I awoke at 7 a.m, my phone alarm chime, in contrast to the ferry’s slightly disturbing choice of music, soothed me from my REM and with brain re-booted I powered up the Macbook to finish my day 2 report. The previous evenings social had left me exhausted, though consumption on an industrial level of potatoes was also a contributing factor.
I donned my sailing gear, keeping my trainers leashed and strapped to my back pack, the wretched smell even made me question my personal foot hygiene as I flip flopped to the club. The wind disturbance on the nearby lake inferred it was from an easterly direction, just as it had been for the past 3 days despite the forecast insisting it would come from the west. The sunshine had returned and with it, a nice warm feeling.
The dinghy park was a hive of activity, the race team already on the water as competitors made final preparations to launch, tallies signed and water bottles filled. The Committee boat sat far out to sea, a good 30 minutes from shore and the fleet streamed out, the silver and gold sails resembling bunting on an invisible string. I boarded the media rib and we made our way out to the race area, significantly faster than those under sail, despite the weight of my picnic adding to the already heavy ballast.
Wind strength around 7 knots and a gentle sea state.
Jack Lewis is commanding the committee end and sits for 2 minutes in the richest area of real estate, defending his drop of water as Solos try and fail to squat there. Further down the line, Brown, Van Horey and, closest to the pin sits McGregor who nails it…shame it is recalled.
The fleet finally do it right but not without blood being spilled, Chris Brown and Roel Bakker falling foul to the black flag.
There is an even split across the fleet, the breeze fairly constant but with no real punch so keeping the Solo driving is the key. At the top it is Gillard, not the first time he has been first to the windward mark from Willie Todd who has had a blinder from Mark Lee and Alex Butler with Armstrong and Nigel Davies in pursuit.
The run down to the gate is tense and tedious, Gillard still leads from Todd, Davies, Butler and Lee and they head back upwind with the fleet bearing down from all sides and the wind dropping to standard Dittisham S.C. conditions. Gilly is playing the left while Todd and Butler choose right. These decisions proved crucial as the PRO shortened the course to finish at the windward mark in order to complete the race around the prescribed 45-50 mins. A very chuffed Todd finds the perfect lay line to take the win ahead of Butler and Gillard with Davies and Lee completing the top five.
A good spread across the line indicated a fair and true angle but it still took 3 starts to get race 5 underway under the black flag, initially Innes Armstrong and Chris Bunn were ejected from the building before Nigel Davies joined them out on the street, unfortunately completing the race in good shape before finding out.
At the top it would be Ted Bakker who had owned the pin end from Hans Duets, Richard Instone, Tim Law and Alex Butler. Gillard was in sixth and interestingly Jack Lewis rounded inside the top ten having started once again from his house at the committee boat.
The fleet split across the course and keeping in clear air is the name of the game, Bakker still holding but with Gillard chasing him down. Duets and Law take the right hand gate while Butler leaves it until the last moment to choose. Unfortunately I am unable to follow the racing up the second beat, I had lost the will to live trying to take dramatic, exciting footage and so waited at the finish line for Muhammad to come to the mountain. The fleet compressed in the final 300 yards to the all-important final mark, Gillard looking over his shoulder every few seconds like an illegal street merchant avoiding the law, reacting instantly to his nearest rivals final roll of the dice.
So Gillard took his third bullet from Jack Lewis who has really got his head around Solo sailing. Third to finish was Jonathan Woodward with Butler and Simon Dobson completing the top five.
The social programme this evening was the President’s meal at the local Casino complex and was enjoyed by a good proportion of the fleet. The Salcombe lot had obviously exhausted all the Michelin star restaurants in Carnac as they were in good attendance.
Patrick Burns donned his Campbell tartan and also provided skirts for Dutch class President Roel Den Herder and Marc Dieben. To get him back they gifted him a pair of beautifully carved but ultimately lethal clogs. I was in my flip flops which in relation, provided the ultimate in grip.
The meal was a reflection of the 3 days racing thus far, a mixed bag of OK, good, bad and confusing, the highlight being the sweet which was equivalent to Day 2, Race 1.
Magic Marine, supporting the Solo class in the Netherlands provided some absolutely storming kit, most of which was won by the dutch contingent though Adrian Griffin and Ian-Firth-Ingram held up the UK fleets pride.
Tomorrow is going to be tough as the light winds forecast are set to reduce as the hours tick by so it will be a 10 a.m. start and there will be sore heads.
Tom Gillard holds a good lead over Alex Butler with Tim Law (1st Grand Master), Jack Lewis (1st Junior) and Vincent Van Horey (1st Veteran) completing the top five.
Ted Bakker is first Dutchman in 7th
Justine Davenport is first Lady in 46th
Malcolm Buchanan could be first Septimus in 41st.