26th May 2019 - Early Summer Points. That's the way to cure flu, sail anyway. However I'm not sure I can recommend it - it leaves you drained.

Race 1. In my delicate state, there was more wind than I hoped for at around a force 4 from the SW. The course was conservative, downwind only as far as 25, beat south to 26, run back to 25, and then back to the club via 28 which meant a beat back along Gillingham Reach against the falling tide, and a good blast back to the line.

No Chris Sanders as he was doing a duty but then Stuart Bailey turned up in the National Champion's boat. Oh dear, it was not turning out to be the gentle ride I was hoping for. There were 5 Blazes in total.

An easy start, reach along the line and bear away on the gun. I don't understand where the others were but predictably Stuart Bailey did the same thing (he is a multiple Buzz National Champion). He soon planed through my lee and led to the first mark (29).

I was right on his tail all the way down Gillingham Reach but I couldn't catch him, but a round-up onto a beat was coming at 25. Manoeuvres are always the potential to lose distance.  I decided he'll try and round close so I can't get to windward of him so I thought I'll round fast and wide in the hope I can get through his lee.

Surprisingly he rounded-up and stopped head-to-wind. I tacked to get to Folly for less tide and looked back to see him stationary. I thought he'd broken something.

That was the finish of the race really and all I had to do was sail fast and safe, not taking any risks such as going too far into the shallows and being careful at the gybes. The blast back to the club from 28 was fast at times, fast enough to overtake some cruisers under power. One nearly sunk me when he rounded up to drop his mainsail - right in my path. Should we fit our boats with bicycle bells? No, not a complaint, just a good job I wasn't a powerboat. Perhaps they should fit mirrors!

Race 2. Perhaps even more wind at about 15mph. Nothing for a Blaze, in fact perfect for a Blaze but not for me as I was feeling feeble. So knackered I had to ask for some help getting the boat up the beach after the first race. Just no strength or stamina.

I had already set my rig for heavy weather. Normally about 18mph and whistling in rigging would be the time to do that but I was looking for an easy ride this weekend. The trouble with the heavy weather settings is not quite the bite in the rig to climb high when needed and not quite the power for planing to windward. On the other hand, gusts are easier to parry.

The tide was now flooding, but only just so the same start technique worked well and guess who was just below me? This time I committed more to getting right out on the rack. A slightly riskier move as the reach to 29 is full of holes due to blocks of flats. I managed to keep Stuart behind me to the first mark (29) and there were more waves to plane and surf on the leg down Gillingham Reach. Some of those surf's let me plane off to leeward so that I could avoid a double gybe to get deep enough for 25.

By the way we'd changed the course by deleting 26 and putting in 28 instead. So a slightly longer course but we did have a little tide under us on the beat. I tacked for Folly Point which I reasoned would put the tide under my bow on port and the bend in the river would then put the tide under my bow when I came back on starboard.

I had to put a couple of tacks in at Folly to get around properly into Gillingham Reach. It seemed the obvious way to go. It wasn't, looking over my shoulder I saw 2 Blazes coming up the opposite shore, John Goudie and Stuart Bailey. I crossed the river to meet them both crossed in front. I tacked just after I crossed Stuart's stern but was surprised to see he wasn't laying and nor would I. I drove deep and tried to plane but really hardly made an impression. We both tacked onto starboard to get up to the mark but a moored cruiser meant I had to call for space to tack. Stuart obliged but seemed to stop. I felt sure he had room to get around the mark but something happened and I rounded ahead. As I bore away there in front of me was John Goudie, swimming. I guess he'd borne away a little too much and rolled in to windward, that was a little warning for me and I kept a bit high. In fact, I nearly ran over his hat!

That was me back in the lead, so time to be a bit conservative. I had a decent lead so although not that windy I went as far as I could to the left of the rhumb line to 25 and then wore around rather than gybe to come into 25 slightly higher than dead downwind and on the right gybe to simply round up for the beat back to 28. This time, of course, I kept to the left on the beat. Not far behind was David Thornelow, really beating to windward very well, that's good to see. He's had the boat about a year and it's all coming together.

Other Blazes out today we're John Tinnams who didn't figure today but normally is fast downwind. I've mentioned John Goudie who led the second race up to 28 and Stuart Bailey. Both these guys do better in their native classes (Wayfarer and Buzz respectively) than I've ever done in any class so it's rather nice to finish the day ahead of them with 2 first places.

Many thanks to John Tinnams for coming down the beach to give me some help with the boat. I am so unfit after about 3 weeks off sailing with something akin to the flu.