That’s what I did last night. In fact its possibly an insult to dogs.
So back at the Wednesday sailing at South Shields with my nameless Laser. Since my boat had arrived a few weeks ago I have sailed every one of these and did a couple before I sold the Vareo at the beginning of the season. But I had a goal. A mission. I was going to both START and FINISH a race. So far I have not managed that one with the Laser at least, so I felt this would be a great achievement. It was light winds – lighter than forecast, so in a fit of over ambition I popped the full rig on rather than my pretty Radial.
Sallying forth off the shore I got myself settled at the front of the deck and faffed on with setting things nice and lose for the light wind. Brilliant – I was making good progress up into the bay, and nearly looked like I knew what I was doing.
Then a giant jellyfish swam past.
I thought it looked quite pretty.
Up to the start line and with a bit of sailing around the flag for the laser class went up. I was very impressed that I had identified this and actually had my watch started at nearly the right time. There were lots of other boats. And other Lasers. In fact as I looked around there were many others (in Geordie that means 4 or above – a couple = 2, a few = 3, many = 4 +, millions = 10 and above). the start line had a bias and as we got down to the last 20 seconds I was right in the thick of it. How the hell did that happen. And I have a boat on each side and a boom in my face and I’m trying to keep in between the two boats without hitting anyone and I really wanted to close my eyes as the start horn went and … I sailed straight into the committee boat.
I had been so busy worrying about the sailing boats I really hadn’t seen that coming.
Well I pulled off with as much dignity as I could manage and sailed off up the course – there was a little wind and as it came over the course I did my penalty turns to ensure that I had shown the proper contrition.
I wasn’t last to the Winward mark – SCORE!
It was a run down to the Channel marker now and off I went – board up, sail filled I was thinking I could turn this around.
The wind came up. From nowhere. I know this as the boat lurched up onto the plane and I watched the boats ahead of me hit the mark. It was a gybe point. It wasn’t looking very pretty. Ok – I needed a plan. First thing, I needed to look at the light wind setup on my boat. Crap. I have no XD kit and pretty much might as well forget that. Now I need to think about gybing at the mark. The boat in front of me capsizes trying that. OK – I’m tacking – my tiny confidence now totally gone.
It’s a bit messy, but I got the boat round, managed a little on the outhaul and kicker and headed up to the next mark. By this time I have also realised that one of the first things I should have spent time on with the boat is setting up the toestraps. Hiking is an interesting experience without anything that you can hook into. And I can’t stop thinking about the formerly attractive jellyfish.
I am sailing like a total idiot. Jumping all over the place because I am scared of the jellyfish, don’t trust my toestraps as they are hanging limply out of the other side of the boat and am still trying to get any extra kicker on. It turns out I am now sailing tight to the mark at the end of the start line to get down to the Groin. It’s tight but I make the mark… and capsize on it.
I am now in the water with a jellyfish that is going to eat me. I have never righted a boat so fast in my life. If there are jellyfish then there are probably other things that could eat me too. Like Sharks. Or Seals. Or Lobsters.
Fortunately the patrol boat have seen all of this and come over to shout some friendly encouragement. Like ‘why are you going round that mark?’. Turns out I was going round this mark for no good reason.
There were another two laps to go and I manfully got my arse round them – on the last lap the Groin even put on it’s pretty red light to encourage me. By this time the patrol boat was also offering occasional shouts of encouragement. I think they thought I was a little inept. No idea why.
I finished. Last out of all the Lasers. If nothing else I am consistent….
I had a lovely time – but I couldn’t help but feel I was on the walk of shame as I pulled my boat back up the beach.
But I had achieved! I had started and finished a race! I had capsized the boat for the first time and got it straight back up! I had met some new people on the committee boat!
And ONE DAY those people will see me NOT BE LAST.
I have just horrified myself even more by trying to find a photo of the evil jellyfish on the internet for this post.
This has confirmed that not only is this a very dangerous jellyfish but also that it can grow up to 40 METERS (Lions Mane – the info is here). And it normally swims with friends. I’m never going in the water again.
Giant well done to Tynemouth Sailing club who race with us on a Wednesday on their Sport England grant! Hope you are going to spend some of it on jellyfish proofing the sailing area.
Remember to help me come up with a name for my boat and I’ll knit you something. Probably not a jumper.
Well, I call my boat “Ooh La La” so you can’t poach that name. How about “Femme Fatale”? Sounds about right. If I win you can knit me a nice wooly hat in an appropriately lurid electric neon colour! Sheep nowadays do come in lurid colours don’t they?