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Budworth Sailing Club

"A crew with a view"

It was windy! A little worrying, as the event only takes place because of the generosity of the Snipe owners who kindly lend their boats every year to the ladies and junior teams from other fleets so that they can join in the fun. Five races in these conditions meant high risk of breakage, so the OD Mark Antonelli had a difficult job on his hands.

I have crewed Snipes many times but now crew mainly in a Fireball. For this event I was sailing with another fireball sailor Ali Cormack and we had been looking forward to the novelty of armchair comfort and no harnesses. No chance! We set out with some trepidation to have a practice sail and flew across the mere. We were just deciding rather too late whether to tack or gybe and in the moment of hesitation we were in the shallows and had to capsize to avoid damage instead! As we walked the boat back to deeper water the OD called out that we had made his decision to postpone very easy.

It was decided that we would have an early lunch and aim for 3 races in marginally kinder conditions. The juniors had fun playing ball and challenged the ladies to team plank racing to fill the time before lunch-there’s always some fun to be had! Sure enough there were slightly fewer white horses on the mere when we set off for the first race. Having already had the first capsize we were feeling much happier with our unfamiliar boat. One or two ladies had decided to watch and wait, but the testosterone fuelled juniors were all game to go and the racing was fun if hard work.

It was a struggle, boats were capsizing all over the course, even the heavier junior teams were spilling wind almost constantly to stay upright and often going swimming. There were one or two wonderful wild and fast reaches, the gusts were very frequent and seemed to last for hours. On one beat we survived, where some had blown over, but had both sails flapping so often we wondered if we were actually making forward progress. The rescue crews were very busy! Just before the start of the second race we capsized, as did the intrepid Pauline Penny crewed by Michelle Ditchburn and it was a question of ‘she who gets back in the boat first wins'.

There were so few ladies left for the final race we had our start with the juniors. On the last lap we were in third place approaching a gybe mark and watched both the leading junior boats capsize on the mark in a gust. In true ladies style and full of adrenaline we sailed past and reached the finish in first place; probably the best moment of a very good day.

I found out afterwards that the wind speeds were 20-28mph, the gusts ranged from 41-45mph and one gust hit 51mph! We had bruises, blisters, a bent burgee and a huge amount of fun. It was wet, exhilarating, exhausting and very satisfying, worth waiting for. Thanks Eric for trusting us with your boat.

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