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Thoughts from a comedy boat virgin

Racing Sun 6th March 2022

By Jess Smith

Nine sailing dinghies with a race start boat and safety boat
Carmel races to start on time post-capsize while the 200 fights to stay above the start line

So today was my first time in any committee boat. We were armed and ready with banana bread, tea and plenty of layers. The fleet were prepared with a weather forecast and start time 24 hours in advance, although the promised sun decided not to come out until after the racing. The course was set, a trapezoid-sausage. Two pm came, and three boats were on the water… A delayed start, the Race Officer took a lot of convincing, and at 14.09 the fun began.

The start of the race had a spread of five minutes. A few boats arrived late (Two pm must have been a surprise), however one 2000 was on the water in time, but decided to go for a quick detour before the start! Three minutes later we were asked when the race would start, we suggested they should catch up with the fleet.

I enjoyed the role of raising and lowering flags, whilst my race officer was in charge of the horn, rather a quiet horn, it was only after both races, we were made aware of a much louder one available, hidden in the plastic box of treasures…. We’ll know for next time!

A ‘Z’ was put in the window, which confused some of the fleet, and the race officers, with us realising just in time for the race that this included a sausage on the end of the trapezoid. Whilst some of the fleet managed this, others did rather wider versions for their sausages – looks like we all need to reread the sailing instructions!

The fleet ripped around the course, with the 29er looking particularly spectacular on the reaches. It seems quite a lot of people got a bit lost though and we had to do a reasonable amount of keeping track of who had been where.

Finishing can be a little busy, but one 2000 was particularly helpful, by turning to look at us to see when he finished and inadvertently bearing away, sailing down the line for some time rather than across it, giving us plenty of warning in both races.

In the end it was a story of the Tortoise coming out on top, with coach Sam in the Fusion snatching victory from Martin and Sean by two seconds after haring away in their 2000.

Race 2, and after a quick turn around, the racing started again. This time the start was much cleaner, with everyone ready and crossing in a timely manner.

Sailing boats in Cardiff Bay lining up to start a race
Sam goes for a Port Flyer in Race 2

After the first lap the 400 had beat their first race by 20 seconds. Looking great, until halfway around the second lap. I can only assume the boat was cold, so it wrapped itself up in its kite. Unfortunately, they were unable to recover, and had to head home early. Rumour has it their spinnaker is now stretched big enough for an 800 though, so all is not lost.

My nicely planned race sheet was messed up, when a blaze came round the 4th mark in second place, only to attempt a new 3-point turn approach to tacking. All of a sudden three boats over took and crossed the line at the same time to start the second lap. Turns out trying to read numbers, track who is crossing the line and dealing with pens running out of ink is more difficult than expected. Happily, on each lap the blaze improved, looking like a well-oiled machine by the end of the race.

By this time the tea had run out, and it was colder, star jumps kept me warm. Many boats were noted to have not always kept the pointy-bit above the plastic bit. One 2000 graciously decided to capsize just in front of us.

We can only assume they wanted to show off their front-crawl!

Sam won in the Fusion again. This time with a more comfortable margin to Charlie and Clare in the 2000. Alas Martin and Sean had to settle for third, after they converted their 2000 spinnaker into two Feva spinnakers.

It was a great race to watch, and we hope you enjoyed it too! Can’t wait for the next one, where we‘ll be back in a dinghy.

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