What a hot day greeted those sailors intrepid enough to venture down to Chipstead Lake on Thursday. But fortunately we had sufficient breeze blowing in from the SW (i.e. along the length of the lake or from left to right as you look out over the water from the clubhouse) to enable the thirteen WS Racers present to get the new Summer Series off to a good start.
The race started promptly with the usual 3-2-1 minute Gongs sounding and the fleet nicely bunched up close to the start line. Honours for the first boat across the line was shared between the 303 Red Sail #5 and the 2.4m Red Torpedo in the middle of the line and on starboard tack. (Welcome back Peter . Clearly the extra kilos added whilst hand-cycling 500km around the eateries of France haven’t slowed you down! Ed) Peter and Mike Blatchford in his 303 (Sail # 5) were closely pursued a few boat lengths behind by a posse of 303s, namely Louise (303 # 2), Bob (303 # 7) , Sophie (303 # 1) and Oscar (303 # 9).
As can be seen above, Peter Gregory quickly got his boat up to speed and was able to create sufficient space between himself and those closest to him in the fleet coming up on his starboard quarter. Changing from starboard to port tack in a closely packed fleet mainly on starboard tack is often a tricky manoeuvre to complete without impeding the progress of other boats which would result in a penalty to the boat turning onto the new tack. The following photo shows how busy a small piece the water can get ….(I wonder how many of you tacked and found yourself in the path of a boat with the helm shouting “Starboard”! Ed) Of course the affronted helm must change course to avoid a collision. (And if you were an offending helm, you did a 360 turn as a penalty! Didn’t you? Ed)
Gradually the Martins – helmed by Malcolm Hill (#125) and Martin Newman (#126) – and David Mason in his 2.4m (#109) managed to make use of their bigger sails in the light breeze. So by the time the front of the fleet had followed Peter Gregory around the windward Mark A (photo below) and then made the broad reach across to Mark B, they were leading the fleet as can be seen below with Keith Eeles working hard to stay with this chasing pack.
The downwind leg saw these boats falling well behind the Red Torpedo which had rounded the leeward Mark J and made the short reach up to and around Mark D and was just completing its first lap as this second group approached the Start/Finish line on their run. There was some changing of positions but David Mason lead Martin Newman towards the leeward Mark J and their gybe rounding the Mark gave Keith (Liberty/303 # 1643), Sophie (303 #1) and Malcolm (Martin #125) a few seconds to catch up as they started the short reach up Mark D.
As the fleet became spread out along the lake each boat’s speed was affected by the amount of wind that just happened to be blowing as they were passing by. This meant that at times a group of boats were nearly stationary whilst others were sailing along at a good pace over the water and catching others up. This happened particularly noticeably as the main “chasing group” had rounded the leeward Marks J and D for the second time and were beating back to sail through the Start/Finish Gate to complete their second lap. Well the wind just stopped blowing for them but at the other end of the course the boats at the back of the fleet were just rounding Marks A and B and whoosh….a good strong gust appeared to drive them right up the lake and towards the leeward Marks but that very same gust came to the rescue of those boats that had been in the doldrums for a few minutes since it enabled them to move again and complete their second and final lap!
It was great to see quite a few closely fought encounters going on between the 303s during the race. Such as between Mike Blatchford (#5) and Louise Mc Sweney (#2) and Oscar (#9).
Special mention goes to Fay Watson and her crew John Douglas who were sent out onto the lake without a rudder!! I am not sure how long it took them to realise that this was causing them a problem but by the time they had had a rudder fitted they had lost quite a bit of time…BUT…that is exactly the sort of challenge that Fay relishes and despite her crew’s mutinous suggestions of “calling it a day”, she battled on and finished one lap in 35 minutes! (What heart! Ed)
The 30 minutes duration of the race was up with Peter Gregory (2.4m #148) being the only boat to complete three laps in 29 minutes 31 seconds, just under a minute slower than it took David Mason to complete two laps in his 2.4m (#109). An impressive performance by Peter which saw him finish First after the PY handicaps had been applied by our clever software programme. But as can be seen below, if the slower PY boats are sailed well and keep going, they will be rewarded and finish in front of the apparently faster boats!! Well done to Mike Blatchford, and Oscar (just 1 sec per lap behind David Mason’s 2.4m) and Louise (just 5 secs per lap behind Oscar). Bob Fisher may rue the day that he invited the Champion Sailor “Lady of the Reeds” to be his crew. He dropped from previous 4th on his own to 7th in this Race.
Results of Summer Series Race #1
1. Peter Gregory (2.4m)
2. Mike Blatchford (303S)
3. David Mason (2.4m)
4. Oscar and his crew Don (303D)
5. Louise McSweeney (303S)
6. Keith Eeles (Liberty with 303 sails)
7. Bob Fisher and his crew Kim Sparkes (303D)
8. Malcolm Hill / Mike Mckenzie (Martin)
9.Martin Newman (Martin)
9. Steve Farmer (303S)
10. Fay Watson / John Douglas (303D)
In addition, Sophie and Peter Wagner both chose to retire from the race. Sophie retired from a leading position just as she was about to complete her first lap and Peter found there were too many gremlins in the steering of his Liberty fighting against him, for him to enjoy the battle!