Monday, August 07, 2006

North West Norfolk week

Well I have been too busy sailing to blog about it so its been a while so here is a little update on my recent exploits on the water.

First up is the North West Norfolk Sailing Assocaition Week of racing, taking in races at all the clubs in the association around the West Norfolk coast.

Things started with a bang at Hunstanton SC with a freak storm complete with waterspout, cutting through the fleet just after the start of the second race of the day.

Just before the second race, I could see this dark ominous looking cloud way off in the south west and it seemed to head east and south of us, then it seemed to head up the coast towards us and my initial thought was that we would be in for a quick summer squall which would bring a welcome relief to the battle of the breezes we had been suffering from all afternoon.

In the first race I went from 1st to 8th on the last half of the last leg as the 'dead zone' moved in. I could see boats to port beating on port tack and boats to starboard running on starboard tack and I sat with the sails flapping uselessly! I could have screemed!

So I was hopefull of a decent breeze for the second race. The Enterprise fleet, being the last fleet to start, had just left the start line when the wind shifted to the south and got up to a decent breeze, the next thing I see is a strange vortex of water and wind 20 ft ahead of me. It passed over a laser and he capsized almost immediately as the confused sails whipped about and finally flipped the hull up in the air. I tacked! I wasn't going to sail into that thing!

The wind really whipped up quickly and when I reached the committee boat I tacked back towards the shore, my initial thought was that such a strange event was bound to herald a lot more wind than usual. But the wind seemed to be steady at about a F5 and so I decided to keep on with the race. Most of the rest of fleet seemed to be in a state of shock and at least 2 had capsized, but others were continueing with the race so I felt justified.

We reached to the first mark and veered round (I didn't fancy a gybe) and started out towards the second mark but I took one look at the carnage of upturned hulls that I began to think it was going to be a waste of time, an abondonement was certainly on the cards. I had just made the decision to head in when what can only be described as a wall of wind hit us and with all the sails flogging we sat out for dear life trying to keep her upright, which we barely did.

I tried to tack but by now the waves and the sheer weight of wind made it impossible to get enough way on her to get her round. I decided to take the mainsail down and get back in under jib. The problem was that the tension on the halyard was so great that Jo could not release it and I could not move in to do it for the certainty of a capsize. We stuggled for what seemed like an age until we managed to release the halyard, get the main down and then gybed away onto the tack to take us back to the beach. Even this was hard work because the wind strength and the waves made it hard to keep a course that would take us past the groins and with no more that 5 ft we cleared that last groin and were helped ashore and to safety.

We took Wild Goose up to the dinghy park and then surveyed the scene of carnage. There was a rescue helicopter hovering about and helpful causing enough of a downdraft to capsize anyone not already inverted. Several inshore rescue boats and the local RNLI rescue hovercraft were also busy picking up crews from up turned boats. A number of boats had managed to get back in ok but about 14 boats were un acounted for. Some of the shore based race officials were asking trying to account for all the crews and it wasn't until an hour after the event that we knew that everyone was safe.
Many of the boats ended up further down the coast on another beach, a few ended up under the cliffs, one on the rocks. Jo and I went to the aid of one Enterprise. We could see the crew were in the water trying to hold the boat against the crashing waves and away from the rocks whilst trying to walk the boat towards the beach. We got into the water with them and between the four of us we got the boat out of danger and onto the beach.

The next day we were all in the local and national news and on the TV, we even had a camera crew down to film and some of the crews were inteviewed.

Several boats were out of action with lost and broken gear but only one hull was seriously damaged but even that looks like it will be repaired.

It was all rather exciting really.

Here is a local newspaper article:

And this is the BBC report:

1 comment:

Tillerman said...

Good old Sunny Hunny.