"A chilly Sunday saw the fourth race in the Hare and Hounds series. I arrived at the club to find Mike and Dean on the quay gazing forlornly at the still water of the harbour. ‘Don’t worry’ I said cheerily, ‘it’s bound to fill in in a bit’(as always inaccurately over- optimistic about the weather). Mike looked unconvinced and started muttering darkly about his heavy crew.
Many of the usual suspects were already in the dinghy park, with a few exceptions. Some of the fitter/more energetic members were doing the Great South Run instead. And Mark R had decided 9.45 was far too early a start for a Sunday so had opted for a lie-in with the Sunday papers and a croissant. After exhausting Guy last Sunday John Excel was onto his third crew (Jamie P-J) in as many races.
Amid positive reports of a F4 on Chimet we all started rigging up, apart from Mike who was still muttering and looking glum. Still no wind at 9.15 but we launched anyway, and floated out to the start. Mike and Dean, not wanting to be left behind, decided they would sail after all and hitched a tow from David Rea’s patrol boat out to the start.
The race officers wisely opted for the shortest lap race possible. The chaos experienced on the first leg last weekend was a distant memory as we all drifted over the start and up to Echo at about 0.1 knots (and that was tide). Not a single cry of ‘starboard’ or ‘up’ was heard (or maybe that was just because Mark wasn’t there, hee hee).
After a leisurely meander around the buoy we settled in for the down’wind’ leg to Ems. I spent the leg trying to work out the best way to have my weight as forward as possible in the laser, whilst heeling it a little to get the sail to fill and also being able to see my tell tales ( in case they might start twitching). Unfortunately, as I have all the smooth and graceful movement of an elephant, every move I made shook what little wind there was out of my sail. Note to self – keep still next time. Many of the other boats were similarly struggling for wind and speed, though the faster assymetrics seemed to be faring a little better.
After a good while we got to Ems and – hurrah! –a little wind (about 2 knots) made the passage down to Little Deep and then to Fowley less painful. But after Fowley it completely died, not even a breath of air. From Fowley to the finish line stretched a line of boats just sitting there, or sometimes going backwards as the tide had long since turned. And so it stayed for a good 10 minutes or so. The patrol boats offered us tows home, but having been out there so long we really wanted to finish. The sound of the hooter kept our spirits up – some boats were finishing. Eventually a tiny bit of wind came and we started going forward. And then 50 metres from the line some proper wind arrived at last, and Jez, Guy and I zoomed over the line. One hour and 45 minutes for the lap – probably my slowest sail ever but strangely rather enjoyable and relaxing.
Top awards for patience and hardiness must go to the patrol boat crews, and also to Andy in his Topper who was stuck at Little Deep when the wind disappeared, declined several offers of a tow, and eventually came home in 9th – a great result. Many thanks to the race officers and patrol boat crews."