Sail inside, Love

Vice Commodores race 13 June 2018

Sail Inside Love

Let me find you a place

Where the course of the day

Will be carried away

By the smile on your face.

We are together now and whatever,

Out of my way.


The Vice Commodores race: 13 June 2018.

A pleasant, brisk wind evening, inviting 11 boats to pit their wits against the other nits on the water. A diverse fleet, 1 Fireball, 4 Merlins, 3 GP14s, 1 Enterprise, 1 Solo, 1 Laser.  It is an Average Lap Time race: all the boats start together and race around the race track for around 60 minutes and when they next cross the start/finish line (the Gate) their race ends and their race time recorded.  That time is then recalculated to account for the RYA specified relative speed of the boat. The boats may have sailed a different number of laps, so an average lap time is calculated and the winner is….. the boat with the lowest average lap time.

The Race Officer, observing a south westerly dominant wind, set a classic MSC course, 5, 6, 2, 4, 1 and the Gate. Unusually, the RO reversed the convention and positioned the Committee Boat at the port end of the start line with the usual Pin buoy at the starboard end.  Mild confusion was observed with one boat setting off in the wrong direction with another sailing backwards in the right direction!  There may have been an individual recall signalled.  The fleet set off towards the first rounding mark, buoy 5, formally known as Creek even though it is not in a creek at all but maybe a dribble of ground water.

Against the expected boat speed form, the GP of Adams/Crabtree rounds the mark first, followed by the fastest boat on the water, the Fireball, then the Enterprise.  Whoah!  Where was Merlin team of Dee/Martin?  Some form of water filling episode, I think, making the boat more of Merlin Bucket than a Merlin Rocket.  The GP maintained first place at the next mark, buoy 6, the Fireball having taken a wider route. These two boats outpace the rest of the fleet opening up a 200 metre gap.  The GP gained the inside advantage at the next mark, buoy 2, “Sail inside, love”.  Emphatically, re-emphasised by the Enterprise a few moments later as the failure to gain the inside loses five places.  The Laser takes a swim.


The Fireball took the lead by the next mark, buoy 4, and the Merlin up to third.  A drag spinnaker running leg down to last mark of the lap, buoy 1.  A GP and Merlin approach the buoy, the faster Merlin both sailing inside and on starboard rendering the GPs tactical defence pretty hopeless. The Merlin resumed rocket status but the Fireball is far ahead.


The blue GP sailed on alone.


The Solo, the slowest boat on the water, was piloted by MSC’s home-grown pro, and is now fifth.


Disaster for the light blue Merlin as the spinnaker went under the boat and was disabled as the concrete shore loomed.  More Merlin Trawler than Merlin Wizard.


Race interest was hotting up with a trio of boats engaging, Enterprise, Solo and Harvest Merlin.  At mark 1, the Solo got the inside line on the Ent. They battled their way up to mark 5, then down to mark 6 with the order now Enterprise, Solo and Merlin.


Father and son team Homer capsize.  Apparently not says the son later. Dad fell out of the boat.  Looked like a mast in the water to me.  More like Steptoe and son than Mumford and son.


Meanwhile, Merlin Dee has again taken the GP of Adams at mark 6 but was still a long way behind the Fireball.


The blue GP plodded on alone.


Once again at the mark 1 the trio was still in close combat. The Ent rounded clear ahead but the Harvest Merlin Anslow took the inside and mark room on the Solo.


The blue GP trundled on alone.


On the 4th lap, the Merlin Dee was clearly catching the Fireball, 200 meters in it.  Closer. They engaged as the Merlin attempted to power over the Fireball; the move failed as the Fireball luffed.  There was just meters between them now.  Power down to mark 1, Merlin rounds first and heads towards the gate.  Its nearly 60 mins but the Race Officer sent them round for another lap!  Fireball crew Freya was at full stretch on the trapeze, straight as a broom handle as they powered impressively up the beat.  I reflect on my crewing days on a Fireball with my brother at the same age as Freya; great boat.


The Race Officer takes a view to finish the next boat and it was Stuart in the GP.  Followed by the GP Adams/Crabtree.


The Blue GP finished alone.


The Fireball was now, once again, ahead of the Merlin. They raced neck and neck down to mark 6.  The Merlin manoeuvred to the inside line; the Fireball had to give room: “step inside, Dee”.  Game over, the Merlin finished 15 boat lengths ahead.


Meanwhile, the trio drove down the final reach to mark 1. The Ent was inside the Merlin but has no overlap and the Merlin finally captures the inside line at the mark. Finishing, the Merlin takes the on-the-water honour, as it should, but undoubtedly has lost on the RYA speed rating.  The Solo was not so far behind and has shown a great performance.


Our racing drama was not over yet. The Merlin of Mike Colles was in another neck and neck fight with the Homer’s dryish GP.  The GP was windward but outside with spinnaker pulling nicely and faster than the conservative Merlin.  But the Merlin had the inside line: “Step inside, Colles”.


So the racing was complete apart from the bar mark.  We waited for the calculations. Beer flowed.


The GP Adams deservedly takes the win.

The blue GP (Mark and Kevin) take second without dramatic spectacle.

The Solo, not a young boat, takes an impressive third leaving owner Dad with a dilemma.  It’s not the boat.


The Bar was still busy with perhaps 20 people at 10pm.

Step inside, love

We want you to stay.


(tribute to Paul McCartney for the abridged lyrics.)