A Day at Dartmoor

It was an early start leaving the house and warm bed at 05:00hrs for the 420mile round trip to Dartmoor SC.  It was the fifth round of the IOM, South West District Series Championship.  An hour after starting the journey the Sun was rising and I was crossing the Severn Bridge.  It was a beautiful sunrise, a couple of dark clouds sewn together with at least 6 white vapour trails, it was so clear I could make out the planes strobing navigation lights as they passed over South Wales towards London and the Continent.  The wind was SE probably no more than 3mph.  However, we had been well warned.  Today we were to expect the first Autumnal low pressure system.  The centre of the storm and near gale force winds was tracking from the Atlantic towards Scotland at 200mph.  Today was also to be a race against the elements.
I arrived at Dartmoor SC which lies approx 15mph North of Plymouth around 08:30.  Meeted and greeted both locals who were busy setting up and the steady stream of arriving competitors.

My first impression was the desolation, but the scenery is very similar to that of the Gower Peninsular.  The man made pond although not large by any means was deep and weed free!
The racing started with 19 Competitors entered, 16 racing, 3 observers.  I was a bit too keen to start racing and was OCS in race 1.  Having not learned from my previous mistake I then managed to side swipe the pin end mark during my second start.  It felt like it was going to be one of those days!!
The wind had yet to increase so we were all Top suited (1) the racing was very competitive so by race three we were delayed with our first Protest Meeting.  After which perhaps another two races were run (mainly under water in my case) before a coffee break and a chance to change down suits.  As the wind increased the number of incidents also went up with some very vocal exchanges.  But on the water the conditions were near perfect for Working suit (2).  Again, as the day progressed the competitors apparel also had to change in order to fend off the worsening weather conditions.  
I personally found the competition tough.  Not because my boat was slow but due to having to race amongst such a large fleet of very competitive skippers.  Generally it felt I could finish mid fleet but one or two incidents or mistakes would see you loose many positions in an instance, often leaving you out the back door!

I did manage to win one race leading from the first beat to finish line and also a third, having lead at the windward mark I found it very difficult to actually see my sails through my blurred glasses as the rain was well and truly falling by this time.  Barry Chisam and John Taylor managing to get passed.
All in all a very enjoyable day.  The rain didn't dampen the spirit of the day, that was left to the UK's IOM Class secretary who lost his rag and reverted to some offensive language.  There really is no need for it!
In contrast and to end on a good note the Members of the Dartmoor SC put on a very good regatta and Sy Clark was a deserved winner with approx 7 bullets out of 16 races.