In a bid to coerce keen volunteers to help safety boat activities, a cunning plan was formulated to offer some race day assistance in order to build skills and confidence.
However, you know when you offer to mentor someone for their first time as safety boat lead and it turns into the busiest day you have ever had on the water with 5 boats to tow ashore and approx 25,000 capsizes...
Many thanks to Tony Smith for stepping forward to do an extra turn as Officer Of the Day so that everyone could enjoy racing. The conditions were brilliant and much fun was had by all involved.
On the prom winds felt light and the sea looked deceptively flat, but once out past the pole it was clear that there was at least a solid F3 from the SSW with some interesting gusts. I say clear, but with three people, two giant Volvo marks, one yellow pillar and buckets of ground tackle, the view was occasionally a little obscured.
The course was laid under Tony's direction and with 25 mins to spare before the race start, there was time to do a little more familiarisation with Humber. A few fast runs between different parts of the course to get a feel for the waves, then a bit of practice with close manoeuvring around the buoys to help judge wind and tide.
Soon the first race was under way and from the speed of the boats as they rounded SP1 and spinnakers started to pop up, we could see it was going to be an exciting afternoon just keeping track of all twelve!
Sam and Michael were literally flying as the 29er skimmed the waves with the two 2000s following at a good pace. Of the two, Laurie's boat was a little quieter, unable to match the excited shrieks from number 2041 which was almost blown over by a sudden gust as they approached the gybe mark, despite dumping a lot of power from the kite. I believe they decided to retire at the end of the first lap.
With Humber sitting just off the gybe mark we patiently waited for the approaching fleet of Lasers to show off their downwind skills, Colin S made it look effortless as he took the turn and dashed off East, and then the fun began.
One by one, at random points on the course, sails were being swapped for dagger boards. With Barry and I spotting, we had Chris zooming all over the place to check on people. As if that wasn't enough, we were also positioning ourselves to discourage personal water craft, and to motoring check on an errant water ski boat in the centre of the course that turned out to be dealing with a minor injury (and was very apologetic for their location!).
After a few more upsidedownings, we saw the RS600 heading to the beach near Coastwatch and tip over in the shallows. A check with the RO confirmed that Steve was dropping his sails and walking the boat back to the club.
At some point it should be noted that one race finished and another one started, but from our perspective there was little impact on our workload, or the ongoing 'hands on' training
I think Chris and Barry both gained some good experience, recovering people and (boat) parts from the water, plus righting, rigging and towing a variety of boats and the general management of a safe sailing area.
Boats returned to shore:
Laser with broken tiller extension.
Laser with tired crew.
6ft plastic bathtub tender who had dropped anchor at the windward mark due to mechanical issues (very much like a no petrol sort of problem).
420 with tired crew who were fighting to get back up wind & tide.
Merlin Rocket with broken rudder.
Due to the number of other boats still capsizing on the course, we could not tow the Rocket in immediately, so we passed over a spare radio and lifted the crew off to allow the helm to continue practising his 'Seamanship Skills' and rudderless sailing while the race was finishing. It was a brave effort, but with the strength of the wind and speed the tide was running he would likely have made it to the beach somewhere near Minnis.
We returned to meet him again some distance ENE of the dolphin and made began the slow tow home after he had finished dropping his sails.
In all, a great afternoon of racing (although I have no idea who finished in what positions) and a great session for the PB team, and great feedback from the sailors we were supporting !