A cold , overcast day did not deter 7 boats from shaking off the memory of winter and starting a new sailing season.  It followed the annual dinner/dance the previous evening from which many of the sailors were both well fed and well exercised.

The wind was W to SW, F2, and as ever variable in both strength and direction. It seemed reasonably constant outside the Club as we launched so Ian Nethersell in the safety boat set a long sausage  A-course with a downstream buoy at the City Barge.  The upstream mark was about 50m upstream of the Bell and Crown start line.

The fleet was 3 Enterprises (James Armitage and Lev Kolobov single-handed in Zephyr and Porpoise, and Dave Berger (helm) and Mary Brown in Big Polly); 3 Lasers (Ben Chappell, Rob Adams and Keith Clarke); and Tim Young in his Wanderer, Ait Knots.

The whole fleet moved off in unison with a following wind against the tide.  It took about 10 minutes for the leading single-handed Ents to make it to the downstream buoy, and another 8 minutes for the rest to follow.  The wind was much more variable at that end of the course and the flood tide was unrelenting.  James and Lev were inseparable on the return upstream and passed the start line seconds apart (at just over 15 minutes for the lap) as they sped down stream to catch up with the Lasers.  Big Polly was third, about 8 minutes behind the leaders. 

It was unquestionably a day for the extra sail-power and momentum of the Ents.  On the second lap James had put 4 minutes between him and Lev, who diminished the gap to 20 seconds at the third lap and finished less than a minute behind, by which time they had overtaken everyone else.  Big Polly finished her third lap just after Lev finished his fourth.

The following Lasers and Tim all finished three laps after swapping places several times.  There was a lot of close-order sailing with, at the end,  Rob, then Ben, then Tim and finally Keith.  And in keeping with tradition, the First Race Cup returns to James.

There was much heaving and shuffling getting the boats back into the yard, which served to warm-up cold fingers and limbs.  And fresh from her triumph of organising the Dance on Saturday night, Marian was there with a steaming pot of the most delicious and welcome spicy, fruity, rummy punch.  It was a revival of a tradition started years ago by Paul Williamson.  And tea and biscuits were there as well. 

So the 2023 season has started and promises well for the future.  Next week is another A-course, starting at 16:15.