Portsmouth - the Spinnaker Tower.
The consensus amongst participants at the meet was that we should return to the south coast next year, either at Netley or somewhere else, and try to find a way of ensuring that Level 2 sailors can also participate. Once again, a big thank you to Gavin and Katherine for organising a most enjoyable weekend.
Racing At Netley (KeithM)
The weekend that some of the group spent as guests of Netley Sailing Club, organised by Gavin, was a really good do and we enjoyed some pretty good weather; the wind was a little sparse on the Saturday for the picnic cruise but the Sunday was forecast to be quite windy, so I was in two minds about taking part in the club racing. Others chose to take a cruise of exploration up the River Itchen but as I had been there before and Gavin was keen to race I decided to join him. The club usually has a couple of mixed fleet races each Sunday with the catamarans starting 5 minutes before the mostly slower monohulls. The course was around a mixture of permanent and specially placed buoys and made a good attempt to provide as wide a variety of points of sail as possible; a beam reach start/finish, a short beat, a fairly long broad reach, a fetch and a dead run.
The format was to sail laps round the course with the officials counting each boat's laps, finishing the race at some appropriate point with racers completing the lap they were on. This provided fair and exciting racing for such a mixed fleet; amongst the slower boats were Toppers (and us!) while the fastest boats were the cats and a foiling Moth that fizzed past me a number of times doing 25 to 30 knots! (See this video for another way to get about.)
With the wind being onshore, the sound signals to start the races from the clubhouse were virtually impossible to hear out on the water, so you had to rely on spotting the flag boards that were displayed. I didn't really get the hang of this very well at the first start but Gavin didn't either and once I saw the main dinghy fleet heading over the line I chased after them, with a few others and Gavin behind me. For this first race the wind was about F3 but there were significant waves at times from the general traffic on Southampton Water and the broad reach was particularly entertaining, picking up and surfing on some of the wakes from passing ships, ferries and large powerboats. It was also the opportunity for me to bail out some of the splashes taken on during the other legs, especially the beat.
We did three laps but had actually finished after lap 2 - such are the difficulties of seeing the flags and hearing the sound signals! I had managed to retain the lead I'd established over Gavin at the start, although he had caught up a fair bit. After correction for boat handicaps, I was 14th and Gavin 16th out of the 24 boats racing.
After a short break for a brew and a snack, the second race with exactly the same format and course got under way. This time I was a bit more aware of what was happening and made a better start. But Gavin had made a much better one as well and I was perhaps 50 yards behind him as I crossed the line. The reach went well for me and I had hauled him in, to be within just a few boat lengths as we hardened up for the beat. Finding myself in Gavin's dirty wind I decided to tack away in spite of it being the less favourable tack, given the ebbing tide would take me away from the windward mark. I took a longish tack out, then went about to close the mark, spotting that Gavin had lost out and was a little way behind. As the wind had freshened to a good 4 gusting 5, the broad reach was a real sleigh ride and I had to fight hard to keep the canoe sailing straight and fast on the waves. But I had also taken on a lot more water on the beam reach and especially the beat, so I needed to bail it out, both for performance and more importantly, stability.
The second lap was much the same with me defending my lead over Gavin but on the third beam reach - disaster! My luff line parted, my sail was no longer held close to the mast and, with it billowing away and out of control, there was danger of it breaking something. There was nothing for it but to roll most of it safely onto the mast and retire, cursing that it would leave Gavin to take the honours and our two race series. He got 13th out of 19 boats and obviously I got a DNF. But it was fun to race some other boats and be able to push one's canoe in some testing conditions, knowing there was a safety boat not far away, when I would normally be well reefed.
Big Meeting (JeffB)
A posting appeared on the Song of the Paddle website in January suggesting that there should be a 'Big Meeting'. After much correspondence this resulted in a thread giving the dates in September and location at Waterside Campsite on Ullswater. Over the period up until the meet, 207 replies were posted and in the end the whole of the field closest to Pooley Bridge at the campsite was given over to paddlers, canoe salesmen, a beer tent and a number of OCSG members. All this despite there being very little indication of what the 'Big Meeting' might consist of.