Thursday, 30 May 2013

Pitsford Water, Drascombe Association Rally, May 29-30

White track: "Robbie's race" afternoon 29 May; red track, further sailing, later in the afternoon, 29 May; green track, sailing with Jeff Kerr, morning of 30 May.
9.1nm; season's total 154.2nm
Gathering on Wednesday morning, 29 May, guests of Northampton Sailing Club on Pitsford Water.
Participating boats (if any participating skippers can help me fill in the missing name, I'd be grateful):
Luggers Pelican, Fiddler's Green, Muckle Flugga
Coasters Daisy II, Bundy Bear, Windsong
Longboats Serendipity, Harry Cockburn (both 'Sailability' boats)
Peterboat Helena
Dabber Dreamer
Jolly Boat Sally Gee
Deben Lugger ?
Weather "grey" and increasingly wet as the day went on.  Winds northerly, F3 gusting F4.

After launching and lunching, "Robbie's race" (white track, above) was the main event of the afternoon.  The race is in memory of Robbie Henderson, a Drascomber of old; the trophy created by Churchouse Boats.  The idea is to race to Holcot, the far end of Pitsford Lake, round a buoy and then sail back.  The race has been run for a number of years, although this is the first time that Daisy II has participated.
Unfortunately, I don't seem to have the hang of this racing lark.  While I rigged the jib and raised the main, most of the field had made it to the first bend.  I was pleased to have caught up a Dabber and Lugger prior to turning at Holcot.
Pictures of Daisy II bringing up the rear during Robbie's Race
Winds enabled a pleasant reach there and back.  By the end of the race, I'd gone past another couple of luggers and an under-powered longboat, but  having failed to cross the finishing line, I was thankfully disqualified!  The race was won by a coaster, and we seemed generally to perform quite well.  Having never been in a race before, this was an interesting experience, but not one I'm anxious to repeat in a hurry.
Robbie's Race in action: everyone else was on their way back!
An interesting side of sailing at Pitsford is that engines are not permitted (except in an emergency).  So, I left mine at home - although most of the fleet still brought theirs in expectation of their emergency.  Sailing without 30kg of motor on the stern is liberating and I managed a top speed of 5.9kts, and was consistently above 5kts.

The other highlight of this event was the bid for freedom made by lugger Fiddler's Green which slipped its mooring whilst its skipper and crew were in the clubhouse.  Fortunately, lugger Pelican was on hand to save the day.
Crewless (clueless?!) Fiddler's Green being rescued by Pelican
After Robbie's race, and a mid-afternoon cuppa, the trophy was presented by Robbie's widow and the rain fell with more menace.  A brief lull gave a later window of opportunity for a further sail, so Daisy II stretched her legs with coaster Bundy Bear (red track above).  Later that evening, a clubhouse meal was enjoyed by all participants, whilst the rain in torrents flowed.

Rain continued most of the night and Thursday morning began with stronger winds; in particular, a squall at around 4.30am as Fiddler's Green made further trouble with a flogging mainsail.  Eventually, I had to go and sort it out but, once awake, was in no position to return to the bunk.
Breakfast in the clubhouse began official proceedings, followed by a 9.30am briefing and a boat jumble, where I picked up a pair of old 'waterproof' trousers, which may come in handy.  I changed the winch strap on the trailer, having noticed the old one had begun to fray and did a temporary repair job on the tiller extension which had, once again, parted from the tiller.  We also had an opportunity to introduce our boats, history, modifications to fellow ralliers.
Comparing boats
A particular favourite of mine was a wooden 5m Peterboat Helena which, regretfully, I didn't manage to photograph properly.  The skipper, Stephen Coulter, had spent the previous winter restoring it - and a brilliant job he made of it.  Superbly finished - a real labour of love.  If only I had the skill and patience!
Skippers and crew admiring a  newly restored 5m wooden Peterboat
For this morning's sail (green track, above), I had company, for once, in Daisy II as Jeff Kerr, skipper of lugger Pelican wanted to try out a coaster.  As it happens, the skipper of Windsong was on shore to capture a short piece of video as we set sail.
Jeff helmed all the way to Holcot and worked on various manoeuvres, tacks and jibes, to see how a coaster reacts.  Winds had changed to a north westerly and were more variable in force than yesterday, with some F5 gusts.  However, we had all three sails up, unreefed and I think Jeff was impressed with the sail and might upgrade to a coaster in due course.
Daisy II in action on second day.
After the morning's sail, it was time to pack up and return to base.  Fortunately, the slipway at Pitsford is extremely easy to use, a gentle gradient with adjacent jetty, and plenty of laying up areas.

All in all, this was a very pleasant rally.  Good sailing, pleasant company and various ideas taken on board regarding future potential modifications.
Pontoon moorings, courtesy of Northampton Sailing Club, Pitsford Water

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