Although it was not intended that way, Friday saw the last race of the season sprint up and down the Haslar Wall for 45 minutes, before the rapidly approaching sunset and indeed the whole of the rest of the winter sent the Victory Class home to the bar for the last time in 2022. This 68th race of the season was to be the last, as the following morning the weather led to the cancellation of the last race of the last Saturday series, contributing one more cancellation to a season that saw a total of 21 scheduled races lost.

Even at this late stage there was plenty to play for with both the Friday Candlelight series to be won (with Z80, Z78 and Z54 in contention) and the overall Candlelight/ Twilight Series (Eric Davey trophy) to be completed. It must be said that Z78, Jim and Lelde, were looking fairly comfortable in both, but no one was going to make it easy….

Five boats came to the line, Z80, Z78, Z75, Z70 and Z54. Everyone with something to play for on the night. We had to play quickly, with sunset at 18:14 there was no time to hang around. The gate boat needs to set a course… its all very quiet… its still very quiet… its getting late…. Hey MC… did anyone mention… no one mentioned?...... Its YOU!

A flurry of activity from Matt and MC and Z70 set KB – BT – KB – BT – SS – PSC -SS. Z70 charged down the line post haste from KB, with Z80 (Russell and Martyn) and Z78 first through the gate and out into the changing east going tide, followed by Z54 (Geoff, Chris and Heather) to windward and Z75 (Sid and Clive) behind. Z80 and Z78 first to tack to the right, Z54 pinned down below Z75 and Z70, until in desperation 54 threaded the needle to go right, across the front of 75 and a sharp (very!) duck behind 70. Z80 into the mark first, followed by Z78. MC holding great pace to windward got Z70 around BT before Z54, and down the run we went to KB… Z80 with the lead, Z70 still running hot downwind to be third behind Z78, Z54 and Z75 behind.

The second beat saw little change, except an early tack to the right and bit of a shift lifted Z54 above Z70. As the run to SS started Z80 had control, followed by 78, 54, 70 and 75. Winter was coming however, the skies were darkening, and Matt and MC called the shortened course at SS. Z80 had the win, but Jim and Lelde in Z78 had done enough, and the Candlelight trophy and the Eric Davey were theirs! Z80 and Z75 respectively had the 2nd places, and Z54 the 3rds

On Z54, having completed their 49th race of the season, the crew felt a little weary, and wondered how many calories there were in 49 bars of chocolate, while the helm contemplated the end of his 40th Victory season and just felt old…..

The clouds cleared, the sun dropped below the horizon and our return to the harbour was accompanied by a spectacular autumn sunset. A pity it was all over for 2022… All good things come to an end.

Or over here…
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