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An irreverent look at Sunday racing at Chelmarsh Sailing Club

by James Nicholls 23 Jan 10:46 GMT 15 January 2023

It was a lovely January day, chilly but fresh, and the turnout was good considering how cold it was and the forecast was a bit iffy. In the end, although a little cloudy in the morning, it soon cleared and the sun came out and this always makes the sailing feel better. Winds were benign, basically force 2-3. There might have been one puff of force 4 but I think that was in the lunch break.

Four races were run - two in the morning and two in the afternoon - with Mike "the Edger" Whitehouse officiating in his inimitable way poorly assisted by me.

The start of the first race was a bit scrappy but that was partly due to us on the committee boat. When we pressed the airhorn button on the boat, it sounded more like a gentle fart than a klaxon. Unsurprisingly no one else heard this whisper and so we were forced to try the manual (oral?) trumpet. I tried it first and, again, the noise was so pathetic that the racers heard my laughter more than the tiny "parp". Mike then had a go at the one minute point and made a better fist of it but it was still more like a kazoo than a trumpet.

After an unholy row and recriminations we saw that the boat's air horn had an easily corrected fault; the airline - that connects the horns to the compressor - had disconnected and so it was easy to put it back onto the lug on the compressor and we were back in business hornwise. Sorry, I digress, you're probably not slightly interested in Mike's/my horny exploits!

So, back to the race. Where was I? Oh yes, the start. The Officious Officer of the Day ("OOOD") had decided to do away with rabbits, gates, ducks and drakes etc and set an actual start line between buoy 9 and the committee boat. It seems everyone has forgotten about start lines so it was good to hear Matt Thursfield shouting at anyone who wanted to listen about biases and line etiquette. And we sent the hapless matelots to buoy 5 which apparently was difficult to get around because of something called "wind shadow". I know, ridiculous, as if!

Well, I counted them out and I counted them back. Irritatingly, those figures did not coincide so I had to count them again and after a bit of math (I am so modern) I calculated there were nine boats racing. What was Michael Edgar Whitehouse doing all this time? I bet you are thinking. Well, he was just lying around ordering me about in that cruelly tyrannical way of his. Still, apparently he used to be one of the Commodores and in my book, anyone who can come up with Easy (like Sunday morning) and Three Times a Ladle has a right to be a bit bossy.

In the end the first race results were:

Matt Thursfield - 1st - Super nova
David Partridge - 2nd - Aero 7 (note to self: buy Mint Aero later)
Martin Carl - 3rd - Lovely nova
David Thursfield - 4th - Solo (and on his own)
Will Ranson - 5th - Laser
John Struebig - 6th - Solo
Martin Bassett - 7th - Solo
Stephen Woodhouse - 8th - Really nice nova
David Bibby - 9th - Quite good nova

TBH, it was above my pay grade to be interested in the course but apparently it was changed because of representations. Buoy 5 was substituted by W and 4 by C, or something like that. It's too technical for me, however, race management was slicker on this one with good voluble sound signals giving none of the rubber-clad participants reason to grumble.

Another good race was had with some contretemps at a few buoys and some switching of places. Matt just pipped Dave P at the end.

Final places, this time, were as follows:

1. David T
2. Matt T
3. Dave P
4. Stephen W
5. Martin C
6. Will R
7. John S
8. David B
9. Martin B

All sailors left the water for the lunch break. All protests were dealt with appropriately. Sorry, I forgot to make a note of what each participant had for lunch. I had a fish paste sandwich if you must know.

The afternoon saw a couple of new participants in Solos so we were up to eleven racers (I think?).

Not sure what happened but maybe the herd of Solos hunt like a pack because now they were giving the really-rather-good novas a run for their money. We were doing quite well monitoring what was going on and then unfortunately Martin Bassett decided to tip over his Solo and so I had to leave the comfort of the committee boat and race over with the Jaffa.

No doubt suffering from the onset of hypothermia, Martin appeared confused as to why his boat was sinking. I am no physicist but I pointed out that the bloody great big holes in the transom might be something to do with it. Anyway, we towed his dinghy back to the jetty and he refitted something called transom flaps.

Well, whilst this was going on the blooming race had only gone and finished hadn't it, and the OOOD wrote down the results using the official handwriting of a 1950s doctor.

Here are my best guesses at how the race ended:

1. Hattie - maybe Matt?
2. K - probably Jonathan Carter - in Solo number 660 (made of cast iron presumably?)
3. GiT - think this is David Thursfield
4. Tugly - is this Tracey Hanan in her Solo with the lovely pink numbers?
It then gets even vaguer with probably Dave P, Stephen W and Will R somewhere around sixth perhaps followed by Martin C, David B with John S bringing up the rear. Das Boot commander Martin B, I am pretty sure came in at eleventh but maybe that is DNF?

A final race for nine competitors was then run in the bright sunshine with the Solos really going for it from the outset. That must have been the perfect conditions for Solos as the Great-novas found it hard to catch up. The fleet was bunched up for much of the race.

The Solos were doing so well that Tracey got bored and decided to stop for a spot of OWS (open water swimming); which was, I think, against club rules as she was not wearing a fluorescent condom on her head.

Not only that, this was only about 5 minutes before the end of the race and so with much reluctance I was forced, yet again, to go and save another life. I just wish the BBC TV cameras from "Saving life on ponds" had been there to record my heroics instead of that time I had to rescue a disgruntled shag resting on buoy 7.

The good thing though was that this time Mike decided to use his good hand to write down the results, which were:

1. Jonathan Carter
2. Matt Thursfield
3. David Thursfield
4. David Partridge
5. Martin Carl
6. Will Ranson
7. John Struebig
8. Stephen Woodhouse
9. Tracey Hanan

A very pleasant post-competition drink in the bar followed with hardly any fighting although David T smashed his glass and "offered out" anyone if they disagreed with his analysis of the leeward mark rule. Unfortunately I had to leave and so I am not sure of the final outcome.

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