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Lennon Sails International 14 Sails
Lennon Sails International 14 Sails

Cherubs at the Grafham Water Sailing Club Asymmetric Open 2018

by Emma Pearson 25 Jun 2018 16:57 BST 23-24 June 2018

Having not factored in enough faff-time we rolled into Grafham a touch late and not entirely sure what to expect. The visitors' area full of fallen over skiffs in varying stages of rigging, music from a car stereo and Holy-Grail-esc jokes being hurled like water bombs from either side of the parking area.

Some teams had arrived the night before and, much like the reservoir, were cooking off a little haze that may have been accrued. Jamie's green boat called Shiny Beast easily had the worst journey of us all where a lorry mistook it for a lime flavoured Calipo and had a bit of a lick up the starboard wing. Luckily only some pro-grip was peeled off so not a totally wasted journey.

On preparing to launch (and finishing any rigging jobs) Dave joked about not having to worry as Jay and Guy hadn't launched yet. "Nothing to worry about" he said... just as they pulled EJ, a beautifully striking blue hull passed us both!

Race 1

After a quick up-and-down with a few corners to make sure myself and Nick can still sail (and Ronin – a borrowed boat – actually floats), the race committee promptly started the Mixed Handicap Fleet sequence with a 3, 2, 1, Go in a fairly shifty 10 - 12knots. It must have caught out a few as it was quite an empty start line when it came to our turn. Andy and Jill in Usagi started as they decided to go on – clean, fast and making it all look incredibly easy and they lead for 2 ½ of the 3 laps. Unfortunately (for them) they got stuck in a hole at the top mark on the 3rd final windward leg and somehow we managed to sail around them and take the first Cherub race win for the day. The two red hulls – Usagi (Andrew and Jill) and Little Chilli (Dave and Hayley) were not far behind, followed by the old-skool "King Tubby" and the contrastingly scary looking E5 design "EJ". Shiny, meanwhile, continuing her string of unfortunate events, was not having a great time with Jamie and Joe deciding to play it safe after getting the fear and went in to switch to a safer rudder set up.

Race 2

I started a bit over keen to get up to the line but was also a bit late on the trigger which left us being swallowed up by Little Chilli and EJ which left us in 3rd at the top mark. Andy and Jill (Usagi) rounded swiftly and cleanly and sailed off into the distance. The breeze was beginning to build, getting up to 14 knots or so and Dave and Hayley in Little Chilli were just ahead of myself and Nick in Ronin but they dipped it in quickly on spreader leg due to mega gust of much destruction and occasional death (#DeathByBearAway). The wind had now built again so that the Cherubs were now planing about 70 -80% of the time. The wind was still really quite shifty which can be particularly frustrating in a boat that doesn't enjoy tacking and I have to admit – I did struggle with that!

Race 3

Turn around for race 3 was a little later for the Cherub fleet this time due to a naughty Mixed Handicap fleet having a general recall (definitely some over zealous Musto Skiffers in there). Once we had started (somewhat more conservatively than the last race) all boats were pretty close quarters. After some exchange of words over passing the leeward gate on our way upwind we were forced into an early tack which took our path towards the centre of the course, dodging the menagerie of the handicappers, while the majority headed for the left hand side. As we began to converge towards the upper quarter of the beat, EJ was looking uncomfortably close to us until a less-good tack put them into a slow-mo capsize. The two red boats (Usagi and Little Chilli) battled it out at top – Chilli having found new gear after abandoning the underwater gardening/strimming duties of weed with T-Foil rudder.

Due to the super light forecast for Sunday, the race committee had forewarned us that they intended to do 4 races if they could fit them in before the water closed. The general consensus was that all crews were very tired, veering on hangry and 50% of helms had began to freeze but race 4 beckoned us on. Una, crewing for Martyn in King Tubby decided she'd had enough and it was time to quit whilst she was ahead. Pretty good going for "I'll just do one race and see how it goes" in a '97 rules boat.

Race 4

With time cracking on and the peak heat of the day beginning to fade, so did the wind. Both red boats got away (again) with Chilli hot on the tail of Usagi followed up with Ronin ahead of EJ but not by too much. On nearing completion of the second lap the horror of having to go round again set in but now down to just the 4 boats we all persevered with promise of another race to count... (even with our battens that didn't want to pop). Little Chilli had just about settled mentally for a 2nd place on lap3 in race 4 but Andy and Jill in Usagi caught an unfortunate gust and managed to poke Committee boat which allowed Chilli to sneak in for a 1st. As the wind continued to die off the final two boats drifted over the line and then in for supper.

Having done about 5½ hours on water we were all knackered. Jamie and Joe who had a shortened day on the water had opened the "Bar de la Mum's Car" at about 2pm to drown their sorrows and were a little froofy around the edge by now. The banter notch however, had be turned back up to 11. Dinners was a big and hearty serving of either home cooked Shepherds' Pie or Vege Lasagne with an Apple Pie and Custard Chaser – polished off and completed in record time.

Drinks ensued with intermittent "we better go and finish de-rigging" form various crews but the bar very kindly remained open until after the glorious sunset over the west side or the lake where we had spent the day sailing. At last we released the ever-so friendly bar staff of their duties and retired to the camping grounds for a night cap of Aldi's finest Gin whist humming the chorus of the current Cherubic National Anthem "Thomas the Skank Engine".

After a good night's sleep, reportedly only slightly interrupted by amorous flapping pigeons and/or the unharmonious nasal rasping of a 3 pints-in sailor or ten, we assembled in the club's cafeteria for a sailing club breakfast. We we lucky enough to position ourselves outside in sun but out of the northerly-ish fresh breeze which was already dropping and turning patchy – this is the UK after all, we have to enjoy it while it's here. Discussions about the previous day's racing improvements as well as amateur weather forecasting (speculating) and usual modifications chat followed once the first coffee was consumed. The race officer very kindly picked our brains on what we were happy/not happy to go out in and how long we were happy just to stare at the water for.

Spinnakers and wetsuits alike were hoisted for drying but no racing was held due to Grafham Water becoming the UK's largest naturally formed mirrored surface. All open meeting racing was promptly abandoned at 10:30am and a short but sweet prize giving was held at 11. Packing up in the sun with a slice of home made Tiffin and some further good chat followed and we were all on the road home before lunch... and England vs. Panama.

Next up is Castle Cove, as part of Weymouth Regatta (7th/8th July) for more frivolity, sugar based snacks and some sailing, of course. All ages and skill (or lack of) welcome. If you fancy a go just pop along to an event or message the class association via the website or Facebook Page. Prepare to leave your ego at home but bring your banter A-game and drinking wellies.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st3202Andrew PetersJill PetersQueen Mary SC-21124
2nd3214David ChingHayley TrimPoole Yacht Club-33216
3rd2698Emma PearsonNick PrattStokes Bay12-336
4th3206Jay WilliamsonGuy JewkesDraycote Water-554413
5th2650Martyn DenchfieldUna-Mary RundmanStaunton Harold Sailing Club465(DNC)15
6th2676Jamie PearsonJo WhiteDraycote Water(DNC)4DNCDNC18

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