First Try Results
As predicted, the gales did indeed arrive before brunch at the Club. Large breaking waves were foaming down Ganges Harbour at 11:30. The three surviving competitors, down from six, decided we should try for another day. So I guess Martin “on” Aero takes the honours for this blustery day. His account follows. – FCR Keith Simpson on Soul Thyme
Gale force winds forecast encouraged me to offer to help my intrepid skipper, Gyle Keating, bring Wildfire around to the Club for the Ground Hog Reverse Handicap Race, one of my favourites. At 8:30 am we were aboard with the wind whistling in the rigging and the boat charging at her lines ready to go. We changed down to the small jib then cast off and motored upwind to Scott Point, waving to Roger Kibble as he prepared Electra for the sail over.
Once at the point, we bore away and unfurled the jib and Wildfire came to life as we aimed for the Sisters and started our glorious sail to the Club. After the Sisters we bore away again onto a run and with the building wind and running surf we hit 7.5 knots, quite comfortable while enjoying a pleasant yarn. Closing in on the Club we rolled in the jib and were still making 4.5 knots under mast alone.
We rounded up at the dock and cruised by, not liking the wave action on the outside of the breakwater, while the engine struggled against the wind. Inside there was a spot so we dove into the relative shelter beside Ole Anderson’s Caliente. Roger, too, was having a great run into the harbour and with his big fenders deployed brought Electra into dock. Our Fleet Captain Keith Simpson was already preparing the racer’s breakfast and Gyle was bringing the bacon and eggs so we took the Neish water taxi to the Club landing and up to the Club.
One of my missions this year is to get out in strong winds in my One Metre every chance I get, so I was eyeing the building wind with much relish, but a touch of sadness, as I was committed to oversize boats this day. The wind was already hitting 30 knots in the blasts and Philippe, whose eye was on the barometer, predicted it would get stronger before it got less. Then four very enthusiastic Junior sailors who usually sail with Gyle showed up keen to go and I took my chance to beg off, hitched a ride back to Scott Point with Eric, got my car and went home for Aero, my trusty One Metre. It meant that I would miss breakfast and the big boat race but I was pumped by the white caps.
I quickly threw my radio on the charger while I loaded the boat in my truck and headed back to the club. As I came over the rise into Ganges I saw the wind had indeed increased and several jibs were attempting suicide in the harbour marinas, their roller furling no match for the wind. I caught a glimpse of Electra’s sails as I drove through town, flapping wildly in that warning kind of way, holy cow it was windy. When I got to the club there was no sight of Electra’s sails on the water and my heart missed a beat until I saw Electra now riding comfortably inside the breakwater.
I rigged Aero in her C rig in the lee of the truck and headed down to the landing. The land sheltered the area just in front of the Club so it was no problem to sail in that enclosed area but the great surfing was off the breakwater and after a few minutes chatting to the juniors and sailing easily in the shelter I took the ferry ride with Lawrie and sailed Aero into the full force of the wind.
What a ride and what great surfing! After this fun, and aware that I was keeping a soaking wet Lawrie on duty, I packed up and headed to the Seaplane dock where the full fetch of the waves made for some real exciting sailing. It was a little more wind than when I sailed there in December and John Cameron took the above picture of Aero, so you can imagine the fun. Anyway, as the only boat to cross the start line under sail I claim a moral victory on the race, but I am willing to share with Gyle and Roger, who also braved the waves. – Report by Martin Herbert, mentally aboard Aero