Club Vass HISC Round Hayling Report


Club Vass HISC Round Hayling Island Race 2009

to Finbouy for posting this on our forum

Sing after me please,
“Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
And just like the guy whose
feet are too big for his board
Nothin’ seems to fit
Those raindrops are
fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin'”

We turned the corner once again and
rumbled onto the causeway welcomed by slight drizzle, 5knts SSE and a couple of
very friendly faces already rigging on the beach…it was
7am. The anticipation had started. A
quick “see you for breakfast” and the first phone call of the day. “is it
raining?”, “hmm a little”.

Within what seemed like minutes, the
car park filled up, and two by three by four the cars and vans appeard, new
faces climbed out and headed to the restaurant for Breakfast. First call of the
day echoed around the club “briefing at ten, registration from
don’t forget to sign on”.

Ribs launched and safety briefing underway,
we set out the Bar for our race briefing and made sure the PA worked, “looks
like we’ll need it, there’s a few guys “n” gals there buddy” We called the
briefing at ten, slideshow under way and “WELCOME TO THE RESURGENCE OF THE ROUND
HAYLING ISLAND WINDSURFING RACE….WhhhOOOOP, came the response. We had a
bulging bar area full of neoprene. Looking across the room I could see young and
old, boys and girls, gents and ladies; I was humbled by the turnout. We kept the
briefing short, well we tried to. But with the enormity of the event we felt a
little more detail would help those that rarely sail on the sea, and have never
really been in strong currents before, it was a Spring tide after all. So I
tried my best to encourage competitors to keep to the Island shore at all times,
pointed the 4 bailout points we had in place, the 2 committee boats which
defined the limits of the courses we were running simultaneously and pointed out
that we had 10 ribs and 40 volunteers helping out. Add to that the RNLI and the
Coastguard too, and you kinda get the picture that we care for our competitors,
well we do, and we want them all to come home too.

You could hear that famous question from the
beach, that sentence used the world over, “whaddya rigging?” oh, we’re a
predictable lot aren’t we, he he. The mixture of boards was huge, from
freestylers to brand spanking new Long”o”boards unwrapped for the occasion.
There was a fleet of Starboard Phantoms and 9.5 Demon Sails, down to 4.5’s and
Tabou freestyle combos, IMCO’s, and Freeriders on 8mtrs. All a multitude of
colour and condition.. multiple footstrap option anyone? 

“So I just did me some talkin’ to the sun”
but it didn’t raise it’s head. We were however reading 15knts S’therly on
Chimet, ok not the best angle for those that reach out and reach back, but this
race wasn’t going to be like that. This was all about coping with distance and
conditions that you’re probably not used to sail in before. pushing the
boundaries of your own abilities and ticking off some “done that’s” The start
was set for 1030, but I couldn’t let those that had rigged all the way down at
the Coastguard station miss it, so I waited, the S’therly helped bring them down
to the Club in minutes,, Now to find some room on the beach. We had 99
registered, and 83 actually start the race. That is an amazing achievement in my
eyes, and you know what, there were 83 smiles…and 83 blue rash vests with
yellow numbers on the back, inspired. 

All lined up, and the countdown
began..5…4…3…2….1. Bang! And they’re off. It was a sight to behold, 83
guys “n” gals beach starting, waterstarting, and a mass of colour and spray, and
off down the Emsworth Channel they went… A couple of mishaps near the beach
with mastfeet coming loose and a poor chap who found the bow of a moored yacht
keenly poking through the middle panel of his sail. Our first retirement of the
day, sorry Buddie all 20 meters off the beach. Within minutes all the guys “n”
gals had disappeared in the drizzle. The rumble of Rib engines whizzing into
action, the smell of churned up sea, all in contrast to the quietness off the

First crackle of the race radio and
the first guys had already reached the first Committee Boat. It was tight at the
front; Chris Gibson was leading a tight bunch, Rob Kent and Annette Kent
following each a different side of the channel. The wind had swung slightly to a
SE’ly helping the competitors beam reach at maximum speed. We know it only takes
about ten minutes to get to Emsworth in 15 knts, but this was fast, very fast.
We spotted the first guys going under
Langstone Bridge, did they swim under?, nope the
simply dropped the sail back and glided serenely underneath.. And one by one
they all seemed to do the same thing, finding the best and widest of the posts
to get under. A couple of our Bronze fleet finished at the first Committee Boat,
Andrea Ralph won that fleet, the furthest she’s ever windsurfed, now that’s what
it’s all about. She promptly turned around and came back to the Club. So, by
this time 40 minutes into race and the Gold and Silver Fleets had already popped
out into Langstone Harbour and making their way past the Bird Sanctuary and up
the estuary towards Esso Beach. You could almost hear the thought’s of those who
sail from there, “ooooh, it’s still drizzling, it’d be close enough to pop over
there now” This spot was our second bailout point. It’s easy to get to, launch
from and get back into, and a good number of windsurfers know where it is. It
also became a great place to focus the fleets, since the distance sailed so far
was way beyond that of normal windsurfing endeavours, so to have that “I know
where I am” thought going through the brain was reassuring. Langstone was as
drizzly as
Chichester Harbour. Our Rib radios were quiet, when we
called them up they said everything was fine, all sailors were going along well,
and by now the last few had cleared the Bridge. There became a long drawn out
fleet, like a long snake dressed in a blue rash vest, weaving its way up the
channel towards the entrance to
Langstone Harbour.

“Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head,
they keep fallin'” An hour and fifteen minutes into the race and the wind
started to back S’therly and drop, eeking 6-10knts. The rain fell slightly
colder or just felt like it. The fleets had separated. Those Long”o”boards had
pulled away, taking each meter upwind feel like 10 meters going sideways if you
were on a freeride board. Still tight racing, Dave Dobrijevic, Dick Pratt and
Ian Palmer grouped tightly tacking on each others wind, eeeking out that extra
meter or two. There is no doubt, in light winds a daggerboard and a decent sail
helps. Height only being gained by hard earned work, digging the windward rail
in and moving the sail into that not so comfortable angle to eek the maximum
momentum out of each tiny gust. Every gust making every motion more and more
uncomfortable to maintain that upwind momentum. Stiff shoulders, sore hands,
cramp in your lower back, we’ve all been there.  This section of the course, against a
strong flood and light winds became one of the hardest for the fleet. Some
resorted to walking along the shore, some headed over to the
Portsmouth shore to cheat the tide, some
drifted past the
Mulberry Harbour, all foreboding and grey. We set
our last Gate and bailout point at the Ferry Boat Inn. The slipway and the long
shingle beach being super easy to recover the weary and tired. We closed this
gate at 1315. And 47 of the fleet had already popped through the gate before it
had closed for the remaining bunch. We never heard a murmur of distain, all that
Langstone Harbour mouth I think were glad we’d laid
on taxis back to the Club for them.

The focus now became more intense.
It’s a long old way from Langstone Spit to the entrance to
Chichester Harbour. For those that windsurf at the
Golf Club near the spit, it seems like miles away, you can’t see Chimet from
there unless it’s a super clear day, today it was covered in a light mist, and
drizzle. We laid two outer distance marks 100 meters off the beach near the
Inn on the Beach. This was meant to
contain those that would have liked to scoot offshore for both breeze and angle.
It would have been nice to let them go, but extremely hard to safety cover that
distance. The
Inn on the Beach became our last
bailout point. You’d have thought by now that all who’d made the gate at
Langstone would have carried on, but no Andy Graig bailed out here. He lives
around the corner and fancied a cup of tea, how quaint. The wind had veered back
to SSE and had slightly built to 12knts therefore a beat was in order. The fleet
by now had spaced out by quite a bit. Henry Bloodworth an 11 year old T15 hero
on a Techno tagged onto the back of the remaining fleet and pinned himself near
the beach and short tacked all along the shoreline. Not a great deal of shore
dump today fellas.. That snake left way back in
Langstone Harbour, this was more like a freeride day
with sailors all over the place. The concentration on the faces drowned out the
funfair which was surprisingly quiet for once. The only music that could be
heard was rattling in the heads of the sailors… It’s been 3 and a half hours
by now, anyone windsurfing for that length of time must resort to singing to
themselves at some point.. I wonder if it was “raindrops keep fallin”, no one
owned up to it. One of the last guys to clear the Spit was Mathieu Colin de
Verdiere, came all the way from
Brittany. Mathieu was sailing a formula
board and 10.5 RS rig. Any one who has sailed formula boards upwind in less than
10 knts knows just how heavy and sideways they go.. Jonathan Pooley decided at
the outset to take the Starboard Serenity out for a spin, he loved the lack of
footstraps downwind..”it didn’t wobble that much” yeah I bet. You’ll remember
Jonathan from his whayler and 1970’s rig from the FatFace and our Winter Slalom
series..  The last few hundred
meters up to the mouth of
Chichester Harbour were for some the hardest. Moral
low, tide on the ebb and curling around the mouth of the Harbour, but at least
you can see West Witts from here, some comfort for some, but for Alec Henry and
Dave Rabbetts a welcome relief. Alec started windsurfing last September by the
way. Dave took it up when he got bored after retiring from work, “seemed like
fun” well it is isn’t it.

‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by
Because I’m free
Nothin’s worryin’

The end was now in sight. Whooops
from the Club Bar, “they’re here already” Oh my, we hastily made a ramp and put
the finishing flags up. The wind had stuck SSE’ly since the last gate so this
meant a run down against a strong ebb tide. Rob Kent on his Starboard Phantom
and Sparkling Tushingham X15 sail came past the Coastguard Station in first,
closely followed by Chris Gibson and Rob’s wife Annette. It was a very close
bunch, Rob taking the win and finishing at 1300 on the dot. That’s a round the
Island time of 2 1/4 hours. Considering
the windyish start and the lack of wind in Langstone that’s not a bad time at
all… And one by one they came home. Some were so focused on sailing they had
to be shouted at to come ashore and finish. The elation and desperation shone
clearly on the faces of the guys “n” gals that came up the slipway. Blistered
hands, red faces, squinting eyes, soggy feet, and squelchy hair all matted.
Comments I’m sure made in fun ranged from “my god!, that was hard” “I’m bushed,
that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, “I’m never doing that again, until
next year”, “you running that again next year ?”, “what time did I do ?”,
“anyone seen my girlfriend?”, “oh look there’s Dad”, and then I spotted Henry
Bloodworths father, I’m sure I saw a tear in his eye.. That kid sailed all the
way round, refused to come in at Langstone Spit despite his father telling him
he’d already done well.. I almost had a tear in my eye too.

The changing rooms were bulging with
bodies, and the showers drained. The Bar was full of tales of daring do on the
high seas. Questions rattled “where did you come?”, “doing it again next year?”,
“where’s my pint?” We kindly?!? gave all competitors time to derig, eat, drink
and sleep before calling the Club to order for the prize giving. It was never
going to be easy, but we’d had to grab 4 tables together to hold all the prizes
in one place. We’d been so lucky with the generosity of our sponsors that we had
trouble stacking all the prizes on the table.. Our esteemed Commodore John
Message, who incidentally used to windsurf in the heyday of the event, but
hasn’t until now, finished in the Gold fleet, just goes to show when you have
it, it rarely goes away.. Opened the ceremony. Colin (our marine manager) and I
stood behind him not really believing the event had finished and gone quite as
smoothly as it had done. And the prize giving took place. 1st overall went to
Rob Kent and a holiday from Club Vass, Chris Gibson 2nd and Annette Kent 3rd in
the Gold Fleet. Our Silver Fleet 1st Tom Wade, 2nd Mareid de Barca and 3rd
Georgina Cartwright (beating her two brothers) And Bronze fleet 1st Andrea
Ralph, 2nd Tasha Wakefield. Spot prizes were handed out randomly, jolly japes
and giggles ensued. Andy “Bubble” Chambers, Colin Dixon and Oli from Club Vass
made a speech and presented the
Holiday. Henry Bloomfield had enormous
applause for winning the Youth fleet..amazing.

It goes without saying that this event
wouldn’t have been quite so successful if you guys”n”gals hadn’t have made it so
good. We hope you enjoyed the event, and you may one day come back and enjoy our
club for a freeride day when there is wind, you are more than welcome. I can’t
thank our volunteers enough for the effort they put in. And our safety officer
John Barber who toiled with the safety side for many a week. Colin our marine
manager did a sterling job, and was gutted not to be able to compete, maybe next
year bud eh?. The beer flowed and the party carried on till

I’d like to say thank you to you all for
taking part, being interested, and reading my ramblings once

Take a bow guys”n”gals, take a bow.

2010 event…Yes, it’s in the diary.


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