The 'Big Citrus' in action with the Cotentin coast not far away now..New crew Pierrick with Dave and Rima aboard Saskia VIIFinal adjustments before the start in the petite radeThe dawn of a new season...

After what has seemed like a long winter, the beautiful weather meant it was suddenly time to go sailing again, combining racing and cruising in the best possible way, linking Weymouth and Cherbourg for what promises to be another step forwards in liaison between the clubs.

Sunday – The season’s first race took place in Portland harbour in glorious sunshine, with a new crew member, Pierrick, from Cherbourg trimming the kite on a downwind leg which restored honour aboard as we crept round the three boats in front to take the lead at Bowleaze and keep it all the way back to the finish. Good to see a number of boats out in both classes enjoying such wonderful conditions.

Monday - The forecast was for 15 knots from the north, but at 5am there was precious little wind, though it was a lovely morning. The aim was primarily just to cross the Channel, and if possible get the Big Citrus, my symmetric spinnaker, up to air it in the process, but it wasn’t till about 11 that the wind filled in enough to hoist, and then execute a rather laborious gybe (it’s not been out of the bag for a while), only to have to drop it again as the wind died. Exiting the east-bound shipping the wind picked up a bit at lunchtime, so I waited till I had passed in front of one big ship and behind three smaller ones before launching again. This time was from the cockpit, which is much easier, as long as the sail doesn’t go in the water - mistakes with spinnakers on your own lead to much bad language.

A glorious afternoon’s sailing on starboard gybe towards the Contentin coast was the reward for having to wait so long to do this year’s first crossing – it seems quite late in the year already.

Tuesday - Cherbourg have been racing since the beginning of April, and I was keen to get back on board the Sigma to see how the project was progressing, and Tuesday night’s race showed just how well Thierry has set the boat up – even with the old sails we still managed to show the resident Sigma the way round the course, and finished second both over the line and on corrected time – by 40/100ths of a second! A very light NW breeze with a strong flood current meant the options were critical and our simple solution of a long tack across to the breakwater and then along it to the windward mark was clearly the right one. A quick spinnaker reach back with the current meant that everyone finished in good time, and it was good to be able to catch up with everyone in the bar afterwards.

Thursday - racing with CNC in Bernard's Jeanneau 22, we did more or less the same thing only in even lighter conditions to win the slow class, though in our attempts to get close to the breakwater we were nearly aground - Benoit said 'I can see things under the water', the things being rocks!

That makes three races in different boats at three clubs - not bad for a start to the new season. It's clearly time to push the boat out again - as it were..

Steve Fraser
‘Aliya’

Submitted on 12th April 2017