A check on the weather forecast for Thursday at Chipstead Lake sent me to bed on Wednesday night very happy that  Race # 12 was going to be another fast moving affair. I had read that there would be a SSE wind of 12/14 knots, gusting to 20 knots! What a prospect, I thought…..but after arriving at the lake to help rig and launch the fleet, I waited and waited  for some wind to warrant my expectations. Any wind would have helped and I was willing it to arrive. Mike Coleman and John King – our sailing brains trust – felt that they would set up the Start Line to the north of the usual Outer Distance Marker at angle set by Buoy D which would at least give the racers a Beat up to Mark J (in the narrows). But then we decided to wait until the wind showed its hand, before deciding whether to set a course which would get the racers to sail clockwise or anti-clockwise around the perimeter of the lake. We waited as long as we could (until 11.15am!!) before making our decision and telling the racers (over the Tannoy) that the course would be Start to the windward Mark J (SH), then running to Mark K (SH) just off the pontoons, and  then a broad reach across the lake to a repositioned Mark C (SH) before beating back to Mark J (crossing the Start line).

Considering they had so little breeze to help them steer their dinghies, all the helms managed to  stay clear of each other on the Start Line (between the flagged Distance Marker in the middle of the lake to Buoy D – which was being dragged into position even as the start sequence was counting down!).   The two light air specialist 2.4s were the first to get clear air, followed by Kim Sparkes (303 sail #9) and Steve Farmer (303 #2) who were heading the much larger Martins, helmed by Martin Norman (#125) and Mike Blatchford (#126).  The picture gallery below shows how David Mason’s initial lead was short-lived and  the bulk of the fleet had to sail at close quarters for some time until the Martins gradually used their greater sail area to move away from Kim and the pack.

After the smooth start, the 2.4s and Martins made their inexorable move to the front of the fleet and gradually the rest of the fleet increased its coverage over the lake.  As can be seen from the pictures below, it wasn’t a surprise that only the two 2.4s and Mike Blatchford’s  Martin managed to sail more than one lap of the course in the 30 minute duration of the race. In a way this was to their advantage since the wind did pick up a bit about 20 minutes into the race. That meant that Peter Gregory’s first lap was 16 minutes and his second lap was 12 minutes! The scoring system we have used this year meant that Peter’s average was 14 minutes – two  inutes quicker than his first lap.  All in all the race was one requiring patience by the helm and progress was not just due to skill but also to the luck of whether the wind blew across the part of the lake on which a helm happened to be!

Well done to you all…and onward.  With the closeness between some of the qualifiers, there is much to play for  in the final race of the season next Thursday.

Full results were:

  1. David Mason in his 2.4m
  2. Peter Gregory 2.4
  3. Kim Sparkes 303
  4. Derek Green 303
  5. Mike Blatchford Martin
  6. Rachel Ibbotson (with her crew Claire Pearson) 303
  7. Steve Famer 303
  8. Fay Watson (John Douglas) 303
  9. Tom Phillips  (Di) 303
  10. Keith Eeles Liberty
  11. Martin Norman Martin
  12. Brian Mac (Bob Marsh) Venture
  13. Louise Fisher Liberty
  14. DNF Lisa Holland (Sandra) 303

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