Team Conlon/Anderson - 29er - 1765
This event presented a couple of problems before it even began. The pressure was on, after our not particularly impressive last open meeting at Rutland, which provided all we didn't like about pond sailing, to prove that on the salty waters of Brightlingsea (our home club) we actually had some sort of quality as 29er sailors. Unfortunately, we had already promised a bed - and with it a bit of a party - to quite a large number of the fleet. Thus we were not too certain about how our results on Sunday were going to turn out. Our only consolation was the memory of Thorpe Bay in September last year, where after one of Steve Hopper's infamous parties on the Saturday night we somehow saw our results improve from a 7,6,4 to a 1,1,3.
The event started off very well. Having called the left corner successfully, we found ourselves round the top mark in first in the first race of the weekend. Unfortunately, a dodgy decision meant that instead of covering the fleet we gambled on a gybe rounding, which didn't pay off, and ended up in third. However, we knew we had good boat speed and potential for decent results. With the second race, an impressive couple of downwind legs meant that despite a 7th around the top mark, we worked our way into 4th for the finish - this despite the kite sheets coming undone immediately after the hoist, which required an impressive bit of impromptu 'musto style' sailing from David at the back, helming, playing the main and the kite at the same time whilst Fin sat on the wire tying them back together from the loose end. The third race, and the third good start of the day saw us sneak a 3rd in to bring us in at 3rd overall at the end of the Saturday.
Saturday evening is best not discussed, but we will suffice it to say that we were hoping the rest of the fleet also didn't feel too good the next morning, as we weren't sure whether we could stay on top of our game. It was looking to be all about tactics as well, with the wind not looking to go much above 5 or 6 knots. Our first indicator that we were not all with it (I should amend that to 'I' - Fin) was that I had forgotten my watch, a relatively important piece of equipment whether slightly hungover or not. Luckily we managed to borrow one but were disappointed to get our first dodgy start and go around the top mark in 12th. A slow downwind crawl to the gate had us in roughly the same position, but David 'genius' Conlon at the back of the boat screwed his head on properly and tacked off on to port as soon as we got through it. Here our crawl (the wind had dropped off to barely even 4 knots) along the beach meant that when we tacked back off onto starboard we seemed to be looking alright. The wind continued to drop off, but a nice bit of sailing, keeping the boat free and fast, meant that while everyone else was almost parked in the channel, we managed to squeeze up to the mark just behind the overall leader at that point, Alex Mothersele. As he called the windward mark just slightly too early, we squeezed around it while he was doing two tacks behind us, into first. A gybe rounding into the tide and a bit of breeze meant that we flew in to the finish line in a position we definitely hadn't expected - 1st.
The less said about the next race the better, so I will keep it short and simple. Knowing we had a bit of a gap behind us we decided to go for another win to challenge for the top, and found ourselves third, then first round the top and bottom marks respectively. With not much room around said bottom mark we heeled the boat over to leeward to lift the gunwales over the mark to avoid touching it. Unfortunately we heeled it a bit too far, and much to the annoyance/amusement of the rest of the fleet, capsized right in front of them. We weren't too sure whether or not to be a bit relieved that we were OCS anyway.
At this point the wind finally gave up, and despite the race officer's best efforts (we found ourselves keeping occupied with an epic water fight in the two hour wait for the next race) there was no 6th race (although we did manage to win the race back to the club!). Thus we finished the weekend in the same position as the previous day, with a very respectable 3rd out of 22.We want to acknowledge the huge help we have had from Allen in getting ourselves kitted out with a boat which, when sailed properly (which we are still working on), is one of the fastest in the fleet.