Monday, June 06, 2005

Marked Man

I'm a marked man at the sailing club.

The reason is that through luck, guile and mathematics I am the current holder of the club's Commodore's Cup. This is a magnificent silver ice bucket awarded to the winner of our annual handicap regatta. Normally all the one-design fleets at the club race within their fleets. But once a year we have a one day regatta for all classes of boat scored using the Portsmouth Handicap system to determine the overall champion.

I won it two years ago through being sneaky. At that time I had the only Laser in the club. And the Laser was faster than any of the other boats competing. So all I had to do each race was to win the start, power away ahead of the other boats, then just keep extending my lead sailing in clear air while all the other fleets slowed each other down with covering and boat-to-boat tactics. As long as my lead at the finish was enough to overcome the Laser's handicap vis-a-vis the other fleets I could win every race. My sneaky plan worked like a dream. The wind was steady and around 15 knots so it was a pure boat speed competition.

The second year was more tricky; the winds were light and shifty and fluky. Several times I sailed into a hole in the wind and other boats caught me up. Of course, in a handicap race they didn't even need to pass me; if they finished close to me they effectively beat me. Somehow my closest competitor was beaten by one other boat in the final race which pushed him into a tiebreaker on points with me which I won through some mathematical quirk of the racing rules. Phew!

The regatta has been run every year for almost 40 years. Other folk have won it two years in a row before. Nobody has ever won it three years in a row. So I can hear them plotting, working out how to beat me this year.

The regatta is being sailed next Saturday. I'm a marked man.

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