There is close racing and there is close racing, but this year’s Frensham Pond SC Ten-Hour race was close.
Setting the right course for a normal hour’s race on Frensham is rarely easy. Having one that works for ten, when the start point wind at 8am has not read the backing-all-day forecast is a serious crystal-ball gazer. After much consultation and debate, three different potential beats were factored into the ‘pass-the-line-off-the-club-lined-up-for-changeovers-requirement’, dots were joined to provide the downwinds and off they went.
Now this is supposed to be a laid-back, fun event. Never seems to work like that though. As the day went on the number of visitors to the race management computer grew exponentially, fingers, thumbs, phones and mental arithmetic to the fore (I’ll let you decide which generation or team applied which methodology). Not even the acoustic guitarist’s soothing melodies spreading across the pond in the final hours could dial-down the intensity or tension.
At the close, Solo team-blue (Bryan Taylor, John Brooker, John Haine) held off Solo team-yellow (Alan Dance, Jeff Dolton, Adrian Law, John Marriott) by five boat-lengths. That translates to about six-feet difference per hour, about the same rate Bryan was chewing his finger nails for the last 5 minutes, as John Haine successfully closed it out from a charging John Marriott.
Stefan Bennett’s RS200 team featuring Fiona and Gordon Taylor and family was a comfortable third on corrected time, with Stefan himself not only helming five of the 50 minute sessions, but also driving the safety boat during time out of the 200. Gordon may well have crewed then helmed even more, I lost count.
Next, not quite as close as the Solos were the two Laser teams. Their gap after the ten hours was perhaps 40 yards. But then again, these two were split on corrected time in the overall standings by the Lark team. You couldn’t make it up.
In the personal handicap stakes, clearly out-performing all the old-lags, were two teams that had only just graduated at FPSC with their RYA level 2 badges. Their boats too seemed joined by elastic, with the lead on the water switching more than you will see in 50 years of Americas Cup racing. Ultimately the Golds went to team-GP14 over team-Bahia, although your correspondent handing gold, not silver, medals for the Commodore to present to the latter seemed to go down well with them. Until they had to give them back.
However, the highlight of the prize-giving was possibly the ‘surreal moment’ award. With light breezes all day, there were few opportunities during racing to stake a claim for this one. However, the changeovers, on a lee shore were another matter. So was it the Level 2 teams providing the entertainment? Er, no, they were exemplary. But Solo team-yellow, runners up, seemed to make a total hash of nigh-on every swap. Hence, a roll of plastic tape was awarded to owner Alan Dance to help patch up his boat. Sorry Alan, if it’s not enough tape, I only had that one roll with me.
The evening closed out with a marvellous BBQ, just to ensure the hard-working kitchen team had a longer day than the sailors, followed by the prize-giving for the past winter season. The Commodore thanked all the myriad helpers and we all look forward to next year’s event, when once again we can have a great day while raising money for charity.