Heat 1 at the Felpham Regatta - May 8/9

Twenty two Blazes duke it out in the first heat of the 2010 traveller series, while comparing, uhm, bits.  

The 2010 season kicks off in earnest with the first event of the Blaze traveller series.

A sullen, cloudy sky and a light North-easterly greeted twenty two Blazes on the morning of Saturday 8th May, for the 2010 Felpham Blaze Open, shared with the Vagos, as part of the club's annual regatta.

Forecasts had been in disagreement over the specifics, but the wind was set for 7-12 knots on Saturday and 10-14 on Sunday with no change in direction. This brought the breeze in from the shore and made for an uncharacteristically shifty beat (for a characteristically shifty fleet...)

In reality the wind never delivered to quite that extent and while the occasional ominous grey cloud drifted overhead bringing a brief period of something approaching excitement, the mean wind soon returned to the grind of the sub 10knot chug. The course to be sailed was a port-handed square, raced against the Vagos on Saturday but curiously without them on Sunday (and it had NOTHING to do with handicaps!)

One might imagine that given the sleepy conditions, the event would proceed with clean starts, few dramatics, no swimming and definitely no soixante neuf wooings on the downwind leg! However, experience has taught us that when conditions fail to provide excitement the Blaze fleet spirit will surely make up the defecit, form a coalition, get the SNP& Plythe Cymru onboard, take power and keep the Tories out. But I digress.

After taking a bit of time to remember how to do everything, the fleet of Blazes, Vagos, a Phantom (boo hiss) and a particularly wide Merlin Rocket sidled up against each other on the start line, exchanging nervous glances like teenagers at a graduation disco (only without the alcohol, this being day one). In the last seconds the first date nerves subsided and everyone got away without embarrassment, except Paul Helmsley (761). After a particularly uncomfortable row with his main-sheet block, he divorced it and lost the boat (and the race) in the settlement. Spring sea-water, like middle-aged bachelorhood, is a cold and salty thing.

Nick Miller (757) and Christian Smart (763) led up the middle of the beat, crossing in front of those who had tacked sea-ward and approached the windward mark pursued by Bob Cowan (743) and local sailor Ross Fisher (773). The fleet quickly spread and all settled in for a relatively uneventful long haul Smart won out, followed by Miller, with Fisher taking Cowan for 3rd.

With the wind rising a touch and shifting a few degrees to the east, the line was re-laid to prevent the inevitable starboard-end pile up. The Blaze sailor is a defiant creature though and in their testosterone-fuelled bravado they piled on to the committee boat like a pack of randy seaguls. The result was an event best described at the time as “Christian's glum picnic,” made up of a select band of hardy men who sat contentedly on the start line, in irons, possessed with such a profound physical attraction to one another that any thought of racing would constitute the deepest of romantic betrayals.

In the meantime the rest of the fleet proceeded up the first beat, led from the off by Miller, who accepted the lonely chore of being lead boat with characteristic northern enthusiasm “oh alright...” He was pursued by Fisher, who in his eagerness to escape the 'picnic' found himself starting early (as opposed to “finishing early,” the usual problem). Cowan chased Miller, followed by Simon Beddows (767). Smart, having escaped his many lovers, trekked through the fleet with great alacrity, until, distracted by a passing dandy, he slipped mid-gybe and leapt over the wing, narrowly avoiding Helmsley's salty fate. After recovering he finished 4th, behind Beddows.

He wasn't the only one to find folly in the hazards of love. A Mr Paul Taylor (654), whilst cruising to the gybe mark, met the eyes of a stunning epoxy hottie (what we her name Paul?) across the waves. It was love at first sight, and they blissfully came together, swam together and spent the next few minutes in rapture.

An evening of quizzes, inuendo and (sometimes frightening) political arguments ensued, with the dilligent galley putting on a Chilli dinner that made all that adolescent srife worth it.

On Sunday morning, rested, refreshed and reinforced, the fleet met on the water for another three dances. A forecast promising brisker winds delivered about 10 knots, with the strongest gusts no greater than about 14. David Brown (676) did battle with the Merlin to the windward mark and continued to lead for the first lap. Eventually Miller, having been buried at the start, caught up and headed up the right side of the second beat, taking Brown. Smart followed up the middle and the fleet once again spread out behind them. Miller led unopposed, followed by Smart, Fisher and Peter Jones (683).

Race four saw Brown get away cleanly again, chasing the Merlin. Miller, in his efforts to stay away from the potential orgy at the starboard end, tried to start alone in the center of the line. Of course he was unable to stop the oozing of pheromones from saturday's performances and his harem, including a Mr Smart (who spent most of the race in a dizzy state of adulation) soon joined him in what has become known as the “Mike Lyons” effect. Miller (or 'Nifty Nick,' to his fans) spent the first lap escaping them, catching Brown on the second beat, before once again sailing off in to the sunset. Ah the lonely life of the celebrity! Fisher followed, fending off Beddows and local sailor Ian Clark (695). Smart, having come to his senses, followed in 5th.

The wind came up a touch for the final race, bringing on a curious state of adolescent furore. Tiller extensions were beat on chests and gorilla-like roars could be heard across the water as the men of the Blaze fleet (boys no longer) sidled up to each other for the last race. Well most of them did, Miller, tired from his duties as resident rock-star and with an unenviable six hour journey home ahead of him, retired from the final race.

With their lead boat gone, panic ensued amongst the Blazes. Edged forward by the incoming tide, they piled over the start line before time and at least three boats were over the start line at the gun. One went back. The fleet immediately split up the first beat, some tacking for the favoured right side while the rest headed left, thus two gaggles of boats formed and were maintained for the duration. With the wind shifting a few degrees further east and building a touch, a moderate chop built up and provided some of the best conditions of the event.

Smart and Fisher, in their eagerness to best each other, were both early over the startline and left the race to be won by the less foolhardy Nick Creak (729), who kept a clear head at his first Blaze event (always difficult), welcome to the class Nick! He was followed by Clark, Taylor and Beddows.

And so Nick Miller cruised to a clean victory on five points, winning both the Blaze open and the Regatta, fending off Steve Popple in the Phantom and Smart. Beddows carried fourth, followed by the Porteus's in the Merlin and Clark. Miller, on behalf of the Blaze class association, thanked Felpham Sailing Club for their fine racing, finer chilli and patient toleration of Blaze humour.

It's traditional to end with some meaningful numbers...so here's a few.

Blazes: 22

Capsizes: 7

Innuendos: It never ends!

Felpham SC will be playing host to the Blaze fleet for our 2011 National Championships. See you all there!

Jon “the one who went back” Saunders, 611.

Full regatta results are here.

Rank

Class

SailNo

HelmName

CrewName

PY

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

Total

Nett

Notes

1st

Blaze

757

Nick Miller

1046

2.0

1.0

1.0

1.0

(23.0 DNC)

28.0

5.0

2nd

Blaze

763

Christian Smart

1046

1.0

4.0

2.0

5.0

(23.0 ocs)

35.0

12.0

3rd

Blaze

767

Simon Beddows

1046

(11.0)

3.0

6.0

3.0

4.0

27.0

16.0

4th

Blaze

695

Ian Clark

1046

7.0

7.0

(11.0)

4.0

2.0

31.0

20.0

5th

Blaze

683

Peter Jones

1046

(9.0)

6.0

4.0

6.0

7.0

32.0

23.0

6th

Blaze

758

Pete Barlow

1046

4.0

8.0

5.0

8.0

(23.0 dnf)

48.0

25.0

7th

Blaze

729

Nick Creak

1046

10.0

(14.0)

9.0

10.0

1.0

44.0

30.0

8th

Blaze

654

Paul Taylor

1046

8.0

(13.0)

10.0

9.0

3.0

43.0

30.0

9th

Blaze

766

John Abbott

1046

(14.0)

5.0

8.0

11.0

6.0

44.0

30.0

10th

Blaze

773

Ross Fisher

1046

3.0

(23.0 OCS)

3.0

2.0

23.0 ocs

54.0

31.0

11th

Blaze

676

David Brown

1046

5.0

(16.0)

13.0

7.0

9.0

50.0

34.0

12th

Blaze

611

Jonathan Saunders

1046

12.0

12.0

(14.0)

13.0

5.0

56.0

42.0

13th

Blaze

682

David Entwistle

1046

(18.0)

15.0

7.0

12.0

8.0

60.0

42.0

14th

Blaze

743

Bob Cowan

1046

6.0

2.0

(23.0 DNC)

23.0 DNC

23.0 DNC

77.0

54.0

15th

Blaze

730

Andrew Pears

1046

13.0

(17.0)

15.0

16.0

11.0

72.0

55.0

16th

Blaze

717

Bob Yates

1046

16.0

(18.0)

12.0

15.0

12.0

73.0

55.0

17th

Blaze

700

Luke Mapley

1046

17.0

11.0

16.0

14.0

(23.0 DNC)

81.0

58.0

18th

Blaze

724

Matt Burnett

1046

(19.0)

19.0

17.0

18.0

10.0

83.0

64.0

19th

Blaze

604

Mike Bell

1046

15.0

9.0

(23.0 DNC)

23.0 DNC

23.0 DNC

93.0

70.0

20th

Blaze

605

Mark Swanton

1046

(23.0 DNC)

23.0 DNC

23.0 DNF

19.0

13.0

101.0

78.0

21st

Blaze

761

Paul Hemsley

1046

(23.0 DNC)

10.0

23.0 DNC

23.0 DNC

23.0 DNC

102.0

79.0

22nd

BLAZE

669

Mark Phillips

1046

(23.0 DNC)

23.0 DNC

18.0

16.0

23.0 DNC

103.0

80.0