Boxing Day Race

Weymouth Sailing Club’s annual Boxing Day race went out with a bang, which did not match the weather that ended up as a damp squib.

The forecast had predicted 40-knot gusts for Boxing Day and there was concern that the race might be cancelled. As it was, the wind gods obviously over-indulged on Christmas day and were late getting up.

However, the forecast had deterred the club’s one-design fleet, the national Squib, so the IRC fleet had the water to themselves.

An excellent turnout of eighteen keelboats lined up on the start line in the middle of the bay for an upwind start. Race officer for the day was commodore Euan McNair on the club’s committee boat Viking III.

With the wind blowing out of the river, the fleet headed toward the Stone Pier before heading off downwind towards Bowleaze to find the appropriately named mark B.

Unfortunately, mark B (a large orange bouy anchored via chain and rope) had been blown away sometime during the previous few days’ storms, so the fleet relied on GPS coordinates and honesty to round the imaginary mark.

With the wind dying off, crews feverously changed to bigger sails to catch what breeze was left, which made the passage up the River Wey on a falling tide even more challenging.

Although the weather had contrived to deter spectators from lining the banks to watch the finish as in previous years, those that braved the elements were rewarded with the spectacle of boats hugging the sides of the river to get the wind lifts and eventually hear the all-important bang from the finishing gun.

All of the odds were on Richard Woof’s Jo 90 to win, Richard having won pretty much every race this season.

However, against the odds, with a small headsail, former commodore and Fastnet race class winner Kathy Claydon triumphed on her boat Arcsine with a scratch crew who came together just for Boxing Day.

Jo 90 was second and Outrageuous, although in third place, walked off with the fancy dress prize. Their Caribbean theme, that included palm trees, added colour to an otherwise grey day.

As it was an all-in start, boats of both IRC 3 and IRC 4 classes were racing together. First in the IRC 4 class was Al Doughty’s Pepper, whilst Steve Dadd’s Rumrunner was second. Just two seconds behind were the Jury/Hopford partnership on Scoline.

Most of the boats will now be lifted out for the winter to weather out the storms and be prepared for another season’s sailing in the Olympic waters of Weymouth Bay.

Submitted on Wednesday, 3rd January