Menai Straits report by the “Golden Snitch”

Aero Rambles
Hello there – I am the new RS Aero that the boats at WK boat park are talking about. My name is The Golden Snitch (pen name Snitchy) and I’ve been getting out and about since my arrival at the Club in April. I’ve just got back from the Menai Strait Regatta First Week, so a few stories to tell about our first visit to Beaumaris. My owner (blonde – be patient, speak slowly) and I were invited to join in with the locals in their club race on the Saturday, as a practice for the week. We arrived in good time at Beaumaris but no humans in sight. I had the slipway and the start line to myself, which is the way I like things. The Ancient Ships of Great Seaworthyness were allowed to start 15 minutes before me, presumably to clear the way for my lightning charge to the first mark. I had a shock as I discovered the waters also moved with the speed of lightning, so I was at the windward mark in a Jiffy and nibbling away at the wooden transoms in front. Maybe I imagined it, but I thought I saw some raised eyebrows and a few pipes falling out of mouths.
Another lap and I did the final running leg to the finish against the tide in Seagull-thigh-deep water. Living life at the edge. That’s me, Snitchy.  Then they tried to shoot me with a large canon from the shore. Guess I should have let the locals take line honours.

Day One and the first real race. 6 other boats in the Fast Handicap fleet. All of them looked bigger and heavier than me (well who else weighs 30 kilos?). One I recognised as an Albacore from our home boat park; Albinoni. Bit of a hottie, especially in light winds. Stan van den Berg is the driver. One to watch.  Also, a Wayfarer called Deefarer, sailed by Mark Bradshaw from our club.
The man who tried to shoot me the day before was looking for new victims with binoculars at the sea wall. He changed the course in between us signing on and launching. I knew he needed watching. There was a lot of race course confusion in the fleet and all but the GP14 (who was last at the time) rounded a mark well downwind of where we needed to go. Two West Kirby boats did it twice, just for good measure, to finish 4th and 5th and out of the Gunfire range of Mr. Happy Trigger Finger. The poor Deefarer didn’t farer any better, as it capsized and took in too much Menai Strait water to finally finish 6th.
Day 1 Highlights; Thinking the GP14 had missed out a mark.
Lowlights; Asking a Committee boat if they could kindly point out the windward mark, to which the reply was “wait – I’ll see if I can find a map”.

Day Two. Promising weather and a wind direction that meant Mr. Happy Trigger Finger had to put a reach in the course. Yeah, Snitchy likes reaching.
After a short delay to allow a large tanker through. The wind had built up nicely and a crazy reaching start was required towards Puffin Island. That’s where I would have ended up, if my owner hadn’t turned me at the yellow Gas mark and sent me on another crazy reach towards Bangor, via a blue buoy that I could barely see through the spray. This was my day. Eat my foam fellow fleet racers.
Day 2 Highlights; First over the finish line and winning by over 4 minutes on handicap.
Lowlights; nearly being blown out of the water by the Canon.
 
Day Three. Sun and light winds blew the fleets gently to the Gazelle hotel – the hub of the racing for the day. I mingled through the boats and crews on the moorings, all waiting for lifts ashore before the racing was to start. Declined many kind offers to raft up, just in case I got a bit too comfortable and needed a lie down. You know how things get with us light and flighty RS boats. The only problem was there was virtually no beach because it was high water. The dinghies needed to land to sign on for the race, so in we had to go and someone else’s crew was recruited to wade out and hold me whilst I attempted to make close contact with the rest of the fleet.

The start line stretched all the way across the strait, from Bangor Pier to the Gazelle shore. We waited for our start by hiding out of the strong tide in the shallower waters on the far side of the pier. From there, I could see our first mark, directly lined up on the other side of the pier. There was a Wayfarer called Sunny Side Up next to me. His owner, Mark Finch, joked that he was going to drop his mast and go beneath the Pier as his starting plan. I counter-offered a capsize and swim through as an option, because it’s what I do best. Neither of us had the nerve to try, so instead we battled the fierce tides at the end of the Pier, which threatened to suck us under the Pier anyway (back to Plan A). Most of the fleets opted for the long beat across the sandbanks on the shallower pier side. The Sneaky Gpee (14) tacked up the rocky shore on the Gazelle side on the final beat to take second place, but the race belonged to Albinoni, whose transom I saw once briefly – onshore at the sign on.
Day 3 Highlights; Sailing to the Gazelle. Sailing back home.
Lowlights; Anything in-between.

Day Four. Gale force winds arrived from the South West. This was to be the Race Through, from Beaumaris to Caernarfon. The one which had been striking fear into the heart of my owner and probably Mr. Happy Trigger Finger. The Race was postponed for a day and then cancelled as the strong winds set in for the rest of the week. I was hoisted onto the car rooftop and whisked back to the Wirral, where we managed to career around wildly in the evening race series. Here I also practiced my capsized lee shore landings, which upset my owner so much that she stripped me of all my underwater furniture, whipped down my sail and muttered disparaging remarks about my breeding and parentage. Luckily Jean-Louis has a Finn of fine breeding and was in the vicinity to pull off a fabulous towing rescue. I’ve been glued to his transom ever since. There was a lot of tough talk in the boat park that night and a wager was set for a rescue speed challenge. The following evening, I staged a snapped halyard during the second race and the GP Black to The Future (owner Robert Thompson) was first to the scene and performed another daring and heroic recovery back to shore. I’m hoping to return the favour one day. I sure hope it’s a wild and windy reach home. Anyway, enough excitement for one week. Stay safe folks and dodge the Canons.

Yours, Snitchy.