Saturday morning required an early start for the Corinthian Race team, who were organising The Battle of the Classes pursuit race and the Bart's Bash race - both of which were to be held in the busy Southampton Waters.
On arrival at the show we were guided to our car parking space then to the British Marine Federation office for our meeting with the show organisers and the media to run through our Sunday time table and check lists. Hours later we escaped in the knowledge that our Sunsail committee boat had broken down and there was still no wind. Were we in for another disappointment with no wind as in 2013?
Sunday morning was a bright day with a good 15kt breeze. First stop the Southampton Water Activity Centre, whom we partner for the racing - they supply the boat parking, launching facilities and all the water side rescue and information. A great team headed this year by Jon Kirby.
The day was underway, the Corinthian team was all ready to start and the competitors were arriving and registering with Mary, Annie, Gerry and Mandy.
When the competitors had all arrived I then started the briefing (but still no committee boat on the pontoon). The briefing went well as I had split into parts - one for each race. There were not too many questions - but none about the starting times. Jon followed my briefing with his safety briefing. The replacement committee boat had thankfully arrived and we were now ready to get afloat and confirm and measure our course. Sadly, following a brief discussion with the committee boat skipper, one of our team has to be left behind as it was only coded for eight. We departed SWAC and got underway whilst confirming with VTS Harbour Watch Leader we were safe to proceed with our planned racing in the area given and how much time we were allowed to run the two races - so no pressure.
After last year's no wind it was good to have a good breeze across the course. Our start time was 13:00 and the Mirror of Nigel Thomas led the fleet off at 13:00 followed by the SWAC RS Feva of Sienna Adderley and Luke Doble eleven minutes later. Starts became a bit busier around the 20 minutes with a quick succession of 2000s, Albacores, 12s and Scorpions.
One of the more eagerly awaited battles was due to start at 13:24 with the D-Zero, RS Aero and Halo, but they were so keen to get away they hit the line a minute too early, quickly realising their mistake and returning for their allotted time slot. Even then a port starboard between D-Zero designer Dan Holman and RS Aero Class Manager Peter Barton showed how fired up these two were. Dan managed to pull away at the first mark, but forgetting to leave the channel markers to starboard let Peter back into the race who led this little battle for the best part an hour.
Up front the Mirror put on a good fight for over an hour, but as the finish time approached was quickly over taken by the faster boats, with the National 12 of John and Ollie Meadowcroft taking the lead for some time and even managing to keep the much faster RS300 of Steve Bolland at bay for several minutes.
But starting last and some 52 minutes after the first Mirror and with just over half an hour remaining in the 90 minute race, the foiling Moth of Tom Offer literally flew through the fleet. With twelve minutes to go the Moth was still one lap down of the front of the race, but being tracked at nearly 16 kts around twice the speed of the rest was able to eat away the miles and win the race from the RS300.
An interesting finishing situation as our committee boat and RIBS are restricted to six knots, so it was difficult to judge where the Moth was going to be at 90 minutes. As he approached the leeward mark we made our decision - he flew through the line with seconds to spare, we turned the committee boat and supporting RIB around and sailed back through the fleet finishing all the remaining boats.
The pressure was on now - the media boats for Bart's Bash Race were circling us - were we going to start on time? We were due to start at 15:00 and the media boats did not help our situation, but we made it and the line was laid as we went into the warning signal. Media boats were now busy filming and getting in competitors' way but we carried on with the start and great, the race had started.
It all goes very quiet on the committee boat when they had all gone, but no time to waste - the course was only 1.4 miles long so those fast boats would soon be back, and they were, again and again. A great deal of concentration is required by our recorders to get sail numbers and times down with a competitive fleet. The previous winner had forgotten to take course two so he was out of the running to win the RS Tera but enjoyed blasting up and down.
The thirty minute race was soon over with the finishing times logged for all the boats, time to calculate the winner. Back into the show to find some quiet space to work out results.
Results checked, rechecked and printed, we are all weary but ready to go to the SWAC stand at the show for Presentation of Battle of the Classes and the Bart’s Bash Race prize of the RS Tera for the winners club.
My thanks to the RCYC team, without their help none of this would be possible, Mary and Martin Makey, Annie Reid, Gerry and Ian Gray, Richard Neville, Kim Allen, Mandy and Mark Wade, Catherine and Mike Massey, Roger Mant and Pat Buckley.
Another great day for the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club - we made sailing history.