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Charlie Farley snaps mast in dramatic Hine-Downing Series race
As we waited on the moored committee boat the flags were prepared and I hoisted the Hine-Downing sail upside-down but this was quickly rectified. The holder for the course cards was hung along the guard rails and all the equipment was checked.
When we arrived in the Roads we were surprised to feel the brisk force five northerly because on the mooring we were protected from it by the hilly Flushing fields.
The anchor was dropped one hundred metres north of the Governor buoy and the pin end was set inshore of us to give a long starting line and a good beat to the Vilt or North Bank buoys. The lively wind opposed the incoming tide making plenty of white water around us as we waited for the arrival of the racing fleets.
Soon we were surrounded by well over forty boats checking the line and the first leg, and one competitor radioed in to say that he had arrived at the windward mark in one leg without tacking.
After discussing whether to delay the starts and up anchor and move the line it was decided to stay where we were which proved to be the correct decision because the wind direction changed again and gave a reasonable first beat even if there was a port hand bias to the line.
In the stiff wind smaller jibs were flown and in B class half of the fleet did not fly a topsail. In G class on Dragonfly they set a topsail above a reefed main which proved to be very handy sail plan because they beat Magpie of Mylor over the line by seven minutes, partly helped by the second boat's late start.
The pre-start manoeuvres were lively and aggressive and one B class boat was forced up the wrong side of the committee boat but in the strong breeze they gybed round and still got to the line on time. In Q class the four boats arrived on time but Encore crossed the line on the gun close to us tacked immediately to cross our bows and go to windward in clean air. On their return under spinnaker they were warned by radio to keep clear of the line and this split their fleet, but it protected the later starters.
Five Sunbeams appeared for their start and in a close group they bunched together at the pin end, but in their hormone fuelled state they were too early and the strong flooding tide pushed them over the line.
Only Pixy was on side because he had been pushed over first so correctly he rounded the pin end to start properly after all the others. All four were recalled by radio and their numbers were stated but two did not return so that when they crossed the finishing line first and second they were recorded OCS. Did they have the required working radios on board?
After E class reached the windward mark spinnakers were hoisted for a fast reach downwind but on board Charley Farley, so I was told, the rear stay parted causing the mast to bend and snap some six feet above the deck. This was reported immediately to the committee boat where we were told that there were no injuries and that there was no further danger.
Gunslinger, a larger cruiser, stopped racing and stood by to help. Immediately after the last race had been started the committee boat went to see if any further help was needed but by then Gunslinger was quietly towing the damaged boat to it's mooring.
In brisk conditions everyone enjoyed good sport and perhaps one class might learn the virtue of patience and we hoped that the damaged boat was well insured.
B class: 1 Grace, D and P Tregaskes; 2 Moon, P Selman. 3 Victory, D Carne. E class: 1, Temeraire M Eddy; 2 Scorpion, G Davies; 3 Hero, C Wilson. Q class: 1 Encore, D Cunliffe; 2 Macavity, J Murrell; 3 Tresillian, J Beavis. U class: 1 Gap Year, L Trenoweth; 2 Mary Boon, 3 Aurora, D and M Owens. M class: 1 Firefly, C Gladwell. G class: 1 Dragonfly, M Maguire; 2 Magpie of Mylor, R Roebuck. W class: 1 Wild Child, N Chamberlain; 2 Amneris, D Layton; 3 Sweet Friday, L Cheshire. V class: 1 Pixy, L Hesling; 2 Verity, N Andrew; 3 Whimsey, C Perkins.