with the tide set to peak at around 9.30 and in fact the sea did look far flatter than I expected but there was still quite a large swell producing some larger waves every now and again, so launching and recovery could be a little tricky. The sun was actually shining and that alone produced some very welcome warmth. Boats were rigged, the RIB was readied and a few people changed ready for a quick launch but unfortunately the bay was completely devoid of any wind at all and though we all stared at the sea willing the breeze to appear we were completely snubbed. We waited and waited, brought lunch forward an hour to eat during the postponement but by 13.00 there was still not enough breeze to ripple the lumpy sea and reluctantly we had to succumb to the inevitable and make the decision to abandon any hope of racing.

The yard
The cancellation was quite disappointing for all concerned but we have had quite a good run just lately with hardly any cancellations and given the time of year then that has been a great bonus. If we manage to race next Sunday then we will be finishing within 4 weeks of Christmas, which is a great achievement for us and I am sure that by the time we have had the final race and the AGM and Club party and then Christmas itself, we will be straight into the new year and thinking of the 2017 season and all the things that a new season brings us.

Simon packed his boat away for the last time this year as he is off back onto his work schedule next week. Beacky & Kelvin packed their Scorpion away for its visit to the woodwork shed for major surgery. Tony is still limping around with a dodgy ankle and I don’t think that he and Chris will sail again as a team this year. I do hope that next weekend will produce a good entry as I am sure that as many people as possible will make the effort to get their last race of the season in, though that will be completely dependant as always on the weather.

The yard
The web counter which has been busy ticking away all these years is advancing quite quickly towards the 200000 mark. I expect to see this milestone reached sometime this week, probably on Monday. We get between 600 and 700 hits a week during the season though I expect to see it slow down significantly when the winter comes. However its ever climbing number of hits shows how essential it is to Club life nowadays with the web cams and weather stations pages very popular as is the race results page. There is also a surge in numbers just after a social as people look to see what awful pose I have managed to capture them in. I usually always manage to take one or two showing eyes closed; not on purpose, I assure but it does happen occasionally. There are usually one or two that I think look too bad to publish and I don’t wish to embarrass them.
Nov 13th
The yard
The calm after the storm

The weather appears to have settled down from what we have had over the last week or so and today the bay was looking so serene, with an almost flat sea with only little wavelets kissing the beach on a falling tide. The breeze was almost non existent but the forecast did give a glimmer of hope with the promise of some 8-10 knot northerly breeze to fill in during the morning. And as it turned out we weren’t disappointed.

I have missed my sailing last week due to visiting my son & daughter, sister and then finally a trip down to Poole to celebrate Sue’s Auntie’s 100th birthday, which meant us being away a whole week. By the sounds of it I didn’t miss too much last Sunday as the conditions, our heroes sailed in, were quite extreme with virtually everybody capsizing at one time or other; all falling prey to some monstrous gusts that hit the race course from time to time. Ken & Janet Preston were in charge of the RIB and were kept very busy rushing between capsized boats. Fortunately nobody required their assistance for a tow home, which shows the resilience and skill of those out sailing. I’m just glad I wasn’t out there to test my skills.

For today I am pleased to say that the temperature has risen a few degrees and the northerly breeze wasn’t as cold as we might have expected and a good healthy fleet of 12 boats launched to sail a port handed course set by Steve & Polly. It’s quite rare for us to have a northerly breeze and this gave us the chance to beat across the bay from right to left. Invariably this comes with quite a few wind shifts and today’s little breeze proved to be no exception. Unfortunately the first reach was rather tight and didn’t give too many chances for a fast plane and the 2nd reach far too broad for the Tasar, calling for a whisker pole to be flown, but manna from heaven for the spinnaker boats.

The fast fleet today comprised 3 Tasars, 1 B14, 1 RS400, 1 Contender and 1 Kestrel, so quite a variety there and the slow fleet was made up of 2 Scorpions, 2 Laser radials and 1 Supernova. With the weather closing down now we elected to sail the 2 scheduled races back to back. I know that this gives us a late lunch but at least we have the opportunity to sail in the best weather of the day and I think our little fleet was 100% behind the decision. It was good to see Chris Hazell out again today after missing a few weeks sailing due to injury. Tony is still laid up with a twisted ankle and on medical advice he decided to give today a miss but Chris managed to secure the services of Liz to help him round the course. Pascual & Sue also came to the start line today to test themselves in some lighter weather than of late.

Today was our first sail in Tasar 2805 and with the intention of not confusing too many people I sailed with my old 2576 mainsail, though me sailing in a white boat after 23 years sailing in a green hulled boat takes some getting used to. Today was the first time that we had actually rigged the boat from scratch and we had all sorts of troubles with the halyards and various sheets and at one time we had to empty the boat of all the equipment and roll her over in the sea to sort out the main halyard which had lodged itself between the burgee and the mast. Eventually after much muttering we had everything sorted and launched and made our way out to the start area, just in time to set the stop watches for the first start. Fortunately the weather was fairly light but I really wanted more time to acclimatise myself with the different controls. Don’t forget I had been sailing Midnight Express for over 20 years and the boat set up was quite a bit different than how Steve had rigged this boat. The boat itself has hardly been used this year and some of the cleats were not in the right mood for sailing and had to be persuaded to cleat and undo without too much hassle.

It didn’t take us long to notice that there was quite a bit of port bias on the start line and we were soon joined at the pin end by Nigel & James in their RS400 and Richard in his Contender. Well I have to admit I made a bit of a hash of our approach and was squeezed out by Nigel & James and also Richard; so not quite the start I had hoped for. Nigel & James held their lead up the first beat to round just in front of Paddy & Steve in the B14 with Richard in close pursuit. We looked like we were about to join them when I threw us into a crash tack to avoid Jan & Pete in the pesky Kestrel on starboard and found that we couldn’t make the windward mark. A hasty gybe and tack brought us round the mark and off we went in hot pursuit.

Unfortunately the reach was a little too tight for us but occasionally freed us a little and each time we took off on the plane and the boat leapt forward to pass the Kestrel. Once round the beach marks things went rather sour. The 2nd reach was very broad and quite long. Ken launched the whisker pole, which promptly came unhitched from the jib, a second attempt gave the same result and so we left it alone and sailed as best we could but the Kestrel took full advantage of its extra speed and overtook us. Our 2nd beat was much better and we overtook both the Kestrel and Richard, but once again suffered down wind with one reach being too tight for us and the other too broad. Even so I thought we were doing reasonably well but made a hash of the last beat when we stood on too long on what appeared to be a lifted tack only to find that those including the Kestrel who had taken the inshore route came out with a better lead and although we managed to catch and pass them on the last reach it was a case of too little too late and the Kestrel duly took another win, strengthening their lead at the top of the series.

Paddy & Steve took line honours with Nigel & James not too far behind them but the handicap figures soon sorted things out giving the win to Jan & Pete and surprisingly for me we were credited with 2nd, so not quite a bad start for our first race. We pushed Nigel & James down to 3rd and they finished just 5 seconds in front of Richard, Chris & Liz took 5th Justin front of Paddy & Steve with Pascual & Sue bringing up the rear.

Beacky & Kelvin had an easier first race with their main protagonists, Andrew & Jenny doing time keeper duties in the race box. Even so Simon, back with us for a week or two had the opportunity to take the battle to the Scorpion but had to settle for 2nd. Janet Preston & Brian Reeves, both sailing Laser radials had a very good battle with Janet just coming out on top by 12 seconds. Janet finished 3rd overall, Brian 4th and Sarah & Martin Rendell, visiting for the weekend, completed the quintet in 5th using Andrew’s Scorpion.

The yard
There was a quick turnaround for the 2nd race and again there was quite a bit of bias at the port end and once again the 3 of us lined up to take advantage of the lifted tack. This time we managed to get it just right and squeezed the other 2 out and that set us on our way for a better race, or so I thought. Once again the speedy B14 reached the windward mark first but this time we were 2nd and set off down the reach hoping to capitalise on the conditions. Unfortunately the reach was once again just too tight for the Tasar to take off and we then had the slow 2nd reach to contend with and our nice little lead over the Kestrel & Contender was slowly eroded. This was truly frustrating as our position ebbed and flowed all race with the Kestrel and Contender managing to overtake us. We finally set off on what was to be the last beat a good few boat lengths behind the Kestrel. We got lucky on this beat as a sudden lift took us into a nice position. A quick tack by the Kestrel to get into our wind zone saw them looming down on us on starboard but by the smallest of margins we squeezed ahead of them and pulled out a small lead to start the last reach with a few boat lengths between us. Now all we needed was for the breeze to freshen slightly and free us off a bit but it didn’t happen until the last 100 metres or so and suddenly daylight appeared between us and our run to the line gave us a 29 second lead which when the handicaps came into play gave us a win by 9 seconds; quite close in fact. So our first day of racing in Tasar 2805 was quite successful with a 2nd and a 1st. I’m sure that when we get used to sailing this boat we will be able to generate some very nice boat speed. Once again Paddy & Steve took line honours and Nigel & James were looking good way up in front of us but I think both boats paid the price of a tight first reach, not being able to fly their spinnakers, preventing them from showing their true speed. When the handicap figures were worked out they pushed Richard down to 3rd in front of Nigel & James. Paddy & Steve managed a better placing in this race, finishing well ahead of the other 2 Tasars, though I 5th place overall.

The slow fleet took on a different appearance in this race with Simon taking his place at the front and Sarah & Martin being well ahead of Beaky & Kelvin after the first round. In fact Simon, although being in a slower boat, built up an unassailable lead to win by over 3 minutes. Sarah & Martin paid the price for not having enough spinnaker handling experience as Beacky and Kelvin and were eventually overtaken by them, which gave team Beacky a very useful 2nd and closed them up somewhat to Andrew & Jenny who are currently leading the series. The 2 Lasers swapped positions round in the 2nd race, with Brian having his revenge on Janet, beating her by just over a minute.

We are back on to spring tides this week and much of the sea weed that has accumulated over the last few weeks is slowly disappearing from sight and the beach is once again up to the top of the slipway, which made hauling up the boats a little easier for us.

I am finishing this blog off on Monday morning and I can tell that I haven’t sailed for 4 weeks as my leg muscles are feeling very sore indeed. I note that Ken & I are down for RIB duty again next week, which if all goes well will only give us 1 more week of the 2016 sailing season to go and then we will be laid up for a few months waiting for 2017 to come along.

I have been attending Falmouth week most weeks for the last 45 years and have seen quite a few changes over that time but one thing that has happened is that entries have been falling year on year and this year the attendance was the lowest on record. Obviously the formula that they have been using and trying has not worked and the end result is that there will be no dinghy racing at Falmouth week next year. This may be good news for Fowey as they too have seen their dinghy numbers drop off over the years but somehow have still managed to garner enough entries to keep their dinghy section going. Who knows, Fowey may see an increase in dinghy entries next year. Rock, however, are going from strength to strength with over 80 dinghies entering Camel week. That could be the event to go for in the future.
Oct 30th
The yard
The clocks have gone back; it's British Winter Time

Well my friends, this to me is the worst time of the year when the clocks go back and British winter time starts, signalling the run up to Christmas and then along comes January, when the long slog of cold and darkness really takes over. Nightfall, from now on comes in so much quicker from today and it is dark by 5 o’clock. Yes I know that it isn’t really winter just yet but I certainly know it’s on its way. And now we have to wait a whole 5 months before the clocks go forward again to catapult us into British Summer Time. We seem to have been going through this ritual for ever, though I remember back in the 70’s when we tried for a few years an experiment of staying in British Summer Time all year long, but somehow I think the Scots put paid to that as they lived their lives in more darkness than we did down in Cornwall. Ah well we still have a few days of sailing left, well 4 more Sunday outings if we manage to sail them all. Unfortunately I will definitely miss next weekend due to Family visits.

OK, let’s start off with some very good news, in fact Finntastic news. Finn Hawkins has been sailing his Techno 293 windsurfer last week on Lake Garda in the Boys under 15 World Championships finishing 3rd overall. Finn’s result is even better when you consider he is only 13 so one of the younger competitors there. Well done Finn!!

So on to today and in fact it turned out to be a very decent day as our very long autumnal fine weather marches on. We started today with clouds and a fairly brisk easterly breeze that had whipped up the waves on the beach making the thoughts of going sailing not to the forefront of most people’s minds, but we ended up with blue skies and a lighter breeze that did not feel as cold as it first looked. Ken & I were down for RIB duty today and my kit for the day was a set of Rooster thermals, under a very old woolly bear and all under my dry suit. With all that on I felt quite warm and ready for an adventure at sea. 10 brave souls signed up for racing and for the first time in a long, long while we had 3 RS400s on the water. In fact 7 out of the 10 boats were spinnaker boats. With the wind blowing straight onto the beach we decided to take the opportunity to have a windward leeward course for a change; A course that would certainly please the 4 asymmetrical boats racing today. As launching and recovery was not going to be too pleasant, especially as the tide came in, we also decided to run both races back to back. This turned out to be quite a popular decision and maybe we should run all the remaining races this year as back to back. The big advantage is that we finish on the water earlier and more importantly still in good daylight.

Sitting in the RIB gave me a good chance to watch the race evolve and see how the battles between the various boats took place. The start for the first race saw Paddy & Steve in their B14, the fastest boat on the water, sail across the start line first, but there were some very tardy starters and everybody without exception crowded the RIB end of the port handed course. Maybe we didn’t set enough port bias to tempt a port flyer which was a little disappointing. I expected the big battle today to be between the 2 RS400s of Nigel / James and our new members Chris and Kathy Iles and I wasn’t disappointed. Nigel made his intentions known by being leading boat at the windward mark and managed to hold Paddy off until the 2nd run. In fact Nigel & James built up quite a sizeable lead on the other 2 RS400s. However trailing the hotshot asymmetrical boats was Jan & Pete Barnes in their Kestrel and despite being last over the start line they made the most of the conditions sailing dead downwind on the run rather than a series of reaches to stay ahead of Roger in his Blaze and eventually after the handicaps were worked out they blitzed the results by taking 1st, place, pushing Nigel & James into 2nd. Paddy & Steve made up some of their lost time and managed to take 3rd in front of the Iles’s boat. Roger took 5th place leaving Steve & Ash, sailing the 3rd RS400 in 6th place.

The yard
The big battle in the slow fleet was once again between the Scorpions of Beacky / Kelvin and Andrew and Jenny and in fact both boats took turns in leading the other. At one time Team Beacky had a large lead when they started the run but Andrew came back to retake the lead by the leeward mark. However the lead changed yet again on the next beat and Beacky managed to hold Andrew off on the final run to beat him by 16 seconds. Brian Reeves in his Laser radial was a lap down on the 2 Scorpions but the average lap formula gave him the exact time as Andrew giving both boats equal 2nd. Janet Preston was the only other Laser out today and her corrected time was only about 30 seconds behind Andrew & Brian.

We had quite a quick turnaround between the 2 races so nobody had to hang around for too long. We dropped the start line back a little but still couldn’t tempt any port handers and once again most of the fleet elected to start almost in line by our transom. I think that Nigel & James rounded the windward mark 1st again but this time were hotly pursued by Paddy & Steve in their B14 and Chris & Kathy who had a much better beat and in fact both RS400s took turns in the lead during the race at various times. The Iles seemed faster upwind but the Dowricks faster downwind, especially as they appeared to sail the angles better. In fact it looked like Nigel had blown this race as he was just leading the Ilses at the end of the 2nd run when he made contact with the swaying 2nd beach mark, resulting in him having to do a 360. However the lost ground was soon made up and their battle recommenced. We watched the closing stages of the race between the 2 leading RS400s and it looked like the Iles had done enough to take victory but Nigel managed to gybe inside them on the last 50M to the line to win that particular battle. Once again Jan & Pete showed the speed of their Kestrel and though they finished 4th on the water they were still ahead on corrected time to take another 1st. Roger was into his stride in the 2nd race and though losing out to the Barnes managed to finish with enough time in hand to ensure 2nd position in this race. That all contributed to demote the battling RS400’s to 3rd and 4th. Although Paddy & Steve appeared to have a good race they still couldn’t overcome their handicap figure in this race and had to settle for 5th, leaving Steve & Ash to come home in 6th place.

Once again the main battle in the slow fleet was between Beacky & Kelvin and Andrew & Jenny in their respective Scorpions and then like true lovers they had a bit of a love in and then a fall out and for Beacky & Kelvin their fall out was out of the boat and into the sea. That tiff revolved around rights of way on mark rounding. There was a protest lodged by Beacky but I believe it was subsequently dismissed in the protest room. I witnessed the incident and have my own feelings on the rights and wrongs though may have not seen it from the best angle. What I will say is that some times having a spinnaker can be a bit of a disadvantage. Beacky’s capsize was enough to drop him out of the running, leaving Andrew & Jenny to take the win and the 2 Lasers of Brian & Janet in 2nd & 3rd.

By the time we all returned to the beach the tide was making and the size of the waves was starting to increase but everyone landed safely, which may not have been the case if we had had a lunch break and started later. There was enough sunshine to allow people to sit out for lunch but within an hour the first signs of evening were showing and the temperature was starting to drop and then it dawned on me; Christmas day is 8 weeks today. Now I wonder if I can have a new Tasar for Christmas?

Oct 23rd
The beach
Another easterly gale

My blog has been missing for a few weeks as I haven’t been down to the Club this month until today. I had a big birthday earlier in the month and the entire family descended on us for a celebratory weekend which stopped me sailing and then Sue & I went away for a holiday to Ibiza and now we’re back and today ready for my first sail. However the great autumnal weather spoilt that. Once again an easterly gale sprung up over night and turned our normal tranquil bay into a raging mass of white capped waves, all seeking to vent their energy onto our beach. I wonder if the beach marks are still firmly secured. Maybe we should look to lift them and bring them in very soon before the worst of the weather hits us with more regularity.

It was quite late last night when we returned from holiday and we slept in a little later than expected this morning so I was quite late when I arrived at the Club to witness the inevitable decision to cancel all racing; I had looked at the web cam prior to coming down so I didn’t rush!! Some would be sailors had already left for the day, whilst others accepted the inevitable, chatted and drunk coffee. At least the conditions were such that nobody doubted whether cancellation was the correct decision so no disparaging remarks were made. The size of the waves may have stopped our sailing but they are quite a majestic sight to see as they pound onto the shore. In fact quite a few people, including several half term holiday makers were streaming down for a first hand experience of such weather.

The beach
There was some racing last week but the attendance was fairly low. Launching and recovery were far more difficult than normal as the previous week’s gales had left mounds of sea weed at the top of the beach and the boats had to be man handled over the weed to access the water. The breeze was quite fresh and increased over the lunch break which caused the inevitable cancellation of further racing. No doubt the beach will be in another bad state when the current gale blows through, but that’s nature for you, always changing as different weather patterns move through.

The web cam has been a very popular addition to the Club and is even better now that we have a 2nd moveable camera up and running but I think everyone has noticed the difference between the picture quality of the 2 cameras. The original one has been quite badly damaged by exposure to the sun so Nigel was busy running up and down a ladder this morning replacing the original camera with a new one. Hopefully you will notice an improvement when you next use that particular web page.

Oct 1st
Summer in autumn?

Apologies for the late blog but I had a very big birthday on Monday and this little missive was pushed to the back burner. I suppose that I am now entering the phase of the “ancient mariner” though there are still some older ones than me turning up from time to time to try and prove the maxim that sailing is not only for the young. Fortunately I have been blessed with very good health (almost!!) and still feel fit enough and more importantly competitive enough to carry on for a few more months yet.

1st of October and we are now starting the last of the 2016 series, and what a beautiful day of weather we had; wall to wall sunshine with a very light southerly breeze, which freshened ever so slightly in the afternoon. Porthpean was looking at its absolute best and being this late in the season there was hardly anyone on the beach and joy of joy the buoy line has been taken down. The tide had peaked earlier and was on its way out and any waves were almost non existent, so launching was quite an easy process.

It’s good to be able to welcome Chris & Kathy Isles to Porthpean. They were busy unpacking their RS400 when I arrived at the Club. Chris normally sails a Laser at Looe and the RS400 with wife Kathy at Saltash. Looe only sail “fleets” of Redwings, Enterprises, Mirrors or Laser standard. This may seem like rather a drastic action for a sailing club to take but their total number of boats out sailing totally outnumber ours and at the end of the day it does take away all the arguments revolving around handicaps. Racing at Saltash can be quite a grim experience as I found out a few years ago when Ken & I sailed at Saltash Regatta. Racing there involves rounding channel buoys down river and a visit up river under the rail & road bridges, where the wind can be very unkind. Throw in a very strong tidal flow, a breeze that can box the compass at times, moored yachts to avoid and racing soon becomes a bit Mickey Mousey. Fortunately Porthpean offers a bit more to other sailors with our rather flexible approach to types of boat to race and proper courses to sail. Let’s hope that they enjoy sailing with us here. I also heard yesterday that someone else has just moved into the area and has applied to join the Club and intends racing with us. All in all very good news as we really do need to find ways to increase our racing fraternity. I know we only offer handicap racing and handicaps do have their limitations but generally they do give days when conditions suit different handicaps, so in a way every one gets a chance for glory at some time or other.

Steve & Polly who we haven’t seen much of lately were our RIB drivers for the day and with Roger & Wendy up in the race box we were ready for another race packed day, though in the light conditions things weren’t going to be too frantic. I borrowed Jeremy’s Championship winning Tasar for the day and in the first race I didn’t do it the justice it deserved. The southerly breeze gave us a beat from the beach marks out towards Blackhead, before bearing off to traverse the bay, followed by a gybe and a reach to bring us back to the beach marks.

The start line was starboard biased and there was the inevitable bunching by the RIB. We started down the line a little to avoid any confrontations and by the time we reached the windward mark we could see the 2 B14s with spinnakers hoisted, disappearing down the 1st reach with Jeremy & Suzanne being pursued by Paddy & Steve. Just behind them were our new pairing, Chris & Kathy in their RS400. I think that we may have been 4th but only just in front of the pesky Kestrel, with Jan, almost back to full fitness, and Pete. Giving them close attention was Beacky & Kelvin in their Scorpion. As I fully expected the Kestrel had the legs on us in the light conditions and on the first reach both the Kestrel & the Scorpion gradually closed us down. We had some relief on the 2nd reach which was a fraction tighter but still light / broad enough for all the spinnaker boats to carry, which was enough to cause much weeping and gnashing of teeth in our boat.

Although we held our position in front of the Kestrel who had managed to break the hold of Beacky the distance between us was not sufficient for handicap purposes but the handicap went out of the window when the Kestrel overtook us on the penultimate beat. This was turning out to be not quite a good day.

Martin & Sarah Rendall were down for the weekend and took out a couple of Club Lasers, which gave us 4 Lasers racing; the other 2 being Nick & Brian Reeves. Beacky & Kelvin built up a very healthy lead and inevitably took the winning gun just over 30 seconds in front of Andrew & Jenny. Sarah, being a dutiful daughter slipped into 3rd place followed by Brian, Nick & husband Martyn.

The B14s finished well in front of us all with Jeremy & Suzanne not far short of a minute ahead of Paddy & Steve, but success came early for the Isles, finishing 3rd on the water but winning their 1st race at Porthpean on corrected time by quite a good margin and about 30 seconds ahead of the pesky Kestrel who took 2nd. We did have the consolation of a 3rd with a margin of 12 seconds over J&S. Chris & Tony slipped into 6th leaving Steve & Ashley in their RS400 bringing up the rear. However they do have a very leacky boat, which was becoming heavier by the minute and they decided that the morning race would suffice and repairing the leak was going to claim a bit of a priority.

The breeze was forecast to pick up a little for the afternoon and sure enough true to form there was just a bit more life in it and occasionally we could get 2 onto the side deck. Steve had opened up the course a little and we were also joined by 1 or 2 extra boats so the turnout was looking healthier. Steve had taken the windward mark out to sea a bit thus creating a larger course. Once more the RIB end of the start line was the place to be and once again I opted to start down the line a little, which in the end wasn’t a bad move as we managed to sail the first beat in fairly free air. As when we closed with the windward mark we only had Paddy & Steve in front of us. Jeremy & Suzanne were a few lengths back and the rest of the fleet even further back. Again the 1st reach was a slow old affair for the Tasar and within seconds Jeremy Suzanne went past as expected. The RS400 was the next fastest boat but a much tighter 2nd reach allowed the Tasar to exploit its close reach potential and we managed to hold the RS off so much so that although it eventually overtook us we were deep into the race and we managed to keep the time difference between us to a manageable margin.

Somewhere round the course J&S passed P&S to take their 2nd line honours race of the day to please them and frustrate Paddy. I did hear a bit of shouting between teams Beacky & Barnes on the 1st time round the gybe mark and I saw a protest form being written out in the Clubhouse afterwards, so there were a few fire works going on there regarding mark rounding. That was all good for us as cleared off and put quite a lot of time between the rest of our fleet. In fact before the race which took us over an hour came to an end, we managed to lap both Sue & Pascual and also Chris & Tony. The interesting thing that I noticed was that along the top reach, which was a whisker pole type broad reach, there was very little difference in boat speed between us, but once we were on the close reach we were much the faster boat.

When our times were finally posted I was very relieved to have placed Jeremy’s boat into a winning position, which made up for my rather lack lustre performance in the morning race. Jan& Pete did well again with another 2nd reversing their morning position with the Isles’s RS400. J&S increased their lead over P&S to finish 4th & 5th respectively and Chris & Tony finished some 2 ½ minutes in front of Sue & Pascual who are suffering from lack of time in the boat, but nevertheless are completing races which is good to see.

Things were all change in the slow fleet for the afternoon with the 2 Lasers of Sarah & Martyn taking the top 2 positions, relegating team Beacky to 3rd and then Brian Reeves slotted in behind Beacky to take 4th pushing Andrew & Jenny down to 5th and Nick to 6th.

Liz who has now moved back to Cornwall to live was persuaded to take the Club Pico out and she had a very good race against Harry in his Topper and Ciarran in his Magno. Liz finished behind Ciarran on the water but on adjusted time had a good win and Ciarran’s blushes were saved when he still managed to hold his time over Harry. It would be good to see Thomas out in a Topper next year if he can be encouraged enough. Unfortunately time is running out somewhat this year as we only have 2 months left and the weather from now on will become more and more unsettled.

Sep 25th
A wild day's sailing

Anyone who heard the 5 day forecast last Wednesday may have thought that we wouldn’t sail on Sunday, but forecasting the weather 5 days in advance in Cornwall is a very unreliable process as we have witnessed time and time again and the forecast last Wednesday was no exception. In fact the abysmal weather that was forecast, mainly came through on Saturday giving us a thorough down pour and some very strong winds, so much so that the “Cadet’s Regatta” was cancelled. I noted that Polruan weather station, now working again, showed gusts of up to 40 knots blowing at times.

Unlikely as it seems we woke up on Sunday morning to blue skies and another nice looking autumnal day with a lighter breeze than expected. So it was with a certain amount of expectancy that we turned up at the Club for another day of racing. Racing on Sunday was listed as the September Cup, another chance for a couple of cups to be won in one day. Unfortunately the total attendance was once again lower than expected, but we can only sail with the numbers who turn up, but having said that the fleets were very competitive.

Five boats turned up for the fast fleet, 2 Tasars, Contender, B14 and RS400, whereas the slower fleet had 2 Scorpions, 2 Lasers and a Magno, though I’m not sure the Magno actually raced. Nigel and Colin took the RIB and Stewart and Dave Mackrell manned the race box. As it was a “cup race” Nigel thought that he would try something a little different. He laid a large triangle for the fast fleet and then a smaller triangle for the slower fleet, with both fleets rounding the beach marks. Now that takes me back to the beginning of the 70’s when I used to come over from Newquay in my Enterprise to the Porthpean Regattas. Regattas in those days were a very popular event and with many boats attending of various classes and we were given a designated course. We Enterprise sailors weren’t too impressed being put on the small course with Mirror dinghies and the like, whereas the Scorpions and Lasers and Darts were given the larger course, especially as some of our Enterprise fleet were actually quicker on the water than some of the Scorpion fleet. Anyway I digress, with only one RIB the race for both fast and slow fleet started at the inner leeward mark. A quick check on the start line showed a lot of port bias, so I wasn’t too surprised when most of the fast fleet, in fact I think all the fast fleet elected to start on port, whereas the entire slow fleet lined up for a starboard tack start. I think by the time the slow fleet actually crossed the start line the fast fleet were already gone, disappearing up the track at a rapid rate of knots.

Both Jan & Jenny were still suffering from bad backs, well actually they were just about fit again and if the wind had been less would have actually sailed but in view of the forecast for fresh winds they both elected to stay ashore and let Pete & Andrew team up again, this time in Andrew’s Scorpion and they were up against Beacky & Kelvin in the other Scorpion plus Nick & Brian in their Lasers. Richard broke his tiller last week but some very effective repairs during the week saw him rigging his Contender for what I thought were looking like ideal Contender conditions. Paddy & Steve rigged their B14 for conditions that were not too dissimilar from some of the racing conditions at their Nationals so they knew what to expect. I can’t say that I was relishing the conditions too much as the wind was very much from the west and squirting out over the cliffs in various directions and intensity, meaning you can never afford to relax on the beats, being continually alert for vicious wind shifts as we neared the beach marks.

We don’t often see Justin and Charlie out on a Sunday, more's the pity as they are a very competitive duo. Dennis & Brian would have been very competitive today as well but they haven’t sailed at all this year and with the boat up for sail, may mean the end of Dennis’s sailing career.

Now after my very poor start last Wednesday evening I decided to try and up my game for today’s racing and without blowing my trumpet too much we managed 3 excellent starts, all on port, right on the gun, giving us an early advantage, but it couldn’t prevent Paddy & Steve reaching the beach marks in front of us, but it was very rewarding seeing Richard behind us and for 2 of the rounds we stayed there, but he eventually slipped by and then sailed off in his own breeze to take the win on corrected time. Needless to say, the B14 flew round the course to take the line honours but slipped down to 4th on corrected time. We managed to stay in front of Justin & Charlie though the distance between us varied from round to round, so they were always in the hunt. Steve & Ashley in the RS400 struggled to control their powerful machine and I wasn’t too surprised to see them finish 5th.

The new pairing of Andrew & Pete was a revelation in the first race. They dominated the first beat putting an unassailable distance between them and team Beacky. Beacky’s cause wasn’t helped when they capsized, caused by one of Beacky’s toe straps failing (now where have I heard that one before?) That capsize was enough to let Brian Reeves through for 2nd place. The conditions were too much for Nick and after a few capsizes he decided that the comfort of the shore was more peaceful and he sailed for home.

We sat out in the sun over lunch and the decking and indeed Club area were well sheltered from the very fresh westerly which Polruan was showing to be consistently over 20 knots and the white horses out in the bay tended to corroborate with that data. Nigel told us that there would be 2 races in the afternoon. We would have the same course configuration but would have sausages to contend with as well!! Oh yes the wind strength was also stating to climb. That was enough for Nick and an early shower was his agenda for the day.

Once again the start line was divided and the fast fleet all gathered at the favoured pin end for a port start whereas the slow fleet congregated at the RIB end for a starboard start. Once again the port end paid dividends and our start saw us to windward of all our rivals and in the driving seat. We were all heading in towards Charlestown on a long beat when I decided that we were being consistently headed and we were the first to tack off onto starboard and took a long tack towards Silvermine cliffs and what an inspired decision that turned out to be. We arrived at the beach marks with an impressive lead, which boded well for the race. Once again Richard eventually slipped past us and took the gun, but unknown to us we actually took the win on corrected time by 4 seconds, so at that stage it was 1 win each to Richard and us. Paddy & Steve’s day went from bad to worse; they couldn’t fly their spinnaker on the reaches and then piled the B14 in on the run. Today certainly wasn’t B14 weather. That ensured another 3rd for Justin & Charlie.

Beacky & Kelvin certainly made amends for the morning race, being in front of Andrew for the entire race, but were pulled back in the closing stages to finish only 15 seconds ahead so they also had everything to play for in the last race. By the end of the 2nd race I think that there had been capsizes for both lasers, the RS 400, B14 and Beacky. Clearly the conditions were very challenging and I have to admit that we came close a couple of times when we took water over the side decks but managed to avoid the dreaded capsize.

No sooner had the last boat finished in the slow fleet then the start sequence started again for the 3rd and last race. Another good start allowed us to stay in contention with Richard and we managed to stay in front of him for most of the race before he eventually passed us to take the gun again. Paddy & Steve decided that enough was enough and they cut their losses and headed for home. Once again we managed to keep Justin & Charlie behind us which by now I was certain that we would be at least 2nd. In fact I thought that we were close enough to take Richard on corrected time so all would hinge on the result of the 2nd race.

Andrew & Pete must have thought that they had their hands on the cup when they saw Beacky & Kelvin once again taste the waters of St. Austell bay and looked like they had the race in the bag but disaster struck them when their rudder broke and I think that they too capsized before righting the boat and being towed back to the shore. Beacky and Kelvin’s emotions must have gone from zero to max when they realised that Andrew was out as that gave them the 2nd win that they needed to win the slow fleet cup.

I can’t describe how relieved I felt as we crossed the finishing line for the last time and tacked off to sail back to the beach, knowing that we had survived some very tricky conditions. The nearer to the beach we sailed the quieter the conditions became and I knew that my ordeal was over and I have to say I felt absolutely shattered and ready for a good rest.

When sailwave eventually spewed out its calculations it confirmed as I thought that we had indeed won the 3rd race. It also showed that we had taken the 2nd race also, but only by the margin of 4 seconds. So a hard day’s racing was actually decided on a measly 4 seconds!! Looking back and analysing the results I can say that our success was down to 3 excellent starts, a superb 1st beat in the 2nd race, a very challenging gybe in the 2nd race as we reached the wing mark, when the wind was so strong that I was thinking of tacking round before deciding to gybe. We got away with it plus I had Ken sitting in the front seat controlling the jib and hiking hard enough to make up for some of my attempts to hang over the side, not forgetting a bit of cursing at some of the massive headers that hit us from time to time. Some of the reaches were wild and fast, but due to the erratic wind direction were not always what we wanted, but that’s racing. We hardly ever get the conditions and courses we really want but have to learn to compromise.

Thanks to Nigel & Colin who sat out there for the day in rather cool weather. Fortunately they weren’t too bored as they had quite a number of capsizes to contend with. Now we look towards the last Wednesday race of the season and once again the forecast is rather unsettled but the predicted wind strength is certainly not as strong as we had today so there is no reason why we can’t finish in style.

Sep 22nd
A quiet evening in the bay

If I had to describe last night’s race then I would have initially said “Disappointing”; and that was because the forecast that had promised a moderate breeze failed miserably and we actually only had a very light breeze. It was not by any description a Tasar condition evening, so imagine my surprise when I logged on last night to check the results and found that we had won the fast fleet race.

In fact we had quite a good attendance last night with over a dozen boats out plus 4 windsurfers. The forecast was for a freshening south westerly breeze, but in truth the direction was corect but the wind strength was woefully low, with hardly enough oomph to get 2 on the side deck. But it was still good to be out on the sea on a very pleasant autumn evening and the sight of so many boats out there must have looked very pretty to anyone watching from the shore, especially with a square rigger reaching in towards Charlestown. The temperature had fallen enough for me to forsake my sailing shorts and instead elect for my long john.

Nigel & Colin took the RIB tonight and mindful of starting on time in the fading daylight had the course all set up and were anchored ready for a 6 pm start. Unfortunately once again we were a little late starting but only by 6 minutes late so no real impact to the race itself. The course consisted of a beat across the bay with a reach in to the beach marks before a gybe to take us back to the leeward mark and then several repeats until the OOD thought that it was time to stop the race.

Our 2 very keen young cadets made it out to the start line, though didn’t sail in the race but it was very pleasing to see that Thomas sailed out that far, which was a fair way out from the shore in a little Oppie. He was accompanied by Harry in his small sail Topper, and the pair were supervised by Pascual & Sue form their canoe. Ciarran was also out in his Magno and elected to race single handed, which probably felt quite lively down wind with 3 sails to manage.

The pesky Kestrel was out again tonight but not with her usual crew. Unfortunately Jan still has a bad back as also has Jenny Kendall, so Andrew was given the chance to helm the Kestrel and what a good pairing he and Pete made. After all, Andrew is used to spinnaker handling but the Kestrel is a slightly faster boat and much bigger inside than a Scorpion and I suspect may be heavier on the tiller, but at least it punches through the choppy seas in light airs much better than a Scorpion.

The start line was very crowded especially the starboard end as port bias was non existent. We had a terrible start, the approach wasn’t too bad but in trying to avoid other boats I managed to get trapped right behind Paddy & Steve in their B14, not a wise move! Down to leeward of them were Jeremy & Suzanne in the other B14 plus one or two others and the 4 windsurfers. Dirty wind was there in abundance and forward motion was severely limited and to cut our losses we tacked off. Well that didn’t really improve things as when we tacked back we appeared to be behind several other boats and even more alarming was the sight of the Kestrel probably 100M ahead and with 2 spinnaker reaches in light airs to come, not a very exciting prospect for us but at least it ensured maximum concentration.

First to round the windward mark was Jeremy & Suzanne, closely followed by Paddy & Steve, both teams in their B14s and their personal battle went on for quite a while with Jeremy & Suzanne having the upper hand all race, finally finishing only 6 seconds in front so that must have been very nail biting race for both teams. I wonder how much their race became tactical rather than going for outright boat speed. That alone can often give an overall poor result, when trying to protect a lead as it is possible to sail a greater distance and thus increase one’s time.

Andrew & Pete were 3rd around and when we eventually reached the windward mark they were making good progress down the reach with spinnaker flying. We had Justin & Charlie (Tasar) and Roger Willimas (Blaze) only just behind us. Though the breeze was light there was just sufficient wave swell to produce some momentary extra speed and slowly we drew away from our pursuers and reduced the distance between us and the Kestrel to an acceptable level. Chris & Tony were crewing the other Tasar out sailing tonight but found the light conditions very frustrating and they dropped back out of contention.

We finally had our chance to pass the Kestrel on the 1st reach of the 2nd round when we sailed underneath them and managed to reach the beach marks just in front. The rest of our race became tactical as we strove to keep them behind us and we slowly eked out a nice little distance. Though I thought I had dropped a clanger by not covering them on the last beat. Convinced we were going the right way up the beat and happy with our boat speed we let them go especially as I thought by that time in the race we had enough time in hand to beat them and that would have been good enough for 3rd behind the B14s. That was a mistake and the Kestrel actually closed us down but we hung on & had a lead of 23 seconds at the end. At the time I didn’t think that 23 seconds would be enough for us to beat them so was cross with myself over my poor tactical decision. I had already assumed that both B14s would beat us as their spinnakers were flown on each reach, which would have given them an edge. They were also lapping quite a few of the back markers and making good progress. However our lead of 23 seconds actual time was converted to a win by 8 seconds on corrected time, so suddenly I became a happy chappy. In fact looking at the results I note that there is only about 40 seconds covering the first 4 boats so quite tight racing for the fast fleet.

The slow fleet was rather decimated tonight with the fastest boat on actual finishing time and corrected time being the Scorpion of Beacky & Kelvin. Their competition was catching and beating Chris & Tony and they even beat Nick Haskins in his Laser by some 6 minutes on the water which converted into a handsome win for them. Next week will be a showdown between teams Beacky and Kendall as they are both level on points going into the final race. There could be a needle match in store.

Unfortunately there were no bacon butties waiting for us after racing and as I was quite hungry I shot off home, so missed all the usual gossip and ribald comments in the Clubhouse plus the revelations of the results from sailwave. Next Wednesday will see the last Wednesday race for 2016 and it will seem quite a sad occasion knowing that our summer has finally slipped away. Let’s try and make it a bit of a celebration night with a good attendance.

We have the Cadet’s regatta scheduled for this Saturday but the weather at this stage isn’t looking too good so not sure what will happen but no doubt the windsurfing element will relish the conditions. The question for us dinghy sailors is will it have eased enough for the September Cup on Sunday?

Sep 19th
Summer in September

September is renowned for being a good weather month and so far this month it has lived up to its reputation, though there have been some vicious thunderstorms around the country over the last few days. Fortunately our little area of Cornwall escaped the thunderstorms, though the weather overall had been rather manky during the early part of the last week. Anyway it seemed like summer had returned properly for yesterday’s final races in the summer Sunday series. We arrived at the Club with only a very light, fitful breeze caressing the bay and some questioned whether we should sail or not. Anyway to cut a long story short the decision was made to sail with what we had; and that decision turned out to be the correct one and gave some very interesting results, over a very interesting day. The weather was so good that my sailing shorts made another appearance and only a Tee shirt was needed under my buoyancy aid. It was proper summer weather again, so much so that the beach was filling up with people all intent on having a little bit more of an extended summer.

Once again our fleet was disappointingly small and whilst some have returned from holiday others have now disappeared on their holidays, sometimes you just can’t win. With yesterday being the final races in the series the results were quite finely balanced. We were leading the morning series by just 0.4 of a point over Jan & Pete’s Kestrel and when I saw how light the weather was I knew that we would have to do something special to beat the Kestrel in what I think were ideal Kestrel conditions. I was quite surprised to see Pete hunting through the field for the Club Laser when I arrived at the Club. He told me that they couldn’t sail the Kestrel due to the fact that Jan had hurt her back whilst gardening, and as they were the only rivals who could have beaten us more or less handed us the series win. Good news in one way but I do enjoy the tactics and tussle of a good race so bad news in that way; if we were going to win the series then I would have preferred to have won it on the water.

The slow fleet was again equally balanced with the battle between the Scorpions, with Beacky & Kelvin leading Andrew & Jenny, by a very slender margin. So the scene was set for a final showdown, though I didn’t know that at the time. Richard and Liz took the RIB today and I don’t think that Richard was too fussed about that as the conditions – very light, would certainly not suit his Contender. There was a very light breeze blowing out in the bay, a westerly in fact and that gave us a beat in towards the beach marks for a starboard rounding. Our biggest challenge was the other Tasar of Chris & Tony and the B14 that Jeremy & Suzanne had chosen to sail today. I knew full well that we couldn’t beat the B14 on the water but out challenge would be to finish within the rather onerous handicap time that the B14 carries.

All went askew for the Hawkins at the start when one of the B14 wings tangled with the rigging of the Beacky’s Scorpion. Jeremy’s resultant turns dropped them a long way back and they were only just in front of us as we rounded the beach marks for the first time and although they eventually pulled away and finished first I knew that the time difference was small enough that the race was ours. We had also managed to drop Chris & Tony a good way back on the beat and from then on we just enjoyed a pleasant Sunday morning race.

The slow fleet is where all the action took place today. Beacky & Kelvin rounded the windward mark with what I thought was a good lead over the Kendalls, but the Kendalls had much better speed down wind and slowly closed the distance between the 2 boats until they eventually took the lead and pulled well ahead to take their win by almost 45 seconds. More importantly that win was enough to give them the series win, demoting Beacky & Kelvin to 2nd in the series.

With 3 Lasers out it was going to be a battle between the vastly experienced Nick Haskins, the apprentice Pete Barnes in the Club Laser and the feminine charms of Janet Preston. Pete didn’t do his chances any good by flipping his Laser over when he caught the mainsheet round his neck during a tack though he did make a very quick recovery and took the win on the water. Nick dropped to the back and shepherded the fleet back home whilst Janet conjured up enough speed to beat the 3 of them on corrected time in her radial version. That 3rd was enough to take Janet to 3rd place in the series, as before the racing she had been behind Brian Reeves who by not showing today dropped down to 4th.

The wind died away as the race progressed and was shortened, which proved a very wise decision by Paddy, sitting high above the water in the OOD box and we all headed in for a very pleasant lunch time break on the decking in the sunshine. By the time we were ready to negotiate the race course again the breeze as forecast was starting to pick up and a spray top was required to fit over my Tee shirt, but apart from that I dressed accordingly.

Thomas and Harry appeared for the afternoon, each taking their own dinghies out for a sail, Thomas in his Oppie and Harry in his Topper. I believe some capsize drills were the order of the day but whether that took place or not I am not sure but they were watched intently by Pascual & Sue from their surf canoe. I think that Paddy was quite happy in the morning sitting in the race box but must have felt rather different in the afternoon when the breeze started to fill in and suddenly it was looking more like B14 weather, especially as both reaches were spinnaker flying jobs.

There was enough port bias again on the start line for us to have a “go” but I think the rest of the fleet were up to our antics and the majority of the fleet sailed down the line on starboard and we were forced to duck quite a few boats before eventually being forced to tack by Nick in his Laser, which in turn put us in dirty air from the Kendalls Scorpion. That certainly put the kybosh on a good beat as in an attempt to get some clear wind we tacked off only to find that we could only manage to reach the beach marks in 4th place behind the much faster Jeremy & Suzanne and the 2 Scorpions, headed by Beacky. With 2 spinnaker reaches to come, life was looking hard for us but interesting. A Scorpion with spinnaker flying on a good reach is difficult to catch, but we made an initial catch up and overtake on Andrew & Jenny on the first reach but couldn’t catch Beacky & Kelvin in fact on the 2nd reach they pulled well away from us as there just wasn’t enough breeze to allow us to plane. The fresher breeze allowed the extra weight of Beacky & Kelvin to pull well away from the Kendalls and there would be no doubt as to who would win that particular dual in this race, with team Beacky winning by 2 minutes to make up for the morning’s race result. What a difference a bit of breeze can make.

Our little battle with Beacky eventually told in our favour and we did manage to pull well away from him, but Jeremy & Suzanne had a massive lead and by the end of the race had managed to lap most of the fleet out racing. Luck always plays some part when racing and our luck came on the last round. Jeremy & Suzanne appeared to have enough time in the bank to take the victory but the breeze for what it was piped up a few notches and we benefitted by completing the final round much quicker than previous rounds and our final corrected time suddenly took us in front of the B14 to give us our 2nd victory of the day. A victory we probably didn’t deserve due to my cock up at the start and subsequent duals with the Scorpions. Mind you, little battles on the race course often push you to sail faster than times when you can just sail around admiring the view.

Once again the Lasers were having a ball and I looked round one time to see 2 of them together and not moving, with one of them on its side. From what I hear, Pete capsized just in front of Nick. They were on opposite tacks with Nick being on starboard. Pete was so close that Nick couldn’t take avoiding action and he ploughed into and over Pete’s Laser. Fortunately no damage was done and I think that they sorted out between them as to who was right and wrong and took the appropriate action. Well put it this way, Pete retired. Their mishap was enough to give Janet her 2nd 3rd place of the day; though this time it didn’t improve her final position in the series table.

So there we are, the end of the summer series, next week is the September Cup to take us up to the end of September and then our 3rd and final series, the autumn series starts in October and that will take us up to the end of November. Now how many of those races we actually sail will be questionable as the weather can be quite foul at times over the autumn and our low turnouts may sink even lower. Still overall I think we have not lost as many races as the previous season. The statisticians amongst us will have to analyse our results and tell us.

Sep 14th
Another light evening in the bay

On Sunday I found that one of my stays was in danger of breaking to I rang through on Monday morning to order a new pair from “Signal Locker”. To my delight they arrived on Tuesday and I fitted them earlier on so as to be ready for tonight’s race. Thank you Signal Locker for very prompt service.

I suspect that there are many a holiday maker sitting on the beach during the holiday season watching us rig and launch our boats into a very flat, sometimes blue sea and then glide off out into the bay with a degree of envy. I must agree with them as I too thought like that when I was a boy and a holiday maker in Cornwall. I also suspect that those same holiday makers wouldn’t have been quite so envious if they had seen us last night trying to launch through a very messy surf, strewn with lots of sea weed. Our progress out to sea was initially quite slow as we were tossed around by the messy sea. I too struggled a little last night trying to get off the beach and a thanks from me to Pascual who gave us the extra shove to allow us to clear the worst of the waves. Once the dagger board was in and the sails filled we were off.

Now the east of the country may be basking in beautiful weather but we are not, and after a couple of very mediocre days Wednesday turned out to be quite warm and sunny, though the south easterly breeze blowing over the Club wall soon brought us down to earth. Jeremy & Suzanne were down for RIB duty this evening but Jeremy was away on company business so we were very pleased to see Liz, home for a few days, deputise for him and so we had the pleasure for the first time this year of 2 ladies controlling our race. It would have been 3 with Jenny in the race box but she has flown off to warmer climes for her holiday, so she was replaced by Tony & Colin, Tony has just returned from his holiday and was finding our fresher climate rather chilly for him and I think that he was pleased to sit in the warmth of the race box.

Daylight or rather lack of daylight is now our enemy and a prompt start is necessary and a possible smaller course than we would often like. Anyway the course was smaller and we were only just a tad late starting also the clouds that accompanied our launching had moved away leaving us with a sunny evening and the bonus of a little extra light.

Now rather strangely we have been using the numeral 6 pennant as our 5 minute flag for several years now and I have often said to Ken that logically it would make more sense if the "6" was swopped for "5". I think that the "6", has either been lost or waiting on a repair but last night we used the numeral "5" for the 5 minute warning flag, a much better convention I think and with its bright blue and yellow sections I think is easier to see.

Our fast fleet was joined tonight by Nigel & James in their RS400 and it was a delight to see and they joined Paddy & Steve (B14), Jan& Pete (Kestrel) and Justin & Charlie and Ken & me in our Tasars. The slower fleet was headed by Beacky & Kelvin (Scorpion), Nick & Clive (Lasers) and Ciarran in his Magno. We also had Thomas in his Oppie and Harry in his Topper. These 2 were only out for a sail and were under the watchful eyes of Pascual & Sue in their surf canoe.

A quick check of the start line showed a little port bias, very tempting but the line was rather on the short side. Would we be able to get through? Well that was made more difficult when Nigel & James decided to join us for the port end flyer. To be honest we were a little early and the starboard sailors bore down on us quite ominously. I knew immediately that we wouldn’t clear the fleet so opted for a quick bear away to find a gap and hardened up to sail into clear wind. Nigel opted to tack onto starboard with the rest of the fleet. As the course was relatively short and the wind was very steady in direction it would be very interesting to see who was where when we converged at the windward mark. Not surprisingly, first around was Paddy & Steve in the B14 but we managed to call starboard on both Justin and Nigel and rounded the windward mark 2nd. So far so good but it wasn’t long before the spinnaker clad RS400 sailed over us. Suddenly the close reach was turning into a very broad reach. Something was seriously wrong!! The wing mark had become detached from its anchor and was floating away and downwind from us. The close reach became more and more broad and I should have had the gumption to use the whisker pole. Jan & Pete certainly capitalised on this by sailing over the top of us as we struggled to make some speed. By the time we had gybed and reached the beach marks they were 5 or 6 boat lengths in front and threatening to do us over good and proper.

Full concentration and hard sailing on the wind allowed us to close down the Kestrel on the next beat and she was only just in front of us as we rounded the windward mark. This time I ensured that we were up to windward which kept their spinnaker flying speed down to our speed. The errant buoy had been moved and re anchored; good thinking by the girls substituted the boat anchor for the missing tackle and it held very well. Fortunately the reach was tighter now and the whisker pole wasn’t needed. We managed to gybe just in front of the Kestrel and that was just enough to give us clear wind for the 2nd tighter reach and we managed to increase our lead throughout the rest of the race. Meanwhile whilst we were fully occupied with the Kestrel we could see both Paddy & Steve and Nigel & James opening up a nice little lead on us. Justing & Charlie who had been very close to us was losing time quite quickly, slipping further behind the Kestrel. Beacky & Kelvin pulled well clear of the Lasers, taking a very good victory relegating Nick to 2nd but for Nick 2, 2nd‘s in a row takes him to the top of the leader board.

The thing about handicap racing is that we don’t know the full results until Sailwave releases its findings and when it did a smile appeared on my face. We had managed to beat the B14 and RS400. Mind you it was a very close thing Nigel & James corrected time showed them just 2 seconds behind us., which in the conditions we had last night was no more than half a boat’s length, if that. Paddy & Steve could only manage 5th which I found hard to believe when they appeared to finish so far in front of us all. But there you are that’s handicap sailing. It goes to show that at the end of the day you just cannot beat boat on boat racing, but with such a diverse range of dinghies sailing that’s all we can do.

Many thanks to Colin, who I know won’t read this, but he managed to squeeze into Jenny’s shoes last night and took on the mantle of bacon butty chef. What a magnificent job he did and I managed to eat and enjoy 2 of them. It was pitch dark when I left the Club, the breeze such that it had been had faded to nothing, the air was cool and autumn is with us, and this Sunday sees the last of the summer series. Goodbye summer.

Sep 11th
On the beach
The Magnificent 7 Ride Again

Sailing shorts or wetsuit? That was my dilemma today until I arrived at the Club. The blue skies and sunshine at home made sailing shorts a dead certainty, the onshore freshening breeze and arrival of some dark looking clouds caused an abrupt change of mind. Out of my sailing bag appeared my long john wet suit plus a rooster top thermal to go under my long john and my spray top to go over. Once I was dressed I felt ready for the races to come. Again due to holidays and other trips away we were a much reduced fleet of only 7 but at least we had 4 in the fast fleet and they were all competitive, so we knew we had to be on our mettle.

Today our RIB drivers were Paddy & Steve and I think deep down they would have preferred to be racing in the by now quite fresh southerly breeze. Although the breeze was quite fresh we were devoid of the sudden wind shifts that the offshore breezes normally bring us and hiking felt a lot more comfortable. Waves at this time were also absent, so launching was rather easy and with the tide on neaps gave us just enough beach to play with. Richard was out in his Contender and I knew that once he could trapeze then he would most likely do very well. Jan & Pete are another couple that once they get up to speed in their Kestrel can take a lot of effort to beat them. Due to time constraints and the RIB having to return to the beach to retrieve some essential goodies, like flags we set off on the race without a wing mark laid. That was still attached to the RIB to be laid once we had started.

A quick check on the line showed no port bias but plenty of starboard bias. That meant a bunching up by the RIB. Well Andrew & Jenny were missing this week so that took some pressure out of a perfect start. And it was a near perfect start for us with only Richard below us we managed to cross the start line within a second or so of the gun, up to windward of the fleet and off we went. There was a bit of a sea running but in truth nothing too much and the Tasar cut through the waves very nicely. We did take the occasional one over the bow but the bailer soon dealt with any excess water and we made good progress up the first beat to round the windward mark first.

Paddy & Steve shot up the course to lay the missing mark but they didn’t have much time to play with as the beat although looking longer than normal only took us 6 minutes to complete so the wing mark went in much earlier than they intended which made the first reach very broad as we found to our dismay once we had rounded the windward mark. As the reach was very broad we had no option but to use the whisker pole that would normally put us at the mercy of Jan& Pete in their Kestrel. Fortunately we had made enough distance on the first beat to negate that. Instead they had more of a problem with Beacky & Kelvin who made very good time up the first beat and looking back we could see both spinnakers flying. Also fortunately for us, Richard who had started behind us, over stood the first mark and it took him most of the first reach to catch up and overtake us. Actually the broad reach wasn’t too bad as we managed to surf on quite a few waves to keep a good speed up

The 2nd reach was a “Brucie Bonus” for our Tasar. It was nice and tight and without too much effort we managed to hook into some very good breeze and waves and managed to keep the distance between us and Richard to a minimum. Our little battle raged on for the rest of the race with Richard slowly edging ahead but as it turned out not too far in front of us and we took the win on corrected time by some 19 seconds. Very satisfying for us was the fact that, we managed to increase our lead over Jan & Pete which was also a very good bonus for us.

The other 2 boats in the slow fleet were Nick & Dave Mackrell in their Lasers, but they couldn’t keep up with Beacky & Kelvin though were given a very good chance when once again one of the toe strap fastening ropes gave way on the Scorpion and Kelvin managed a quick back flip out of the boat. What a way to treat a loyal crew and I think a muttering of “Lack of maintenance” came to the fore!! Mind you, we too had problems and lack of maintenance may be directed my way also. Just before the start I noticed one of the strands of the port stay had parted and was unwinding. That is a sure precursor to a total failure, but the question was “How long would it last?” The easiest solution would have been to head straight back to the beach, especially as the loadings in the race conditions were pretty high. Anyway I decided to chance it and we sailed on but every time we were on a port tack I was fully aware that the shroud was taking a lot of stress and could let go at any time, but we needed the points and at the end of the day – points mean prizes. Very fortunately we completed the race with our mast still upright.

Beacky had to sail back and pick up a wet and spluttering Kelvin and then continue their race but they had plenty of time in hand so that mishap didn’t cost them any points. Steve & Ashley had managed to patch the RS400 up after Wednesday’s mishap and though they finished last in our fleet still put on a good show of boat handlling in the ever freshening breeze that we had.

Last Wednesday you may have read how our very brave fleet managed to wring every last ounce of speed out of the sub 2 knots of wind in the bay and crawled round to complete the race. Well also out in these extreme conditions were Harry in his Topper and Thomas in his Oppie. Very bravely Thomas was out again today, carefully monitored by Mum & Dad in their surf canoe and from what I saw Thomas was sailing very well and managed quite a few tacks and gybes without coming to grief. Hopefully he will continue to enjoy his sailing and it won’t be too long before he is looking for some extra competition in a faster boat. The Oppie is designed for crews up to about 15 years in age so he still has quite a few years to go yet, though Harry seems quite happy and content in his Topper.

The wind speed increased as per forecast over lunch and several decided to opt out of going in the afternoon, including me. The thought of a shroud failure heavily influenced that decision but I think it was the correct one. I don’t think I would have had much sympathy if it had broken during the race, especially as I knew full well that the weakness was there. Richard had a capsize after the race and damaged his rudder case and then found on closer inspection that he had a huge crack in it and he too decided not to race. Suddenly the wannabees were in a minority and the afternoon race was scrapped and the sun bathed table on the decking was the place to be. Beer in hand of course!!

We haven’t seen much of James this year, instead of racing his Laser he has been away coaching and I am pleased to say that now he is a fully accredited RYA Level 2 National Race Coach. James has spent a lot of time coaching at St Mawes with their young Feva squad and also visiting other sailing clubs in that capacity. Congratulations James, it’s a very good achievement and another good string to your bow. The only downside to that is that we don’t see enough of him here racing, but then you can’t do it all and it’s good to know that his enthusiasm was generated here at Porthpean.

The majority of the country is basking this week in a heat wave. Unfortunately we won’t be, well it is still mild but the drizzle, rain and wind will soon put a dampener on that and it may impact on our last few Wednesday races. The weather pages on our web site are well used, especially the Polruan weather station. Unfortunately that one has not been giving any live information this month. I rang them up to see what the problem was and was told that the equipment is broken and requires a new part which will come for the USA. As of last Saturday they had no idea when the part(s) will arrive, so be aware if you do go on their site, check the date on the weather page, if current then it will be working, if not then still broken.

Sep 7th
midnight express
Back to normal service - well not quite just yet

Now why do you think a picture of my boat is gracing the blog today? Because that’s as far as it got to launching for the first race of the autumn Wednesday series. I brought her down to the club earlier in the afternoon after our sojourn to Roadford reservoir, so as to be ready for tonight's racing, only to be greeted by a fresh south easterly and a few waves on the beach. By far and away my least favourite conditions, but the breeze was starting to fade and the waves on the beach were not too fierce, so maybe there would be a chance to go sailing after all. Unfortunately the breeze faded away until there was only a wispy zephyr coming over the wall and almost nothing discernable on the beach. Another reason that I was down early was as from tonight the Wednesday racing starts an hour earlier at 6pm. That caught one member out who came down for the usual start time, rigged his boat and wondered why the fleet such as it was, was out on the water.

Nigel took the RIB and loaded with marker buoys motored out to the beach marks where he reported that there was very little breeze and asked the fleet to decide whether they wanted to race. After a quick consultation with Ken our decision was “No” as were one or two others in the yard but those already down on the beach said “Yes” and then carried on with their rigging. Nick Haskins was the first to launch and he made the most painful and slow progress out from the beach. Well even the slow progress was not enough to dampen the ardour of the rest of the fleet and one by one they cast themselves off from the shore to dice with the perilous conditions further out at sea. And so a very modest fleet of 5 plus a windsurfer launched and struggled out to the beach marks. By the time they arrived the breeze for what it was worth had developed into a south westerly and a small course was set to beat across the bay. One round was duly sailed with all crews cramped up into almost painful crouching positions to sail the mandatory distance.

Steve & Ashley were also one of the 5 that decided to race, launched their RS400 and by skilful use of the buoy line managed to propel themselves out towards the beach marks, but finding the lack of breeze not to their liking used the same buoy line to haul themselves back to the shore. Unfortunately there was still a lot of wave action on the beach and a heavy landing on their launching trolley badly damaged their hull. The robust edge of the trolley went through the hull creating a very nice slot. The damage is repairable but will keep the boat off the water for a few weeks.

Not surprisingly the new sails on Paddy’s B14 allowed them to surge ahead – no wrong phrase!! Crawl ahead, to reach the windward mark first, with the Tasar of Justin & Charlie not too far behind. Andrew & Jenny in their Scorpion and Nick Haskins in his Laser stayed with them up most of the first beat. Once round the windward mark we saw Paddy’s new spinnaker hoisted but it hung like a wet towel from its halyard. There was just not enough breeze to fill it and it was quickly doused and then they drifted slowly down wind towards the beach marks. Justin followed suit but he was catching Paddy all the time and was right on his transom as they rounded the beach marks. The spinnaker was hoisted for the 2nd time and this time there was just enough breeze to fill it to take the B14 to the finish line but only 35 seconds in front of Justin. That was not enough time by far to take a win for Paddy but 2nd place was still a good result and even better for Justin & Charlie. Andrew & Jenny stayed in front of Nick and finished time wise far enough in front to take the victory in the slow fleet, but as again in the fast fleet 2nd for Nick was still a good result, especially as the autumn Wednesdays is only a 4 race series.

The yard is still fairly empty as it was cleared for the B14 Nationals but will slowly fill again as the various boats come back to sail. It was only a few days ago that the B14s came, raced and went but it seems to me like a life time ago, and a few of our involved members are having a few days well earned rest, before they resume their sailing for the rest of the what is now quite a short season.

Sep 5th
B14 group
B14 Nationals

Phew!! That was a busy weekend for the Club as the B14 sailors arrived, raced, partied and after 3 days of very varied racing eventually left tired, thrilled and to us very happy with the spectacular racing and hospitality that Porthpean members delivered in spades. The only downside, if you want to look at it that way, was the low attendance of only 15 boats. The reason being many of the B14 fraternity had visited Lake Garda in June for the B14 World Championships. That competition involved quite a large expenditure plus taking of much holiday, contributing to taking some of the shine off the allure of travelling down to Cornwall. However I know that those who made the journey to join our 4 lone B14 sailors thoroughly enjoyed our hospitality.

Over the 3 days of racing the B14 sailors experienced very extreme conditions, from 4 races in very light winds on a sunny Friday afternoon, 2 races in VERY strong winds and heavy rain on Saturday and then 4 races on an overcast but mild Sunday in a force 2-3 westerly breeze to complete a planned 10 race series. Not everything ran as smoothly as we hoped, but in true Porthpean style our improvisation paid handsome dividends. Normally we have always had a yacht for the Committee boat and once again we were in the privileged position of having Peter Pope’s yacht “Morganna” mooring up out in the bay to provide the necessary role but the adverse weather that was forecast for Saturday forced Peter to seek shelter further afield. However Jeremy came to our rescue with his very large RIB, “The Black Pearl”. Actually although the RIB was smaller than the yacht it did provide a very stable platform for the Race Officer, Ron Barrett and his assistant Ken to operate from.

The black pearl
The courses were set, as ever, way out in the bay which in turn gave our competitors superb views of the surrounding landscape. I suppose from the RO’s point of view the courses were relatively easy to set as the B14s prefer a windward-leeward style of racing, with a gate at the leeward end allowing them the choice of starting the following beat on either port or starboard. Launching on Friday was an easy affair with plenty of beach available but it was a very long day on the water for the fleet as after the first race the wind died and it took quite a time before it returned with enough force and a settled direction to allow racing to resume. That allowed the famous pasty boat to make an appearance and complete its rounds after race 1, delivering its goodies of pre ordered pasties and drinks to hungry sailors. Eventuall the wind filled in and settled and 3 more races took place before a tired and weary fleet returned to the shore. There wasn’t much beach left when they finally returned and we had to retrieve most of the submerged launching trolleys to get them to the correct boats, but with a little cooperation all went smoothly.

Fortunately, once again, Andrew had managed to borrow a small tractor enabling us to pull the boats up the hill after racing and Paul Beacon was in his element pulling up B14s in lines of 3 up to their dinghy park plus the 4 RIBs. That certainly made our lives much easier as the last thing the rescue crews want to do after a lengthy time on the water is to have to haul boats up to the Club.

Once again Jenny’s breakfasts were in much demand from competitors and members alike and lots of our other members helped in the busy galley which had been well organised by Tony. In truth most of our members were involved in various duties which are necessary to run a Nationals. Their reward at the time was seeing the happy smiling faces of the racing crews.

On Friday Chris Bilkey took to the water with his camera taking many photographs. I am hoping to have a link soon so that they are all available to see. Dominic Seylor was afloat on Sunday with his camera and he took quite a few photographs which again will be on display when I get a link from him. James too was in the action here and he had his drone flying around the Club and beach taking some action shots of the activities. Again a link to the footage will be on the web site soon.

There was a Commodores’ reception on Friday evening which went down well. I had an evening off so wasn’t present for that but Sue & I came down for the BBQ & games on Saturday evening and what a great BBQ it was. Brian Phillips and Jeremy were our chef’s, whilst some other members provided the bits and pieces that accompanied the meat. There was plenty for everyone, including 2nds. Tony’s “tin can alley” was erected for the entertainment and this proved to be a huge success with the fleet divided into teams of 4. The macho boys soon proved that knocking the tins off their perches was not quite as easy as it appeared and there were many huge jeers at some of the efforts, accompanied by equally loud cheers when tins were knocked down. All in all this was a very successful evening, enjoyed by everyone.

Back to the racing, which as I was shore based I saw very little of apart from distant boats through binoculars. The forecast for Saturday was for a wet and windy race day and for once the forecast was spot on. The fleet converged in the starting area at the far side of the bay and the sea conditions out there were very wild and several boats capsized before the racing started. The schedule was for 4 races, but after 2 very strenuous races Ron decided to send the fleet ashore for some food and rest. Not long afterwards he made the decision that the wind strength was above the B14 level for racing and to everyone’s relief, further racing was curtailed for the day.

By the end of Saturday the Championship was starting to become a 2 horse race between Mark Barnes crewed by Charlotte Jones ( previous winners) and Nick Craig crewed by Tobytastic Lewis. Now those of you with exceptionally good memories may remember that Nick Craig won the Enterprise Nationals when they last visited Porthpean in 2003. Nick was already a Champion in other classes and he has dominated the dinghy scene in the years since, winning at least 1 National title every year since in various classes. Nick has also won the Endeavour trophy 6 times making him the most successful helm of all time at amateur level. Saturday & Sunday proved to be Nick’s days and he duly won all 6 races to be crowned Champion. He travels to Lake Garda in a fortnight to defend his Devotti D1 European Champion status and as an aside he also won the British Nationals for the D1 earlier this summer – see what I mean?

James & Jeremy
We had 2 boats in the Championships, Paddy & Steve and Jeremy & Suzanne. I think both hoped to finish higher in the results than they did but both had highlights. Paddy & Steve’s highlight came in the very first race when they finished 3rd in what became rather controversial conditions and Jeremy & Suzanne's highlight may have been on Saturday when they finished 4th in the 2nd very windy race. Suzanne told me that they had never sailed faster in their lives in the wind and waves that rolled over the race course that day.

I believe that there were only 2 breakages over the weekend. One boat snapped his bow sprit during a collision with another boat and a 2nd had a mast snap due to a breakage on his rigging. Other than that our rescue boats remained as interested spectators. We had one protest to deal with which certainly caused me some time on the internet looking at past cases and fortunately Mike Ward, James and I managed to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of all concerned.

The sailing instructions stated that no races would start after 13.30 on the last day and it was a race against time for Ron to try and squeeze the 2 scheduled races in plus the 2 lost from Saturday but with some astute course tweaking and co-operative competitors he managed to get the last race started with 5 minutes to spare, thus completing the full 10 race series.

Cream teas and a free pint of beer greeted the weary crews when they assembled for prize giving. Gull was the B14 sponsors and they had generously provided prizes for every competitor and the prizes were duly presented by Mike Pickering, MD of Gull. Ken has certainly got a major job on his hands, cleaning up after everyone has left us but I am sure that by Wednesday when we turn up for the first of the autumn Wednesday racing things will be all spick and span again ready for us Club sailors to start our racing round the cans again.

Sep 1st
Tasar launching
The end of the summer

Quite a lot has happened since we last raced at Porthpean, a whole week ago!!. Firstly we missed some Club racing with the August Cup last Sunday. This was set as a windward leeward course and unfortunately there were not quite so many entries as normal but looking at the results I note that it was dominated by the “pesky” Kestrel. Jan & Pete used its speed, especially under spinnaker to great affect to take 3 victories and the Cup. Andrew & Jenny dominated the slow fleet and they too took 3 victories to produce another emphatic victory. Ken & I and also Steve & Polly went to Roadford reservoir to the Goodacre Cup competition. Now this is on a reservoir and Ken & I have been for the last 2 years managing to finish 2nd on each occasion. I have said before that this is a place that favours spinnaker boats as due the nature of the venue there are always long broad reaches. Our previous visits have usually been accompanied by a lively breeze so the broad reaches haven’t been too painful but this year the lack of wind proved a major factor in us only finishing 10th out of some 34 or more boats.

Steve Coello crewed for me on the Saturday and after an abysmal start by me, which included drifting into the pin mark and then completely blanketed by loads of other boats we struggled round going what seemed to me backwards at times. Our 2nd race after a better start and beat eventually gave us a 10th and for a time the chance to sit out and drive the boat. Ken was back for Sunday & Monday but once again the weather played havoc with the racing and only 3 of the 4 races scheduled for Sunday were sailed. One of the morning races was lost due to the fading breeze and although we were in the top 10 our actual result tumbled when the RO decided to shorten and score the race on average laps. Our last lap had already started and we had to sail it in lighter and lighter breeze, which ruined any hopes of a good result and I think we were credited with 19th. Oh well that’s handicap racing for you!! I know it happens at Porthpean as well when we have to average lap some of our races. The breeze improved a little for the afternoon races and we managed to take 3rd on corrected time in one of them and only the fact that we became caught up with some Toppers and a Feva when we were lapping them at a windward mark prevented us taking a much needed win. We arrived on Monday for our last 2 or 3 races only to be greeted by a flat calm reservoir. We rigged and waited ……….and waited……..until at 12,30 it was deemed just not enough breeze to race so we packed the boat away and headed home to see what was going on at Porthpean. Our endeavours were enough to give us 10th overall. Steve & Polly fared better and ended up 2nd overall, beaten by a Buzz.

Porthpean was a different place all together, the beach was packed with people as can be seen above and rather ironically there had been enough breeze to hold an impromptu pursuit race to the SW water mark and back to the beach marks. Jan & Pete decided to bask in the previous day’s success and took the RIB leaving a few to do the race. Andrew & Jenny managed to take the win with Nick Haskins 2nd and Jeremy & Suzanne who had only arrived back from Wales early that morning, 3rd in their B14. Yes Jeremy, Suzanne & Finn were also away this weekend at Pwllheli where Finn was competing in the Techno series. This is a series of races held at different venues around the country. Finn has had some excellent results and is now leading the series in the Techno fleet, beating some much older competitors. His hours of practice and racing are really paying off. The down side of all that is that it takes Jeremy & Suzanne away from a lot of Club racing

Today is the 1st of September and to some the first day of Autumn, though looking out of the window it still looks just like summer to me. However the blackberries are bursting out on the bushes and the leaves on the trees are starting to turn yellow, a sure sign that autumns if not here yet is fast approaching. As another autumnal sign last night was the last race of the summer Wednesday series and as it happened not a bad night for a race. Ken & I took the RIB tonight and I like to think combined with my warning last week that we would be running out of daylight and knowing my intention to start on time the yard was a hive of activity. We were down nice and early, the RIB was run up and loaded with its buoys and by 6.15 we were on the water. We have our Grand daughters down with us this week and Jess, the eldest, wanted to come with us in the “Life boat” as she calls it. I’m not sure if she will ever be a sailor as she doesn’t want to come out in the Tasar, though she has been out, quite happily before, but then that is girls for you. Anyway she was more than happy to sit out with us tonight.

Launching was tight as the tide was high at 6pm so there was not a lot of beach to play with us but nevertheless all but one of our 14 boat fleet managed to arrive out at sea ready for the start. The late comer was only a few seconds late so no disaster for him. We set quite a large course in a very nice 9-10 knot westerly breeze but unfortunately the breeze as so often in the evenings started to fade not long after the fleet had rounded the beach marks for their trip out to sea. We tried to set some port bias on the line but no one tried their luck so maybe not enough bias. Watching the start from the RIB was quite interesting and James made the best start in his radial, though it wasn’t too long before the faster boats, especially the B14s made their appearance at the head of the fleet, using last night’s race as their last chance to perfect their techniques before the Nationals starting here this Friday. Paddy & Steve, rounded the beach marks with a nice little lead over Jeremy & Suzanne and after 2 rounds extended their lead by a considerable margin, which contributed to them taking the win and more importantly for them an overall win in the series. Phil Harrison took out Paddy’s RS600 and this speedy craft kept the mast upright and finished 3rd on the water, though dropped to 6th overall. The battle I took a lot of interest in was between Justin and Charlie in their Tasar and Jan & Pete in the “pesky” Kestrel. At the end of the beat the Tasar had a healthy lead but as so often this year the speed of the Kestrel down wind proved a telling factor. The wind had fallen too light to exploit Tasar speed and the spinnaker driven Kestrel kept them close enough to finish alongside in a dead heat on the water but that was more then enough to give the Kestrel 3rd and Tasar 4th.

I think Beacky & Kelvin had a point to prove from last week and arrived at the beach marks just far enough in front of the other 2 Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny and Kay & Nigel to ensure that they took the victory this week. Not only did the Tasar & Kestrel finish alongside each other but also finishing side by side was Andrew & Kay, so close racing all round. Although we started on time, we had no influence on the strength of the breeze and as so often the sun setting played a major influence so there was no surprise that it started to fade and we had to call an end to proceedings but a lighter breeze has an impact on the slower boats and tonight proved that fact in spades as it affected all the single handers in the slow fleet. James despite his excellent start managed to finish well ahead of the rest but even his handicap couldn’t put him ahead of the Scorpions and he had to settle for 4th, though he was beaten on the water by Jeremy Rowett in his Supersofa who claimed 5th. Nick, Dave and Clive’s speed dropped away leaving them at the rear of the fleet and gave them a slow sail back to base.

And that was that, another Wednesday series all done and dusted, but the Clubhouse was once again buzzing with small talk and laughter all being helped by Jenny’s bacon butties and a well stocked bar. Darkness quickly fell outside but it was still mild and peaceful as we made our way home. Life is so good sometimes.

This weekend is the biggy, yes the B14 Nationals has almost arrived and next time I write will have come and gone. Hopefully most members will be involved one way or another and it can be your chance to see Mr Nick Craig, one of the most successful dinghy sailors of the modern generation. Nick is the current B14 Champion and has numerous other Championships to his name including winning the prestigious Endeavour trophy several times. I think he will be the man to beat, but I am sure Paddy has a plan!!

Aug 25th
Tasar launching
Yet another fading evening breeze

A quick advert for Aldi before a resume of last night’s sailing. Last Sunday I found a puncture in one of my launching trolley wheels when we went to pull the boat from the beach. By the time we reached the dinghy park the whole wheel assembly was looking all the worse for wear. I found out that Aldi were selling a complete plastic wheel for £6.99 so I went in on Monday, checked them out and ended up buying a pair. At that price it was worth buying 2 and having a spare, so if you think you could do with either a spare or wish to replace any of your wheels then get down there quick before they are all gone.

The breeze for last night’s penultimate Wednesday summer series race had been quite frisky during the day, promising a good physical race but by the time we assembled and rigged it was starting to wane, which probably contributed to most of the fleet not arriving at the start for 7pm. Now our predominant breeze this year has been hovering around a north westerly direction, with some brief forays around to other points of the compass. Last night was another of those north westerly breezes which produce a very flat sea and almost a complete lack of breeze in the cove and its not until we get out to the beach mark area before we feel the breeze proper.

Andrew & Jenny took the RIB again last night and laid a very nice course, though the first reach was a little too broad for the 4 Tasars out racing. However the 2nd reach was more productive and if the breeze had remained stronger as during the day then we would have planed away. Jeremy came out to play with his Tasar last night. Suzanne is away so he took out our newest member, Ben Smeaton, to give him some invaluable experience as his father has just bought Pete Phillips’s Tasar. The start line didn’t have any discernable port bias so everyone lined up for a starboard hand start, favouring the pin end. I must confess that I did get myself into a bit of a pickle as I was approaching too fast and was caught and luffed up by Jeremy. We had to perform a quick bail out, pirouetted round and were in the back row of starters to set off on the beat to the beach marks. No1 lesson when caught like that is to tack off ASAP to get some clear wind, which enabled us to make up much of our losses and we were not to be too far behind the front runners when we closed the beach marks. Jeremy & Ben arrived first, just in front of Paddy & Steve, though once their spinnaker was up they soon glided by. Unfortunately for the B14, there was just not enough breeze to give then the drive they needed to open up the large gap required to win. We would have been 4th round the beach marks but caught Jan & Pete, port and starboard, necessitating turns which helped us no end as I fully expected to fall a victim to their spinnaker (again) on the very broad reach with little breeze. That may have cost them a good position, though I am told that they had a similar problem with the Scorpions on a subsequent beach mark rounding. They actually tied with Paddy on equal corrected time to share 4th place between them

Our lack of downwind speed on the broad reach was really exposed when Beacky & Kelvin in their Scorpion who had rounded 5th or 6th came charging, overtaking Justin & Charlie. Fortunately the 2nd reach was tighter and the distance between us opened up again. The race became very tactical for the 3 leading Tasars as Jeremy was ensuring that we didn’t pass him and Justin left to his own devices closed us right down and managed to pass us at the end of the penultimate beat. Very fortunately we just managed to squeeze in front of him at the end of the 2nd reach and we made sure that we covered him all the way on the last beat to give us a 2nd overall. In fact our close tussle allowed Jeremy to sail his own race on the last beat but our route was probably the quickest as we were all within, say 50M by the end of the beat.

Steve and Ashley were sporting a brand new spinnaker tonight for their RS400, though I think they could have done with more breeze on the downwind legs to get the best out of it speed wise. Roger Williams was out in his Blaze but I think Roger suffered from a poor first beat too and was another who needed more downwind breeze to get the Blaze to show us its full potential. I don’t know what pitfalls befell Chris & Tony but they fell a long way back and I did see them at one time battling it out with the Lasers, though they did just enough to finish in front of the RS400 on corrected time.

The slow fleet had a good battle also, mainly between the 2 Scorpions of Beaky & Kelvin and Kay & Nigel. Initially Beacky had the upper hand leading the 2 of them around the beach marks and appeared to have the best of them for most of the following rounds though the Kestrel was back amongst them and the 3 of them were almost evenly matched for speed. However some sort of mix up with a shortened course flag being flown allowed the positions to change somewhat and Kay seized her opportunity to take the lead on the last lap and managed to hold Beacky off for the rest of the race to take the win. The Scorpions are certainly dominating the slow fleet with Scorpions being the first 3 on the results list for the series. Brian Reeves was top Laser sailor tonight, keeping Nick some 40 seconds behind him and Clive a minute or so further behind.

The light was rapidly fading as we made the long journey up from the beach to the yard and next week will be the last race of the series and if we hope to get a good race in then it will be essential to start on time. In fact Ken & I are in the RIB and I can assure you that we will be out there ready to start at 7pm; Be warned!!.

Once again it was a pleasure to smell the aroma of bacon being grilled and to be served by the smiling face of Jenny as we entered the Clubhouse. I think I mentioned last time out that Paddy had his new camera working. Well now it has more bells and whistles attached and will show different views around the Club yard and the beach. More importantly it allows you, the user, to have some control of where it is looking or it can be left to its own devices when it will pan around every now and again to show a different view. I believe it also records what it sees so we now have some CCTV for security purposes.

We only have now just over a week before the B14 circus arrives for their Nationals, but before then we do have a busy weekend coming up. Next Sunday will be the August Cup and it will be a 3 or 4 race series raced on a windward leeward course. The following day, Bank Holiday Monday, will be another day of social sailing with some impromptu races to be organised on the day, and I expect that you have all had details from Tony. The day will close with a BBQ. The forecast is looking good so if enough attend then it will be a very good social day indeed.

Aug 21st
A week of contrasts

To travel back in time would be so useful, but unfortunately we are not that smart just yet so we can only look back on what has happened and reflect and that’s what I am sure we all do from time to time. Anyway I will go back a week ago now to Falmouth Dinghy Week, where in the past we have had some very good races and times. However times are a changing and Falmouth Week is slipping away into obscurity with its falling attendances, so this year may well be the last one in its present format.

Yes Falmouth Dinghy Week has come and gone in the blink of an eye and for Ken & me and it’s gone in a rather disappointing way. The weather has really played its part this year, and unfortunately not for the better from a sailing point of view. Ask any of our Scorpion team who visited Looe for their Nationals last month and they will know what strong winds are like. Falmouth Week started last Monday and after a very light wind sail on Sunday at Porthpean, when I sailed in T shirt and shorts, we packed the boat away for its journey to Restronguet.

Monday dawned with a very strong south easterly blowing but still very sunny but noticeably quite a drop in temperature when exposed to the strong wind. Any hope of nice sailing conditions was blown out of the water when we arrived to see regiments of white horses out in the Carrick Roads, racing in towards the shore. Extremely strong gusts, apparently up to 30 knots at times, were blowing through, but the intention of the RO in the briefing was to race the full 3 scheduled races. Due to the wind strength we rigged with the oldest suit of sails that I had; reasoning being that it didn’t matter if they degenerated any more and there was no chance that we would sail any better with good sails up. My sailing shorts remained in my bag to be replaced with wet suit and thermal undergarments.

We watched with interest as several boats set off from the shore and subsequently came to grief, as they were blown over. There was an RS400 next to us on the beach and we helped the crew launch. They had sailed no further than 20M from the shore when they were blown flat by a savage gust. We helped get them back to shore and onto their trolley. They decided that enough was enough and headed for the dinghy park. We pulled the main up and the boat trembled and shook on the launching trolley when the fiercest gusts hit us. That’s when I made the decision – no sailing for us today. The boat was de rigged and pulled up into the dinghy park, whilst we watched some of the sailing. The high light was the number of capsizes and there were many. Somehow my decision not to sail seemed to be very wise.

The number of entries has declined once again and we only had 5 entries in our class, they being Osprey, Fireball, RS100, RS400 and us. Of the 5 boats only the Osprey and Fireball started and raced. In fact the Fireball hadn’t read the SI and started 2 minutes early and sailed the wrong course, so in effect only 1 boat sailed the course. Conditions were so bad that most of the St. Mawes sailors stayed at home and then races 2 & 3 were abandoned and a very wet bedraggled fleet returned to the shore. So far not too bad for us as we had a discard so that would take care of that!

Unfortunately Tuesday wasn’t much better; the breeze was slightly weaker but still gusty enough to have white horses charging up the river. The decision from the RO was to race and we duly rigged and prepared for action. The RO also decided that as we were so low in numbers he would amalgamate our small fleet with the fast asymmetrical fleet so we would be sailing windward leeward courses. I didn’t fancy that in the strong winds, but nevertheless we launched and straight away set off on a roller coaster ride out to the Committee boat. I wasn’t at all comfortable with the wind strength and we bore away for a very wild and exhilarating plane up the river. Whilst planing away some quite strong gusts came through and we watched with interest as a K1 struggled to stay upright. Well that was enough for me and not being happy with things I decided to opt out and we made our way back to the shore. Once again many boats went over and once again most of the St. Mawes contingent stayed in St. Mawes.

We had been accompanied on Monday and Tuesday by a B14. I don’t think he raced on the Monday, too rough, but set off to sail on the Tuesday. However he came limping home a little later with a huge hole in his mainsail where the crew had fallen through on a particular lairy capsize. The Fireball came in early from the 1st race with a “strut” problem. Meanwhile sailing supremely through all the winds was the Osprey; an almost perfect boat for the conditions. So 3 races were sailed and any hopes of a good result for us were now gone.

Tuesday was also the start of Fowey Week for the dinghies and once again James is having a go at that. He is doing well, finishing in the top 3 in every race, and is picking up a nice collection of glassware. The downside is due to the conditions, they are racing in the river, which in strong conditions can be a nightmare. However James came 2nd overall for the week, which considering the weather a very good result indeed.

Wednesday dawned and the winds had moderated somewhat, but the sun which had been blazing down on us for several days had vanished behind some very grey skies. The RO proclaimed that sailing would be on and we would be racing round the corner off Trefusis point with the beat towards St. Mawes. Feeling a lot more comfortable with the lighter winds we left the shore for the long journey down the river. There was still a good breeze blowing, enough to get us planing when we bore off and needing us both out hiking upwind.

The first race was a 4 lap windward leeward race which took us just about an hour to complete and despite being the slowest boat in our fleet we finished ahead of some much faster boats, our corrected time result was later classed as 2nd. The next race was a 3 lap race and again we finished quite well up, this time 3rd. We were sailing well again in the 3rd race and just after starting the 2nd beat I suddenly realised that the tiller was feeling heavy. A quick look over the transom showed no weed so I thought that I must be imagining it, so sailed on but no, the tiller still felt heavy. That’s when I noticed that the tiller was looking offset on a bit of an angle. Another look over the transom confirmed my suspicions. The bottom pintle on the rudder head had snapped and only the top pintle was holding the rudder on. That was the end of our race. Down came the mainsail, a hail for a rescue boat and we were taken in tow for the long haul back to the Club.

Very fortunately I had an old spare rudder head and tiller at home and this could have been used as a substitute. Brian Phipps at Water sports had a spare pintle and reckoned that he could repair my rudder head. In fact it was ready just in time for the harbour race so without too much ado I assembled the repaired rudder head and rudder blade and with time racing away against us we launched and then found quite a problem. Brian had over tightened the forward bolt and I couldn’t get the rudder blade down at all. In desperation when we had enough sea room to play with I hove to and removed the rudder and with a bit more leverage managed to get the blade fully down and then refitted the rudder back on the boat.

The harbour race can be quite a complicated affair, involving criss crossing the Carrick Roads, rounding various buoys and we were given a list of marks to go round. The race duly started and we had a long a beat from the St. Mawes bank across the river to a laid buoy. Once again we had a good beat and were 3rd around the mark and then we set off to find the next mark. Utter confusion broke out as nobody seemed to know where it was and we all ended up following a RIB that we thought was leading us to the mark. Unfortunately the RIB driver was also lost and when this became obvious we changed course and managed to find the correct mark. We set off for the next mark and I mistook the mark we were supposed to round for the original windward mark which had been left in place until we saw it suddenly being lifted out by a RIB. Another detour took us to the correct mark, off Falmouth and then we were off across the river again to a turning mark in St. Mawes harbour. Then back out again in to the estuary to the next mark and we were doing very well, and that’s when my grey matter dissolved into complete stupidity. In the rush to get to the start I hadn’t drawn a map of the course and was just relying on a list of the marks to round.

We rounded the “Lugo Rock” mark just outside St. Mawes harbour and I saw all the slower fleet boats heading off towards Trefusis point way in the distance. I too bore away to follow them thinking we were on the same course and we were straight up onto the plane, making ground very quickly. After a couple of minutes or so we realised that we couldn’t see the Osprey that had been in front of us. That’s when it dawned on me that we had sailed well off our proper course, heading up the river. We should have been sailing down the river to the next mark, which was “Governor”, somewhere on the seaward side of Falmouth. Now I blame myself here as I have sailed enough times at Falmouth to have a good idea of where Governor was but in the heat of the moment I had it all wrong. I was so annoyed with myself that I decided to just enjoy the planing and kept going back up the river and back to Restronguet. On arrival I realised that in our haste we hadn’t picked up our tallies either so we may well have ended up being disqualified.

Due to the forecasted bad weather for Friday the RO decided to cancel all Friday sailing so that was that, the end of Falmouth Week. So a week that I was so much looking forward to ended up being rather disappointing & frustrating, compounded by the bad weather, breakage and loss of grey cells; not a good week at all, and I am not sure whether there will be any more Falmouth Weeks for dinghies as the attendance has fallen so low.

Rib away
It was quite nice today driving down the hill to our familiar surroundings of St. Austell Bay. The bad weather from Friday & Saturday had blown through but we were still left with a bit of a blustery day, but at least the south easterly had swung round to a more westerly direction, giving us a flat sea to sail on.

Brian & Janet were our RIB drivers today and set off in very good time in some driving drizzle to lay quite a nice but short course, giving us a beat from the Fowey direction into the beach marks. Unfortunately the poor weather had put a lot of members off and we only had a small band of 7 wanting to try their skills out. The fast fleet was 4 strong with some of the usual racers competing, including Paddy & Steve in their B14, Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, Steve & Ashley in their RS400 and us in the only Tasar.

The start line had plenty of port bias on it and rather surprisingly we were the only boat to line up for it and as the gun sounded we crossed the entire fleet by a very nice margin, which helped us get almost to the beach marks unchallenged until Paddy & Steve arrived there just before us. Unfortunately we did lose out quite a bit to the following fleet on the beat as we sailed up the right hand side and those on the left had a better run in to the beach marks than us. Our nice little lead over the Kestrel was seriously dented on the 1st reach as with spinnaker flying Jan & Pete closed us down somewhat and we continued in rather close proximity for the 2 laps until on the 3rd set of reaches the wind tightened and freshened and suddenly the Tasar took off and we soon built up a substantial lead to take the win. Jan & Pete took 2nd relegating the line winners, Paddy & Steve to 3rd. All credit today to Steve and Ashley who are starting to get the hang of the RS400, they may have been well beaten but they are starting to get to grips with the beast in some of the stronger winds that we seem to have at the moment. The slower fleet only had 2 entries and not surprisingly Beacky & Kelvin had the better of Brian Reeves being able to use their spinnaker to good effect.

The wind had freshened quite a bit and veered more to the south west for the afternoon race and the course was duly tweaked by Brian & Janet. This time there was no discernable bias and we all queued up for a starboard hand start. Paddy & Steve just beat us over the start line and we kept close company for the first beat. The 1st reach of each triangle was a very tight affair. It was too tight for the spinnaker boats and almost too tight for us, but nevertheless we made good time and pulled well away from the following boats and kept us close enough to Paddy & Steve to take a win by some 19 seconds on corrected time.

Unfortunately Jan & Pete didn’t make it out to the start as they discovered that their tiller extension had broken away from their tiller so had to take an early bath so to speak. Rob & Ben, our new Tasar sailors made today their first forage onto the race track and found the conditions rather lively, taking on board quite a bit of water on one of their tacks, but hopefully are enjoying the speed and ease of sailing that a Tasar gives.

Becky & Kelvin, sailed most of the race on their own as they soon made short shrift of Brian in his Laser radial and they too took another win, to slowly grind down the lead that Andrew & Jenny have built up in the morning and afternoon series.

There is only 1 more weekend to go before the B14 circus rolls into Porthpean for their Nationals. Jeremy without Suzanne spent most of the today fettling his B14 trying to ensure that all fittings were secure and working properly ready for a hard weekend. We are hoping for at least 25 though that may be difficult to muster as earlier on this summer the B14s had their Europeans at Lake Garda where they were well represented. I do hear that Nick Craig, current National Champion, may be here racing. The last time that he was here he won the Enterprise Nationals and is probably the best non professional sailor in the country at the moment.

The more astute of you may have noticed that Paddy has the new camera up and running. This camera has a cycle of moves and pans around the area at various times giving you different views of the Club and beach areas. I think the picture clarity is far better then before and the new camera updates in real time quicker than before.

Aug 14th
wheel it out
An almost windless but beautiful day

I suppose today must go down as probably one of the lightest conditions that we have sailed in this year. In fact at 10.00 there was no wind at all; just a very flay sea shimmering under a cloudless sky. Actually we weren’t alone sitting without wind. I think virtually the whole country was windless looking at some of yesterday’s results at other sailing Clubs. Racing was abandoned at Exe and again as far away as Berwick in Scotland. Not surprisingly some of our possible sailors turned their noses up and decided to head away in the pursuit of other things to do. Meanwhile the sun worshiping holiday makers were pouring onto the beach to soak up the sun and enjoy the delights of the sea and reap the benefits of our 3rd mini heat wave of the year.

I went to Rock on Saturday to meet some old friends who were there to compete in Camel Week, which started on Saturday and goes right through this week. I left quite grey looking skies over here only to be greeted by very heavy drizzle, which soaked me right through as I cycled down from St. Minver. Parking is almost impossible in Rock during the summer, so parking out of the village and cycling seemed a much better alternative. Anyway within an hour or so the clouds started to break up and the sun took over and all was looking serene again as the 65 strong dinghy fleet took to the water to contest their first race. Not only were there 65 dinghies but also a dozen cats and 27 Shrimpers, which goes to show what a popular week sailing is there. Our own Roger Williams is the Commodore at Rock and he was sailing in his Shrimper with his wife Wendy. Inevitably with dinghies there is a very wide range of boats racing and there is a huge disparity as the entire entry sails as just one fleet which vary from a 505 to a Mirror dinghy.

This week also heralds Falmouth dinghy week where Ken & I will be sailing and I also expect to see Jeremy & Suzanne, timetable permitting to hopefully get in some B14 practice which they need to ready themselves for our B14 Nationals. This week is also Fowey week and James was down yesterday cleaning and polishing his Laser ready to sail there. It is rather a shame that all these events take place at the same time as that alone cuts down on the possible entries for any one event. The entries for Camel Week are nearly all holiday makers and some come down year after year for the event. Entries to Falmouth week have been tailing off over the last few years and the entries this year are rather abysmal, so reluctantly this year may be my final attendance. Maybe Fowey will be more appealing?

There was doubt yesterday whether we would actually race or not and we waited quite a while in the hope that some of the darker patches way out in the bay would slowly fill in to indicate the arrival of some breeze. Pete decided that he would like to introduce his Grand Son to the delights of sailing and to that extent he decided to dig the Bug from out of the weed beds and clean it up ready for its first outing this year. In the event the boy decided that he didn’t want to go sailing so that at least released Pete to sail the Kestrel instead.

Eventually it was deemed that we had sufficient breeze and the RIB was crewed up with Richard and Phil Harrison and off they went in the hope of setting us a race course. The breeze that appeared was very surprisingly from the south, a direction that we haven’t had much of this year. Anyway our very modest fleet of 7 gathered in the starting area to try and attempt to race. An unbiased line saw all 7 lining p for a starboard hand start and on the gun the very well behaved fleet set off for a few rounds of very slow racing. Our closest competitor today was the Kestrel as these were ideal conditions for it. It glides away upwind when the conditions are very light and then once the spinnaker leg starts it ramps its speed up a little more and shoots away. To our dismay Jan & Pete were already in front of us at the end of the first beat and pulled away down wind and soundly beat us. Our only consolation was that we still managed to beat Paddy & Steve on corrected time by just 10 seconds. Yes the B14 seemed untouchable today and although it could fly the spinnaker on both legs it just couldn’t generate the speed necessary to beat the clock. There were 2 battles going on in the slow fleet, the first between Andrew & Jenny in their Scorpion racing hard against Simon in his Supenova. Both appeared very evenly matched and although Andrew & Jenny were first to finish they weren’t far enough ahead to save their time against Simon. The other battle was between Janet & Brian in their Laser radials. Victory here went to Brian.

Jeremy Rowett
High tide on Sunday was forecast for about 14.00 so there was very little beach left when we all berthed for our lunch break, but somehow we managed to park all the boats up in various spaces, much to the disgruntlement of some of the holiday makers, but in just over an hour we were all heading out once again to do battle again. The weather had been mild enough for me to wear my sailing shorts quite a few times this season but today was possibly that one day of the year when all I needed was a Tee shirt under my buoyancy aid, so it was good to be able to sail so unencumbered. No doubt it won’t be too long before more substantial clothing will be worn and the layers of thermal clothes will make their appearance.

The breeze, such that it was, had freshened very slightly for the afternoon race. The start line showed just a hint of port bias, so out of pure devilment I decided to go for a port handed start. Well it didn’t quite work out as planned and we had to duck Simon in his Supenova and also the Kestrel of Jan & Pete, but I didn’t mind this so much as we had good boat speed and we were also sailing off in the direction that I wanted to go. Once again it was the speedy B14 that reached the windward mark first but very encouraging we weren’t too far behind and more importantly we were a reasonable distance in front of the Kestrel. Once again we saw our lead start to erode as the spinnaker gave the Kestrel that little extra edge but fortunately we held our lead and the 2nd reach had enough tightness in it to prevent any more catching up. A good second beat increased our lead and all pressure on us started to evaporate, and this time we beat them with enough time in the bank to take victory, albeit only 22 seconds.

Simon made sure of his 2nd victory of the day by this time beating the Scorpion on the water, and Andrew & Jenny had to be content in 2nd place, still in front of the 2 Laser radials. However Janet was happy as this time she beat Brian by almost 1 minute and a half.

Well it was a glorious day for the beach and I expect the scenes of so many people laying out in the sun or swimming in the quite mild seas was repeated all over Cornwall and it also looks likely to continue for a few more days yet. Sailing at Restronguet for the next couple of days may be quite hard as the forecast is for quite a brisk breeze

Aug 10th
wheel it out
A very nice summer evening

I’ve read it in the papers and heard it on the news that we about to have another heat wave. Now I don’t know what that might mean for us in Cornwall but apart from the cold northerly aspect of the wind that we have been having, things are quite mild, so the prospect of it getting a bit warmer is fine by me. Once again it was sailing shorts for me last night so I am not complaining and with Falmouth Week next week it will be nice to sail in very fine weather though by the end of the week our prospective heat wave may have cooled off somewhat. Nevertheless, in my earlier life this coming weekend would have been Porthpean Regatta. Yes I am going back in time now to the 70’s and possibly 80’s when traditionally PSC held its Regatta between the end of Falmouth Week and the start of Fowey Week, and quite a few of us from Newquay, Restronguet, Fowey, Plymouth; in fact lots of other sailing clubs used to enter and it was a very big affair. I clearly remember big fleets of Scorpions, Enterprises, Lasers, Mirrors. The Troys used to sail over from Fowey and the cats used to sail round from Pentewan. Yes PSC regatta was very popular.

Now back to the present; The start of last night’s race was almost a bit of déjà vue from Sunday’s racing except that the breeze had a bit more northerly in it so we sailed the opposite way round, with the beach marks still being the windward mark. Chris & Tony were our RIB drivers for the night and set an excellent course in what was a brilliant night for racing. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that once again we were late starting, waiting for the stragglers to leave the beach and get to the starting area. The result of starting 10 minutes or so late meant that we had less time to sail in the breeze, as inevitably the breeze fades as evening draws on and now we are in August those darker evenings are starting to make themselves felt. It is only that we had a fairly clear sky that we kept the light as long as we did. I think we must be far more punctual for evening racing from now on. If some people are late for the start then that’s their hard luck. You should certainly allow some 20 minutes or so from leaving the shore to reach the racing area. Anyway enough of that, let’s talk about last night’s racing.

For a start is was brilliant to see such a large fleet out racing; 18 boats in all with the slower fleet claiming13 boats to the fast fleet’s modest 5, though 2 of the usual faster fleet were missing, Chris & Tony officiating and Jan & Pete due to injury, though I suppose Pete helped swell the slower fleet by taking the Club Laser. Now I hear that there will be an experimental change of starting procedure at the weekend when the slow fleet will start 1 minute behind the fast fleet. Now I wasn’t privy as to why this decision has been made but I for one don’t mind our normal mass start as it makes the start more of a challenge, especially if you are going for a port hand start. However I will go with the flow and see how it pans out, but don’t forget there are times when we only have a very small number racing and the start for that class may mean only 3 boats on the start line, which is hardly a challenge.

Jeremy Rowett
The breeze for the first 2 laps of the race was quite lively, the start line was slightly starboard biased so once again we had a large number queuing up by the pin end but I don’t think that there were any casualties so to speak. Because of the number of boats our start was I suppose fairly modest as we started partly down the line. I was more anxious to start in clear wind than to get embroiled in a possible luffing match and I suppose to that end the tactic worked somewhat as we were 2nd boat to reach the beach marks. Not surprisingly the B14 of Paddy & Steve had that honour, but where was Jeremy & Suzanne in the other B14? Yes looking around I saw them as about 7th boat to round. The reason was down to a loose Go Pro camera and a slipping main halyard, and that cost them dear. Paddy & Steve with a clear track in front of them and perfect B14 sailing conditions just powered off and with spinnaker flying on both reaches pulled out the time they needed to take the win. Jeremy & Suzanne had too much of a deficit to make up and by the end of the race could only manage 4th place.

I must admit that I was quite relieved that the Kestrel wasn’t racing tonight as I think that it was ideal conditions for it as both reaching legs were quite broad at times and we struggled to get much meaningful drive. Very fortunately our first beat brought us to the beach marks just in front of Justin & Charlie and we spent the entire race almost tied together with a piece of bungee. We could pull away a little down wind at times only to find them closing us down upwind. The beat was awkward to read and I made the wrong decision a few times to tack toward Charlestown looking at the better pressure and hoping for speed whereas the eventual lift available by initially heading toward Silver mine paid dividends towards the end of the beat. Fortunately we always managed to stay just in front and held on to take 2nd overall with Justin & Charlie taking 3rd. Our only other fast fleet boat out last night was the RS400 of Steve & Ashley, but they found the conditions too challenging to make any headway into our select group at the front.

Jeremy Rowett
The slow fleet had 7 Lasers racing, though that was made up of a mixture of a 4.7, radial, and full rig. Once again our visitor Steve Smith showed everyone the way to go and though not taking line honours did enough to take a good victory on corrected time. For the first time for a while we had Craig & Jake Varley racing and they helped swell the Scorpion fleet up to 4 and they also stayed up right which is more than can be said of Kay & Nigel who capsized on the way out to the start and then had a bad moment involving a mark and their spinnaker during the race. At the end of the first beat there were quite a few of the slow handicap boats grouped together led by Beacky & Kelvin. It was a lead that they held to the end, only beaten on corrected time by Steve in his Laser radial. It was good Supernova weather also last night and I expected a much closer contest between Simon Robins and John Hill, as John has had some fine wins this year but Simon beat John by some 6 minutes which transposes to quite a distance, Simon managed to take 3rd overall, splitting Beacky and the Kendalls, being only 12 seconds behind Beacky yet 2 minutes in front of the Kendalls.

It was strange seeing Pete Barnes out in a Laser and he had the benefit of the full rig which I am sure must have been a struggle in the earlier stages of the race and he brought it home in 5th place and very surprisingly in front of James who took 6th place, though he had a minute in hand over Brian Reeves and John Hill. Kay’s problem with a mark and her spinnaker dropped her team down to 9th but still ahead of the 3 Lasers of Janet, Nick & Clive. Craig & Jake’s, lack of time in the boat dropped them down to 12th. I think the time gap between the last 6 slow handicap boats was probably down to the race starting late as the breeze towards the end was rapidly fading away and they were struggling at times to make much headway.

With only 3 races left in the series, positions in the fast fleet are very finely balanced whereas Beacky & Kelvin are looking good at the top of the slow fleet closely followed by the Scorpions of Andrew & Kay with less than a point between them.

A slow sail back to Porthpean, terminating in the use of the paddle allowed us to dwell on the après sail to come with the aroma of Jenny’s bacon butties greeting us as we finally arrived back into the dinghy park. With one or two of those to eat and a pint to drink and gazing out at St. Austell bay, one of the finest views in the country, is a brilliant way to end an evening’s sailing.

Aug 7th
wheel it out
A stronger breeze than it looked from the shore

Shattered, absolutely shattered ; I know I have used that word before to describe my feelings after sailing but today is another day like that and its almost too much for a man my age, but what the heck I’m not that old yet so I should have plenty of energy left; but I was getting rather tired out there today. The weather today was first class for summer, with plenty of sunshine, interspersed with some clouds and when the sun was out it was very, very hot. Unfortunately the breeze was not really suited for summer, nomally we expect it to be light and steady this time of the year but instead it was a very fresh and variable westerly, promising us all a challenge and a good work out. Once again the sunny conditions persuaded me to forsake my wetsuit and wear my sailing shorts once more, though I did wear a shirt and my spray top. Very fortunately we avoided a dreaded capsize but sevearl others succumbed to the conditions, though we did have one or two moments. The wind was much fresher than originally forecast last Friday.

It was good today to meet Steve & Laura Smith who have travelled down from the Bristol area to holiday at Porthpean once again. Steve also brought his Laser down and gave us all a very able demonstration as to why he is the current inland Laser Masters Champion. He was absolutely flying in his Laser Radial. He sails amongst a fleet of over 30 Lasers at Chew Valley SC against some other very talented sailors. Competition there really does hone ones skills.

It was also good to meet Rob, Deborah, Ben and their daughter, who have just bought Peter Phillips's Tasar and have decided to join our Club. Their membership should go through very quickly as there is a committee meeting soon. The Tasar is a new boat to them; they took it out for the first time this morning and capsized it but went out again for another foray this afternoon and this time kept it upright and I think they really enjoyed the experience. There are a few jobs that need doing on the boat but that shouldn’t keep them off the water.

So back to today’s racing. The weather forecast showed a nice little 13 knots westerly breeze, but for us out in the bay it quickly demonstrated that it was a lot stronger than that. A look at the historical data on the Polruan weather site showed gusts well in excess of 20 knots. What made the gusts worse was that they swung around so quickly that it was essential to concentrate especially on the beats and they became almost another challenge as we neared the beach mark area. Yet from the shelter of the shore the sea state looked so docile, shimmering with a lovely azure blue colour in the sunlight, but the experienced could see the darker patches which heralded the gusts.

We had a very good fleet out today with 7 Lasers getting to the start line, the largest Laser fleet this year. Oh yes, one of them was sailed by Tim Haskins, down for the weekend and making himself reacquainted with Porthpean, which in itself is quite a change from Yorkshire. A change for the better I may say. We also had 4 windsurfers out. Amongst them was Fin who has just returned from a fortnight in Poland where he raced in the European Championships. Fin finished 10th in his class of 90, which was an excellent achievement. I believe that he will spend most of the rest of the school holidays away on coaching and racing. One of the draw backs for us is that we also lose Jeremy & Suzanne who have to accompany him. The windsurfers started their race 1 minute ahead of us to make sure that they were well clear of the rest of the dinghies. Their manoeuvring on the start line is not conducive to dinghy sailing!!

Our Scorpion fleet have returned, somewhat battered and bruised from their week’s windy Nationals at Looe, but only Beacky & Kelvin sailed today. Steve & Polly sustained some damage to their Scorpion and Kay doesn’t sail on Sundays. Andrew & Jenny had made the wise decision early in the season to put themselves down for RIB duty to give themselves a little time to return to normal. Judging by the conditions today that proved to be a very wise decision indeed.

The fast fleet today was made up of a Dart, 2 B14s, 2 Tasars, RS400 and a Kestrel, whereas the slower fleet had 7 Lasers, Supernova and a Scorpion. I think we all started without any trouble, but not surprisingly the faster Dart and B14s were first to the beach marks for a starboard hand rounding. We were the first of the main dinghies but Chris & Tony had an excellent first beat rounding just behind us closely followed by Jan & Pete in their Kestrel and Beacky and Kelvin in their Scorpion. Mixing it with the head of the fleet was Steve Smith, showing how fast a Laser radial can sail. Simon Robins was also up there in his Supernova as were Steve & Ashley in their RS400.

The faster boats soon stretched their legs down wind and we managed to increase our lead over the Kestrel but we came to grief (my fault) at the end of the 2nd beat. We were travelling in very fast and close to the mark when we were hit by a massive gust that screwed us up into the wind. I couldn’t get to the main sheet to release it and we ended up hitting the first beach mark, but to compound matters we managed to sail into the pick up line and were trapped by our dagger board. Both dagger board and rudder blade had to be lifted to allow us to sail on and the resultant 360 dropped us right into the hands of the Kestrel. I was not best pleased to say the least but s**t happens so they say so I had nothing else to do but accept that it was a mistake and try and make the best of it. Unfortunately the first reaching leg was very broad and we were overtaken by the Kestrel until the next closer reach allowed us to use the Tasar speed to take the lead once again. I think we traded the rest of the race with the gap between us opening and closing, which considering the lead we first had was very frustrating. Anyhow our result was poor as Paddy & Steve romped home ahead of Jeremy & Suzanne, leaving Richard in his Dart to take 3rd. We only just managed to beat the Kestrel by the slimmest of margins of 3 seconds on corrected time.

The slow fleet had its moments too and I think Beacky & Kelvin came to grief sometime in this race as they were well beaten by most of the Lasers and the Supernova. Steve Smith certainly stamped his authority in this race, winning by over 3 minutes. Janet sailed with her 4.7 rig and took a very creditable 3rd place.

We are in the peak of the holiday season at the moment and the beach was full of people. Fortunately low tide was early afternoon so there was plenty of space to park our boats over the lunch period and there was still enough beach to play with when we finally returned after our afternoon escapades.

It wasn’t long after leaving the beach that we realised that the wind had picked up even more. The gusts were stronger and some of the shifts more dramatic, but without losing too much time we once again came under starter’s orders. I think the beat may have been stretched out a little. Once again we had a good start, but we were only just on the right side of the line as the gun went. As expected the Dart and 2 B14s were 1st to the beach marks. Richard had a crew for this race, Janet decided that the wind was a little too strong for her Laser, donned the trapeze belt and helped drive Richard on to victory. We had quite fresh breeze pushing us along on the first reach in pursuit of the B14s when we noticed Jeremy who was in the lead opt to tack around rather than gybe, but that all went wrong when they were blown in as they tacked. Paddy & Steve elected to gybe but as they rounded the mark they must have been hit by a strong gust too and they ended up upside down as well.

Fortunately there was enough space for us to gybe and avoid both boats but that certainly put them out of contention for beating us in this race unless we too had a major problem. In fact our problem was once again the Kestrel. The first of the 2 reaches was always quite broad and with their spinnaker flying they always closed up on us and we had to rely on the 2nd reach being tighter for us to exploit our speed. The beats were difficult to read but in the strong stuff the Kestrel just digs the bow in a bit and manages to sail much closer to the wind than us, so that was a battle we were continually monitoring. Incredibly Steve Smith was only just behind the pair of us each time we reached the beach marks and his Laser was almost as fast on the downwind legs. I know that Lasers come in for a lot of criticism from some areas of the dinghy world, but when in the right hands they are devastatingly quick. At the end of the race we still had a lead over the Kestrel but when the scoring was done we ended up with exactly the same corrected time. It doesn’t get much closer than that.

Andrew & Jenny were kept quite busy as several of the fleet capsized today. One of the biggest casualties was Steve & Ashley. They were blown in more than once and finally retired when they shredded their spinnaker. Beacky & Kelvin too suffered a capsize but still managed to finish ahead of all the Club Lasers. The sail back to shore after the racing was another hazardous journey as the swings in wind strength and direction were even more exaggerated and we also had the problem of navigating lots of children swimming. What’s the point in having a buoy line when no one administers it? It actually makes it more difficult at times for us to sail to the shore as we have less room to manoeuvre. Anyway we all made it safely back to the beach and no child was injured in the process. I think that I wasn’t the only person aching and feeling that they needed a good rest judging by the comments and tails of woe heard in the dinghy park afterwards. Sailing can be so placid at times but there are equally times when it is very physical, but on days like today it is a fantastic thrill when the boat lifts on the plane and shoots off down wind and you can finally land ashore knowing that the elements may have been challenging, but you have survived.

Aug 3rd
Lack of enthusiasm = lack of racing

This should be a fairly short blog today as last night’s sailing was all done in the bar except for James who decided to take his Laser Radial out for a blast. The rest of our very small fleet decided that the strong south westerly sweeping across the bay was worse than it looked. This was backed up by the over active wind anemometer at Polruan which showed gusts in excess of 25 mph. However as James so vividly showed it wasn’t as bad as we feared and he only had 1 capsize. In fact the wind really did drop off a notch or two whilst James was out and it was obvious that with a bit more determination we could and should have raced.

Most of our talk revolved around our 4 crews away at Looe for the Scorpion Nationals. Looking at the results it was obvious that the strong winds of the week are having an adverse effect on our guys. Even Steve & Polly are struggling to get into the top 20, and it’s not helping by having so sail in such strong conditions. I suppose like any Nationals the difference in boat handling and boat speed is enormous between those at the front and those further back. Plus the top runners are competing against other strong teams week after week, which is necessary to get to the top and more importantly remain there. Someone at Looe is videoing the races and they can be seen on YouTube if you look around for them.

There is a good chance that the weather may be back to more summer style weather by the weekend so we should have that to look forward to and I am sure that our returning Scorpion sailors will be amazed at how small our Club course are after a week sailing on a race course with almost 1 mile legs.

As a footnote to the above; Sue & I visited Looe today to see all the boats and our “teams”. We found them all busy preparing for another day of onslaught, but at least today it was dry and the sun was shining at times. All our “teams” appeared to be in very good spirits and raring to go again for another hard day. The downside was that they still had quite a stiff breeze to contend with and with a 12.00 start looming they all made haste to launch and sail out to the starting area, which as the wind was mainly an offshore westerly took them a good 2 miles out to sea where even with binoculars it was impossible to see who was who. The start time mentioned above was 12.00 but it was almost 14.00 before they managed a clean start, which under the conditions meant an awful amount of time spent hanging around. That alone can be very draining and frustrating.

Eventually start they did and I suppose it took the leading boats between 10 & 15 minutes to complete the beat. 3 boats had managed to break clear then a gap and then a bunch of 7 boats. These 10 had an enormous lead on the rest of the fleet and by the time the leaders started the 2nd beat there were still boats on the 1st reach. That shows the difference in boat speed between the leaders the top guys and tail enders.

Unfortunately the fleet was so far out at sea that there was little point in hanging around too long so we set off for home knowing that they still had to finish race 1 and then do it all again for race 2. The very keen ones would then hang about and sail a crews race, which by the time all that is completed and then a long beat back to the shore will have kept most of them on the water for anything up to 6 hours. It did appear from the shore that the breeze was starting to moderate a little which I am sure would have been well received by the majority.

Friday will be their last day and only one race is scheduled so that will come as a relief to all and then they will have to de rig and go through the long process of reclaiming their road trailers which were parked in a field about 2 miles away, drive through the heavily congested streets of Looe, hitch up and then once again negotiate the arduous route out of Looe., and then home to a well deserved rest.

Aug 1st
sailing home
Charlestown Regatta

Before I get into the blog proper, please note the picture on the left. It was taken last Wednesday evening by Paddy’s brother, Dominic, showing some of the fleet returning to shore after racing. Doesn’t the bay look peaceful in the evening sun? A reminder what summer is and always should be.

Cornwall was bathing in glorious sunshine this weekend and some of us took full advantage of the weather by sailing on both days. For our Scorpion fleet it was their opportunity to bask in the heady seas of Looe bay for the start of their Nationals. It’s many years since I last sailed at Looe and due to them only having class fleets then I am not sure if I ever will again, but it is a right pain to try and drive to the sea front which you need to do so when dropping off or picking up your boat. In my Enterprise days I sailed at the Nationals at least once, though not with a very good result. I think my last sail at Looe was in my Mirror dinghy days and I think it was in 1996, when Neil & I went to try our luck in the Looe Mirror Open. I remember that so well because that year was also the year that the Enterprise fleet was set to revisit for their Nationals and so the Race Officer decided to take everyone way out to sea to race on a Championship course. The wind was quite light and south westerly and it took an age for our little Mirror to reach the starting area and then we had to do the usual and sit around whilst the course was set and tweaked to get it right. Back at that time Neil had only sailed at Restronguet so wasn’t used to sailing on the sea and the constant bobbing up and down whilst sitting hove to had the effect of making him sea sick and the poor old chap was sick all over the boat. Fortunately he felt better after that and we managed to sail the race and we took home the 2nd overall prize.

For those of us at home it was a chance on Saturday to sail at Charlestown Regatta alongside the darts from Pentewan. Our dinghy fleet was rather modest with only 6 of us, consisting of 2 Supersofas, 2 Lasers, 1 B14 and 1 Tasar. Richard could have made it 7 of us but instead decided to sail his Dart, and joined the 6 Darts from Pentewan. James took our RIB and some marks and laid a very nice course which we were pleased to see was much further out to sea than normal. I think everyone is sick to death of the windward mark tucked up under the cliffs. As it was, the northerly breeze was a shifty old thing, swirling and changing in intensity every few minutes. The Darts started first and their start gun was our 5 minute gun so there was quite a bit of separation initially. We had 2 races back to back and each race, depending when you finished took between 45 and 55 minutes.

I haven’t seen the Darts results but I could see who was in the lead when they eventually lapped us and it looked like Chris Pierce, who has sailed a Laser here in the past had a good lead in each race with Richard taking 2nd each time. What did surprise me was how close we were to the tail ender Darts, certainly not 5 minutes behind them, which we were at the start. I blotted my copybook somewhat by tacking in front of Simon in his Supenova and did a couple of turns to exonerate ourselves, which gave Paddy a win, but we redeemed ourselves by winning the 2nd race. Paddy helped us enormously in this race by capsizing on the gybe mark.

Sunday was advertised as “social sailing day” and what a waste of time that turned out to be, as hardly anyone turned up for it; Instead deciding to take a day off in the very summery conditions. I’m all for some social type sailing but please let it be on a Saturday next time. The conditions on Sunday were ideal racing conditions with a very nice offshore breeze blowing across the bay, resulting in a very flat sea. Rather than waste the day entirely, those of us who were there decided to have an impromptu sail. We left the beach and headed across the bay to round the south west water mark and then set off for the mussel farms, before rounding and heading back to the Club. I was really surprised as to how large the mussel farms have expanded. Fortunately for us they have expanded outward and northwards but certainly now cover an enormous expanse of water. The sail back from the mussel farms to the Club was a beat all the way but after a couple of minutes we decided to bear off onto a reach and enjoy the perfect planing conditions. And without any course restrictions we could fully enjoy the speed and freedom not usually associated with some of our race courses. It was one of the most exhilarating sails that I have had for quite some time. In fact the last time Ken & I had such a good reach was one Falmouth week when we had a Harbour race and we had a close reach from St Mawes right up to Pill buoy just off Loe Beach. We turned around that mark and had another close reach back to a finish line off Restronguet Sailing Club.

The fantastic weather over the weekend looks set to break down for a couple of days before improving again and I hope it doesn’t impact too much on our Looe boys and girls, but I think they will have some stronger breezes to contend with, which will give them some fantastic down wind legs to enjoy.

July 27th
RIB waiting to go
A quiet but exciting night

What an extraordinary action packed race for the fast fleet last night, which I will come to later. I was anxious to see the Man Machine yesterday, as I am not sure I will have time to catch him today so we went over to Lostwithiel to see him in all his glory. He was scheduled to start walking at 17.00 which would have given me just enough time to see him and get back to Porthpean for racing. Unfortunately his appearance was put back an hour until 18.00 so we left without seeing him rise form his trailer. Hopefully he may be on time today and I might just see him arise before I have to shoot off for a prior appointment.

Unfortunately the weather for holiday makers is very poor again this year with low after low flowing in from the Atlantic but for us sailors the breeze has been a very pleasant air flow, generally blowing between force 2 and force 4. In fact there was just enough power in the breeze last night to get the boats planing and the north westerly flow was keeping the seas flat. For last nights race we had all the ingredients for an exciting race, the tide was low, hence easy launching and recovery. There was a good mixture of boats sailing and the RIB was readied in time. The air temperature was mild enough for sailing shorts and it looked like the evening would be dry as the clouds were breaking.

Andrew & Jenny were our RIB drivers for the night and after a quick launch they set about laying the course. The beat looked like a good length and with the wind blowing out from the shore gave us a nice starboard rounding in what would be the normal shifty conditions but without the sudden gusts that we have had to put up with for most of the season. The reaches were another matter. They were very short, ideal for spinnaker boats but not set for close reaching and I knew we would be in a spot of bother when sailing across the line on a port heading we couldn’t sail within the course. Andrew had decided that there would be no port hand flyers tonight as it was almost impossible to sail across the line on port so we had the inevitable bunching down at the pin end. The fleets were evenly balanced tonight with 6 in each fleet. In fact the turnout wasn’t that good when you consider that Wednesday evenings are the best attended races of the entire season, but then several regulars were away on holiday.

There was slight delay whilst the OOD waited for the last stragglers to make their way out from the beach. In fact there wasn’t much wind between the shore and the beach marks so that distance took an age to traverse. Thank goodness we have the beach marks further out to see than we did a few years ago, though even their present anchoring give areas of strange air flows at times, as many will attest to.

By the time we started the wind had dropped down to about a force 2, not the most exciting conditions but enough to sail with. Fortunately we had a very good start, just upwind of the flying B14 of Paddy & Steve and ahead of the rest of the fleet. I thought we had a really good beat being only just behind Paddy at the beach marks, but others also had a good beat, noticeably Justin & Charlie in the other Tasar out tonight. A little further behind them were our main protagonists for the night, Jan & Pete in their Kestrel and Roger in his Blaze. As we bore away for the 1st reach we soon realised how broad it was and out came the whisker pole. Up ahead Paddy & Steve, even with their spinnaker up and pulling couldn’t generate enough speed to get very far in front of us, which was good news for us and we were also pulling away a little from Justin & Charlie, but behind the spinnaker of the Kestrel was making inroads into our lead. Roger also was nibbling away in what was almost perfect Blaze conditions. The 2nd reach was also a disappointment, no sooner had we gybed then it was back up with the whisker pole as we wallowed along towards the leeward mark, with the Kestrel especially, gaining by the minute. Fortunately there was enough strength in the breeze to make reasonable speed down wind to help stave off the Kestrel and Blaze. And so it went on and by the time we started the 3rd beat I thought that we had put enough distance between Justin and us to start feeling confident but foolishly I failed to cover them and by the time we reached the beach marks they were slightly ahead of us. Even worse the Kestrel & Blaze were also a lot closer. Fortunately our down wind speed was just enough to get us back in front and this time we concentrated on covering our opponents.

As the race progressed the breeze started to fade more and more and by the time we started the last round the Tasars were slowing and the Kestrel & Blaze were creeping up. So much so that we ended the last reach almost line abreast and cries of “water” and “no water” were heard. We rounded the mark first but left a small gap to windward which the Kestrel dived in to exploit but as I hardened up the 2 boats touched and Jan & Pete ended up doing turns. The last beat was a very tactical affair with 3 of us trying to attack and defend, which gave the Kestrel time to catch up. In the end we did just enough to scrape round the beach marks in the lead but only a few seconds separating us.

Jeremy Rowett
The slow fleet was settling down into its normal pecking order. The faster Scorpions of which there were only 2 were this time led by Beacky & Kelvin, and they were gradually pulling away from Kay & Nigel. The 4 single handers, 3 Lasers and a Supersofa were having their own little race. Steve & Ashley in their RS400 struggled to get the boat up to racing speed and slipped down the time sheets. Beacky & Kelvin’s lead was enough to propel them to take the win on corrected time, but Janet Preston in her Laser radial proved to be faster then Brian Reeves in his radial and both of them were faster than Nick in his full rigged Laser. Janet and Brian split the 2 Scorpions to take 2nd and 3rd, leaving Jeremy Rowett in 5th, pushing Nick into 6th.

4 of our Scorpions are heading to Looe for their Nationals which start on Sunday, where they will be sailing in a 60 boat fleet. Sailing in such a large fleet can be quite daunting but on the other hand is a very good experience and I am sure that they will all learn quite a lot. Going on form shown over the season I would think Steve & Polly will be the top Porthpean boat, but conditions and fickleness plus possible breakages can easily come into play over a weeks sailing and 2 or 3 days of stronger winds can easily wreck a promising campaign. Anyway I am sure that we wish them all the very best of luck, and look forward to hearing all about it when they return. Kay was looking at her buoyancy certificate last night and realised that it is 11 years since she last went to the Scorpion Nationals.

July 24th
Lasers waiting to go
Wet but a not very windy Sunday

After the heat and sunshine of last Sunday we were back to a more typical Summer Sunday type weather today. At least, unlike last Sunday we had a nice sailing breeze though had to contend with some rain. I was down on Porthpean beach with the family on Saturday and it was a very holiday looking scene, with the beach packed with people, enjoying the hot sunny day. Contrast that with 24 hrs later on Sunday. The falling rain produced an empty beach on this the height of the holiday season.

We gathered at the Club with a penetrating light rain falling from a very overcast sky. The breeze was supposed to be a south westerly but in the yard it could have been in any direction, but it wasn’t too strong and didn’t look like anyone would capsize today – but someone did!! Read on and find out who. The Polruan weather web site is down at the moment, which is a shame as it is an excellent guide as to what the wind strength and direction is really like at sea, but the general forecast was for a south westerly breeze, slowly tracking round to a westerly as the day went on. Despite the wet conditions the air temperature was still warm and once again I elected to take my sailing shorts out of my bag rather than my wetsuit. Even the sea temperature seems to have climbed up to is summer temperature now.

Brian Phillips and James took the RIB this morning, with Roger & Wendy Williams, travelling over from Rock, officiating from the Clubhouse. Despite the disappointing conditions a very reasonable 12 boats launched from a very flat beach to do battle out on the race course. In some ways the unseasonable weather helped us as there wasn’t much beach available to launch from as the tide at 10.00 was at its height, so with fine weather we would have had to weave our way between holiday makers to access our beach, plus maybe having the slipway blocked by vehicles parked as the drivers disgorged all their beach ware. Whilst on the subject of the slipway it is pleasing to see that the Council has carried out a very nice repair to the slipway that was badly damaged in last winter’s gales. I know that money is apparently tight nowadays and I for one never expected it to be repaired. Mind you if not repaired then far greater damage would most likely occur in any gales in the future. In fact walk down to the beach on any fine day and witness the sea lapping up onto the slipway and it is difficult to imagine how the damage can occur, but go down there when there is a south easterly gale roaring at high tide and you will be impressed and in awe at the ferocity of the sea as it smashes into the shoreline. Hopefully conditions like that are fairly infrequent and in all likelihood are several months away yet. It’s also good to note that some of the roadway at the top of the slipway has been repaired with some tarmac patched up. I am not convinced that the tarmac repair will last for many months, but at least it is better than it was.

The yard
Out at sea, visibility varied as the amount of low cloud lifted and fell but we always had enough for the Race box to be able to see us. To echo the poor visibility, the course was kept deliberately small. The wind strength was round about 8 knots with some slightly stronger gusts that were easy to spot so fairly placid conditions from some that we have had over the last few weeks. The fast fleet was the poor relation today with only 4 boats against the 8 boat slow fleet. The start line had a terrific amount of port bias, so much so that I expected the majority of the fleet to start on port, in the event only Paddy & Steve appeared to go for the flyer, but some of us on starboard up by the pin end forced them to sail below us and look for a gap further down the line. There was no obvious route to take up the beat but Steve & Polly in their Scorpion, resplendent in a new suit of sails, tacked off on a favourable windshift and found the quickest route to the windward mark and were first round, closely followed by Paddy & Steve in the B14 and Beacky & Kelvin in the 2nd of the 3 Scorpions out today, all preparing for their Nationals which are at Looe, starting next Sunday. We were 4th around and sufficiently ahead of Jan & Pete’s Kestrel to make me feel a bit happier about the situation. The first reach was quite tight and all those with spinnakers kept them under wraps, which allowed us to make some inroads into those in front. The 2nd reach was very broad and the spinnakers were up and pulling whilst we pottered along with our whisker pole out trying to pretend that our jib was a spinnaker in disguise. Up in front we spotted a very slow B14. Paddy was having some trouble with his rudder and was not powering away as expected, which was good news for us. Several times we caught up with Steve and Polly but although we were sailing the faster boat on the tight reach, just couldn’t make the breakthrough and we had to settle for 3rd boat on the water at the finish. Fortunately Steve & Paddy hadn’t made enough time difference between us to beat us and we also had enough time on the Kestrel and Chris & Tony to take a win. Not surprisingly Steve & Polly won the slow fleet by a good 2 minutes over Beacky & Kelvin who in turn were a minute in front of Andrew & Jenny. Of the 4 Lasers out, I note that only 2 seem to have a finishing time attributed to them which may need some sorting out as all 4 Lasers finished as far as I know. Ciarran & Harry were out on a mission this morning in their Mango and were only a few seconds behind Janet Preston so progress is being made there, and I do hear rumours that a newer, faster boat may be in the offing.

Ciarran & Harry, took James’s place in the RIB for the afternoon race. The course was left unchanged but the wind had swung a little more westerly, which had the affect of making the beat a little one sided and the first reach very tight and as the race progressed tightened more into almost a one tack beat, which was a great shame as it completely neutralised our planing speed. The start line for this race had lots of starboard bias so there was no need to camp up next to the RIB but the pin end was going to be pretty crowded. Fortunately we managed to find just enough space to start by the pin and to be windward of the entire fleet, which we converted into leading round the windward mark. Jan & Pete had a good beat and rounded just behind us. We managed to increase our lead a little on the very tight first reach, which was enough to build sufficient distance to hold them off on the spinnaker reach, where their speed was superior. Steve & Polly, had for them, a rather poor first beat and were further back but still in front of the other Scorpions. Once on the next beat we were able to slowly increase our lead, keeping Paddy & Steve behind us, but they suffered even more than we did on the tight reach and although they eventually overtook us on the 2nd broad reach, I could see that there was no way barring accidents that they would make enough time on us to win. In fact on the 3rd round and on the tight reach disaster struck them. We saw that they being headed more and more as they neared the beach marks, which was a sign for us to climb as high as possible before we too hit the massive header. Unfortunately, they ended up having to tack for the beach marks which cost them even more time, then once round the first beach mark the spinnaker was hoisted, but the bear off took them too close to the 2nd beach mark which they promptly hit. Things went from bad to worse as when undertaking their 360 penalty they ended up with capsizing. I think Paddy decided that enough was enough and they turned for home. Beaky & Kelvin too had problems when one of their toe straps pulled out of its fastenings and they too retired.

Steve & Polly took another win in their fleet but not too far behind them in 2nd place overall was Nick Haskins in his Laser, very pleased to split the 2 remaining Scorpions, demoting Andrew & Jenny to 3rd. Brian Reeves had to settle for 4th but was only 20 seconds or so behind Andrew. Dave Mackrell, who hasn’t sailed much this season, managed to finish far enough ahead of Janet who was sporting her 4.7 rig, to beat her on corrected time. I think Janet would have been better off with her radial rig as the wind strength was probably less then it looked form the shore.

Just a reminder that next Saturday is Charlestown Regatta and Sunday is classed as a social sailing fun day. I don’t know what is lined up for Sunday; it could be a cruise to Polkerris, a long distance race, a pursuit race or just a fun race. I think the decision will be made on the day to suit the conditions.

July 20th
Steve Wingrove
Another evening of perfect conditions for Wednesday racing

It may have been short lived but what an impressive heat wave we’ve had. I can’t remember the weather being as hot for quite a while and it did make a nice change from the rather mediocre summer that we have had so far. I was rather miffed having to go away last weekend to miss what promised to be a very good weekend of sailing but in the event it proved to be an inspired decision – I must give that kudos to Sue. We had a great weekend, visiting Farnborough air show on Saturday and having a full on family BBQ on Sunday before heading back home late on in the afternoon, with the temperature showing 26C most of the way home. There was even a very nice sailing breeze in Basingstoke and at the time I felt very envious of the sailors at Porthpean but when I looked at (for) the results for Sunday and looked at the web camera historical pictures I realised that there hadn’t been any wind for sailing at the Club. This must have proved to be a huge disappointment to our Scorpion fleet as for once our Open meeting attracted some visitors. We almost had a 100% turnout of our own fleet with only Steve & Ashley missing. I saw some video on Saturday evening that had been posted and it looked very light conditions but the 2 of the visitors racing, had built up quite a commanding lead, which goes to show the standards to aim at for our fleet at the Nationals in Looe, which start in less than 2 weeks time. So from my point of view I didn’t miss anything at all except the very nice BBQ & social held on Saturday evening when the skittle alley was brought out of hibernation to entertain the gathered faithful.

My 2 eldest Grand Children tried to educate me in the latest craze sweeping the World today – Pokeman Go. Well I said tried to educate me but they failed miserably as I neither failed to gain the necessary enthusiasm nor grasped the terminology they all seem to use. I wonder if anyone has tried to find any Pokemans on our race course yet. I suppose on the plus side it did get them out looking for these things and I did find their excitement when finding something quite contagious and amusing and I must admit it is certainly a very popular new game.

Chris Bilkey took some drone video a couple of weeks ago and I hear that some people are trying to find it on You Tube. Well here is the link to it. It was a very light wind race, but the drone footage makes the boats appear to be moving faster than they actually were, though I think the fact that the drone was moving created the apparent speed. Still it was nice to see some of the boat shapes looking down from above. Whilst talking about cameras I wonder how many have realised that our web camera is back in its usual position, giving a more commanding view of the dinghy park and the bay.

Now onto last night’s racing; I suppose we were lucky that the SE breeze that appeared overnight on Monday suddenly, as forecast, veered back to the NW. That certainly flattened the waves on the beach, making it easy for us to launch, though it did bring in some smelly sea weed. The tide was up almost to the top of the slipway so we didn’t have much beach to work from but without too much inconvenience we all managed to launch and set off for the race course which had been set for us by Justin & James. The heat of the last few days may have disappeared but it was still warm enough for my sailing shorts to make another appearance. The fleet was rather depleted, down to 11, as once again holidays & work took their toll, but for those lucky enough to be out found the conditions ideal. We had probably about 10-12 knots of breeze with some slightly stronger gusts thrown in from time to time but nothing to upset anyone, though Ciarran & Harry did succumb to a capsize as they made their way out under spinnaker.

The wind direction gave us a beat in from the Gribben direction into the beach marks and then a reach out to sea, before a gybe to take us across the bay for a repeat performance. I’ve probably said it several times before but it’s worth repeating a NW is usually my favourite course as it makes the beats a little bit shifty and if the angles are set correctly then also gives some superb planing on a flat sea, which to me makes it perfect for a Tasar. In fact the angles tonight were nigh on perfect as when the breeze blew then we could plane at times on both reaches and all the spinnaker boats managed to fly their kites on each reach, so there were no complaints from them either. The reach out to sea was the trickiest for us as sometimes dependant on the wind movement we had to use our whisker pole at times.

A quick look at the start line showed that there was no port bias; in fact tonight there was quite a lot of starboard bias to contend with, so I guessed that the RIB end would be rather crowded and a picture of us hitting the RIB a few weeks ago was uppermost in my mind as we made our approach. Andrew was up to his usual tricks, luffing up high to keep any windward boats at bay and I think his battle tonight revolved around Jan & Pete’s Kestrel. Jan’s attempt to keep clear forced her over the line at the start and they were recalled. Andrew too thought that he was over and returned to start again as well. As it happened, only Janet was over, but she didn’t sail round the ends as prescribed and as a result was relegated to last position. Andrew & Jenny’s return dumped them down the fleet and try as they might they could never get back into contention with the other 2 Scorpions.

All the shenanigans at the start was very good for us as it created a nice space right by the RIB for us to sail through at the start, leaving us in a nice clear lane and windward of every body else, which allowed us to clear off into the distance. Well that would have been the case except for Paddy & Steve in their B14 who did sail through us towards the end of the beat to take their place at the head of the queue to round the beach marks. Now though I was pleased with our first beat, the sight of the B14 flying it’s kite on all the down wind legs filled me with frustration as with kite up and light breeze filling the sails, the B14 just flies along. Very fortunately for us was the fact that the breeze every now and again pipped up a little and allowed us to plane.

Behind us we could see quite a battle emerging between Kay & Nigel and Beacky & Kelvin in the 2 leading Scorpions together with Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, all closely grouped together. As the race progressed it was plain to see that Kay & Nigel were opening up quite a good lead over Beacky and they went on to claim another good win, leaving Beacky to finish 2nd and needing to undertake a visit to his tuning manual to try and return to his original settings, after being persuaded to change them by one of the weekend’s visitors. Clive Stephens fared better tonight taking his Laser radial into 3rd. Andrew & Jenny never made enough inroads into their fleet and had to settle for 4th just ahead of Nick Haskins and Ciarran & Harry.

We had a very nice gap between us and the Kestrel, the RS400 of Steve & Ashley and the Tasar of Chris & Tony which gave us the unusual luxury of concentrating on trying to save as much time as possible against the flying B14. Well to my surprise we did enough to take the win on corrected time, pushing the B14 into 2nd place and our other rivals down a notch or two as well. A pint of cider and 2 bacon butties in the Clubhouse went down a real treat after that, though I didn’t know the result until after I had reached home. Actually in some ways it didn’t really matter whether we were 1st or 2nd as I don’t think we made any silly mistakes and at the end of the day handicap racing nearly always comes down to numbers, but it was just a beautiful night for racing. I think that with only 1 more Wednesday race to come this month we will start to see the evenings closing in, as inevitably our summer is starting to wane but there is not a lot we can do about that, except try and ensure we make the most of what we have.

July 13th
Perfect conditions for Wednesday evening racing

The rather windy conditions experienced over the weekend have also been with us all week so far and today was a continuation of the same. The trees on the bank of the college behind our house had been swaying quite ferociously during the day so I had wondered what sort of wind strength we would have for the evening race. I think quite a few prospective sailors had been looking at the Polruan weather station and seen gusts into the high 20s during the day. One big difference though was that the wind had changed direction and was now blowing from the north west, producing a very nice flat sea. The tide was falling, leaving plenty of beach to rig, launch and recover. By the time we assembled at the Club to start preparing our boats you could almost sense that the fresh conditions were starting to ease. In fact that is almost always the norm at this time of year as evening comes in.

The day before, Tuesday, I managed to tick off an item from my bucket list; a trip to see the Merlin Rockets racing at Salcombe. Merlin Week at Salcombe, is a very popular sailing event and attracts a limit of 120 boats. The only way to race so many boats in the river is to split the entries into 4 fleets and race permutations of the 4 fleets with 2 races a day. Over the week everybody has the chance to race against everybody else, giving 12 races in all, 6 races per fleet and one discard. Does that sound complicated? Hopefully not but it does work. Sue and I arrived whilst the morning race was in progress and initially I almost wondered if we had come on the wrong week but the sight of a fleet of boats sitting on the opposite shore told me that it was the right week but where were the other boats? Well we soon found out, they were actually on their way back from the Kingsbridge area of the river and before long they could be seen sailing round the corner on their beat back to the start / finish line. The leading boat was miles in front and he won by almost 3 minutes and took his 2nd win out of his 3 races; Andy “Taxi” Davies, who is almost accredited as a professional helm, having won Nationals in various classes of boats in the past.

We were well placed on the start / finish line for the afternoon race and the fresh gusty wind that we had at the weekend was also present at Salcombe. The sight was very entertaining as several of the Merlin’s capsized right in front of us and the rescue craft were kept busy standing by capsized boats until they had made some sort of recovery. At any one time pre race there must have been at least 12 boats over and one hapless soul lost his buoyancy bags out of the transom and ended up waterlogged, impossible to right and was towed in sideways to the beach. No race for him today. At the start I thought that I saw one or two boats over the line and was surprised that there was no 2nd gun and then I realised that they were starting under a black flag, which needs no 2nd gun but if you are spotted over the line then the penalty is disqualification and you often don’t know that until you cross the finish line to a deafening silence! Just think 1 ½ hours slogging around for nothing.

The General Lee
The boats were beating down the river before turning for a long run under spinnaker, up the harbour, that leg being the best part of a mile and that’s where a lot more action took place. At one time a group of 3 who must have been in the top 12 were hit by a massive gust and all 3 promptly capsized. Trying to right a waterlogged Merlin with the spinnaker up is a struggle as I witnessed. Just watching the top guys at the front of the fleet is an eye opener. Their boat handling skills are amazing and I came away very impressed and entertained with the whole occasion and quite happy to say that it was well worth going. Even Sue who isn’t a true dinghy enthusiast was heavily involved following the race.

Now for tonight’s racing; our fleet is quite a contrast to the Merlin’s in both quantity and quality, but nevertheless just as hotly contested. The thought of another hard battle in strong winds possibly reduced the fleet down to 11 but it was still a joy to rig in the nice sunny conditions that the evening had brought along.

Jeremy & Suzanne were our RIB drivers for the night and as I expected set a very nice large course that suited the conditions. The wind being in the north west gave us a beat in from Blackhead direction to the beach marks, before a long reach out towards Polkerris before the gybe took us back to the leeward mark. There was enough bias on the line to tempt us into trying a port hander and as the gun went we shot across the line crossing the entire fleet. Pulling off a good port hand start is a very good feeling in itself. My only mistake was to hang on to the port tack for too long as we eventually sailed into a quiet spot which cost us quite dear as Justin & Charlie pulled right up to us as we converged, though we still managed to reach the beach marks just in front of them. Paddy & Steve found almost perfect conditions for the B14 and powered up the beat rounding first and then virtually disappeared up the ensuing reaches with their spinnaker giving them full on turbo boost. Jan & Pete have been thorns in our sides over the last few weeks, either finishing very close to us and at other times even finishing in front of us when the conditions were either too strong or too light for us, but tonight the wind strength and course direction was back into Tasar territory and both teams Justin and us took large chunks out of the Kestrel. Chris & Tony in the 3rd Tasar out tonight weren’t so lucky and lost time and ground to the Kestrel.

The slow fleet had 3 Scorpions out tonight and all 3 have had their opportunities at the top of the leader board lately so tonight was going to be very interesting to see who would come out on top. It almost turned into a 2 boat race when Beacky & Kelvin capsized on the first beat. They had followed us up the first beat and sailed into a bit of a hole lost power and capsized to windward. Meanwhile Andrew & Jenny rounded the windward mark ahead of Kay & Nigel. Phil Harrison in the Club Laser was also getting the most out of his steed being well ahead of all the slow handicap fleet on the water and he converted that lead into a very handsome win. The battle for top Scorpion went on and Kay & Nigel managed to take the lead but behind, Beacky & Kelvin were sailing faster and managed to overhaul both Scorpions on the last beat. Unfortunately he failed to cover Kay in the last few tacks to the finish line who regained her lead and crossed the line some 6 seconds in front of Beacky who in turn finished just 10 seconds in front of Andrew & Jenny; very close racing indeed. Brian Reeves had been quietly tracking the boats in front and finished 5th on the water but his handicap was such that his corrected time gave him 2nd overall, well over a minute in front of the Scorpions.

We managed to pull out quite a gap on our rivals but any joy for us was short lived when we found that Paddy & Steve had beaten us by some 30 seconds on corrected time. Still I can’t complain, we had a good start and race and had some very good moments planing downwind so the thrills factor was very rewarding, and for once the pesky Kestrel finished behind us. Happy Birthday wishes to Jan Barnes who is 21 + something, today.

July 10th
Thomas and his buns
A very blustery day for all who sailed

Our summer weather is leaving a lot to be desired. Where are the hot sunny days? Instead we are having days of wind and rain and today was one of those. The forecast was for fresh to strong south westerly winds with some showers and that is exactly what was delivered, as today proved to be one of the windiest races so far this year. Polruan showed that on Saturday some very strong south westerly gusts went through and unfortunately today, Sunday, had an equally strong forecast. Today was also our very first proper south westerly of the season and boy did it let us know it had finally arrived. Of course from the shore a south westerly always looks benign and so it was today but to the keen onlooker the glimpses of white horses further out in the bay told the full story. Gusts and violent wind shifts were the order of the day, but that didn’t stop over a dozen boats and windsurfers from launching and charging out to the race area.

Thomas Daza came down with a box of buns that he had baked, to sell for Club funds and it wasn’t long before they were all sold. There seems to be quite a few sweet tongues in the Club at the moment

To escape the worst of the forecast it was imperative to get the race started on time and Pascual & Sue, our RIB drivers for the day were down bright and early to ready the RIB. One of their first tasks was to fuel up the engine tanks, but with what? There was no fuel! We had used the last of the bunker tanks last Friday and unfortunately they hadn’t been replenished so at least half an hour was lost waiting for fuel to be brought down. Meanwhile 4 windsurfers had joined us for today and they were keen to be rigged and off out into the by now quite breezy bay. Eventually the RIB was launched and about a dozen of us set off for what was to be a very wild ride.

Dinghy park
Pascual & Sue set a very nice looking course and with Ian & Claire Whale sitting in the OOD box they soon had us all under starter’s orders, but just before the 1 minute gun Pascual & Sue abandoned the starting procedure to go to the assistance of one of the wind surfers who suddenly found that the conditions were far too strong for him and they then proceeded to take him in tow for the long journey back to the beach. I must admit that I was struggling with the conditions and decided that I wasn’t prepared to wait what could amount to 30 minutes hanging about for the race to start so I headed back home as did one or two others and eventually a much depleted fleet actually started the 1st race. Needless to say the 2 B14s were the fastest round the track, especially Jeremy & Suzanne who converted their fast speed into a win. Paddy & Steve were not so lucky, as they had a ducking and had to settle for 3rd. Of the other 2 boats left racing in the fast fleet, the Kestrel of Jan & Pete proved the stronger upwind but on some of the down wind legs Chris & Tony in their Tasar proved to be the faster boat, but ultimately they had to settle for 4th.

The slow fleet was also heavily reduced in numbers but Steve & Polly zoomed round in their Scorpion finishing on the water ahead of the Kestrel. Beacky & Kelvin were a bit further behind but fast enough to comfortably beat Brian Reeves in his Laser radial. Nick who had been the first to launch, joined us and also Andrew & Jenny in deciding that the conditions were a bit too much and retired to the safety of the beach. In fact so hairy were the conditions developing that a 2nd RIB was launched to give us extra safety cover.

Anxious eyes were watching the Polruan weather station, during lunchtime, monitoring the conditions and it was obvious looking at the trend that the wind was slowly increasing in strength, though in the bay things didn’t look quite so bad.

Anyway, fuelled by food and soft beverages some of us set off again to test the conditions. Once again “Midnight Express” was pounding along, smashing through the waves as we planed out to sea. Hardening up onto a beat showed me just how strong the conditions were, especially some of the gusts which were well into the 20’s. What made them worse were the vicious changes in direction which were almost impossible to predict and though I hate to admit it I felt that things were a little too strong for me so once again we tacked round and headed back to the shore which we accomplished without a capsize.

The remainder of the fleet stayed out to race and at one time or another every boat was upside down apart from the Kestrel of Jan & Pete. Jeremy & Suzanne despite a capsize near the windward mark and wearing round instead of gybing managed to extract enough speed to take another win. Paddy & Steve had a series of capsizes and they sailed back to the shore also, leaving Janet and Pete to take another 2nd. Beacky & Kelvin had a coming together with Andrew & Jenny on the start line and decided that he had had enough and with a loose pintle on his rudder head decided that life on shore would be safer and headed home early as well. Steve and Polly despite their capsize were still much faster than the remaining Scorpion and took another good win in the slow fleet.

Not surprising we all felt so relieved to be back on shore and in relative safety, though once again the bay looked so benign. Let’s hope the conditions have settled down for the midweek Wednesday race and the upcoming Scorpion Open Meeting here next weekend. I don’t think that many would relish sailing in those conditions so soon again.

A special mention is due to Steve Mitchell who last weekend attended the 120 fleet Supernova Nationals at Llandudno in Wales. Steve finished a creditable 33rd and won the Veteran’s Cup in conditions not too dissimilar to today. Simon Robins also attended but at this moment in time I don’t know his result as the various websites i.e. Class site and sailing club site haven’t published the results.

July 6th
Brian and Tony
A quiet evening in the bay

Did anyone miss last Sunday’s blog? Well I was away helping Sue do a bit of Child minding in Yate (Bristol) while my daughter and son in law and some of their friends helped her to celebrate her 40th Birthday in Las Vegas. Earlier in the week I had been entertaining the idea of whipping back home on Sunday for our Club racing but the forecast a day or two earlier wasn’t that good so in the event I decided to stay put. As it happened Saturday produced almost gale like conditions but blew out in the night to leave almost windless conditions for Sunday. So light in fact that there was no racing at all in the morning and then with a light breeze appearing 2 back to back races took place in the afternoon.

Instead of sailing at home on Sunday I thought that I would go and see what another sailing Club looked like and what sort of boats they sailed. The closest Club to Yate is Thornbury SC which is on the River Severn. A quick look on the map gave me directions to a place called Olbury on Severn, which is a quaint little village close to the mighty River Severn and about 25 minutes drive from Yate. I duly arrived in Oldbury, parked my car in a car park, found the gate that would take me to the Club and set off to walk what I thought would be a short distance to the Club. How wrong that turned out to be! My short walk turned into a trek of over a mile. I followed a car track to a bend about 400M in the distance, rounded a corner and then could see a raft of masts in the distance. Well I though that it was rather strange not to see any Club members driving past me, but I continued walking on regardless and eventually arrived at the Club. However it was completely deserted and this was about 11.30 in the morning. Where was everybody? The Club had quite a few dinghies sitting in a locked field and there were also quite a few cruisers on trailers or blocks sitting in another enclosure.

I walked past the Clubhouse and found the dinghy ramp to the water and then I realised why there was no one there. The tide was out!! Instead of a nice slope into a gurgling river there was a vast drop into a mud bath. The steep river banks were covered in dark brown glistening mud. Even the River Severn which I could see in the not too far distance was a horrible brown colour. What an unpleasant place to sail. It made Porthpean look an absolute Mecca for sailing. The Club house itself was a nice 2 story affair and the Club, judging by the number of dinghies and cruisers parked, is much larger than ours, but due to the tide, racing has to be arranged to suit the conditions and checking that later I saw that racing was arranged for an evening start that day, so there was nothing left to do except undertake the long trek back to my car and reflect on what I had seen. Maybe next time I am up in Yate over a weekend I will go and visit a lake type Club and watch them sail.

Chris & Tamsin
Our sojourn in Yate finally came to an end and we arrived back home early on Wednesday afternoon and it was an absolute joy to come down to the Club tonight to be greeted not by brown water but a vivid blue, glistening sea with a very light south westerly breeze blowing over it. My plan last week to dry out my best racing sails was thwarted with the rain that we had endured so tonight was another chance to dry them out. So nice were the conditions tonight that my wet suit stayed in my sailing bag to be replaced with sailing shorts and spray top. Well we might not be having the summer that we wanted but it was mild enough for the shorts. Launching was a tight affair as the tide was almost up to the slipway but one by one we managed to find our own space on the beach, rig and cast off and immediately sail off out of the cove to see what sort of course Paddy & Steve, our RIB drivers for the night, had in store for us. In a word disappointing; The forecast breeze was for a light south westerly but I think it was actually a little more from the south so it may have been difficult to lay a good beat across the bay and we ended up with a beat from Charlestown towards the beach marks, and once rounded we were presented with a very broad reach to the wind mark with a gybe and a much shorter reach back to the leeward mark. A course clearly set for the spinnaker fliers and not Tasars.

The start line had a lot of port bias on it and quite a few people started to line up for a port hander. I was tempted but instead decided to stat on starboard by the pin end buoy and sail out to sea in the hope of picking up a little more pressure from the dying breeze. In the event only 2 boats tried for the port tack start and both came to quite a lot of grief. Justin and Charlie in their Tasar was one crew and the other was James in his Laser. Unfortunately for them there were too many starboard boats up at the pin end and they had to take some severe bearing off manoeuvres to stay out of trouble, which in the light conditions cost them dear. Eventually most people tacked off to try their luck under the Cliffs of Duporth whereas Jeremy & Suzanne in their B14 and us in our Tasar elected to sail further out to sea. Initially I thought that we would come out with a big lead but as we neared the beach marks it was galling to once again see Jan & Pete in their Kestrel lifted up through us to glide in front of us and reach the windward mark just behind the B14. Unfortunately for us Beacky & Kelvin were not too far behind them, on a collision course with us and importantly were on starboard, also approaching the mark. I threw in a hasty tack hoping that I could squeeze up round the mark but to no avail and hit the mark giving us the unenviable task of doing a 360 before we could sail off again, now a good way behind the Kestrel and also Beacky and Kelvin. Just to compound our problems, Chris and Tony, having successfully completed the beat also sailed past us whilst undertaking the 360. Things were going from bad to worse. Anyway to cut a long story short we managed to overtake Chris & Tony on the 2nd reach and then just overtake Beacky & Kelvin on the next beat, but that triumph was short lived as Beacky’s much faster speed with the spinnaker on the broad reach took him past us yet again, though the following reach allowed us to sail to windward of him. As the race progressed the breeze continued to fade and we started to eat into the Kestrel’s lead, but alas they still beat us over the finish line to claim yet another victory. Jeremy & Suzanne had a lonelier race, as once the B14 was in front it continued to sail away from everyone.

Chris and Tony after their very good first round started to fade and finished quite a way behind after taking a wrong route up one of the subsequent beats. Justin & Charlie’ charge after us ran into problems when they fell foul of the 2 other Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny and Kay & Nigel. Of these 2, Andrew & Jenny proved the stronger, finishing about a minute behind Beacky & Kelvin but about a minute in front of Kay & Nigel. Of the 2 Supernovas out tonight, once again it was the experience of Johnny Hill who managed to put 3 minutes between himself and Jeremy Rowett, though John who usually does very well on overall handicap failed to get anywhere near the Scorpions, being almost 6 minutes behind Kay on the water. James too, usually does very well, fell victim of his poor start, in fact at one time Ken saw him doing turns so he may have had an incident that we missed. Clive Stephens was another sailing a slow boat that really suffers as the evening breeze fails as he is effectively on the race course for longer in a decreasing breeze which inevitably impacts on his finishing time.

Now the photograph at the top of the page; The fire escape platform has been deteriorating for some while and Brian Phillips has made a new one and the parts have just come back from being galvanised. Yesterday evening it was assembled and fitted into position. The picture shows it without the hand rails fitted but by the time we returned from sailing all was in position and all we need now is some concreting and steps renovating. The bracket for the new web cam has also been galvanised and that too will be fitted soon allowing the web cam to be re-mounted, plus the addition of Paddy’s new auto controlled web cam.

Whilst we were racing we heard the sound of a drone flying overhead around the fleet. It was controlled by Chris Bilkey who filmed some of the racing. He has put it on Face Book so you should be able to catch up with it there if you want to see it. Despite the very quiet conditions, some of the boats look like they are travelling quite quickly, certainly quicker than we felt ourselves moving.

June 29th
Summer? What summer?

Summer? What summer I ask myself. After the heady days of May, June has been in the main a very wet month. Even the temperature is now down on what we normally have in June and listening to the weather forecast I am not enthused at what I hear. Strangely enough, Wednesday, is usually the driest day of the week, but not today as we started off with fairly heavy drizzle that did peter out but changed back into rain as we raced. Still last night must have come as a bonus to us as the strength of wind earlier in the day was such that I didn’t expect to be able to sail. Polruan weather station had been showing winds in excess of 20 knots all day with peaks somewhat higher, so imagine our surprise when we arrived at the Club to see a very flat stretch of water in the cove. In fact it was so flat that when we eventually launched we had to either pull ourselves out on the buoy line or resort to a paddle. Once out at sea then progress was somewhat better and there was enough breeze to promote hiking positions up the beat. It was suddenly looking to be almost perfect for sailing.

Now I had a 2 pronged cunning plan for tonight. The first element was to use my better racing sails, hoping to dry them in the evening breeze so that I could put them away nice and dry for a few weeks. They were still wet from Sunday’s racing and at least it was dry tonight. The 2nd element was to use the extra speed of the good sails to beat the pesky Kestrel. They have been beating us too often just lately, as the breeze for us had been either too strong or too light.

James & Justin took the RIB and set off from the beach expecting to be laying a course to suit the forecasted SW breeze, but no; once again the breeze was a westerly and we were set for another charge into the beach marks. Well I didn’t mind that as it happens to be my favourite course and so with only a minimum delay the 14 boat fleet set off on the beat towards Porthpean. There was no appreciable bias for a port start so a starboard approach was favoured by all. I was quite happy with our start but I think Nick Haskins probably had the best start of all, being right by the pin as the horn sounded. That start was to hold him in a good stead for the rest of the race.

Tony & Chris
Our plan was to sail up the left side of the beat hoping for the best and most constant pressure. There is always a temptation to head for Charlestown and then sail a long starboard tack approach. This often works but you are relying on a steady breeze and a good lift to really make it pay. Anyway as it happened the left side appeared to pay on the first beat and Jeremy & Suzanne were the first to round the beach marks. Not in their Tasar but instead their new B14, giving them a nice little lead over Paddy & Steve in the other B14. We gratefully slipped into 3rd place nicely in front of Jan & Pete in the pesky Kestrel and Andrew & Jenny Kendall who were right up there with us, ahead of the other 2 Scorpions out tonight. Also in the mix were Steve & Ashley in their RS400. It was looking like it would be an interesting downwind leg, especially if you had a spinnaker. Unfortunately the reaches were quite broad, the wind was light and the boats with spinnakers were licking their lips at the plight of a lonely Tasar struggling to get any decent speed. Just to add to my pessimism the breeze was falling lighter as time went on so the chances to pop up onto the plane disappeared with the breeze.

Of the 3 Scorpions out tonight, many would have favoured Kay & Nigel to be on the top spot, especially as they had won the previous series, but as it was, Andrew & Jenny headed the 3 of them and managed to increase their lead as each lap passed, taking top spot on the leader board. Quite surprisingly Beacky & Kelvin, admittedly rather short of practice, were the last of the three, but eventually overhauled Kay & Nigel to finish almost 30 seconds in front of them. I mentioned earlier Nick’s superb start, so it was no surprise to see him sail his Laser into 2nd place overall. That was good going for the oldest member sailing tonight.

Back to the fast fleet and Jeremy & Suzanne’s lead was increasing, but the breeze died significantly on the last lap and Paddy & Steve took a gamble along the shore line and it almost paid off, managing to close J&S down and almost pipped them on the line. Equally so Jan & Pete who were a little behind us on the last beat also elected to sail the shoreline route and it paid off handsomely as they reached the beach marks first to claim top spot, leaving us the consolation of 2nd place as the dying breeze badly affected the handicap times of the B14s.

Several of the rest of the fleet had some good moments too, especially Steve & Ashley in their RS400, but they suffered badly on the light fluffy beats, as did Chris & Tony. Unfortunately the breeze died as the rain came in and it poured down in a steady stream; maybe not too bad for us but not so good for James and Justin in the RIB, so a big thank you guys for your duty. At least it was nice and dry in the Clubhouse and with Jenny away again we found that Charlie Austin, once again stepped into the breach and grilled the bacon butties for us. What a star he is turning out to be!!

Oh yes my cunning plan? Well that failed badly as the constant rain, not only killed the wind to curb our speed but also left me with soaking wet sails, so I will have to go through the entire procedure again, hopefully next time in the dry. And the pesky Kestrel managed to stay with us right through the race and then took us on the last beat to the line. Frustrating and annoying but that’s sailing or more pertinently, racing.

June 25th & 26th
Phil & Margaret
6 months to Christmas, but who's counting?


With only 1 visitor and our possible Club turn out down to only 4, our Tasar Open looked rather a damp squid on Saturday. However the racing was rather epic. Our visitors were Phillip & Margaret Blurton, who had travelled down from Hastings to race with us. They bought Jeremy’s old boat a couple of years ago when he upgraded to a newer one and the boat was still looking well loved and looked after. Jeremy looked at their rigging and decided to check the rake of the mast, which turned out to be incorrect. Paddy who was borrowing Justin’s boat for the weekend decided to check his as well and he too made some minor adjustments. I thought that I ought to check mine as well and lo and behold, my rake was too much, which was soon corrected by the swift change of the forestay shackle for a shorter one. That was it, we were all now fully tuned up and ready for the fray.

Soon both RIBs were loaded up with buoys and flags, one crewed by Beacky and Liz and the other by Nigel & Colin. The race team was completed with John Hill sitting in the Race box. The Sunday organising party was completed by Andrew & Jenny Kendall. In fact now is a good time to say a big thank you to all concerned, without you the racing couldn’t have taken place.

Freddy Flintstone
The breeze was the (for this year anyway) our usual north westerly and though docile on the beach was a rather more volatile animal way out at sea off Charlestown. The gusts we were receiving there were far from friendly and gave us an afternoon of hard work. Once we were assembled we soon came under starter’s orders and then unleashed onto the very nicely laid reverse “p” course that we often use for Tasar friendly courses. The beat was very hard work and the reaches blisteringly fast, giving us no time to rest as the boats just flew along. In fact it was so windy that there was hardly any difference between boat speeds. Jeremy & Suzanne were first to the windward mark followed by Paddy & Steve, with us slotting into 3rd. Phillip & Margaret were dropped a little on the beat but stayed with us all down wind. Poor Pascual & Brian, suffered a capsize on the way to the start and then had gear failure, which was disappointing after their good start when the rope securing the sail clew to the boom snapped. I think a shackle will be the de rigueur fitting in future. A mistake by Paddy & Steve on the run whilst wrestling with their whisker pole allowed us to take 2nd slot, which we held for the next round, only to have them up breathing down our necks after the 3rd beat. The wind had shifted during the beat and the following reach was rather broad and the blistering speed that we had managed on the previous reaches had now disappeared, only to reappear with a vengeance just before the gybe mark. For us it was the gybe from Hell, though rather colder than I imagine Hell might be. Our gybe was almost complete when the centrifugal force or whatever caused me to slip, over I went bundled up in the bottom of the boat and over went the boat tipping us in to windward. By the time we recovered the boat, thanks to Nigel & Colin, the fleet had long gone. Body temperature was down and so we headed back to the beach to maybe put on something warmer. Anyway it soon became apparent that we would not get back to the start in time for the 2nd race, so we stayed ashore, showered and dried off. Meanwhile Jeremy & Suzanne continued giving everyone a master class in heavy weather sailing wining both races. Paddy & Steve took 2nd places in both races and the Blurtons 3rd place. Things for Ken & me weren’t looking as bad as I feared when I found that it was a 6 race series with 2 discards. We still had a bit of a chance but with no further discards we had to be on our mettle.

The evening social was a very convivial affair, thanks to Tony. His coconut shy that has been featured on previous publications of the Blog was used for the first time in anger as after a scrumptious meal of Chilly & baked potato, courtesy of Tony wearing his Chef’s hat, followed by chocolate brownies, courtesy of Lynn, our pastry expert. We were all divided up into teams of 4 and took turns at knocking off the target tin cans lined up on the shelf. The winning team after numerous rounds proved to be Team Tony (how strange!!) Maybe he had been practising on the quiet.

Liz and Roger

On arrival at the Club we found another Tasar getting ready to race with us. Liz & Roger Pescod, are no strangers to Porthpean and had with them their brand new Tasar, a formidable pairing indeed. Our ranks were swollen to 7 with the addition of Chris & Tony. It was also scheduled to be the June Cup so a good assortment of Club boats rigged to race with us as well. They too would be racing 4 races but for them only 1 discard and they would be sailing on our course but starting 5 minutes behind us.

Again a “q” shaped course was laid but not quite as big as Saturday as the wind though from the same direction was down on power and was forecast to fall as the day wore on, with the addition of some drizzle and low cloud to come. With 4 races sailed it is almost impossible for me to recount all the thrills and spills, but the bare bones of it all was that Jeremy & Suzanne won the first 3 of the races, taking the event.

The wind as forecast continued to drop for the 2nd and 3rd races, but slowly came back in strength and shifted round in the 4th race, which had the affect of changing the intended shape of the course but still gave some excellent legs of exhilarating racing. We managed a 3rd, 2, 2nds and finished off with a win!!, giving us 2nd overall. The Pescods, much to Paddy’s dismay, did enough with their 4 races to sneak into 3rd overall. Our lovely new friends Margaret & Phil Blurton, appeared to enjoy their racing on our very flat bit of sea and went home with numerous tips and tuning advice which they will take on to the Tasar Nationals which are only 2 weeks away. Jeremy & Suzanne are hoping to attend and reclaim their title as they have missed the last 2 Tasar Nationals. With the form they are currently showing they have an extremely good chance of that.

Unfortunately the race results are not showing on the Club web site just yet. They actually go to a web site belonging to Paddy and our website uses a link to display them. Paddy currently has an issue with the way that the results are uploaded, which he is hoping to resolve in the very near future. All that makes it impossible for me to make much of a comment on the handicap races but from what I remember from the prize giving. Jan & Pete, in their Kestrel, continued with their winning form and took the fast handicap cup and Steve & Polly, in their Scorpion, took the silverware in the slow fleet.

In conclusion, it turned out to be a fantastic weekend of racing. The organisation was exemplary; the competition was fierce and extremely close at times, allowing no one to relax for long. Porthpean was seen at its friendly best, and all, sailors and helpers alike, went home tired and in my case, shattered again!

June 22nd
waiting for the wind
Where's the breeze when you want it?

So another sailing day lost to the weather, but in this case it was lack of weather or more precisely lack of wind. Admittedly the weather forecast was for little or mo wind and I suppose in that instance it was spot on. Despite the hint of the lightest south easterly crawling over the wall into the dinghy park, the fact was that at sea level there was absolutely not a breath and the hint of ripples out in the bay quickly faded to the flattest of seas. Inevitably the cancel flag went up and the bar quickly opened to prove that all was not lost. We are in between weather systems at the moment but at least the forecast is more favourable for the weekend when we have the Tasar Open and the June Cup. The Tasars will be sailing on Saturday and Sunday and hopefully all the races should be sailed as planned.

tin pan ally
What else happened tonight? Well Tony finished off his coconut shy albeit with tin cans rather than coconuts, Jeremy Rowett cleaned his Supersofa , Finn brought his Laser down and gave that a really good clean off. Thomas brought his bow and arrow down and gave us a display, showing his marksmanship; shame about the seagull, Kay, with Nigel’s assistance repaired her rudder stock. Tony & Colin were also busy cleaning some surplus sand away from the RIB 2 garage, and lots of people stood around talking. At least it was dry and quite mild though some of the misty clouds that had been hanging around all day could be seen still clinging to the cliff tops.

tin pan ally
So there we have it, no sailing and more pertinently no bacon butties; now that fact really hurt as I normally rely on the bacon butties to act as my evening meal. I prefer to wait until after sailing before I normally eat, so I sneaked off early to discover what we had in the deep freeze. Well it was a curry actually and very nice too. It went down a treat with a can of cider.

tin pan ally
Conveniently today’s date places us almost half way through the year. The summer solstice has just passed and the pessimists will tell you that the evenings are starting to draw in. Well that may be true but it will still be a few weeks before we really start to notice it. Hopefully we still have some very good sailing days to come. Our attendances still leave a lot to desire but that is in keeping with the majority of sailing clubs. Today is also Referendum day and many things in our life may change depending on the outcome today. It would be very easy to add my two penny worth on the great debate but this is a sailing blog, not a political soap box, so nothing about the Referendum but I am voting out. Hopefully whatever happens, Porthpean Sailing Club will still be sailing. As I’m finishing off this blog there are blue skies above, a very nice drop of sunshine and a very nice breeze blowing. Now where were you, Mr Breeze, last night??
June 19th
Janet rigging
A very wet day kept some sailors away

Strange as it may seem it doesn’t usually rain much for our Sunday sailing, but today was an exception. We had non stop rain all day, not heavy rain but constant drizzle that turned into rain as the day progressed. Not that it made much difference to those of us sailing but it must have made a big difference to some of those who usually sail as we were as low on the turnout today as at any time. Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn’t very good and we were also promised quite a lot of wind as the day wore on so all in all the prospects of coming down to race in quite evil conditions contributed to our low turn out. In actual fact the racing itself was first class and we could have done with a bit more wind during the morning race.

Brian Reeves and Phil Harrison, suitably dressed, took charge of the RIB today and set quite a different course than we expected. The forecast wind was a south westerly so we expected for the first time this season to race across the bay from left to right. However the leeward mark was set towards Charlestown which gave us a beat fairly close inshore to the beach marks. The subsequent reach out to sea was rather broad which really suited the spinnaker boats and the 2nd reach back towards Charlestown was also on the broad side, which once again didn’t suit our Tasar, though we did have some little spurts of speed at times when the wind shifted the right way..

Our start for the first race was a perfect port hand flyer and gave us quite a good advantage to allow us to round the beach marks in first place, just in front of Paddy & Steve in their B14, though once round the beach marks they hoisted their spinnaker and swept on by. Not too far behind were Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, Roger in his Blaze and Andrew & Jenny in their Scorpion. Very fortunately for us we started the reaches with a nice little lead, but in the lighter conditions, the spinnaker boats made some good ground on us, reducing our lead significantly. In fact Jan & Pete’s strong vein of results over us continued again today, as although we eventually finished in front of them by approx 100M, the time margin in their favour gave them a 10 second victory over us. Roger was only 6 seconds behind us and Paddy & Steve only 5 seconds behind Roger. That was a time span of 21 seconds covering the first 4 boats which was extremely close racing. It wasn’t quite as close in the slow fleet with Andrew & Jenny closing out another win some 30 seconds in front of Janet Preston in her Laser. Nick who started late managed to secure 3rd place in his standard laser.

Steve & Ashley
Strange as it may seem no one sat outside at lunch time. We all sat in the Clubhouse listening to the rain pattering down on the Perspex part of the roof. The tide had turned whilst we were having lunch and was almost up to the line of parked boats on the beach. Janet dropped out of the afternoon race but was replaced by James. His hands have healed up now sufficiently for him to handle his Laser. Again the start line was biased for a port start but this time I made a hash of it, arriving just a second too early and had to re round and join in as tail end Charlie. James, however, got his timing spot on and sailed through the entire fleet. Now, my new sails seem to deliver plenty of power when in a breeze and the pointing ability is pretty good but I was anxious to try something a little different to see if I could get any more out of them. I changed the position of the jib tack for the afternoon race to see what difference it made to our upwind sailing. Very disappointingly our pointing ability suffered somewhat and the quick come back to join the rest of our fleet just never happened as we slowly headed off our intended course. Paddy & Steve shot out of the starting blocks and led by a good margin at the beach marks. Jan & Pete with Roger pushing hard reached the beach marks well in front of us and the broad reach once again suited them with their spinnaker more than us and we hardly made any significant gains on either boat, until later in the race.

The breeze as forecast started to increase and as it did so we were suddenly faster down wind and managed to catch and overtake the Kestrel and started to reel in Roger, but all was too late, I think just one more lap may have made all the difference to us. We had just started one of the beats only a couple of boat lengths behind the Kestrel and we had decided that we would tack away rather early after rounding up to break free from the wind shadow of the Kestrel. The tack started off ok, but somehow Ken snagged his head on the kicker pulley/ shackle and even though he was wearing his sailing hat he still managed to rip a flap of skin from his head. The resultant injury looked very painful and I hope that it heals up fairly quickly. Head wounds tend to be very painful and can leave a mark for quite a while. I have a scar on my head from contact with the boom last week and I notice that at least 6 of our regular sailors now wear helmets to protect themselves and maybe that is a good accessory to have. I have noticed that my movements around the boat are much more difficult nowadays due to my joints not being as flexible as they were a year or two ago. It’s no fun growing old, but it certainly beats the alternative.

Once again the results were very close apart from Paddy & Steve who this time won by the best part of a minute but we did overtake Jan & Pete and our corrected times came out identical giving us equal 3rd, whilst Roger who we closed down quite a bit still managed to have 3 seconds on us. That was 3 boats finishing within 3 seconds on corrected time, which is very close indeed.

James converted his good start into a very convincing win, especially as his closest rival the Scorpion of Andrew & Jenny suffered the indignity of a capsize, though their recovery was good enough to keep Nick & Ciarran behind them. As the racing progressed the forecast wind was starting to make itself felt, certainly the down wind legs started to favour our Tasar and I think we all came ashore just in time before the stronger wind and heavier rain came along and caused some mayhem.

June 15th
boat in the bay
An almost perfect evening brought out a few more sailors

Despite all the heavy rain experienced over the previous days and also some heavy drizzle during today, the weather showed a marked improvement as evening drew on for the last Wednesday race in the Spring Series. The wind was a fairly light westerly, with just enough strength in it to give a little marginal planing on a close reach. Indeed I don’t think that we would have sailed 24 hours previously as Tuesday gave slightly stronger conditions than on Sunday and the anemometer at Polruan must have been working overtime such was the wind strength up in the high teens / low 20s. Anyway by the time we arrived for racing the drizzle which we experienced for most of the day had all but disappeared, the clouds were breaking and the bay was once again bathed in sunlight, with a calm sea lapping the beach.

The first decision of the night was whether to wear shorts or my wetsuit. Well the air temperature wasn’t too bad so I think I made a good decision when the sailing shorts won that particular battle. Steve Mitchell and Sue Daza took the RIB for the race and were on the water in good time and soon had a course set up for a port rounding beat to the beach marks, my favourite course. As a bonus the sea was reservoir flat, giving very easy launching and recovery conditions. The tide had peaked earlier, so dropping the trollies on an empty beach was also another luxury for us. The improved weather also tempted out a stronger fleet with 8 in the fast class and 7 in the slower class, and our waters were suddenly looking a little more crowded than of late.

A new boat to Porthpean hit the water last night. Jeremy has acquired another B14, and a very racy one it looked and he and Suzanne were down in good time to prepare the beast for its first outing in St. Austell Bay. It was going to be very interesting to see how the new machine would fare against Paddy & Steve, who were licking their lips at the ideal B14 conditions awaiting them. We still had to endure a short delay as although the majority of the fleet launched in good time to reach the start they still had to negotiate a stretch of almost windless water just off the shore in the lee of the cliffs. Anyway after the almost mandatory postponement we came under starter’s orders.

I had the rare privilege of inspecting our quite large fleet from the back for this race. I made a complete hash of the approach to the start line, found that starting line space up by the RIB was in very short supply, had nowhere to go and had to settle for bouncing off the RIB, doing a 360 and then setting off in pursuit of the fleet. Having sailed the beat earlier we had decided that the best way to go up the beat was to “go left” and that is what we tried to do, but there was so much bad wind coming our way that I tacked off hoping for better progress on the right had side of the beat. Alas no and we reached the windward mark last in our fleet and with only a couple of the slow fleet behind us. The breeze which was quite light was not strong enough to come to our aid and we sailed the first set of reaches trawling along alongside John Hill in his Supernova.

Steve & Ashley
First to the windward mark was Paddy & Steve, with Jeremy & Suzanne trailing behind them and more pleasing for Paddy he had the better boat speed, increasing the gap as the race progressed. I believe that Jeremy & Suzanne had a particular bad experience when trying to launch the pole for the spinnaker and for a time they came to a complete stop whilst trying to sort the problem out. It was eventually resolved and the purple spinnaker was seen flying again but they were far too far back to allow any sort of recovery. Our late arrival at the windward mark showed that Janet & Pete’s Kestrel, still powering on from Sunday, leading all the Tasars round the track, with Justin & Charlie trying to hang onto its spinnaker powered hull and Chris & guest crew tonight, Janet Preston not too far behind. Sailing very well tonight was Steve & Ashley who had taken their RS400 out and they were revelling sailing in this company at the head of the fleet. They were making spectacular progress down wind. Also in front of us was Phil Harrison in the RS600 but he fell away on the 2nd beat. The 2 Scorpions of Kay & Nigel and Andrew & Jenny were also in front of us. Both boats had been deemed over at the start and had to re start but both had sailed up the correct side of the beat which was another reason why they were in front of us. We had to wait until the slightly tighter 2nd reach, which gave us some extra speed before we could manage to overtake John and then the Kendalls and by the end of the reach we almost up with Kay & Nigel. Slowly but surely we crept up on our fleet and by the end of the penultimate lap had managed to overtake Justin & Charlie, but our speed dropped off as the breeze was starting to fade and Justin overtook us again downwind and held us off on the last beat. I’m getting the impression that the new sails do not like light winds. Other than that they set well and look to be very hard wearing.

With 2 Supersofas out tonight there was always going to be a close rivalry between John & Jeremy Rowett but once again John had the upper hand as did Kay & Nigel against Andrew & Jenny. Kay & Nigel taking line honours, but John, finishing 3rd, still had time in hand to claim the victory. James in his Laser radial had a poor first beat and he too was trying to play catch up during the race and had to settle for 4th just in front of Jeremy, leaving Nick trailing behind.

Paddy & Steve, finished way in front of the rest of us and their line honours was converted into a win, leaving Janet & Pete in 2nd place and in front of all the Tasars and our charge which for the mid part of the race looked quite promising faded leaving us in 4th behind Justin & Charlie. All was not lost for Jeremy & Suzanne, they finished 2nd on the water but still managed to beat both RS boats.

There was the usual aroma of bacon emanating from the Club house as we packed the boats away. Jenny was away and Pascual stepped up to the grill to show us that he is also a dab hand at bacon butties. Thanks Pascual.

June 12th
beach at lunch time
Wind and rain dominate

Shattered; In a word shattered, that’s how I felt when I arrived home after Sunday’s racing. The day started off very nicely in the morning, with a very pleasant breeze but 2 hard races in a very stiff breeze in the afternoon were a bit too much for me and I am sure that I will feel the effects for a day or two yet.

Our beautiful settled weather of the last 2 weeks and more, finally cracked on Saturday and one or two very heavy showers brought the temperatures back down to the seasonal normality, and the present unsettled weather may last for most of this week before we have another spell of better weather. So it was no surprise that my sailing shorts and Tee shirt stayed in my sailing bag to be replaced by wet suit and spray top. At long last the wind had backed to the west and we had a very flat sea with a nice breeze blowing out from the shore. The down side of that was that it was rather gusty and shifty but quite manageable, though we were kept on our toes.

Nigel & James took the RIB today and promised us a different sort of course. They took out 3 buoys + the beach mark buoys and set us a trapezium course with a beat in from sea to the beach marks with a broad reach out towards Charlestown before a run out to sea and then a tightish reach back to the leeward mark. For a time it looked like that we would have 4 Scorpions out today, but as Steve & Polly rigged their boat they somehow lost the spinnaker haliard up the mast. Retrieval is a very delicate affair requiring a stiff draw wire and this they didn’t have. Their back up plan was to take their Tasar but that plan also failed when they realised that the sails and foils were back home in Plymouth.

Our reduced fleet managed to sail out to the start line, hopelessly late for an 11.00 start but we eventually came under starter’s orders. Now the start line was heavily biased for a port start and Paddy & Steve in their B14 and Richard in his Contender made their intentions clear by hanging around in the vicinity waiting for the start. We were tempted but then with 3 boats vying for the perfect start the odds of getting one were not the best so we decided to sail down the line on starboard in the hope of cutting them off and right on the gun we managed to just cross the line ahead of them both and took an early lead, which we held up the first beat to be first round the beach marks. Well it was no surprise to see the B14 pass us soon on the reach but we managed to hold off Richard for a whole round until he slipped past us on the 2nd beat. The race progress was difficult to follow from the shore as the dark clouds lowered and obscured most of the race course and fairly heavy rain descended on us drenching us all. I think that it was somewhere on the 2nd beat that one of Ken’s toe strap securing lines parted and he almost went overboard. A little bit of fudging with some excess toe strap line on my set managed to bring some sort of normality back but every time I moved my body weight Ken’s toe strap moved as well. However it stayed intact until we made it back to the shore before a more permanent repair took place.

Once Paddy had gone past we could concentrate more on the Kestrel not too far behind us. Jan & Pete made the best of the broad reach and run and closed us down but the tight top reach allowed us to open the gap again and we continued like that for the rest of the race. In fact the last beat for us was terrific as we started the beat probably 100M behind Richard but we managed to find an amazing lift that allowed us to sail up through him and then we went on to open up an even bigger gap which gave us a win though Paddy & Steve claimed line honours. All was not lost for Jan & Pete as they too managed to beat Richard to claim 2nd place.

Lionel & Ken
Beacky & Kelvin had a bit of a nightmare race as they dropped back behind Andrew & Jenny who were having one of their best races of the season. In fact the Kendall’s lead increased on every lap and they were especially quick on the down wind legs. They eventually finished 9 minutes ahead of their rivals whose demise was compounded when slots 2 & 3 were taken by Nick Haskins and Janet Preston in their Lasers. Steve & Ashley started off quite brightly but for some reason faded away as the race went on and had to settle for 5th place.

Last week the beach was packed out but this weekend there was hardly a soul to be seen as the clouds and rain dominated the weather. That proved to be fortunate for us as the tide peaked at about lunch time and there was very little beach left for us to park up for the lunch break. Now this is where some perverse logic came to the fore when we were told that we would have 2 races in the afternoon. Nothing wrong with that I thought but when we reached the starting area it was obvious that the wind had increased significantly in force and some of the gusts coming through were very strong indeed. In fact it was so strong that before the racing started Richard was blown over whilst minding his own business and we too had quite a few “moments”. I checked with Polruan afterwards and their weather station showed gusts of up to 25 knots at times.

The subsequent races went by in quite a blur and maybe the unluckiest one of us turned out to be Paddy & Steve. They had lead all race long but disaster struck when they tacked for the last time to sail across the beach marks. A vicious gust hit them and over they went and it took them an age to finally get the big beast to sit quietly in the water head to wind. I don’t know where they would have finished without the capsize but that conspired to give them last place. To compound matters another capsize in the 2nd race gave them another ducking and another struggle to right the boat. However a B14 is a very difficult boat to master when the breeze is up and the Porthpean offshore gusts give problems galore.

The stronger winds allowed Richard’s Contender to come to the fore and he blasted away to win both races. Jan & Pete also took full advantage of their Kestrel’s heavy weather capabilities and beat us fair and square on the water, let alone on handicap. Though I must admit that I really struggled in the stronger conditions and I still have one or two issues with my control lines, though that isn’t an excuse, just something to be improved.

James who hasn’t sailed for a few weeks swapped places in the RIB when Janet decided that the conditions were too strong for her, so James rigged his Laser to race. However he was too late for the 1st afternoon race but was on the start line for the 2nd race. That was a start that he will want to forget in a hurry as he was way over the line at the gun and had to return and restart. However with the Scorpions capsizing it allowed him to make up any lost time and he took the overall victory with over a minute to spare.

Beacky & Kelvin more than made up for their morning demise, taking the fight to Andrew & Jenny and this time beating them in the first afternoon race by a reasonable distance and should have beaten them when in a strong lead in the 2nd race but they capsized on the run. They were joined a few seconds later by the Kendalls who promptly capsized almost alongside. It seemed strange seeing 2 upturned Scorpion hulls side by side. However the Kendalls made the quicker recovery and went on to take their revenge, finishing 2nd to Beacky’s 3rd.

What a relief it felt when we finally sailed for the shore and landed on the beach. The view when looking out to sea showed perfect sailing conditions but from up on the cliff tops the gusts shooting out could still be clearly seen, though I think within an hour the severity was starting to fade away.

During the lunch break James showed us his drone, and what a magnificent bit of kit it is. It comes complete with a camera and he soon had it prepared and airborne. He sat on the wall of the yard and flew it over the beach. The results give a splendid panorama of Porthpean and it is well worth watching. The link to it is HERE

June 8th
Coconut shy
Another beautiful yet windless day

Honestly, the things we do for a bacon butty, and Porky wasn’t very happy either. Last night was an evening best forgotten as sailing and more pertinently racing could hardly be more off the point. I shouldn’t complain as yesterday was also another beautiful hot sunny day, and I had spent all day at school so was really looking forward to my mid week sail, but once again Nature was conspiring to thwart it.

I arrived at the Club in good time all ready to hit the water, buoyed by the fact that Polruan was showing a north westerly 5-6 knots breeze. Unfortunately at Porthpean, which is maybe 7 miles away as the seagull flies, the breeze was an almost non existent easterly and though you could feel it on your face in the yard, the beach itself seemed completely devoid of any wind at all. The first thing that greeted me when I arrived was a large wooden framework that Colin & Tony were working on. Many of us at first thought that it would be something for the changing rooms, but on closer observation it appeared to big too get through the doors and then it dawned on us what it was- a coconut shy!! It has been constructed for use for the upcoming social evening of the Tasar Open meeting, though I am sure will be used on other occasions too; after all we have the B14s Nationals later in the year, plus other summer socials. Needless to say some of us were keen to have a go and that is what we should have done all evening if we had any sense.

First on the beach and to taste the conditions was Phil Harrison, who was down early to rig the RS600. He launched and sat and twirled round several times trying to get some forward motion going but to no avail. That was enough to convince the rest of us that racing would be a waste of time, when suddenly forward motion appeared and off he glided out to sea. He was quickly followed by Jan & Pete, so the rest of us just had to comply and went to join them on the water. It was Jeremy & Suzanne’s turn in the RIB tonight and at first set the course up for a repeat of Sunday giving us a beat from the beach marks out to sea. In fact our progress out to the beach marks was steady if not spectacular, but suddenly the RIB moved off and laid a new buoy as the breeze had veered to a northerly direction, though had also become decidedly lighter. Well we were out there by now so just had to accept it and try and make the best of the strange conditions.

I think it is fair to say that with less than 1 knot of wind blowing and the sea reservoir flat that there was no chance of anybody capsizing. WRONG!!! Somehow Paddy & Steve managed to achieve the impossible. Slowly, ever so slowly the B14 toppled over. Now how it happened I just don’t know but over it went and we could all see a desperate Steve trying to get on the dagger board to right the boat. Paddy, meanwhile was lying flat on the side deck, lost his grip and slid down the pointy end of the boat and gracefully disappeared, head first into the water. Shock, horror spread through the entire fleet and out of respect there was half a second’s silence, before we all erupted into gales of laughter and cheers. Well that certainly conquered their ardour and after that the race itself became almost boring. Correction, very boring!

The start line was fairly congested but our start wasn’t too bad with only the windsurfer of Bruce just up to windward of us, but that couldn’t stop Jan & Pete in the Kestrel express, proving yet again that it is a light wind flyer and they soon hit the front, followed by Kay & Nigel. I think Nigel was giving Kay some hints and tips that he picked up on Sunday when sailing with Beacky, though those hints and tips didn’t work for Beacky this time, as he was reunited with Kelvin and they and Andrew & Jenny struggled to get any forward motion at all. I didn’t think that we were going too badly until I realised that Justin and Charlie who were quite a way behind us were slowly but surely closing the distance between us and in fact rounded the windward mark just ahead of us.

Paddy and Steve were still lapping up their applause and started alongside us and we even managed to drift past them, so things were looking not too bad but somehow we slowed down too much which allowed them as well as Justin to overtake. The reach in to the beach marks was a dreadfully slow affair and for a while I thought that we were going to overtake both Justin and Kay, but once again we faded as we drew closer to the beach marks. It was only a slow fetch from the beach marks to a finishing line, so fortunately we were soon put out of our misery. No sooner had we finished than the paddle was broken out and we hightailed it to the beach. At least the weather was still hot and I managed to sail in just shorts and Tee shirt again. Never did a pint and a bacon butty seem more needed and enjoyable. It also looks like our fabulous 2 weeks plus weather is about to disappear for a while but apart from the disappointing sailing conditions has been loved by all.

June 5th
Millpool conditions and beautiful weather

There’s no way that I’m going to complain about the weather. Clear blue skies and summer sunshine, all go together to give us a beautiful summer’s day but the very light breeze is not what us sailors really want. Yes today, for the 2nd Sunday in a row there was a decided lack of breeze when we assembled at the Club, so some sat in the sun, some bimbled, some went for a swim, whilst other just stood around and talked and some even decided that we wouldn’t sail and went home to pursue other pastimes. The fanatics amongst us waited and watched a dark line on the horizon that signalled a band of wind that looked like it might possibly head our way. Eventually it arrived but it was a very light affair so we took an early lunch and by 14.00 we were ready to start a race in the ultra light conditions which were all we could conjure up.

Pascual and Brian Phillips took the RIB and in the very trying conditions set a very nice course for us to attempt to sail round. The very light breeze was a south easterly and as it had only just arrived there was no time for any waves to form and launching into it was like launching on a reservoir. There was no wave action at all, but we did manage to get enough wind flow over our sails to give us a little bit of propulsion. The weather was so summery that today was the first time for the year that all I needed to wear was shorts and a “T” shirt, plus buoyancy aid, hat and sunglasses were also necessary items of clothing and there was no chance that anyone would get cold in our almost Mediterranean weather conditions. Due to the light conditions combined with a late start it was decided that we would do 2 short races. In fact the first only comprised one lap whilst the 2nd race comprised only 2 laps, though we didn't know that at the start.

There was enough port bias on the line to persuade me to have a go at a port end flyer, and as the gun went we sailed over the line, alongside the RIB unchallenged; a very satisfactory feeling indeed. The resultant start should have seen us 1st to the windward mark, but hanging on too long on the port tack probably cost us valuable time as it appeared that there was slightly more pressure on the left hand side of the course and Paddy & Steve in their B14, Jeremy & Suzanne in their Tasar and Jan & Pete in their Kestrel all beat us to the 1st mark. We did conjure up a little extra speed on the first reach and we managed to glide past the spinnaker flying Kestrel and the stricken B14. Something on the B14 spinnaker system had failed and Steve and then Paddy spent quite a time leaning over the foredeck trying to sort it but to no avail and they eventually retired. The race was then shortened at the beach marks with the intention of getting another race in to complete the Sunday schedule.

Porthpean beach
Beacky, still without his regular crew, Kelvin managed to coax Nigel into the front of his Scorpion and they proved to be a very fast pairing. In fact there were 3 Scorpions out today. Steve & Ashley have forsaken the RS400 and reverted back to their Scorpion and today was its maiden voyage for 2016. They fell quite a distance behind Beacky and the Kendalls and also retired. Janet Preston was the only representative of the Laser fleet today. The others who came down soon disappeared when the they saw how light the conditions were, which only left Ciarran and Harry as the other slow handicap boat and although the Magno flies a spinnaker it is quite a heavy boat and the ultra light conditions proved very difficult to make any significant inroads to the rest of the fleet.

The breeze appeared to be freshening a little for the 2nd race and it was also attempting to go more southerly. However this wasn’t to last and the breeze eventually went much lighter. The port bias had disappeared and we all started on starboard but this time we were just up wind of Andrew & Jenny in their Scorpion and were feeling the affects of being luffed by them and also suffering from the disturbed wind from a wind surfer viciously fanning his sail so we tacked off. I also noticed that Beacky & Nigel after a mediocre start were making some good ground behind us and sailed right past Andrew & Jenny. They were going so well that they actually lead the fleet round the first mark, in front of Jeremy & Suzanne and a fast chugging Kestrel of Jan & Pete. Bothe spinnaker boats hoisted their extra sail and held of the Tasar down wind and. The 2nd and final beat saw the same 3 boats rounding the windward mark almost together but this time the Kestrel glided past the Tasar and Scorpion to take line honours.

Further back and I mean much further back we were going slower by the minute and our boat speed was terrible. Our only consolation was that with the retirements mounting we still managed a useful 3rd in the supposed fast fleet. Now I am not going to blame the new sails but I have heard from others who have them that they are not very efficient in light conditions but before I stand in that camp I must give them more time and adapt my sailing style to suit lighter conditions. Maybe this coming Wednesday may be an ideal time as the weather is in a very settled pattern at the moment so Wednesday may be another light weather affair.

Janet must have felt very lonely as she was even further back and effectively the slowest boat left on the water, but she battled on to take 4th place, which again may be a very useful result at the end of the series. Now one little detail to fill us all with dread…………….The Jelly fish are back!! Ken & I spotted one lazily swimming along. Fortunately that was the only one that we saw and lets hope that we don’t have the massive numbers that sprouted all the way along the south coast last year.

June 1st
Newly weds
Summer and newly weds at last

It’s becoming the norm now to be able to walk out without the need for a pullover for much of the day and really for the next 4 months at least we should be in that sort of weather pattern. Indeed quite unusually for us, we had a very nice period of weather over the Bank Holiday. Monday in particular was very hot and sunny, at least in Cornwall. I believe that the eastern and northern parts of the country weren’t quite so lucky. We are now officially into summer, assuming you split the seasons into 4 equal parts, so the better weather should now be the norm for us.

Alongside is a picture of Sarah & Martin who were married last Saturday. I hasten to add that these weren't the wedding outfits worn on the day, though may well be wearing their sailing gear later on this year, when they come visiting.

We lost last Sunday due to a complete lack of wind. The breeze was back again for Monday and was very fresh on Tuesday but fortunately for Wednesday had relented a little to enable normal Porthpean service to be resumed. Last night, saw us back into a northerly wind flow, yet again. So far this season, that has been the prevailing wind direction and as always gave us quite a tricky beat to deal with; due mainly to the gusts and swirling direction as we closed on the beach marks. At least we had a flat sea to sail on which gave us a stable platform to perform on and enabled us to see some of the gusts coming.

The luckiest man out last night was Nick Haskins, as he just made the start in time. I say lucky because the RIB, tonight crewed by Jan & Pete had the course laid and were sitting in position for a prompt 7.00 pm start when Nick left the beach with absolutely no chance of reaching the starting area in time. Luck played its part when the RIB had to up anchor and go and deal with Clive who had a capsize and for a time was unable to recover from it and required assistance. No sooner had they dealt with Clive then they had to go and assist Bruce Keeping who had a problem with his wind surfer. The RIB eventually made its way back into position, but well after the published start time and after flying the postponement flag went into the starting procedure. The resultant delay gave just sufficient time to enable Nick to join the fleet for the start of the race.

I think Jan & Pete were expecting a few fireworks at the stat as they had put enough bias on the line to tempt some port hand starters. We looked at the line earlier but came to the conclusion that the bias was not quite enough to tempt us into it and we, like the rest of the fleet, settled for a safe starboard start. I had the impression at the start that a certain Supersofa sailor was just over at the start but Jan & Pete thought that a “lick of paint” went in the sailor’s favour and he wasn’t recalled; not that he would have heard!!

Andrew & Jenny
The slow fleet had the largest contingent tonight and I expected the normal battle to take place between the Kendalls and Kay & Nigel who have been winning most of the Wednesday races. They rounded to start the 2nd beat almost side by side, but by the end of the 2nd beat the Kendalls had opened up a large gap and were never challenged again and sailed on to take line honours by a considerable margin. In fact their margin was large enough to also take the win on corrected time. Brian Reeves seems to have had quite a quiet time of late but tonight slipped into the groove very nicely and sailed his Laser radial into 2nd place, beating Kay & Nigel by just 10 seconds. The other battle in the slow fleet tonight was between the 2 Supersofas with Jeremy Rowett powered by his new sail hoping to beat veteran, John Hill, but the wily old fox shook off his young pretender and new sail by almost a minute and a half. Finishing only 13 seconds behind John was lucky Nick and he managed to split the 2 sofas, leaving Clive and Ciaran to bring up the rear.

With Chris Hazel away on holiday duties, soaking up the sun in Mallorca, only 3 Tasars were out to battle with Paddy & Steve’s B14 and it was the B14 that reached the beach marks first and then set off on their lonely quest to head the fleet home. Their best excitement came as they duly overtook the slower fleet as they came across them, though I don’t think they actually overtook the leading Scorpion. I had a new set of Lennon sails flying tonight. They are a much heavier sail material than the Bethwaite sails, appear to be better made and are designed to last longer and most importantly are considerably cheaper. I set them up exactly as for my normal sails, especially the jib tack and felt at home with them straight away. The boat handled just the same as before, she pointed well, which was my main concern and was no slouch down wind. Imagine our surprise when we took the fight to Jeremy & Suzanne, managing to reach the beach marks just in front of them at the end of the first beat and then pulled away a little down wind. However normal service was resumed on the next beat when they made much better use of the wind shifts than us and lead us for the rest of the race, eventually beating us by just a minute. Justin & Charlie didn’t fare as well this week as previously. Once again they were in the mix at the start but reached the beach marks behind us and then lost out quite a lot on the next beat, dropping them back by quite a way. Paddy & Steve’s extra speed wasn’t quite enough to take the handicap win and they had to settle for 3rd behind Jeremy and us.

The more astute will have noticed that the webcam is not working. Paddy had disconnected it in order to experiment with a different camera and normal service should be resumed in a couple of weeks time.

May 29th
Where's the wind?
Sunny day but no wind

It’s rather rare that we have a Bank Holiday with good weather but this Late May Bank Holiday has proved the exception. The only downside was the lack of Breeze on Sunday, our sailing day. We arrived at the Club to be greeted to lots of sunshine but unfortunately a windless bay. So for the first hour or two we just had to sit and admire the skill of the marquee engineers who were taking down the marquee in the yard that had been the party area for Sarah & Martin’s wedding; Congratulations to them and now known as Mr & Mrs Rendell.

The Bank Holiday and fine weather and one or two hangovers had also conspired to make us short of possible sailors and those that were down soon brought their boats back down into the yard after the marquee had disappeared. In vain we waited for the expected breeze to appear and an early lunch was taken in anticipation of a 2 race back to back scenario. By 14.00 there was still no sign of a breeze so for the first time this season the Sunday racing was cancelled due to lack of breeze. It does work out that way from time to time but with the sun shining there was still lots around for people to enjoy and at least today we only had to pull boats DOWN from the field and not UP from the beach. Next Wednesday is looking to have quite a fresh northerly breeze, so some form of normal service may be resumed.

May 25th
Beach tonight
Sunshine, blue skies but messy surf and a rising tide

Needless to say that with the beach in the state shown alongside that sailing was cancelled again last night. The wind itself wasn’t particularly strong, in fact if it had been offshore then we would have revelled in it but the south easterly direction nearly always provides a “no-no”. I‘ve said before that getting out may not be too difficult as you can often wait for a fairly quiet spot between waves then go for it, but coming back is another matter and you can just as easily be picked up by a large set of waves and then you just have to take your chance and then disaster is just a moment away. You may even miss some future races waiting for repairs or spares and is it worth risking your insurance excess? One further problem to overcome was the rising tide which would have meant coming ashore with the tide up to the slipway, which in itself holds gives a whole other sort of danger.

The evening was spent instead, moving all the boats up from the dinghy park to the car park to make way for the marquee for Sarah & Martin’s wedding on Saturday. It does seem quite strange to see the yard completely bereft of boats and it looks quite a large area indeed. In fact I’m sure that Wain Homes could build a housing estate there if they had half the chance. Fortunately the half chance is NO chance!!

The forecast in the short term gives south easterly breezes for the next few days but appears to relent for next Sunday when it switches round to the north east, so hopefully normal service will be resumed.

PS. Only 7 months to Christmas.

May 22nd
Beach at lunchtime
Sunshine, blue skies and fresh & gusty for all

I’m pleased to say that today was another day for wearing my sailing shorts. Sunshine, blue skies and an initially light offshore breeze had all the components for sailing shorts to be worn, though I did have to wear warmer clothing on the upper part of my body, as the breeze itself was still rather cold. However today’s forecast was spot on and I think we had more sunshine than was originally forecast but I’m certainly not complaining about that.

As a contrast to today I was down at Mylor last Friday evening, racing on a cruiser in the Friday series there and what a contrast the weather today was to Friday. It started off as just wet, heavy drizzle but as the evening came on the wind picked up and the drizzle turned into heavy rain. The wind peaked at some 22 knots and the rain became torrential. The little 27 foot cruiser we were on was sailing on its ear and we were struggling to remain on our feet in the cramped and very slippery cockpit. Although I thought that I would keep dry as I had some heavy duty waterproofs on they didn’t have the desired affect. The run off from the rain soaked onto my feet and my trainers and the first 6” of my jeans were soaking wet as was my shirt collar and sleeve cuffs. It was also very difficult to keep on my feet as we were pitched over at quite an angle at times and my trainers had hardly any grip at all. All in all it was quite an unpleasant experience and I was very pleased to get back onto dry land.

Chris & Tamsin
We were a little light on numbers also today, which was quite surprising when you see the weather that we had, but with the windsurfers that turned up, we were up to 14 craft. Brain Reeves and Janet Preston took the RIB and with a north westerly blowing for the first time this season set us a port rounding from out at sea to the beach marks. We started the wind surfers a minute before the main fleet as they make our starts rather tricky when they start with us. They are in the fortunate position where they can just park themselves on the start line and hover whilst waiting for the countdown. That proved to be a good decision as when we came in for our start the line was clear; though we soon caught up with them as though they are very fast through the water they are unable to point anything like as close to the wind as the majority of dinghies can. Mind you once off wind they power past us pretty quickly.

Once again the fast fleet had the largest numbers in it with 3 Tasars, RS400, Blaze and Contender. The Scorpions fall into the slow fleet but with Steve & Polly out then they can be well up with the fast fleet and so it was today. Jeremy & Suzanne lead from the start and had Richard in his Contender as their closest rivals. Unfortunately we sail rather more sedately and we had a close rivalry with Roger in his Blaze, plus Steve & Polly in their Scorpion. We invariably came to the end of the beat with what looked like a healthy lead over the pair of them but the Blaze appears faster than us on a broad reach and the Scorpion is much faster than us on a broad reach when the spinnaker is drawing. Fortunately for us the close reach was good enough to allow us to open the distance each time. Jeremy had quite a close battle with Richard and they both swopped the lead more than once but Richard eventually came to grief as we saw him sail off back to the beach during the race. Roger also had a spot of bother when he tangled with one of the beach marks and came to a full stop and it took him so long to get clear that he too sailed off back to the beach.

Chris Hazel was without trusty crew Tony today and instead took Tamsin as first mate. I don’t think that she had been in a Tasar before and I think the lively conditions were just a bit too strong for them, but they battled on and due to others retireing had a handy 3rd place to show for their efforts. The RS400 of Steve & Ashley found the conditions too strong and a capsize soon put paid to any thoughts of a good position and they too high tailed it for the beach before the end of the race.

The slow fleet only effectively had 3 boats, 2 Scorpions and a Laser in it for the morning race and Andrew & Sarah after an initial battle with Steve & Polly had to concede 2nd best. Still a 2nd is nothing to sneeze at as I can sympathise with. Nick proved to be the only Laser on the water and duly took 3rd place.

Once ashore we found that Richard had retired due to cutting his forehead quite badly whilst executing a tack. The cut was so bad that he decided that he wouldn’t sail in the afternoon. Roger was another helm who withdrew from the afternoon race as he had to get back to Rock to make up numbers in their depleted fleet. It appears that numbers are down for most Clubs as Pentewan Sands also struggles to get enough numbers to sail quite a few times over the season. Bucking the trend is Looe SC as they manage to have fleet sailing and they have a healthy number of Mirrors, Lasers, Enterprises and Redwings; hardly the most exciting of boats to sail but at least the larger numbers competing does give better competition.

The Tasar fleet increased to 4 this afternoon as Pascual & Sue turned up for the race, as did Ciaron and Harry in their Magno and for the first time this year it was a welcome return to the fleet for Beacky & Kelvin, sailing in their older Scorpion. The course for the afternoon was enlarged a bit and apart from that was the same configuration as for the morning race but the wind had veered around into a more northerly ait flow. Maybe we would have been better sailing in towards the beach marks from the Blackhead direction, as the beat was quite often rather one sided and the reach out to sea usually developed into a run. Fortunately there was enough deviation in both wind strength and directionto keep us on our toes and keep the course reasonable.

Once again Jeremy & Suzanne swept into the lead leaving us in 2nd position trying to fend off Steve & Polly who right from the start were well ahead of the other 2 Scorpions. I’m not sure whether Beacky was leading the Kendalls or the other way round but a capsize for Beacky & Kelvin made it all immaterial as it took them too long to recover and sail on, finishing a long way behind the Kendalls who claimed their 2nd 2nd of the day. Ciaron and Harry found the conditions very trying and unfortunately Harry became quite cold so Ciaron took the decision to retire.

We were the fortunate beneficial recipients in our fleet when Jeremy & Suzanne pulled out when leading us a by a few minutes. Their spanner weld snapped, which is an affliction that happens to all Tasars at some time or other. Anyway with them out of the way we took on the mantle of leading boat which we gratefully accepted and had a gifted 1st to go with our 2nd in the morning race. Chris and Tamsin were quite some way behind us but they too benefited and took 2nd place beating the RS400 of Steve & Ashley who had the honour of finishing 2nd on the water by some 43 seconds on corrected time. Pascual & Sue found the conditions challenging but avoided capsizing and their persistence paid off with 4th place.

Sailing back to the beach in the afternoon proved to be quite a challenge as the pockets of breeze squirting out from the shore were coming at us in all directions and in quite variable intensities and I felt quite a relief to finally have my feet back on terra firma again. I think Brain & Janet were also glad that the racing had finished as I believe that it was quite cold sitting out there in the RIB. The sun maybe warm but the northerly content of the wind was anything but warm. Still I suppose we are a little closer to summer when I think the real warm weather begins in July.

May 18th
Fresh & gusty for all

Did I really wear my sailing shorts last Sunday? Yes I did but last night? Certainly not! The short spell of sunny weather accompanied by light breezes of Sunday have disappeared, to be replaced by quite a gusty north westerly accompanied by a much cooler temperature, so the shorts were replaced by wet suit plus accessories. For me, sailing last night, almost didn’t happen as the day was defined by quite fresh and gusty north westerly winds, which were characterised by the dark radiating circles as they left the shore and plunged down over the sea. The one saving grace was that they would reduce in strength as the evening started to come in. Indeed the wind flow chart at Polruan was certainly seeing a slight reduction in wind strength, which gave us all the encouragement we needed to rig and venture out to the race track. However there were still quite a few evil gits out there and I was well out of my comfort zone several times during the race, though believe it or not only one unlucky sailor capsized, more later.

Steve squared took the RIB tonight alias Mitchell and Wingrove plus Ashley. They launched in good time to ensure that we started on time and set a very good course and the many wind shifts and gusts made it very interesting Well their haste and knowing that Stewart and Clive were in the box certainly galvanised people into action, to ready themselves and their boats as the start line would be out at sea. Fortunately for some, us included, it didn’t take too long to sail there on time. Once again our start was not the best. A large windshift in the last few seconds of the starting sequence would have given anyone approaching on port a head start. Unfortunately we were one of the furtherest boats down the line on a starboard tack and were forced to sail on for quite a distance, which was pure agony as I just wanted to get over to the right hand side of the course. Eventually there was sufficient room for us to tack but I decided to hang on and hope for a header to enable us to tack onto a lift but it just wouldn’t come. Instead when I had decided enough was enough, we tacked onto port, only to see many boats in front sailing through us to reach the beach marks well ahead of us; they being Steve & Paddy in the B14, the 3 Tasars of Jeremy & Suzanne, Justin & Charlie and Chris and Tony, plus Jan & Pete in their Kestrel and also the 2 Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny and Kay & Nigel. That may have made a pleasant sight from those watching from the shore line but not very pleasant for us sitting so far back in the fleet.

Now such a lot happened so quickly that my old memory fails me somewhat but our first target was Kay & Nigel and we managed to pass them on the first set of reaches. I think Chris & Tony and Andrew & Jenny were passed on the 2nd beat, but try as we did we just couldn’t seem to make any inroads to Justin & Charlie who were way ahead nor the Kestrel who looked a bit closer. In fact the Kestrel added insult to injury when the kite was hoisted on the reach out from the beach marks and the distance between us increased, only for us to pull it all back on the 2nd closer reach. Actually the 2nd reach when it blew made the whole evening special as our Tasar tore through the water, making for a very exhilarating rush of pleasure.

Way out in front were the B14 and Jeremy & Suzanne’s Tasar and tantalising not too far ahead, Justin & Charlie. Our battle with Jan & Pete went on for one or two rounds with us making a pass and they coming back to lead us again. I think it may have been on the 3rd time on the 2nd reach that we closed up with them very quickly and very optimistically I tried for an inside overlap. That proved to be a big mistake as we couldn’t get the overlap, before the 3 boats length, the door was closing and we were too close to bear away so in desperation, rather than collide with them I sailed straight in to the mark full on. Well that stopped the boat and prevented a potential collision but the resulting 360 gave us a further up hill battle to undergo. At least it had the effect of creating some real aggression on our part and it eventually gave us the pass on the penultimate beat. That was one of the breaks that we wanted and we opened up what looked like a bit of useful distance between us on the last round. That last round also brought us ever closer to Justin & Charlie, but alas not quite enough by the end. In fact as the wind eased then the faster we were sailed, and eventually we finished some 27 seconds behind them. I expected our finish to give us 5th overall but the computer came to our rescue and after its calculations we actually had 8 seconds on the Kestrel and a minute or so on the B14 so in the end 3rd was a very welcome result.

Philip Harrison was intended taking Paddy’s RS600 out tonight which I think would have been a real struggle in the weather conditions but that boat needs some TLC and may not have remained together during the race, so instead he elected to use the Club Laser, and what a good decision that proved to be as he powered along, not only finishing 1st on the water but 1st overall. Simon Robbins was also having a good race, showing what a Supersofa can really do but Simon was the unfortunate one who capsized and lost the time he needed to beat Phillip. However he still had enough time in hand over Kay & Nigel to settle for 2nd overall. Andrew & Jenny held the advantage over Kay & Nigel for the first half of the race, but Kay & Nigel proved to be the faster of the 2 and went on to beat the Kendalls by well over a minute. Brian Reeves had a fairly quiet night and had to settle for 4th place sandwiched between the 2 Scorpions.

So we all survived another encounter with slightly fresher conditions that were far from ideal for me and as the evening drew on the gusts finally moderated and we retreated to the Clubhouse for drink and bacon butties which were cooked for us tonight by Chris Millard.

May 15th
St. Austell Bay
A beautiful sunny but almost windless day

Today, Sunday, is officially summer; well to me it is as it was the first time this year that I have worn my sailing shorts. Just to prove that summer is really here the beach too was packed with people, all enjoying the long hot sunny day that we had been blessed with. There were even quite a few people in the water but I think these were mostly children as the water is probably too cold for adults. We are on neap tides at the moment, which saw the tide quite high up the beach all day. We also had some south easterly breeze on Thursday which again brought in quite a bit of weed and this was quite thick at the water’s edge and we had to wade through it to launch, urgh not nice at all!!

Well we may have had a summers day which was a bonus for those on the beach, but the price that we as sailors paid was rather heavy as the breeze was just as forecast very, very light and also quite variable in direction. Indeed these are all the ingredients that contribute to very nerve racking and sometimes frustrating race conditions.

Craig Varley & Colin took charge of the RIB for the day and had quite a struggle to lay a good course for us. In fact they gave us quite an interesting course as we had a beat in from the sea to the beach marks then our next leg kept us in under the cliffs as we made our way out towards the Ropehaven. This leg turned out to a give a nice bonus to the spinnaker boats and the Scorpion of Andrew & Jenny, the Kestrel of Jan & Pete took full advantage of it, giving Ken & myself a lot of grief as we just didn’t have the pace to stay with them at times. Paddy & Steve in the much faster B14 had a far easier ride due to their extra large spinnaker as did Steve and Ashley Wingrove in their RS400. Anyway back to the race. After a short delay which gave us all time to reach the starting area we came under starter’s orders. The good weather brought a few extra boats to the start line, so the start line looked a little more crowded than usual, compounded by 2 windsurfers trying to fan themselves along the start line. Once again, I managed to give us a rubbish start, being just too early at the pin end of the line and had to gybe around and come in behind the entire fleet of some 14 boats. I do make life hard for us sometimes. Paddy & Steve and Richard in his Contender also had poor starts and we all elected to sail up the left hand side of the beat and when we tacked onto port looked initially well placed as we had made some large gains. Unfortunately our smiles soon turned to frowns when the breeze switched round and we suddenly found ourselves on the wrong side of a large wind shift and all our gains disappeared down the pan. Jeremy & Suzanne were the winners here and rounded the beach marks with a good lead as did Jan& Pete in their Kestrel and the Wingroves and the Kendalls. With spinnakers flying they made good progress down wind and we had to suffer along with Richard in his Contender as we made a rather more sedate progress.

Sue Daza
Paddy & Steve were soon making good progress catching up, sailing through most of the fleet ahead but had a little difficulty passing the Hawkins, which I suppose came to our aid a little. Well our battle with the Barnes and Kendalls went on for the next 2 rounds. We would make what appeared quite good progress on the beats and the close reaches, only to lose out heavily on the spinnaker reaches. Anyway we battled on eventually passing them both and managed to finish 3rd on the water but not quite as far up as we hoped though we did get some pleasure when we found that the corrected results gave us equal 2nd with Jan & Pete, the win went to Jeremy and Suzanne. It was also good to see Pascual & Sue out for the first time this season in their Tasar and for while it looked like they would give Chris & Tony a good run for their money until the more experienced Chris took a commanding lead. However they still managed to beat the RS team of the Wingroves, who started brightly but faded as the race went on.

Well the Kendalls certainly dominated the slow handicap fleet taking 1st place by a 5 minute margin over the Laser radial of Janet Preston. Paul Beacon, out for the first time this year, took his older Scorpion out single handed, which in the light airs wasn’t too much of a handicap and he sailed it into 3rd place just in front of Brian Reeves in his Laser Radial. In fact there were 2 other Lasers out today, Martin & Sarah, home for the weekend, just being happy to sail around and didn’t bother finishing this race.

It was also very nice to have a visit for the weekend from Liz, who is really missing her sailing and will be down here soon again and next time hoping to get out on the water. Lunch was a very sociable event and the decking proved hugely popular with the majestic panoramic view over the almost windless bay. I fully expected that the course would be changed for the afternoon race, but the breeze still very fickle in both strength and direction was near enough as it was for the morning race so we were left with another repeat of the morning race.

beach at lunch time
This time our start was much better but unfortunately not so good for Jeremy & Suzanne as they collided with Paddy & Steve when crossing the start line and by the time they had completed their turns they were quite a way behind. Jan & Pete also had a poor start being over the line too soon and had to gybe away and restart. This left us in a very good position and we rounded the windward mark just behind Steve& Paddy’s B14. Once around the beach marks they hoisted their very large spinnaker and powered away, if I may such a thing in the very light breeze, and disappeared never to be seen again.

We were close enough to realise that if nothing serious happened then we had a very good chance of beating them on corrected time and for most of the race things were looking very favourable for us, but, no sour grapes intended, we were made to undertake another round in a dying breeze and we really struggled to make the most out of the ultra light conditions. We started the last beat with a nice margin over Jeremy & Suzanne but they suddenly found another gear and slightly fresher breeze and started to close us down. Fortunately panic did not set in and a sensible cover was employed to keep them behind us. The extra round was slow enough for us to surrender our possible time advantage over Paddy & Steve and they took their win over us on corredted time by a margin of some 8 seconds. Richard and the Wingroves found the light conditions just too painful and both retired. The Wingroves, electing to get some spinnaker practice in by reaching up and down and then on for a more sensible relaxation period on shore.

Jan & Pete eventually took 4th place pushing Chris & Tony down to 5th who also found the conditions just too light for comfort, but at least they hung on to take the position. Once again the Scorpion of Andrew & Jenny took then to another win in the slow fleet, this time by a margin of over 11 minutes. Brian Reeves lead the 4 Lasers home taking 2nd place, with Martin Rendall squeezing into 3rd, Janet into 4th and Sarah Kendall 5th.

House keeping warning. A working party is needed for Tuesday 17th 7.0pm for the annual cut the grass and tidy the field competition. Please come along and help.

May 11th
RIB away
Flat & light for 14 boats

After a few weeks of what may best be described as lively racing we were suddenly presented with a much quieter set of conditions for the Wednesday race. In fact this week has been quite noticeably warmer, not too hot just yet, but I have been wearing my shorts all week at home so certainly I can feel that summer is coming. In fact I suspect that we may have a much better summer than of the last few years as the weather seems to be taking its time to improve. Our easterly wind flow is slowly switching round to a westerly flow but for tonight we were given a very quiet northerly breeze to play with. The breeze had been showing a pleasant 7-10 knots all day at the Polruan but was looking quite a bit lighter in our sheltered bay.

Now what a contrast we had tonight after the conditions last Sunday. The sea on Sunday had been a mass of white horses blowing over a very lumpy sea. Tonight in contrast it was almost like sailing on a reservoir. There were no waves on the beach, nor any swell out at sea. Instead it was absolutely flat and also so quiet with the only sound at times being the almost silent chuckle of the water as the boat trickled through it. You don’t get sea conditions like that very often. One of the down sides of that though is that the excitement factor drops to just about zero; but that is one of the elements of sailing and we have to take the rough with the smooth. At least when the sea is as flat as tonight then you do stand a better chance of making progress than when the wind is equally light but the sea is lumpy.

Craig Varley & Clive Stevens were our RIB drivers tonight and made their attempt at starting on time by arriving at the Club in very good time to ensure that the RIB would be possibly the first boat on the beach. In fact with tonight’s conditions it was essential to start on time as we know that the breeze fades as the evening draws on. This thought must have been uppermost in most people’s mind as everyone racing arrived in good time tonight and more importantly prepared their boats to race in good time, though quite a few doubted whether we would actually get a race in with the waters appearing to be as flat as they were.

I think Ken & I were the first to launch and we ghosted along under whisker pole for a while before we found a patch of more pressure, dropped the pole and picked up speed and actually managed to get both of us on the side deck. Craig & Clive, very sensibly, set what at first appearance appeared to be a very small course but with the breeze being so light proved ideal for us slow charging sailors. 14 boats gathered by the start line well before 18.50 so it was no surprise and in fact quite a delight to be able to stat on time. Well done Race Team!! The only criticism of the course tonight was the start line, which was of ideal length but was very biased. It was biased so much that it was almost impossible to lay it on starboard so a large gathering took place at the pin end with them poised to take advantage of the bias. Ken & I were one of the few boats to sail down the line on starboard hoping to cut them off. Now tonight was one of those nights when generating maximum speed was going to be an advantage, but unfortunately I realised that we were going to be at the pin too early and with Phil Harrison below and luffing us up we had no choice but to slip over the line and in doing so touched his wings. I had no alternative but to do my turns and made sure that the second turn allowed us to round the pin end buoy as well. The turns in the very light breeze and the proximity of other starting boats were a tricky affair but we managed it and then set off in pursuit of a disappearing fleet. Actually there were a few others who had a worst start than ours. I noticed Chris and Tony, Jeremy Rowett, Brian Reeves and Keiran and Harry all struggling to get to the start line let alone cross it.

It appeared that Lady luck was riding to our rescue when we eventually started as we found a very unexpected lift and for a minute or two it looked like we would sail through the entire fleet. However after only a short while the breeze flicked back and our lift turned into a header and the majority of the fleet were back in front of us again. By the time we reached the windward mark we could see Paddy & Steve, in their B14, Justin & Charlie in their Tasar, Bruce Keeping on his windsurfer, Phil Harrison in his RS600, Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, the RS400 of Steve and Ashley Wingrove and the 2 Scorpions of Andrew & Jenny & that of Kay & Nigel. The spinnaker boats had their cloth up and pulling, but there was at this stage of the race just enough puff to keep us trolling along just slightly faster than the Scorpions, so we were certainly pulling ourselves back into contention. The gybe mark was at the beach marks and there was a decision to make whether to gybe early for the inside berth or hold on and gybe later and hope to find more speed. We elected to hold on for a little time and managed to slip past first Kay & Nigel and then Andrew & Jenny.

The reach out to sea that followed was much quieter but again we made up some more last ground, which allowed us to stay in front of the 2 Scorpions. For a time we appeared to be closing down the RS400 but once the spinnaker was flying properly they took off and glided away. I think sometime on the 2nd beat we made our biggest gains & overtook Justin, Phil & Steve and also Janet, but Janet sailed past us again just before the end of the beat when she had the better of one of the quirky wind shifts. The breeze was starting to fade as the evening came on and the downwind legs were, for us, becoming a pain and to compound matters the breeze also fell into more pronounced patches so a little bit of luck was starting to make itself more prominent. I.e. you did well if in one and not so good when not in one; frustrations were starting to creep in. Suddenly a fully battened mainsail was more of a hindrance and a smooth rounded heavy hull with a spinnaker proved a huge advantage. That plus a bit of careful covering let Jan & Pete open up a very nice gap between us, which by the end of the race they had converted into a very nice win for themselves, and we had to settle for 2nd. Well at that time I thought it would be 3rd as Paddy & Steve were quite a way in front of us but when the handicap figures were brought into the equation we found that we had actually beaten them by a margin of well over a minute though they did manage to squeeze in front of Justin & Charlie by just 3 seconds. Fortunately our poor start didn’t turn out to be as painful as it appeared earlier but I can’t help but think that without that mishap we may have been winners ourselves.

The big battle tonight in the slow handicap fleet was always going to be between the 2 Scorpions and Jeremy in his Supernova; Kay & Nigel being the favourites with 2 wins already in the series. Jeremy has only 1 result so far, but that was a first so those 2 were the “form” boats. Jeremy ruled himself out of immediate contention by having a very poor start, leaving him almost as much to do as we had. By the time we caught the Scorpions the advantage by a very slender margin was with Andrew & Jenny and they started the 2nd beat still as leading Scorpion. Now I don’t know how the rest of their race progressed but A&J increased their lead to cross the line almost 2 minutes ahead of K&N, which must have been very pleasing for them. I think both must have been glancing over their shoulders quite a bit as Jeremy, from his hopeless start was creeping ever closer. Alas for him not close enough to win but close enough to beat K&N by almost ½ minute on corrected time to take 2nd place. The slow boats of Keiran & Harry, struggled to make much headway, especially Harry as he had taken out his heavily reefed Topper which proved too big a handicap to sail well. Brian Reeves was the only Laser Radial out tonight but again suffered from being underpowered and finished between Keiran & Harry.

Jenny at work
I think tonight’s conditions were as equally frustrating for Jenny in the Race box as for the fleet, and the early stages of the race made time recording difficult with so many boats crossing the line almost together. Fortunately by the end of the race the fleet had spread out enough to make that job easier, but she found our slow progress almost as frustrating to watch as it had been for us sailing in it.

Once again it was another very pleasant evening in the Clubhouse as we were greeted once more by the aroma of grilled bacon and the galley was once again doing roaring trade feeding the hungry sailors. The bar also was doing well as a pint of something or other always goes down very nicely after an hour or two on the water. I know life is easier for me nowadays as I am retired but when I was working, the Wednesday night race was always one of the highlights of the week and for me still is.

May 8th
Today's beach
Easterly winds cause racing to be cancelled again

No doubt we have all enjoyed the sunshine and warmth that we have had over the last few days; but it has come at the cost of an easterly wind flow. We got away with it last Wednesday as the wind, though easterly, did not have much strength in it, but today was far different with a good blow in excess of 20 knots at times and more pertinently blowing straight onshore. The seas hadn’t built up too much when we arrived at the Club and I think it would have been possible to launch through the surf, albeit getting very wet in the process and Lord help anybody that failed to get through the waves as they would have soon ended up back on the beach. Anyway, strangely enough, there was a general lack of enthusiasm, though Jan& Pete and Jeremy & Suzanne were keen to go out, nobody else was able to match their will & desire, so another race day was lost to the weather.

The beach is starting to look better than it has for a while as the spring tides have cleaned away all the filthy, smelly seaweed, though I did notice quite a bit of weed lurking just outside the breakers so I guess if the south easterlies continue in any strength then we may end up with another infestation. Incidentally it is quite handy being able to access the Polruan weather station site as the historical data displayed gives us some idea of the weather trend. It was most noticeable that the barometer was falling and at the same time the wind strength was increasing, starting at a modest 4 knots in the early hours of the morning, rising to a shade under 18 knots at mid day. Now 18 knots is quite lively but certainly not strong enough normally to stop our sailing but blowing onshore producing waves then it takes on another complexion.

Quite a number of sailors turned up to look at the weather and indeed if racing had been on then we would probably have had quite a good turn out. Looking ahead to Wednesday I note that the wind is due to turn into the west sometime during Wednesday itself so if that all goes to plan then we could settle down to some more regular sailing. The conditions may have been bad for us but Fin and his friend rigged up their windsurfers and were soon out, thrashing about in the waves, making the most of the conditions. One consolation that we had was that as the tide dropped the waves were breaking further and further out which in turn would have made life very difficult for us. I have no doubt in my mind that the decision to cancel racing for the day was the correct one.

May 4th
Peter & Andrew
A very nice day out for me

Every now and again a day comes along that makes you feel really grateful about being alive and for me yesterday was one of those days. The weather after what seems like an age of poor conditions, suddenly produced a beautiful sunny day, albeit still a bit cool in the easterly air flow. What made the day so memorable for me is that I spent most of the day sailing. Peter Pope invited me along with Andy Nancarrow to come and try out his new boat a Dufour 36. We arrived at Mylor round about 10.15, now the road to Mylor takes you down a hill past the historic Church of St. Mylor and then the road turns a sharp right bend and you are given one of the most splendid views in the UK. In front of you is a magnificent vista of boats and the River Fal in probably one of its widest parts. Anyway with car parked, equipment lugged down to the rubber duck we were soon off through the moorings to the boat, Morgana. It didn’t take too long to prepare the boat for a sail but as the tide was very low we took the opportunity to sit in the sun and have a leisurely cup of coffee. By 11.30 the depth of incoming tide was pronounced sufficient and we cast off, motored out into the main river, hoisted the sails and then off we went, tacking down the river until we reached the open sea where we headed off towards Helford. Sailing on the Fal is always interesting, what with other boats on the water, views of Flushing, the docks and St. Mawes, Falmouth. Time was our enemy today and by careful judgement we sailed back to the moorings for just after 14.00, where eventually we sat, again in the sun, and enjoyed our picnic lunch which had been prepared by Jenny. Then to cap such a marvellous day it was a drive back home, to pick up my dinghy gear and head down to Porthpean for the Wednesday night race.

I suppose in a way that part of my day turned out to be only slightly disappointing. The fresh south easterly wind that we had in the morning was starting to drop, which certainly helped our launching problems, but conspired to produce rather boring racing conditions. Our combined fleet was up to 14, which was encouraging. Chris & Tony were our RIB drivers tonight and set just the right sized course for the prevailing conditions, with a starboard handed course, beating out from the beach marks. Now to my mind, the conditions as experienced tonight makes generally for a rather boring race as the opportunities for wind shifts and gusts are very few and far between and also as another dampener we knew full well that as evening came along then the breeze would lighten even more. That is exactly what happened.

I expected that the start line would be rather congested by the pin end so my aim was to start further down the line in what I hoped would be relative clear air. Jeremy & Suzanne in their Tasar had the best to start and lead at the end of the first beat, closely followed by Paddy & Steve in the B14. Just as we were approaching the windward mark in 3rd place, there was a sudden “ping” and the kicker fell off the boom. The shackle had come loose and without any warning twisted under the loading and fell apart. Fortunately I keep a spare shackle on the boat and Ken managed to use it to replace the damaged one. All this repair work was undertaken on the first down wind leg, which compromised our boat speed for the minute or two that it took Ken to carry out repairs. All the time Jan & Pete in their Kestrel, with spinnaker pulling, were grounding us down. Also in the mix just behind, were father & son Steve & Ashley, getting the drive of their life from their RS400; the lighter conditions allowing them to get to grips with the extra power that an RS400 provides.

Our other main competitor tonight, Justin & Charlie, were buried further down the fleet which at that time was headed by Kay & Nigel in their Scorpion. We had 3 Scorpions out tonight and tonight was the first sail of the season for Craig and Jake Varley, the 3rd Scorpion was that of Andrew & Jenny. All 3 boats were aided by their spinnakers which did help the slow progress down wind. Another debutante tonight was Jeremy Rowett, sporting a brand new sail on his Supersofa and this combination was enough to give Jeremy first place on the water and to his delight 1st place overall in the slow fleet after the number crunching had taken place. In fact the first 4 places in the slow fleet were taken by single handers, with James taking 2nd place and it is congratulation time for Clive Stevenson who sailed his Laser radial into 3rd place, pushing the more experienced Brian Reeves into 4th place. Unfortunately Nick in the 4th Laser was late for the start and could never make up his lost ground.

Justin & Charlie did well, digging themselves out of their position in the fleet and eventually managed to overtake Jan & Pete and put just enough distance between them to take 4th place. It took Paddy & Steve an entire round to overtake Jeremy & Suzanne, which cost them dearly in the corrected time world. In fact they fell down to 3rd behind us, leaving 2 of the Tasars to take the first 2 places.

I think we were all pleased to hear the finishing gun and then it was off back to shore in the fading light to de-rig, pack the boats away, change then into the Clubhouse for some après sail bacon butties and a drink. All in all, perfect.

It’s another sunny day as I write this and the weather forecast promises us a nice warm weekend to come. It may be blighted a little for us sailors as the breeze is still forecast to come from the south east, which may bring us some more sea weed and the unpleasant experience of launching through some waves. Mind you all that is several days away and things may change quite a bit between now and then.

May 1st
Paddy & Steve
Liquid sunshine and blustery south westerly winds. It must be a Bank Holiday

Spring time it may be but spring weather it certainly isn’t. Probably because this weekend is the early Bank Holiday that we are continuing with our run of lousy weather. It’s possible that it may have warmed up a little but the solid cloud and eventual drizzle have conspired to make Porthpean beach one of the loneliest places in Cornwall today. The beach itself by the way, is looking dreadful. It is strewn with stones and sea weed and as the last week has been neap tides then the mounds of sea weed by the slipway have just been rotting away and today had a most odious pungent smell about it. Maybe it was as well that it isn’t hot and sunny as that would encourage the sea weed to rot down and smell even more. Spring tides are slowly coming back and with a bit of luck will wash the weed away as the tide comes in further each day, but that will take the best part of a week so until then we will have to put up with what we have.

Today was the first of the Cup races that are spread out over the season and the fact that we managed to hold all 4 scheduled races means that we have at last overtaken the weather and with a bit of luck should continue to forge a big lead. It was very pleasing to see 2 visitors today from Plymouth. They had seen James’s advert for the Cup races on Face Book and came down to sail with us. Chris Hampe brought an International Canoe. Now to my mind that may have been the first time that one of those has sailed on our waters. Chris has won the European Canoe Championships twice and also won a race in the Worlds so certainly knows what he is doing in one of these flying machines. In fact it is probably the fastest dinghy to ever having sailed here so it was no surprise to see him finish at the top of the leader board. The boat itself is one of the oldest designs in Dinghy World and has a sliding plank for the helm to sit on to balance it. Chris wasn’t hanging around much today as he won the first 2 races. Our other visitor from Plymouth, Izzy Cramp, had on the other hand had one of the slowest boats in the fleet today, a Topper, but that didn’t stop her from getting to grips with our conditions and she managed to sail her Topper into 2nd overall.

Colin & Pascual were our RIB drivers today and were certainly glad to don their dry suits under sufficient warm clothing as the air temperature was only 10.5C when we started. I would like to personally thank both of them for their work today as the conditions were far from ideal, what with drizzle, fresh cool winds and a lumpy sea they had a lot to contend with. The breeze had been forecasted to be from the south west, which would have given us a beat across the bay towards Blackhead before bearing off onto a reach to the Beach Marks. As it happened the patch of wind that we had in our bay was more southerly so for the first time this year we had a beach mark start with a beat out towards Blackhead. However after lunch the beat turned out to be a bit one sided and there were enough lulls and gusts plus sudden change of direction to keep us all on our toes, especially close to the windward mark and contributed to 3 capsizes over the racing. Racing today certainly wasn’t vintage sailing conditions and the overall turnout was disappointingly low, but once again the conditions posed a good challenge of mental chess and tested the vocabularies of us all. The windward mark gave us trouble on almost every rounding as the wind was at is most difficult in both strength and direction and caused us to have to put in extra hitches sometime in order to get round.

International Canoe
The schedule was to have 4 races on the day with 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Cat sailors from Pentewan Sands SC were keen to join us and 3 of their Cats sailed around to join in though they would have their own start. Today also saw the first outing this season of Mike Ward in his RS100. That certainly didn’t go as planned. In hindsight the conditions today were not really suited to getting to grips with a new boat, especially a handful like an RS100. Mike managed to get a couple of laps in but a few capsizes and a broken tiller extension joint caused an early retirement. The Cats did make it over but one or two had problems in the fresher breezes and ended up just sailing around but did join us for lunch before making the decision to head for home before our afternoon racing started.

With 4 races being sailed then there was far too much action for me to memorise but as far as my racing went, I suppose it is best said to have gone from abysmal to pretty good. The 1st race didn’t get off too well when we were squeezed out on the start line and tack round to start again only to have Mike Ward, who was in front of us, lose control, tack onto port and bang into the side of our Tasar. Fortunately no damage was done but it did conspire to put us at the back of the 3 Tasars out racing today. I think we made up some good ground and managed to round the windward mark just in front of Chris & Tony and Justin & Charlie. Chris produced some special speed down wind and managed to overtake us on the broad reach and then held on to his lead on the next reach. Fortunately we managed to pull through on the next beat and extend our lead, though Chris in his Canoe, Paddy & Steve Coello in the B14 and also Richard in his Contender were way in front of us.

Chris & Izzy
The 2nd race didn’t get off to a good start either. I thought that we had had a good start but those further up to windward of us on the start line had a special lift all of their own and by the time we reached the windward mark we were down the proverbial pan with a lot of work to do if we had any chance of retrieving anything. Both Tasars and Steve & Polly in their Scorpion were well in front at the windward mark. We did manage to close the gap but were still behind them at the end of the race. By the end of the morning races there had been capsizes for Steve & Paddy, Steve & Polly and Andrew & Jenny. I think Brian Reeves and us Tasar boys all escaped unscathed. Most of the capsizes were caused by sudden changes in wind direction and strength.

I think we were all pleased to be able to sail in to shore for our lunch, which had been prepared today by Jan & Pete who were on time keeping duties. For once the decking was deserted as it was too bleak, wet and cold out there. Eventually our thoughts turned to racing again and we made the journey back down to the beach to rig our boats again. It was quite noticeable that the wind had eased off a tad and also had swung round to a more south westerly direction and in hindsight we should have re set the course to give us the beat across the bay. Sailing the course as we did gave us a bit of a one sided beat, a very broad reach and a close fetch. The fetch was very nice for a Tasar as we could plane down the wavelets for a bit more speed and thrills. Things were also eased as the course to be sailed all day was an Olympic type and that did make the run back to the beach marks a little more interesting.

There was a quick turnaround of RIB crews for the afternoon racing. Sue, hearing how much Pascual had enjoyed himself in the morning, insisted on taking his place for the afternoon and saw at first hand what fun we all had; albeit at the expense of braving the colder air on the sea rather than the balmy temperatures in the Club house.

I suppose my lunch must have done me good as looking at the results we managed to win 2 races which also meant beating the superfast Canoe. At the end of the day we finished off with 2 wins each but our relative poor results in the morning dropped us to 2nd overall. Richard sailed in almost ideal Contender conditions for the morning, put together a solid set of results to take 3rd overall. Steve & Polly almost had a complete sweep but their capsize in the first race gave them a 4th. However 3 wins over the next 3 races was good enough to give them 1st overall and 2nd went to our other visitor Izzy Cramp. Andrew & Jenny plugged away and took 3rd Prizegiving for the day was held in the Clubhouse after racing with prizes presented by Paddy.

My toe straps have been modified to more replicate my original ones and I am now starting to feel more comfortable with them, so that is a bonus for me. I see that the breeze is set to return to a south easterly direction for Wednesday and if it is correct then we will have launching problems with the tide up by the slipway. Fun and games for all lie ahead.

April 27th
Paddy & Steve
Sunshine and wind but no visit tonight by the Dolphins

There’s no doubt about it, sailing at the moment is a very cold affair and tonight was no exception. At least we haven’t had to endure the snow that has fallen elsewhere in the country. Sue & I had a couple of days in Bournemouth last week and when we arrived on Thursday the car temperature gauge was showing a very balmy 19C. Yet I see that they had snow up there yesterday so what a contrast that was. We also walked right past the funicular railway, yet only 2 days later that was almost destroyed and certainly put out of action for the summer by a very nasty cliff fall.

Anyway despite another cold, breezy evening we still managed to get another race in, though the cold weather must have had a great influence as our numbers were down to a very modest 10. Of the 10 only 7 managed to race or attempt to race. The breeze was still quite lively but as a saving grace it was forecast to moderate as it usually does in the evenings. I think the forecast and very cold weather put several off, though I expect numbers to rise significantly when summer eventually arrives, say mid June onwards. Anyone checking the wind speed indicator at Porthpean tonight would have seen very light winds but the reading at Polruan was far more suited to the wind that we had, showing 15 - 25 knots, and that is exactly what we had. It was very gusty again when we launched and reached the racing area. Once again the northerly wind gave us a starboard rounding course from out at sea to the beach marks, with a couple of lively reaches to follow.

Now how remiss of me to miss out the paragraph that I had written in my notes last weekend about the Dolphins. We had a pod of 4 Dolphins frolicking around the fleet last Sunday and it was a terrific thrill to see these magnificent creatures swimming so close to us. We could see them from time to time swimming alongside and then under the boat to reappear on the opposite side. They could also be seen from time to time leaping out of the water as only Dolphins do. Now whether we will see them again this year is anyone’s guess but it is a sight you will only see occasionally and is also another bonus of being able to sail on the sea.

Steve Mitchell & James took the RIB tonight and in the brisk conditions managed to set a very good course and start line and I had to sympathise with them having to sit out there in this sub arctic weather that we are still plagued with. We were lucky when we did our duty a fortnight ago that we could sit in a bit of evening sunshine to help keep us warm. James had the opportunity to test all his best Rooster gear out so I am sure didn't feel and cold at all!!

We lost 3 boats before the start when Brian in his Laser radial and Andrew & Jenny in their Scorpion had a collision before we came under starter’s orders. Both tried avoiding action but both seemed to take the same avoiding action with some tiller waggling, but they ended up just side swiping each other which resulted to damage to both boats rigs. Andrew & Jenny came off worst; they lost their mainsheet and sailed home under jury rig. Brian managed with the aid of the RIB to re engage his sail to its outhaul and managed to sail a couple of rounds. That contributed to give Kay & Nigel an undisputed 1st with Clive Stevens in his Laser Radial 2nd. Despite Kay having the course almost to herself she still managed to fly her spinnaker on some of the off wind legs which gave them even more power and immense enjoyment. It’s a shame that she can’t make Sunday racing as she would certainly be banging away at the front of the slow fleet. The same goes for Clive as I am sure that when the better weather comes he too would thrive on lighter conditions and the greater variety that we seem to get at weekends.

That left the larger fast fleet to have, at times, a very close race. The breeze at the start was a good gusty force 4 and all I wanted to do was to survive the first beat without a capsize so I was surprised when our modest approach on starboard to the start line saw us actually take a slender lead as we caught Jeremy & Suzanne in their Tasar as they tried a port hand flyer. Despite their hurried tack they still managed to lee bow us and we had to just sit there as Paddy & Steve, rejuvenated after his Sunday Garden Party, were just up to windward and approaching fast. In true nervous fashion I managed to drop some significant distance between those 2 front runners, though I think Jeremy & Suzanne rounded the beach marks first, before the B14 charged away and managed to take a comfortable win on the water, significantley without a capsize. We managed to open up a little bit of daylight between us and Justin & Charlie in the only other Tasar out tonight and Jan & Peter in their Kestrel. Further behind was father and son Steve & Ashley, having another chapter of learning to sail an RS400 in breeze. To their credit they stayed upright and though not doing too well in the results still had the satisfaction of flying their spinnaker on the reaches.

Phil Harrison, borrowed Paddy’s RS600 but found the stiff breeze far too much for such a powerful rig and sailed for home before the start. The reaches were quite interesting as they tightened and opened up regularly as the wind direction constantly switched around and that really dented our hopes of getting back towards the 2 out in front. We had opened up a nice gap on Justin & Charlie, but in true 2nd beat not thinking properly mode, all our lead evaporated and they were right with us at the end of the beat and Jan & Pete were not too far away either. It was time that my OAP flat hat came off to be replaced by my sailing hat. Our downwind speed was good enough to open up a little lead and we concentrated on getting the next beat right to give us some breathing space. Fortunately as the race went on the wind died down as forecast and we managed to extend our lead over the 2 following boats. Charlie stared to get colder and they dropped away from us but Jan & Pete had a very good last beat and closed up enough on Justin to take 4th on corrected time. Meanwhile Paddy & Steve were having a good race and extended their lead over us all but despite finishing well in front still couldn’t hold off Jeremy & Suzanne who took another win on corrected time, though in consolation Paddy & Steve did make 2nd place, beating us by 17 seconds, which I put down to my poor performance on the 2nd beat. Hopefully lesson learned.

We will be into May next weekend and the weather is still leading us 7-5, but we are closing in fast and could take the lead by this time next week. Our lovely pod of Dolphins were nowhere to be seen tonight, but let's hope we see more of them soon. Wednesday apres sailing was completed by the beautiful aroma of bacon butties to greet us as we enetered the warmth of the Club house after all our endeavours. Thanks Jenny, they tasted a treat.

April 25th
sweeping sea weed
Sunshine and wind & a visit by Dolphins

Well that was one very tiring day for me. Suddenly Old Father Time is reaching out, telling me that my body is struggling to cope with such breezy and changeable winds, and the pull up the hill afterwards didn't help either. I know that I wasn’t the only one to suffer, but the conditions today were enough to try anyone’s patience and skill set. To eventually look at the results and find that we had scored 2 seconds was remarkable and was something I didn’t expect at all. The wind direction was very similar to last weeks but the shifts and frequency of them were a different matter. Today the shifts came thick and fast and it was almost impossible to read them. I felt that it was only me getting them wrong but it seems that quite a few out racing today had similar issues.

My first sight as I walked down from the field was of Ken & Colin with rakes in their hands sweeping mounds of sea weed from the bottom of the slipway, which had been deposited there on a high tide and was blocking our access to the beach. One hazard we always get at this time of year, especially when the easterly gales come is vast amounts of sea weed, which usually gather in large mounds and we usually have to wait until the weather settles and a good set of offshore winds blow through and also coincide with a decent set of spring tides.

The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great but it turned out to give us a beautiful day with a fresh offshore breeze that ebbed and flowed in both direction and intensity. The bay was looking resplendent in wall to wall sunshine, though the fresh northerly breeze managed to keep the temperature lower than we would have liked. However it was very pleasant sitting out in the sunshine at lunch time providing we kept out of that wind.

Steve & Polly were our RIB drivers today and the morning race was set as a starboard rounding, beating in from the sea. 11 boats set out to do battle and today the fast fleet saw the best turnout, with 3 Tasars, a Kestrel, Contender, RS400 and the B14, so quite a menagerie. Today was also first outings of the season for Richard in his Contender and also Jeremy & Suzanne in their Tasar. The flat sea looked very inviting and launching was easy from our sea weed strewn beach. However once out of the cove and we were into the first clutches of the freshening breeze and that gave us our first sample of the conditions to come.

a lazy start to the day Needless to say that from the start, Jeremy & Suzanne were soon into a lead that they held to the end; only challenged occasionally by Paddy & Steve in their B14 and also Richard in his Contender. Paddy & Steve suffered a capsize which effectively ruined their chances of taking a win. Our 2nd beat, for us, became the beat from hell when the nice little lead that we had over Jan & Pete in their Kestrel completely disappeared as we came to the end of the 2nd beat with them virtually alongside. They stayed with us down the spinnaker reach but the 2nd tighter reach allowed us to plane away and we managed to increase our lead on the subsequent beats and reaches. Chris & Tony also appeared to suffer from the age syndrome, but were delighted that Paddy’s capsize dropped him behind them on corrected time. Steve & Ashley Wingrove had a real struggle on their hands with the wild RS400 and I think they once again tasted the waters of St. Austell Bay but it is a steep learning curve and I am sure that they will get to grips pretty soon with the boat. At least they flew their spinnaker on the down wind legs and the speed derived from that would have given them a huge adrenalin surge.

James was out for his first race today in his Laser radial and soon set about carving his credentials on the leader board. Simon in his Supernova held him off in real time but only by a few seconds which was enough to push James into the overall winner’s spot when the scores went on the doors. Brian Reeves and Janet really struggled in the conditions and had to settle for 3rd and 4th.

The fleet increased to 14 for the afternoon race and it was a first time out today also for Roger Williams, leaving his Rock SC Commodore’s hat at home as he resumed his Porthpean racing, and he was soon off enjoying our flat and almost non tidal water, which is a far change from racing at Rock where the tide plays a heavy factor in race times. Roger sails the only remaining Blaze at Porthpean but that doesn’t stop him from appearing towards the front of the fleet and so it was today that he pulled up quite close to us in the afternoon race, making very good time on the very long broad reach out to sea.

Steve and Polly took the opportunity to move the course whilst we were having dinner and for the afternoon we were presented with a port handed course with a beat across the bay from right to left. Unfortunately just after the start the wind decided to play games with us again and tightened the first reach up into a very close fetch which unfortunately turned the leg out to sea into a very broad slow reach; all in all very frustrating. However we did have some Royal visitors. A pod of 4 Dolphins turned up to watch the racing and were quite happy swimming around us, leaping out of the water at times. It would be nice if they stayed here all season long but I suppose that would only bring out lots of speed boaters for a gander and I am sure the Dolphins can do without that.

Paddy had been deserted by Steve for the aftrenoon, who had some lame excuse that he had to go to a garden party. Fancy anyone doing that when they could have been out sailing. Maybe causing the capsize in the morning race had got to him. Fortunately, Nigel who had been helping Colin on Time keeping duty leapt at the chance of a capsize or two and took over the front end of the boat. Well as it happened there was no capsize but the course turned out not to be so good for the B14 either and although they finished in front of the rest of us they could only muster a 4th. Richard had a very good race with Jeremy and the 2 swopped places regularly on different legs with Jeremy eventually taking the win. I couldn’t believe it that when the corrected times were produced we actually came 2nd to Jeremy, beating Richard by 10 seconds. So despite coming home aching and tired we still managed to produce 2 nds, so not such a bad day after all.

Once again the slow fleet saw Simon take a convincing lead but it was still not enough to prevent another win by James when the corrected times had been produced. In fact the slow fleet gave the same 1,2,3,4 as in the morning, which just goes to show how consistent people were.

Today also reduced the weather’s advantage over us by another 2 races, leaving them ahead only 7-5. The forecast for the coming week isn’t particularly good, being in the main wet, cold and quite windy, which doesn’t guarantee that we will race this coming Wednesday. Indeed conditions won’t be too attractive but hopefully we will prevail. If it's any consolation I am told that sailing at Burghfield reservoir, which is close to Theale, was equally frustrating today; as they suffered from periods of no wind and then sudden gusts of up to 20+MPH, which caused all sorts of havoc to their fleets.

Oh yes, only 8 months to Christmas today.

April 20th
messy waves
Blown off by the weather again

Sometimes you know even before leaving home that there will be no sailing. So it came to pass that the forecast for this Wednesday was far more accurate than we wanted. Once again a beastly easterly put paid to all hopes of sailing. The wind strength was such that no matter what the direction the force was just too much for us to handle, especially this early in the season as the water is far too cold for anything other than the briefest of duckings to experience. The Kendalls and I can both testify to that.

What you can’t quite see or appreciate from the picture is to how filthy the sea tonight is. There are copious amounts of sea weed being tossed around and there were also some rather hefty bits of trees, which will do far more damage to a boat if struck than any amount of jelly fish. Launching any boat through the rough surf would have been very dangerous and the recovery would have been even more hazardous.

At least some of the faithful came down to experience for themselves just how strong the combined force of wind and waves truly were. I have tried to capture the effect with the picture alongside. I hope that the conditions don’t take the left hand beach mark off for a holiday again as it hasn’t really had enough time yet to sink into the sand and form its own anchor. I expect that binoculars will be watching it like a hawk and hope that if it does move again we will still be able to find it.

The weather is still ahead with the score line now at 8-3 in its favour, but the forecast for Sunday looks better with the wind moving back into the north, which will also bring some very cold temperatures with it. However we might get a flat sea though we do have a few days of easterlies to contend with first so the sea may not be as flat as we hope for; and it probably will still be quite a lively or should I say interesting journey around the beach marks.

April 17th
Ideal conditions for the first Sunday racing

A good forecast of sunshine and light winds finally came to our aid for our Sunday sailing series. It was a joy to turn onto the Porthpean Road and see the vista of a sunny St. Austell Bay spread out in front of us. Not wall to wall sunshine I hasten to add but enough fluffy clouds and glimpses of blue to reassure us that we had been provided with a very nice spring morning. The breeze was offshore but light and also very cold. Yes we aren’t out of the woods yet, but we finally started the Sunday racing oin very nice conditions.

Two races were held in very interesting and at times very frustrating conditions. I think we all had moments of pure joy and equally, moments of despair as the wind swung around from compass point to compass point and also went up and down the scale from very light to quite feisty. 11 boats launched from a sea weed strewn beach into a very flat sea. The initial wind was from the north east which would have given us a rare beat across the bay from right to left. We don’t get many of those a year so it would have been a strange way to start the weekend series, but as we crawled out to rendezvous with the RIB we wished we had taken a newspaper to read. I did say that the beach was covered in sea weed which is rather normal for this time of year when we have had a series of easterly winds, but it did make it very difficult at times to launch & recover the boats and we will just have to wait for nature to take its course and for it to slowly disintegrate, but we may have to put up with it for quite a few more weeks of hassle yet.

My saga of my new toe straps goes on. I soon realised that they were not going to be user friendly after we launched as they were still difficult to get my feet under but I wanted to test them for tightness for hiking so I asked Ken to sit down to leeward whilst I hiked out to test them. Things looked pretty good until suddenly there was an almighty bang, and my toe strap adjustment rope parted company with its anchor point and over the side I went which almost caused us to capsize. Fortunately I still had hold of the mainsheet and managed eventually to struggle back over the side. Wow, crisis over but it meant sitting around in fairly wet gear for the next hour or so. It was certainly not an ideal way to start the day’s racing, but the sun was shining so it didn’t matter too much.

Due to my misadventure and the time taken to refit the toe strap we were one of the last boats to reach the starting area, but by then the almost non existent wind had suddenly found a new lease of life and more importantly, direction. We had 2 RIBs out today and between them the course was soon tweaked to suit the new conditions and we now had a beat towards the beach marks with a starboard rounding. A quick check of the line showed that a port hand flyer was out of the question and we managed one of our best starts by hitting the starboard end of the line right by the pin as the start gun sounded, and off we went, charging upwind towards the beach marks, reaching them almost side by side with the faster B14 of Paddy & Steve. Not surprisingly they were soon past us on the reach with their spinnaker flying. Steve & Polly in their Scorpion and Jan & Pete in their Kestrel were not too far behind and they too had their spinnakers flying but the first reach was a Tasar bread & butter meal and off we planed at a great pace. The 2nd reach was more spinnaker beneficial and our 2 pursuers started to eat into our lead. However we always made up the lost distance on the beats and we ended up with a nice win. Despite Jan & Pete’s close tussle with Steve & Polly they ended up 2nd, demoting Paddy & Steve to 3rd. Chris & Tony, not doing too well could only manage 4th.

The slow fleet today had 2 Scorpions, Andrew & Jenny & Steve & Polly, a Topper helmed by Harry Spencer and Ciaran Spencer in his Topper mango plus 3 Lasers, Janet & Brian Reeves were out in their radials and Nick out in his full sized Laser and boy did he make the most of it by beating the other 2 by quite a good distance. Meanwhile Brian and Janet swopped places a few times, with Janet finally finishing triumphantly in front. Unfortunately as I write this the results for the slow handicap fleet are not on the results page but it looked like Nick might have done enough to save his time against the radials, which could have given him 2nd place to Steve & Polly’s 1st.

Young Harry Spencer, racing his Topper had as his main opponent his Dad, Ciaron, racing in his Magno and certainly in the afternoon results managed to put one over his Dad by taking 6th place just 1 in front. Well done Harry!!.

The wind hadn’t changed over the lunch break and the afternoon race direction was just the same as the morning race, but this time I made a complete hash of the start. We were squeezed out by the Scorpions of Steve & Polly and Andrew & Jenny. We had to tack around and then head down the line on starboard until we found a gap and tacked back on to sport. Now that should have put us right down the proverbial pan, but here’s where a little luck came to our aid. There was a sudden wind shift, we tacked and our lane was lifted up very nicely taking us up to the beach marks on just one nice long tack. In fact our luck was so good that we arrived at the beach marks almost alongside Steve & Polly and just upwind of Jan & Pete and Paddy & Steve who were both struggling to squeeze past the first beach mark. So all our distance and time were made up in the space of just a few minutes, yes Lady Luck shone on us that beat.

Again the first reach was very Tasar friendly and we managed to overtake the spinnaker flying Scorpion and pulled out some good distance over the rest of the fleet and it wasn’t until the 2nd reach that Paddy & Steve managed to overtake us. I think we really upset them when with a favourable wind shift we appeared at the end of the next beat in front of them again. Steve & Polly once more had problems with their spinnaker. The spinnaker would go up very quickly but they always had problems on the drop with something binding somewhere. Steve is going to have to investigate it quite closely. However the problems were not great enough to prevent them taking a brace of wins on the day.

Once again our Tasar loved the downwind legs and fortunately for us made up enough time and all was going well for us until the last beat when the wind played all sorts of tricks on us. The wind suddenly appeared to oscillate causing some quick tacking and with me struggling to get my feet under the toe straps caused 2 involuntary tacks resulting in us to coming to a complete standstill and we had to wait for the breeze to settle down again before we could once again make forward progress. However we had a few seconds in the bank which enabled us to take our 2nd win of the day, with Jan & Pete 2nd, once again edging Paddy & Steve into 3rd with Chris & Tony having to settle for another 4th.

Andrew & Jenny are missing the competition that they enjoyed last year with Beacky & Kelvin and may have to wait a few more weeks before it can be rekindled, but they paid a heavy price just after the start of the 2nd race when the sudden wind shift caused them to capsize, thus making them the first and at the moment only capsizers of the season. The worst thing about capsizing at this time of the year is that the water is still very cold.

Well that’s another of our deficit against the weather made up, reducing the weather’s lead to 7-3, though the coming Wednesday if forecast correctly may open the lead out again.

April 13th
Hot air put to good use
The fightback begins

Well there’s no doubt about it, the weather has given us a real pasting so far this season leading 7-0 at the moment. But worry not; we have a secret ace up our sleeves that the weather doesn’t know about, it’s called summer. Yes Mr Weather, like it or not but we will be wheeling our summer out soon and your emphatic lead will slowly but inevitably be turned round to our advantage. The winds will turn to the west, the temperature will start to climb and the angry, lumpy, grey waters of St. Austell bay will become a placid azure blue and sailing will start in earnest. So take your modest lead and enjoy it while you can but we hereby serve notice that you will eventually lose!! Well that’s told him, now let’s wait and see how long we must wait for our summer to arrive.

Anyone who looked at the web cam on Sunday or visited the club would have witnessed the magnificent sight of massive waves smashing onto the shoreline. Less than 24 hours later I was down on the beach as part of a walking group and the difference in conditions was almost too dramatic to be believed. Gone were the massive waves of Sunday and were replaced by just a gentle swish onto the beach. The difference in sea state was almost impossible to comprehend. We are lucky in as much that the sand is still there at the bottom of the slip, but quite a large chunk of the concrete slab, laid by the council last year has been ripped up and carried further down the beach. Unless it is repaired soon then I expect that subsequent high tides will undermine the rest of the concrete and that too will disappear in some future storm. I would like to add that this part of the blog was written before Wednesday evening.

Well the fight back started tonight in earnest. The south easterly breeze had fallen surprisingly light and launching posed no problems at all. Ken & I were down for RIB duty and we managed to launch early to ensure that we started on time. Our first job however was to locate a missing beach mark. Unfortunately the beach marks hadn’t had time to become bedded down before the gales arrived and the left hand mark had moved and we found it loitering amongst the rocks to the left hand side of the beach. We could see that it still had some of its tackle connected, as the mooring rope was draped across a rock. Fortunately there was enough water surrounding the rocks to allow us to gingerly creep in and pick the buoy up, then circle the rock with the rope draped round it and start to pull in the tackle. Lo and behold as the tackle came into the RIB we found that the ground tackle was still attached so it was a fairly easy job to motor out to the right area and lower the mark and tackle back into its rightful place and with a bit of luck and no savage gales it will stay there with its brother until November.

I was a little disappointed in the apparent low turn out as we prepared the RIB in the yard but come racing time there was a good number of 12 boats out on the race track. 6 fast handicap boats and 6 slow handicap boats. We laid a port handed course, with a beat out from the beach marks to sea and our first race of the season started on time and with no one over the line. 2 boats, Phil Harrison in an RS600 and James in his Laser radial tried a port handed approach but both lost out to the starboard tacked fleet and had to take avoiding action. We left the RIB moored on the start line and just sat in the evening sun as the fleet in rather leisurely progress mode made their way up the first beat. I suppose for a first race the quiet conditions were quite acceptable but in all honesty from our position it did look rather too tranquil, but there you are, just find me a sailor who is happy with the conditions; well they are around but are usually quite difficult to find.

Paddy & Steve used the superior boat speed of their B14 to lead the fleet round the course and it took then around 9 minutes for their first circuit, which was vastly faster than the 2 Laser radials and the even slower Laser 4.7 of Janet Preston. She told me later that she had picked up the wrong sail when making her way down to the Club tonight, so she was vastly under powered and was beaten by Clive Stephens wearing his rather natty blue helmet.

It was encouraging to see that the Kestrel of Jan & Pete, who normally finish behind the faster Tasars, sailed away from the 2 Tasars tonight. The reaches were perfect for them, in fact the reaches were perfect for all the spinnaker dressed boats tonight and they pulled well away and in fact saved their time in spades against the B14, taking their first win of the season. Justin & Charlie were surprisingly slow, but their lack of speed was suddenly explained by a large clump of sea weed that they had been towing round for some distance. That was enough to demote them to 3rd just behind the B14, but ahead of Chris & Tony languishing in 4th. Phil fought back after his problematic port hand start to take 5th leaving Steve & Ashley in their “new” RS 400 in 6th.

Once again Kay has teamed up with Nigel for the Wednesday evening races and they lead the Scorpion of Andrew & Jenny by quite a distance, in fact by enough distance to take a comfortable win in the slow fleet, relegating Simon Robins in his Supernova to 2nd and James in his Laser radial to 3rd. Andrew & Jenny slotted nicely into 4th, leaving the 2 slower Lasers of Clive 5th and a rueful Janet in 6th places.

So that was it; the first race of the season over and done with and the weather’s lead cut by 1, now leading only 7-1 The fight back has started. Mr Weather beware, Porthpean is on the march.

We had one rather embarrassing moment when we lost all power from the RIB engine. We were motoring along the first reach to pick up the 2nd race mark when the engine suddenly died on us. It took us several minutes to discover that the fuel line connected to the engine had fallen off, thus starving the engine of fuel. Once it was reconnected we were back in business and a great relief was felt by us both. It would have been rather embarrassing to have had to call for rescue.

Now, about the picture at the top of the page; I don’t really have a fetish about marker buoys but the mark was under inflated and the pump was missing so I had to resort to genuine hot air to inflate the mark. How many of you remember the times when you used to have to do that to inflate the buoyancy bags in your boats? Yes I can remember that well from my Enterprise days. Strangely enough I don’t miss doing that nowadays. In fact I don’t think that there are many boats with buoyancy bags anymore.

One last thing; congratulations to Pete & Jenny who now have a very nice Dufour 34 sitting on their mooring at Mylor.

April 10th
A windswept yard A windswept yard
Beaten by the weather yet again

This is becoming rather monotonous as yet another dose of inclement weather has prevented us from starting our season. The weather is currently beating us 7-0, which is not a very good statistic at all. To make matters even worse I think next Wednesday, our first night of racing this year may prove to be another victim of the dreaded south easterlies. I note that the strong south easterly that we have had today will still be around, though not as strong, on Wednesday, so the sea state may be the killer. When you look back over the last 7 months our weather has been dominated by strong winds and monumentous downpours, with just some very brief periods of remission. Spring is certainly being rather slow to come to Cornwall this year.

A windswept yard A windswept yard What has made today more frustrating is that the low pressure system bringing us all this grief is confined to the south west and further up country the weather is quite pleasant. Anyway back to today and those who made the journey down to the Club could witness first hand the ferocity of the wind. In fact it was even quite difficult just standing up on the slipway due to the strength of the wind. To make the sight even more spectacular was the high spring tide, so the waves were not only covering the entire beach they were also pounding over the slipway and the lower wall. Occasionally they would break over the wall opposite the dinghy park, throwing torrents of water over the lines of dinghies covered down and sheltering from the weather. All in all quite a spectacular sight, but at least there was no doubt in any body’s mind that today would be another non sailing day.
A windswept yard A windswept yard
April 3rd
A windswept beach
2nd race day of the season lost to the weather

This is almost a familiar feeling, with the 2nd weekend on the trot lost to the weather. In fact the weather is leading 5-0 at the moment. Fortunately the coming Wednesday is still deemed too dark for the evening series to have started as the forecast for this entire coming week isn’t very good. The photo alongside shows the sea state that we would have had to launch through. To make matters worse we also had some periods of rather heavy rain to contend with. Oh yes, and to top it off it was also quite cold, in the rather fresh onshore breeze, so I wasn’t too surprised that we had no takers. Even more frustrating for us is the fact that the weather further east was a lot better and some people could almost bask in above average temperatures.

stuck in the mud The car park was also a very wet and slippy place to be as Tony found out to his cost. However a handy tow from Andrew and a push from Colin soon proved to be just the job and a relieved Tony was eventually set free.

Well, just a gentle reminder that this coming Wednesday night sees the final “nibbles” & chat” night of the winter as we start the first evening racing series on the following Wednesday – 13th. Steve Coello still has mounds of mouldy cheese to get rid of and you can help him out by coming down this Wednesday and trying to finish off his entire stock. Help swig it down with a glass or two of his selected wine of the month.

March 27th
Loading up the Safety Boat
Weather 3, PSC 0

The count down clock has finally reached its goal. The clocks have sprung forward an hour and we are officially into British Summer Time. Thanks to Tony we had an exceptionally good fitting out supper last night and so we were finally ready to launch the 2016 sailing season. That’s the good news; the bad news was that we were beaten by the weather!!

Rather frustratingly our first Club race for 2016 was blown off by yet another low pressure system sweeping in from the Atlantic. Our brief respite of a high pressure area finally left us on Friday night and now for this week at least we are back into the low pressure systems, with storm Katie set to arrive sometime tonight. The usual keen fanatics came down prepared to sail in what seemed like reasonable weather. The wind had abated somewhat but we were soon rudely awakened when one of a series of squalls came along. The wind soon picked up, white horses appeared in the bay and the popular decision was taken -“Cancel”. I think that was a fairly popular decision as the air temperature was only about 8C and the wind chill probably made it a lot lower. Not all was lost however as the safety boat was loaded up with the permanent beach marks and Nigel & Andrew accompanied with a GPS system, lowered them in to the same position as last year, give or take the odd metre. I must admit that from the shore they looked a long way out but that can be an optical illusion as when the tide is fully out they appear to much further inshore.

Fortunately Ken & I had our first sail last Sunday and we didn’t feel too bad about missing today, but we are scheduled for Safety boat for the next 3 sessions so it will be almost half way through April before Midnight Express kisses the waters of St. Austell Bay. Maybe, just maybe things will be better by next weekend.

March 20th
An almost windless Wimbleball Lake
The 2016 season starts for "Midnight Express"

The 2016 season kicked off for Ken & me yesterday when we attended the Wimbleball Beastie. Fortunately we set off in good time in case of any mishaps and sure enough we had a mishap. The road to Wimbleball from the A361was closed and we had to take a massive diversion of about 30 mins travelling time to get to the reservoir, and I think we were the last of the 50 Entries to enter. What a raw day it was, temperature wise, with the car thermometer showing only 4C. It was looking quite bleak after we exited a nice warm car to feel a very cool easterly breeze swirling around; our coats soon went on.

The boat was duly unhitched, unpacked and rigged, whilst also trying to receive race and course instructions. It was a pursuit race and we only needed to know our start time which was given as 27 minutes after the 3 hr start gun sounded and the finishing instructions. Over the winter I had altered / renewed a few items. The chief renewal was a new set of toe straps and I was anxious to find out what they were like. In a word they were “terrible” and there was just not enough room for me to get my feet under after a tack, they were far too close to the side of the hull. We did manage to alter them slightly enough for the race but they were difficult to use and now need some urgent modification before we start Club racing next weekend.

The wind direction was probably the worst possible for a Tasar as it gave us a set of beats and very broad reaches. In fact we had to use the whisker pole on every down wind leg, which certainly didn’t do us any favours, but then that is handicap sailing. There was one other Tasar racing and for the 2 ½ hrs of racing we had a very close battle, which at times saw our opposition quite a distance in front. However our sailing improved as the time went on and slowly but surely we reeled him in, overtook and then we started to pull well clear. In the last half hour of the race we were overtaken by 2 Ospreys, an RS400 and a Hornet. Their spinnakers gave them so much extra speed down wind. Way out in front was a new style Supernova and he had a massive lead, which he held to the end. There was also a gaggle of Lasers and RS Aeros in front of us. Interestingly we overtook an Aero 5 (not powerful enough) and an Aero 9 (maybe too powerful). The sweet spot for them appears to be the Aero 7. There were also several Blazes racing and a few of them were a good way in front of us but on the other hand there were a few of them behind us.

All in all it was viewed as a shake down day for us and a chance to see how the boat felt and more importantly how I felt. I need to say that today I am aching. I haven’t been blessed with a well upholstered bottom and the hard decks and cleats have bruised what padding I have and I know from past experience that it will take at least 3 days before the aches and pains will subside. From then on providing I sail regularly things won’t be too bad. I haven’t seen our results yet but I expect to be round the half way mark. Wimbleball SC takes quite a while to update their website so we may have to wait several days before they are published.

Naughty me; I forgot to take my camera with me so no shots of the event. I know I did have my phone but somehow I haven’t got into the swing of using the camera on it, a task which I shall have to master. However the picture above was taken in 2011 and shows it as quite a nice day. This year the temperature never climbed much above 4C and it was quite a relief to eventually pack the boat away, hitch up and head back home.

Since writing most of the above, I have managed to carry out mods to toe straps and downhaul and taken the boat back to the Club and had a look at the finished changing rooms. Apart from a real mess caused by the flooring contactors the finished rooms look brilliant and I think that we will all be thanking Steve Wingrove and his team for the fantastic work that they have done for us all. I need one or two more photographs to complete a web page for the project.

We are only a few days from the fitting out supper and our first race. The forecast is not brilliant and could be quite lively, but at least our long wait to race again is almost over. Let’s hope 2016 will give us some brilliant sailing times.

March 13th
The yard waiting for some more boats
Almost ready for the 2016 season

Now with only 2 weeks to go to the start of the 2016 season it’s probably time to dust the key board off and start the blog going again. When I set the count down timer going last November the figure was about 140 days. Well in almost no time at all, those days have flown by and we are now down to the low double digits.

As with most winters the Club has undergone some improvements and this year a massive job has been undertaken in modernising the changing rooms. I repeat that this has been a massive job and has been undertaken in the main by Steve Wingrove, Brian Phillips, Andrew & Jenny Kendall, Pete & Jan Barnes, Tony Dunn, Colin Wainwright, Ken Fobbester and the James & Nigel Dowrick. I say in the main, but there have been others down from time to time and their help has been greatly appreciated. It is going to be a close run thing as to whether we are going to ready in time for the start of the season, but it just might be finished on time. Basically new toilets have been fitted plus new showers, walls have been covered and new floors have been laid. All the old wooden seats have been removed and will be replaced by new plastic benches which are much easier for cleaning and future maintenance. All in all a much needed modernisation.

So who is ready for the season to come? Well I guess all the fibre glass boats are more or less ready or should be. Maybe it’s more difficult with an older wooden boat as the temperatures have been a bit low for paint and varnish. The cover has been off “Midnight Express” a few times this year and some new bits of ropes, toe straps have been replaced. The hull and decks have had some spit and polish. The sails have been run up and a puncture in one of the launching trolley wheels has been repaired. The cover also spent a few weeks over in Fowey having all the errant stitching replaced so hopefully that is good for a few more years to come. So yes Ken & I are ready, though we will be doing some of our duties early on to get them out of the way.

worn out road Our winter this year can be best described in three words; “wet and windy”. Indeed on most Sundays this winter the sea has looked distinctly inhospitable, with quite a few white horses making their presence felt but occasionally we have been blessed with light offshore breezes and the conditions then have looked very inviting and would have been ideal for an early practice sail. Due to the vast amount of winter rain, water has poured almost incessantly from the green and has almost eroded much of the road surface at the top of the slip way. Indeed once the café and Outdoor Centre vehicles and one or two others including ourselves start to use it then the surface will become almost unusable. Whether the Council will have sufficient funds or inclination to repair it remains a mystery at the moment, but it will only get worse if nothing is done.

Well this being the 3rd week in March I can for the first time feel that spring is in the air. The day time temperature, when there is any sun shining, is starting to climb and the daylight hours are increasing rapidly and I think that we are allmost ready to start another season.

We have had quite a few well attended socials over the last 2 months so have had the opportunity to keep the Club life alive. In fact the annual Club walk takes place this Sunday, followed a fortnight later by the Fitting Out Supper and then the following day we are straight off into the Easter Cup.

the slipway The beach has been well behaved this winter & the weather must have been quiet enough to leave us with enough sand to be able to get straight onto the beach without any difficulties. Now have the giant jelly fish gone? I sincerely hope so. I don’t know what brought them to our shores last year, but boy were they a pest? I would like to think that we will have a clear year this year, especially with the B14s coming to Porthpean for their Nationals. Yes we had a year clear of Nationals last year but it will be good to see a racing fleet sailing across the bay again. The B14s are no strangers to Porthpean, coming here last in 2011. This time we will have 2 of our own boats competing, Paddy & Steve and Jeremy & Suzanne Hawkins, so I expect to see them both getting plenty of racing in this year, though the Hawkins time on the water may well be curtailed ferrying Finn round to the various windsurfer competitions that he will be sailing in.

New boats? Well there is an RS100 sitting in the field which I am told belongs to Mike Ward who may be joining us, especially on Wednesday evenings and maybe some Sundays. If all the rumours that I hear are true then it will be a warm welcome to him and any others who want to get a dinghy and join our sailing races. BTW the RS100 is a very fast machine downwind, so expect to see some blistering speed from time to time. The big challenge will be to make it go upwind. The rumour that Nigel & James were going to get an RS200 to sail this year remains just a rumour but they may get some very competitive racing in their RS400, especially as Steve & Ashley Wingrove will be sailing their RS400 at times this season. I think James will be concentrating more on his Laser sailing. Steve Mitchell has bought a Supernova, though I believe that he and Polly will be concentrating on their Scorpion most of the season.

Several years ago the Tasar was the mainstay dinghy in the Club but times change, people drop out and this year the largest fleet on the water will probably be a fight between the Lasers and the Scorpions as they both have had a bit of a renaissance this last year. We could potentially get some 6 Scorpions on the water and a similar number of Lasers. No matter how many different craft we have sailing I think that we will still be sailing in fast and slow handicap fleets, which is fair enough, though will cause endless discussions / moans from time to time, especially as a few of our racing craft have had their handicap numbers changed again this year. Some will be happy some maybe won’t, though any change is so small that in reality will mean very difference in normal results. The handicap numbers are issued by the RYA every 12 months, based on race results sent to them by participating Clubs. Once again Porthpean, thanks to Ken, is only one of two Cornwall Sailing Clubs to have sent back any returns. Porthpean boats that have benefited this year are Supernova +4, Kestrel +4, Laser +4.

Well I don’t intend wittering on any more for the moment. James has prepared a full season of races, following a very similar pattern to last year’s format. I know the weather will have an important say as to how many races we actually manage to sail in the various series, and there will be days when sailing will be tough and hard going. Equally there will be days when conditions will be magical, with a nice F3 offshore blowing from a mainly cloudless sky. Think about Wednesday night sailing followed with bacon butties in the Clubhouse, overlooking what must be one of the best coastal views in the Country; sheer bliss.

So let the 2016 season soon commence and bring enjoyment and success to us all.