Strong winds at Cam

Ten British Moths rigged up next to a windy and occasionally very wet river Cam in Cambridgeshire for the second river open of the year. After a vicious downpour that had the sailors scampering for the club house or sheltering in their cars, the fleet was randomly split into two starts for the first race.

The first race was a tale of wind, weeds and wild runs in which competitors had to guide their boats down the thin river at high speeds while dodging boats tacking back the other way. A jungle of weeds on both sides of the river caught out most competitors and thinned the river further. Several boats were forced to sail with slightly raised rudders which complicated boat handling in winds that were gusting 30knts. Toby Cooper, who while waiting for the second start realised that he was in the first race, managed the conditions perfectly to sail through the fleet for an easy win. It was not a race to be in a yellow boat as a coming together of the two yellow moths lead to both capsizing, and the rescue boat valiantly paddling towards them after suffering engine failure itself. Dave Parker and Andy Matthews kept themselves out of trouble to register second and third places respectively. Many boats returned to the club with the tell-tail signs of accidents – weeds clinging on to the top of the mast…

After lunch and a vain hope that the wind would drop slightly, it was Richard Keefe’s turn to get confused by the starting sequence – starting in the first fleet before sailing back to the start to try again in the correct fleet. Toby Cooper once again showed clean heals to the fleet and an aptitude for keeping out of trouble to win, winning the series with a race to spare. Andy Matthews and Rick Benson took second and third.

With the damage to boats and helms mounting up, it looked as if the final race would be abandoned. X-Moth, last year’s national winning boat was holed while trying to go behind another boat which was in full reverse, ASBO had developed a mysterious crack along the side-decking and several boats had broken bits of string instead of control lines. The race officer finally found two helms willing to go out for the final, shortened race – both had retired with technical problems earlier and wanted another result. Nick Heath and Jonathan Twite match raced the two lap race and were only separated when a final squall came through on the last leg and Nick, with his cut-down sail, pulled away up the beat to the line, and so sneaked into 3rd place overall.

The Cam Coffee Pot was awarded to Toby Cooper and although the club was brilliant, due to the strength of the wind, we all looked forward to having a little more space at the next open at Hunts SC the following day