by Mike Harrison.
The day’s race started and we were in a reasonable position on the start line but the boat ahead was giving us some dirty wind so we decided to tack off onto port although most of the fleet were continuing on starboard to pick up the tide. One or two boats followed and we started being lifted on port quite nicely and it soon became clear that the port side of the course was more favourable. We put in a couple of tacks and found ourselves approaching the windward mark somewhat below it and with the owner John Ivory suggesting we should tack now otherwise we would be faced with a wall of starboard tackers at the mark. “No” said the skipper we just need a lucky shift. Almost on queue the wind did shift and lifted us nicely to the mark, arriving there in first place with the eventual Nationals winner Pizzicato not far behind.
We held the lead on the downwind leg, tacked for the windward mark on the layline but Pizzicato tacked early and was lifted to the windward mark just ahead of us. He went left, we went right and I asked the spider for a shift and again as if on queue it arrived and we arrived at the leeward mark in the lead again.
The last beat was a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Some of the boats went left, some went right: what to do? We went up the middle and arrived at the finishing mark with the top boats bearing down on us at speed. Fortunately we were on Starboard and they had to go behind. We tacked almost on the mark and got the gun for 1st place with the other boats only seconds behind us. What a great feeling to be 1st in a Nationals race. Unfortunately, in the afternoon we were back to our double figure result—I think someone must have trodden on the spider!
With thanks to the owner and cockpit man John Ivory, crews Catherine and David Fry and of course the spider!!