Up River Winter Series – the Final

Well it was all to play for today, one point in it between Penny and I to be crowned Queen/King of the river. I know which one I want.

The morning started grey and wet, but the strong winds were fitful due to the direction over the wooded south bank. The race started just as strange. Matt made the mistake of going for a practice beat and I forgot I had snapped the rope holding the kicker block in the previous race. I noticed as I launched and had to return to the bank to make a quick fix.  Launching with 30 seconds to go and I got caught below a Comet Zero sailed by; you guessed it, Penny’s Mum. Not fixed to take me out I am assured. So as the gun went, Penny started, I was begging Pat to tack so we could cross the line and Matt was still sailing back down the river.

At the first mark it was Penny, me, another comet, then the recovering Matt. The run/reach/fetch down the river was in force 1-4 winds depending where you were. I closed right up on Penny and may have just got my nose in front before the river opened out and we were in the proper force 4. Penny pulled away and Matt sailed though. Getting a familiar experience that.  

At the turning mark down river it was Penny by 100 yards from Matt with me right behind and we had a proper beat, hurrah. Simon pulled through Matt who was having new mainsheet issues and closed uo on Penny again. As we turned to head back up river the die was rolled. Penny went high to the south bank, I went low the North bank to stay in the breeze. It was one of those, fat boy benefit close reaches that I did in a shower of spray that made my eyes sting and makes you realize why you go out on windy days. Penny, not having eaten enough pies struggled. When we reentered the trees and it calmed down I had sailed though Penny and Matt who had missed it all was left behind. I lead Penny all the way back up river, passed the club, no gun, up to the turning mark to go back down river. Held the lead to the line, no gun, then Penny came back through to sail over the top to be on the inside into the final mark. Now it was time for tactics. Rather than round wide on the outside, I slowed down, luffed up and rounded on her transom. This meant she could not tack and clear me, so I chose the time to tack which allowed me to lead back up and across the line to win by 3 seconds. Few, close racing.

Once ashore the results were in and we found the bloody Heron had got us all on handicap! So 2nd and 3rd for us with Matt 5th. That meant Penny and I were all square going into the last race, but she had more firsts so all I had to do was win and hope Penny could manage only 3rd or worse. Matt needed 3rd or better to take 3rd overall.

Final race and what I forgot was there is only one Queen of the River and that is Penny. In light breeze Penny nailed the start in the only patch of wind on the start line and took the lead. Matt and I got stuck in the light bit and then found a Comet in the way. As the trees thinned and the true wind filled in, first Simon then Matt got passed the Comet and began the pursuit of Penny. With another of those amazing reaches both of us closed right up on Penny and followed her round the first mark and back down the river.  With more flat out reaching I managed to plane up behind Penny, singing “who ate all the Pies”, get an overlapped to round ahead. But not for long, with superior speed up the river Penny again went through! We turned once again to go back down river and once again I caught back up to be on Penny’s transom, when the Heron, who was a lap behind and obviously in Penny’s pay let her round the mark and called water on me. Now if the rounding had been good it wouldn’t have been too bad but it was terrible, wide and slow and Penny was gone. It even let Matt get on the high side of me and he sailed through before the final mark. All that was left was the final run back down river to the line but as we  passed the dreaded trees Penny did get becalmed for a bit and Matt got right on her transom before the wind came back for Penny to lead a Lightning 1,2 3 on the water and handicap.

So Penny is Queen of the river (was there ever any doubt?) with Simon and Matt as the bridesmaids. Nice series with a Lightning top three and some cracking racing. Bring on the Warm Up series in January. Everyone welcome, so come on down if you want some action. If you can’t handle the pressure see you in April when we are still race tuned…