Sunday, August 10, 2008

Square Metre Rule Jubilee Day 3: The Luck of the Cornish

Saltsjobaden, Sunday 10th August:

Yesterday the weather was just right for a lovely sail - white clouds drifted across blue skies with a gentle breeze. In other words it was terrible for racing, particularly for those of us in a heavy boat.

It was almost disastrous. The first race we started badly and got progressively worse as the wind dropped till we could watch the bubbles slowly glide pass at half the speed of a baby's crawl.

Our first break of luck was when after an hour and a half of racing no one was close to finishing so the race was abandoned. We all drifted for a bit and had a spot of lunch and a cup of tea (we are English) while the wind did another major shift and the marks were re-positioned for a shorter course.

The second race was going only slightly better when half the fleet fell into a wind hole and a shift gave us another single tack to the wind-ward mark leg. In other words, we got a bit of the "luck of the Cornish" as one of the crew put it.

There was a bit of argy bargy around what should have been the downwind mark - which was now more to windward as we could raise our kite on the way back from it to the line - but the nearby boat was one which had previously ignored our cries of starboard causing us to tack twice, so we were in no mood to give an inch more of water than the rules said we should.

After the race the wind dropped again and boats could be seen drifting towards the marina, some attaching their outboard motors, to give the committee a hint as to the consensus in the fleet. It must have worked as the flags were raised that announced end of racing and we headed home, just in time to miss the rain.

In the end there were only 7 races but we competed in all and got our decent result of mid-pack in the 30 square metre class and most importantly was the fastest of the British boats.

The skipper and I spent three long hours in the tent waiting for the prize giving ceremony listening to the pouring rain outside. The main reason for the wait was to hear the protests, which made everyone a bit grumpy, in particular the chat sitting next to us who had been accused of touching one of the marks.

A slight regret was not socialising with the other boats as much as we would like, especially as by the end the names and faces were beginning to become familiar. In the tent we saw the Germans, the Hungarians, the Swiss, the Americans, the other Brits, the many Swedes, the TV crews, the foredeckers, the skippers, the organisers, and so many others.

Now we all go our separate ways and the centenary celebrations are over. We have all had a cracking time and apart from the first day felt we have done the best we could against strong competition in variable conditions.

And the location, sailing within the pine scented air of the Swedish archipeligo, staying in the Grand Hotel Saltsjobadan, was superb.

It was grand sailing.

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