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Memories are made of this.

Posted by gusmus, 12 July 2012 · 278 views

  • FFSC

It's funny how some object or incident can trigger a long forgotten memory that really has no right to be cluttering up our degenerating brain cells. This morning I was watching my wife hose down the yard and in its panic to escape the hosepipe one of our dogs hit a water obstacle and skidded like a duck landing on ice, straight into the garden gate. For some reason my mind shot back to 1975-76-77 and Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club. I was a young buck then and racing regularly in the Fireball fleet. Felixstowe in those days was the club to belong to. Maybe it still is but as I haven't been back for years, I can't really say. Pete White- 505 world champion, Jonty Sherwell- OK National Champion. The Gray brothers trained there. Lawrie Smith and Andy Barker were regulars who used the place to train for their multiple championships in multiple classes. Stuart Childerley learned his trade there whilst crewing his dads Fireball. It really was a bitch of a place to sail out of with 6-8Kn tides and sandbanks and spits that arrived on one tide and disappeared on the next but that was the draw. If you could sail there you could sail anywhere. Back in those heady days it was nothing unusual to have quite astonishing fleets out 3 times a week just for club races. A normal Sunday morning could attract 20 505,s, 20-25 Fireballs, 15-20 Fireflys, 10-15 OK,s and a mass of Mirrors too numerous to count. The mass pipes and drums of the Lasers were still on the horizon and windsurfers were about 16 feet long and 4 feet wide. The Fireball fleet was now coming to terms with the fact that a wooden boat was stiffer, lighter, and stronger than a fibreglass one, and carbon was something the coalman used to deliver to heat your house. There were small boat builders a plenty. Tripp, Barker, Milne, Chippendale etc, all turning out beautifully crafted machines which were an absolute joy just to look at, never mind to sail. Sailing in those days was a highly competitive business and it was dog eat dog out on the course but the strange thing is, I can barely remember a protest unless it was for championship points. If you were in the wrong then the rest of the fleet soon let you know so you did your turns, or in one well remembered case, got left with a bar tab that could have paid for a new mainsail, but in nearly all cases a few "OOYII,s" from different boats would rectify the situation . I somehow can't see that happening today. More likely fisticuffs and a lawsuit I should imagine. Now this may seem like a load of waffle over my dog doing a four wheel glide into the garden gate but what it brought to mind was what should have been a mass DSQ incident during a Sunday morning bash around the cans. Anyone who knows Felixstowe Ferry will also know Bawdsey Spit. This is a huge gravel spit which curves around from the north to cover most of the entrance to the River Deben. On this particular day our course had a river finish and as it was at around low tide all of the fleets were resigned to the idea that we'd have to beat back out around the spit to make it back into the river. Not so. To our surprise we saw a 30 ish foot power boat heading straight for the inside passage where there was the glint of water. The whole fleet, as one sentinal being followed suit. Two things happened next. The first was the almighty crunch as a 30 foot power boat launched itself about 20 feet up on top of the shingle bank at about 20 knots, and the second was the impromptu meeting of the race commitee alongside same power boat. After much head scratching it was decided that all results would stand whether we carried our boats across almost half a mile of spit or relaunched and sailed back the long way round. It was a long haul back whichever way you chose and the general concensus of opinion back at the club was that the only person who deserved being protested was the silly bugger in the power boat for making us too late for the bar. Mind you, he paid the price. He was still there several hours later waiting for enough water to float himself off. Cheers WcW