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Portland - Sunday 19th October 2003

The Nomads were supposed to be down at Marazion for the weekend, but for some inexplicable reason bottled out at the pub night- and opted for Portland/Overcombe instead. With a cast iron stiff Easterly breeze guaranteed for all weekend, I’m not even going to comment on the sanity of this call, but fate thus saw me at a deserted Overcombe at 09.30 looking at a 4ish N Easterly and uninspiring 24” waves terminating in a dump which was only going to build as the tide rose.

Consulting my ‘phone memory I found ‘Powell’ - a legacy of Brandon Bay - and pressed the big button to see if they were at Portland. What I got was not a weather report from the harbour eventually, but a plaintive whimper of ‘Its half past nine’ followed by what might have been a stifled sob. Not like Steve, I thought, but perhaps there was even less wind round there. Apparently my source had absolutely no idea what the wind was doing- even in Edinburgh. Sorry, Danny; really really sorry.

So; round to Portland harbour, where a raw 20 knots+ was hammering the shingle. Keith and the Sanders were in nearly as little hurry as I was to hit the water. We stood in a huddle muttering ‘right’ for as long as was decently possible, watching for a consensus to emerge on sail size among the wind dummies. Anything between 3.7 and 5.7, and falling into the categories of ‘good, bad and ugly’ were to be seen hitting the water with varying degrees of success, so little inspiration to be had there.

I eventually broke left, and headed off with a 5.7 on the 112 litre Naish, as the wind had dropped a bit. A temporary state of affairs, but just nice timing to lure others out with acres of excess canvas, as it transpired. I returned, rocket propelled, after a few of laps, thinking 5.3.

Fred Hussain, Brian Derrick and Phil Baker were now in evidence as I re-rigged. Same again, really. The wind continued to build, and again my teeth began to feel as if they were being shaken loose. It could not be described as an easy sail, even when not maxed, and it was beginning to howl. The Naish was becoming a right handful when chop hopping, but at least a change down to the 4.7 Voodoo should help, as the wind showed no inclination to drop.

For an hour or so the 4.7 did the biz, but by 13.30 I felt like a bit of a fish finger in the gutter - as in battered, chewed up and spat out - and so called it a day. Ian and Neroli were now in evidence, fresh from the Rugby. Probably a better call, but not as good as Marazion would have been, I have to say.

Tony Low

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