An excellent notion - a regatta to celebrate eighty years since the first strivings of the Royal Corinthian One Design Class - what could possibly go wrong? Of the surviving sixteen yachts, eleven were now in racing condition - the largest number for at least a quarter century.
Regrettably, the weather goblins seem to have a gloomy view of RCYC regatta weekends and the first day began with a two hour postponement in the expectation that the mighty brisk wind might moderate - but at least there was time for lunch!
The anemometer duly fell a knot or two and Edwin Buckley, Race Maestro Extraordinary, announced, "Right, we're off for a sail " - at which point the needle went up to 40 knots, while the sacrificial lambs (or those of them with the least sense) trooped out to do the master's bidding. One very wet and lumpy race ensued, with all the yachts firmly reefed down and only the foolhardy - ie, everyone - using spinnakers at appropriate or inappropriate moments.
The best part of the day was undoubtedly Ant and Sue Law's drinks party later in the afternoon - an occasion that would have been entitled 'Resuscitation Training' in my time in the NHS.
The second day was much better - perfect sailing weather and three windward-leeward courses to race during a busy programme. Corpo Santo kept up the noble RCOD tradition of going the wrong way in race 2, and Coriander had to do her best whirligig impression twice during the afternoon following an unexpected encounter with one of the leeward marks while keeping a really close eye on the other one, and an equally embarrassing nudge on Coram while engaged in an intellectual discussion and exchange of views on tactics with Corpo during the following race.
After the final contest of the day, a ceremonial sail-past to salute the commodore was scheduled. Splendid idea!
During the beat back from the Roach, the fleet was marshalled into line astern in sail order number. Very fine. All was going terrifically well and the leading yachts had already exchanged salutations with Madam Commodore on her barge of state. Unfortunately, as the tail enders passed the Rice and Cole pontoon, a sudden severe gust hit Cormorant, and she heeled very gracefully, filled and sank! - only to deck level as her built-in buoyancy worked fine.
The crew kept up that other great sailing tradition of going down with the ship - but fortunately not very far, as they were rapidly salvaged by the escorting RIB. The Cormorant Hulk, as we must now call her, was taken in tow to the Corinthian pontoon - duly receiving the Commodore's approbation as she passed - and was no worse after a pumping out (the boat, not the crew). The black tie dinner in the evening no doubt made everything better.
Day 3 was again distinctly on the brisk side and a course through the town followed by a couple of triangles in the mouth of the (very rough) Roach was quite enough for everyone - particularly poor old Corpo who had to retire with a broken backstay fitting.
Back to the club for tea and medals, the overall winners being Sue Law and her crew in the newly-restored Coralie. 'Splendid sport' indeed - but there has been a suggestion that Sue should have that great big, heavy wooden shield tacked on the front of Coralie for the coming year - just as a wee handicap...