by Phil Riley
You can't keep a good crew, or a Bad Toad, down. So it is that the distinctive and well sailed quarter-tonner put another winning score on the door in the latest instalment of the Gaastra Friday Evening Racing series in Hamble, Hampshire, UK.
Bad Toad glides towards the Royal Southern Yacht Club finish line and takes another victory in the NHC class
In a steady, fresh racing breeze - a gentle introduction to a forecast gusty weekend - Bad Toad took her third win in the Royal Southern Yacht Club's short-course racing event.
Race officer Serena Alexander sent the mixed fleet of National Handicap for Cruiser (NHC) class yachts, along with a four-strong XOD turnout, around the shortest of the pre-planned courses available and took the opportunity to again finish off the Club in near-perfect sailing conditions.
Bad Toad took her victory by just over two minutes from the J80 Rioja, in turn two minutes ahead of another J80 Boysterous once the NHC's adjustable handicap corrections were applied. On the water, Boysterous narrowly took line honours on an evening which saw several close finishes.
'We had quite a good start, first off the line with pretty good pace,' said Rioja's Jonathan Allison. 'We were looking fairly evenly matched with Boysterous for speed and were able to pull away about half way down the first leg.
'We had a really good first spinnaker hoist and a deep run down to the second mark. Unfortunately we lost out to Boysterous on the beat up to the next mark - they had some pretty good speed there and on the long fetch back into the river.
'It was exciting to have spinnakers up back in to the river - and it was the first opportunity to finish on the Club line when I have been on the boat. It was good fun.'
And he added: 'It's a perfect way to start the weekend - you can get your sailing fix nice and early in the weekend. All the races we've been able to do the weather has just been spectacular. An evening format is great, it works really well for us.
Powered up, the XODs jostle for position at their start
It was close quarter work too in the XOD fleet, with the leading boats almost line abreast as they closed on the finish line off the Club.
'There were three boats that finished within two seconds of each other,' said Ed Fitzgerald, crewing for his father Mos aboard the victorious Kathleen. 'It was really good fun to finish here, it keeps it interesting.
'The great thing about having the races finish in the river is that it restarts the race. However well you think you're doing, however far you think you are ahead, it compresses the fleet when you get in the river.'
Kathleen edged Diana Wilson's Mischief at the finish, with David Oddie's Magic Dragon filling the last podium place.
Ed added: 'The breeze was steady, I would say high teens, not really gusty so perfect weather. It eased off towards the end, but nice flat water. A lovely way to start the weekend. A great little sail - the sun was out, the breeze was up.
'For me this was the first Friday night racing I've been able to do. If you can get down from work in time it's great to be able to do some sailing, even if you've got other stuff on over the weekend. It's good to be able to use the kit rather than leave it on the pontoon.'
Come along - anyone can go racing!
The Gaastra Friday Evening Series is open to everyone. There's no entry fee for members and it's only £10 for non-members. Those racing, their family and friends are all welcome in the Club Bar and can stay for supper in the River Room if they wish. It's a great way to kick-start your weekend!
The Royal Southern's Gaastra Friday Evening Series continues until July 12th.Visit website website