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Alton Water Frostbite Series Sponsored by Anglian Water & Fox's Chandlery Day 5

by Archie Hainsworth 4 Feb 10:44 PST 4 February 2024
Alton Water Frostbite Series © Archie Hainsworth

Today, has arguably been one of our most exciting days so far this year (and certainly for me has left me feeling fairly drained!)

The Forecast was always going to promise some hairy(er) action, and whilst many were sceptical to its accuracy at the start of the day, it certainly filled in as the day went on. It was nice to see a good number of competitors on the slipway raring to go.

We began the day with a shake up for our sailors, with an outer-loop trapezoid winning favour with the south westerly wind direction. Whilst the wind is pleasant coming from this direction this course allowed us to make the most out of the possible exciting upwind sailing given the geography of the Res. The sailors were excited by the out-loops first appearance within this series so far, and all ears paying attention through the briefing (errr more on that later).

All our starts today took place across on the North side, with a little Port bias and a good length line, each start was highly competitive but well behaved. The Fast fleet took off with good speed, with a lot more noise coming out of one RS200 compared to the other. It was safe to say each boat had found an equal match to compete for a clear lane, and I was sat on the Pin for both this one and the following starts where the same competitive atmosphere followed for the Slow fleet and the starts for the following races.

I acted as lead boat for the Slow Fleet, and the Cadets lead the fleet round the course in a tightly packed bunch. With the breeze picking up and sailors cranking the most out of their rigs, the first windward mark made for some great racing and sportsmanship between the younger sailors. Sadly, this did not continue for Team Cadet, as by the gate on the outer loop a mid-fleet boat got a little confused by the course, proceeding to the final mark before the line rather than sailing back upwind towards the second windward mark, known as BLACK 2. Unfortunately, it would seem this worried the whole fleet who were following me (the lead boat) back up to BLACK 2, who subsequently panicked and very shortly after Cadets had fanned out to cover the majority of the course at one time all heading to different marks. Whilst this did look a sight, we were able to subtly round them all back up to continue around the course. I acted as a lead boat for the second race too just to be safe, and all were happy.

Whilst Race 9 & 10 saw great competitive racing between both fleets, but the wind was brewing something special as could be seen by the flying 420, 200's, Lasers, C2 byte vs Streaker as well as others waiting for Race 6 to begin. With the spray up, it would appear the forecast has suddenly decided to come and join us. As Race 6 began, 420 (52151) was a little to eager at the line and saw the girls recalled. A gust tried it's best to help them back to the line, but after a sharp turn back down wind and a gybe the boat rather aggressively saw itself upside down in a quick fashion, with the its crew disappearing underneath. Naturally this happened relatively close off my bow and my attention was turned into helping the girls get back up. Following their bragging rights of being stripped away having stayed dry for so long, the girls retired from the race and blasted back to the shore. I was then greeted by a more dramatic scene in comparison to what we have been used to so far, with helms and crews all over the course deciding simultaneously for swimming lesson try outs. Whilst are lucky to have a great safety team at Alton, they have so far had it easy with pleasant days sat on calm waters, but it was about time they had something to do.

Upon looking through the results for Race 6, nearly every boat started, however most had retired by the end with gusts touching 30kn deciding to give our sailors a run for their money.

All in all a great day was shared by all, with lots of excitement being shared across the tables in the warm appealing café by the end. We return to 2 races next Sunday rather than 3, and I am very excited to see you all again then.

Results will soon be (if not already) displayed on the 'Alton Water Frostbite Results' page on Facebook, as well as the centre Lobby.

Despite today's windy conditions, the temperature has stayed lovely and warm compared to previous years and we still have 4 weeks left. Time has gone quick! We are seeing new entries still every week, so there is still time to come and take the fleet by storm, or of course to come and join in on some Sunday racing which is fiercely competitive and brilliant fun for all.

Finally, for anyone who is wanting to volunteer! I am running a small weekly photo competition (cafe-based prizes) for those who volunteer with us on the safety boat team as well as the committee boat. Best picture wins!

Rest up your legs and dry your kit as whilst the weather this week continues to look hairy, next Sunday is looking like an excellent day to come sailing at Alton. See you then!

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