A bright and sunny morning changed within thirty minutes to a cold, overcast and foggy morning, with south-easterly twelve to twenty miles an hour wind lifting a short chop. The surf, soft beach and high tide made for awkward launching and so it was not surprising that there appeared to be no enthusiasm for boating. Stuart P, with the spirit of the 1980s in his veins, a time when timidity was frowned upon at PSC, cracked the cat-o-nine tails and six boats were driven into the surf. The single-handed boats were shoved into the surf first and made it safely, followed by Paul and Kelvin who made it look easy. I am afraid Sweet Janny B misbehaved, taking off into the surf, dragging me behind her like a lump of kelp, hanging on the transom. I did manage to get aboard, and despite me floundering in the bottom of the boat, we somehow cleared the surf.
As we jockeyed for the start line, I looked over at Andrew, who had Clare crewing for him. They were riding down a wave and the smiles spread from bow to transom. To my mind, that’s what dinghy sailing is about. The first race saw Paul and Kelvin’s start timed perfectly, giving them a lead which they kept the whole way round, despite a spinnakery moment that saw Kelvin’s head down the spinny chute. Chris, Tosh and James were all in close contention at the first mark, leaving the Kestrel and Andrew and Clare with it all to do. Two spinnaker legs helped, allowing us to catch James, who was giving a demonstration of how to ride his little Aero down the waves. Tosh took a splosh between the beach marks and Chris in his Phantom missed a lucky wind shift, allowing Kessy to squeeze through and try to draw in Paul and Kelvin. It was not to be, and they romped home first on the water by quite a margin.
The second race saw a, almost unprecedented at PSC, general recall. I am pleased to say the restart saw a more mannerly approach, that is, except for James D, whose Aero has the ability to moor itself pin end on the start line. Sometimes a bad start is not a bad thing, especially when your Tack-tick suggests that the fleet has missed a lovely lift on port tack. That bit of luck saw Kessy take the lead, aided by Paul doing the lifejacket in the spinny pole whilst tacking trick. Having twin poles is great, but sometimes, more is less. Chris’ Phantom seemed to be revelling in the waves, chasing the Kestrel. We managed to hold him off, but we were both glad it wasn’t a longer race. The second race saw Andrew and Clare really making the boat work, spinny up, spinny down, gybing round a tight turn, all the stuff that is usually a muddly mess with a scratch crew; I take my hat off to you Clare. Small boats and lumpy seas make for awkward sailing, as I guess both Tosh and James will vouchsafe. Despite this, both boats kept very much in touch, and I suspect James will have won on handicap.
The coming home was wisely done, one at a time by most of us, realising that surf and soft sand require as many hands as can be mustered. Thanks must be given to Stacey, Barney and Barney minor for tractor duty, and to everyone who worked as a team to get the boats clear. Also, a big thanks to Ron and William for doing OOD and for their culinary skills. Ron, if you ever feel wasted at sea in the Nationals, the galley has a place in its heart for you! And of course, I can’t sign off without a big thanks to Emma, Ciaran and Ken for a great course and for shivering through two forty five-minute races.
Sitting at the bar with friends, looking out to The Gribbin in what was now a sunny afternoon, Janny and I considered that Sundays don’t get much better than this and feel so pleased to see PSC coming back to life.