Perfect Lady 9 2011

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Historical Information | ← Category:Competitor Logs | Perfect Lady 9 2011

River Cruiser: Perfect Lady 9 (2011)

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Posted by Doug Starr, 21st June, 2011

Technical Info.
Craft:Perfect Lady 9
Class:River Cruiser
Author:Doug Starr

Our Three River Race got off to a good start although we were 6 minutes late for our start as we kept getting stuffed on the short tacks up to the start. Once around the corner we gathered pace and were soon catching up the start in front.

Perfect Lady 9 - photo courtesy of Craig Slawson

By Horning Hall we had overtaken around 10 boats and were in sight of Jamesia 2, we then sailed into a big hole and every one bunched back up, once clear we decided to head up the Ant first, BIG mistake as PL9 is around 31ft overall, tacking on such a narrow river we lose forward momentum and drift sideways, this allowed the boats behind us to catch up again causing us to be blown on to the leeward bank scratching my newly painted hull!!. Bare legs and bramble bushes do not mix and after frantic attempts to push her off, my legs are now bleeding quite badly, decision made to lower the sails and try to turn the boat round and head back to the Bure, only lots of boats coming back down under full sail did not make this easy. Once we completed the turn the jib was set to take us back down to the Bure while I put a reef into the main.

Once back on the Bure the main was hoisted again only to find the reefing line had come undone, I was then leaning on to the boom while hovering along at around 7 knots, this is not to be recommended, trying to tie it back up.

Perfect Lady 9 at Thurne Mouth - photo courtesy of Paul Sheard

At Thurne Mouth we checked the time and were too early for the tide at Acle so headed up to Hickling.

Perfect Lady 9 at guardship - photo courtesy of Paul Sheard
Perfect Lady 9 heading up the Thurne - photo courtesy of Paul Sheard

A boat passing back told us our bobstay is missing which explained why the jib kept going slack Run forward and lean over the side to find the rope attaching the bobstay to the bowsprit was broken, hand down to retrieve it and a new piece of rope fitted we approached Potter Heigham. On reaching Potter Heigham we saw the Norfolk punt crash in to the Trip boat Lady Catherine at Herbert Woods. With the wind this strong we decided to stop and drop the mast instead of shooting the bridge, a quick drop and quanted through without problems - we were soon on our way to Hickling. The wind was very strong on Hickling and once around the mark a shout of our race number and hello to Liz on the guard ship, we were making 8.1 knots on the GPS reaching back up Heigham sound. Another uneventful mast drop and back through the bridge and we set off again to Acle.

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Reaching most of the way up to Acle we were still ahead of the tide but making good progress. The mast drop at Acle went ok and we had to do a 360 to avoid hitting another boat and the tide took us under the bridge without too much paddling. Mast back up and we set off for the lower Bure mark, we had a good tacking duel with a Yeoman up to the mark, race number shouted again and we were now punching the tide back to Acle. We ran aground just before the dredger and as everyone was now feeling the effects of the wind it took quite a while to break free. The transit back under the bridge was difficult as the tide was still running fast and the quant would not touch the bottom but by keeping close in we made it.

Sails back up we were tacking most of the way back up to Thurne mouth, it was now getting dark so nav lights on and we turned towards Horning.

On reaching Fleet Dyke we turned down under a following wind, by this time it was very dark and getting very hard to see the banks so Tim was sent forward to act as look out. The boat was also close to gibing; with only the pressure on the mainsheet to go by everyone was on standby. We dropped the tally in the bucket before rounding the mark and tacking back out. Sue gave us a round of applause which was nice as everyone was now feeling very tired and with no other boats around gave us a boost. On approaching the “S” bend near the moorings a boat suddenly loomed out of the dark and a short tack ensured we left plenty of room. Once back on the Bure we approached the Ant mouth - the wind was still strong but I was feeling hopeful we could try again without the other boats halting our boat speed. Tacking up the Ant in the dark is not something I would recommend but somehow we made the turning point and were heading for home. The sail back to Horning went without mishap and we tacked across the line at 00:36. A big cheer went up as I had now managed to finish for the first time in four attempts. I went down below to get the outboard as we sailed along with the wind behind us; trying to fit the engine back on in the dark was not easy when I heard a loud shout BANK! I looked round to see us heading straight at the bank doing around 6 knots, I shouted to Dan to steer away only to receive the reply IT WONT TURN. I grabbed the tiller swung the boat around only for it to gybe and the mainsheet caught the engine almost ripping it from the bracket, as I had not yet tied the lanyard on I watched it dangle at a very strange angle. Once the boat was under control the outboard was repositioned and the sails dropped, we motored back up to the clubhouse.

A very gratefully received breakfast was devoured and back on the boat for some much needed sleep.

I would like to say a big thank you to all my crew especially Hele (Galley slave, sail handler and expert paddler) for working hard and making it such a fantastic race. I would also like to pass on our thanks to everyone at HSC for a great weekend.

All that’s left to do now is tidy up PL9’s paint work to make her look her best for the C in C.

Doug Hele and FB.

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