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Christmas Punch Bowl

Festive Handicap Race.

Sunday 16th December 2001

Wind NE Course 2p 6s 5s. Start 13:15.

A grey day, with a nice force 3 coming from an unusual angle. We were sailing for the Christmas Punch Bowl trophy and 10 boats had turned up to try for it. Liz Cratchley set a 2p 6s 5s course, so we had an upwind start.

Martin & I in Blewtak
Martin and I had rigged the Guardian club boat when John Simnett offered us Blewtak, my old boat, restored to a new and hitherto un-leaking and therefore much lighter state. The offer was irresistible and after giving the buoyancy bags a quick puff we were off. It was great to be back steering by those baggy sails (no Cunningham) and wondering if the old rig would hold once again.

Martin got us off to a good start and soon we were zigzagging toward 2. Still, a few Corinthians were ahead of us before we tacked around the first mark. Right, "let's bail", came the familiar chore downwind, but I only swept a few scoop-fulls overboard before she was dry! A good wind with the tide blew us down to 6 with Bill Simpson and Hugh Kemlo well head, we pointed well high of 5 to make the mark with the tide sweeping toward Chiswick Pier, gybed round 5 followed by some gruelling tacking up to the Lion steps before crossing over and tic-tacking toward 2, where Steve and Robin looked as if they were having a close get-together. Soon Steve was gyrating in penance for clattering into Robin; Paul came zooming on starboard from the bank to join the affray but the tide was quicker and he "hit the mark" as we cheerfully informed him, sweeping past.

Another lap completed, again hardly any baling to do and a good thing too as wind over tide got us to 6 in no time at all. Between 6 and 5 we finally caught Steve in one of those exclusive gust that leaves the other boat wondering where the engine is kept. We affirmed our new position, as a surprise puff at exactly the wrong moment pushed Steve the wrong side of the mark, flapping slightly. We look in vain for the next competitor until we find him, sail down, heading for the pontoon. 'Wonder what has broker, oh dear, what a shame...'

Una, Paul & Robin

Robin is now our next target and we zig and zag (I notice the RS steaming down to 6 with the spinney up), hanging out more and more and finally gain, but will it be enough? The gun slams and Hugh takes the trophy, Robin goes across and is 2nd boat over the line while we stay on our short tacks to try to beat him on the handicap, hoping to get there by sheer effort: un-cleat, roll, step across, cleat, pull in, pause, jump on the side and strreeeaatch the weight out for the gust, then ready about and repeat. My stomach fat is, if not exactly melting, then warming up slightly, while bruises on my shin are accumulating and we are headed and headed on every tack toward the line, right until the gun goes. After the calculations we beat robin by 20 Seconds and get 2nd place.
Vian Dixon

Photos: Jo Burleigh

Always best to come second in this event, as it is a big bowl to fill up and feet the hordes in the bar with cider and brandy!

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 18 Dec 2001