Pushing the envelope

Hardslog and Shoki took 5 mix and matchers out for training in some challenging conditions. The wind was force 4 to 5 from the South East. With all but one mix and matcher never having sailed on the boat they were on and 1 (Lynsey) never having raced before at all there was lots of learning potential for both experienced and inexperienced crew alike. On Hardslog, we were joined by James on mast who last Wednesday sailed on the J70. Shoki took Walter, Dougie and Stan.

Both boats made their way upwind as we got through the bridges it became quite choppy. New headsail trimmers were struggling with the winches and finding it difficult to get jibs in and finding the merits of bringing the cars back in building winds to depower. Hardslog had a close shave with a moored Tug and then it all seemed calm as we bore away as the South shore loomed fast to prepare for a spinnaker hoist. We were in the lee of the South Shore. The hoist was done in a controlled patient manner (very unracy !) and went well considering the experience and familiarity of the crew. The wind built as we cam away form the shore and sailed back toward the line and we made a decision to try and gybe. It took sometime for the kite to fill again but probably more by luck than design we avoided a wrap. At one stage no one was manning either the guy or the spinnaker sheet ! Shoki decided not to fly a kite in training and focussed on familiarising their new crew with the boat. The experienced hands who are used to sailing with the same people every week also had a different experience with so many newbies on board. By all accounts it took some getting used to …and it may be debatable as to which group learnt most ! hopefully it wont put the Shoki regulars off and we will seem them out helping train newcomers again. They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.

We returned to the marina for a debrief and a catchup with Brain and Dot who had had a cup of tea on Bounty Hunter and decided to go home and do some gardening. I am sure we will see them again next week when the wind will be perfect for them 15-18 knots. With Mark Bishopp helping the 707 Edinburgh Cup Salmon wasnt racing and the other Div 3 boat Auberge has decided to have take a break this week.

With only 4 boats racing this week what we lost on quantity we gained on quality as the Black Prince joined the fun. With testing conditions and experience short, everyone decided to race under white/black sail giving a matched contest in that respect at least.

Our bowman on Hardslog (Paul) had to leave for barman duties at the 707 Edinburgh Cup and we were joined by two (Stand and Dougie) of the crew from Shoki for the race with Walter staying on Shoki. The race was fairly uneventful and as the wind built more we had before the start changed from the No2 to the No3. This made trimming a lot easier. Downwind without a kite we were very underpowered but still managed to average 6.4 knots with a max of 8.4 over the 9.5 miles. The highlight of the day was when our ‘first time racer’ Lynsey saved the day when she asked where the next mark was. This question caused the skipper to reassess his course as he was heading for the wrong mark even though he had selected the course himself ! He was also stopped at the last minute going round S leaving it to starboard even though he distinctly told the rest of the fleet to pass all marks to port !

Everyone seemed to have a good day with plenty of time to have a drink in the clubhouse afterwards. Sadly we missed the 707 sailors who had all bombed off home after some exhausting sailing and drinking over the weekend with Chru (with a new young buck at the helm) emerging as a major challenger to the dominance of Seaword. This could be the most interesting 707 traveller series since the Cacciatore v Seaword battles.

Some of the 707’s will be back next week and hopefully joined by some others including Erin. If we dont get mark W laid this week we may have to have a downwind start of we have a Westerly. Ramsay and Justin will be running the show.