Considering it was forecast to be the hottest day of our HOT summer without any breeze to cool us, last Thursday saw a sizeable group of WS Racers turning up to participate in the final race of the Spring Series – to complete the campaign of thirteen scheduled races! Thankfully only two had been cancelled in May and June due to forecast dangerously high winds and rain! (Yes, I can just about remember those days!! Ed).
For the third week running I arrived at the lake at 9am, to help the earlybird volunteers (from 8am!!!) finish off rigging and launching the fleet, expecting that we would not be able to stage a Race due to lack of wind. But again I was proved to be “Ye of little faith!”. John King had been out on the water VERY early and had moved some of the buoys around so that we could have a race course mainly on the northern side of the lake because what little wind we might get would be coming from the south. Thanks as always John!! But at 9am there wasn’t a ripple on the water’s surface so perhaps John’s efforts might still have been in vain – nevertheless, the Race Hut was opened up and John’s course put up on the Race Board. The Start line was between Bouy K to the distance mark Flag, then setting off eastward along the lake to leave Mark J to Port and head off Downwind to Mark D (also on Port) before heading off back westward along the lake to Marks A and B (both on starboard) before beating back to the Start/Finish Line. As in recent weeks, judging the wind’s strength and direction was clearly going to be a main challenge of our racers if they were going to make any headway around the course.
From 1000 the lake filled up with dinghies – mainly WS Racers – and gradually the early arrivals were joined by those coming from further afield and the WOW (Women on water) fleet, with whom WS shares the lake on Thursdays. The Session Manager – David Mckee – was keen to satisfy as many potential Racers as possible with the fleet available, so he asked Mike Blatchford to give up his 2.4m (which he had spent all morning fine-tuning ready for the race) so that David Mason could race. Then Malcolm Hill arrived (Welcome back Malcolm! Ed) at the same time as John Davis-Ashdown (A new participant from the Argonauts – welcome John! Ed), so David recalled Stratos 1 and the Venture to the pontoon so that Malcolm and John could get involved in the race also. And, with a 10 minute delay on the scheduled Start time, the Racers were called to order over the Tannoy from the Race Hut and asked to get up to the Start LIne, just before the 3 minute Gong sounded.
The WS Racing fleet’s movement up and down the Start Line is a great sight to behold as the 3, then 2 and 1 minute Gongs sound…and then GONG – they are off. Nowadays boats are breaching the start line within nano seconds of the Start Gong. (Brilliant! Ed) The early leaders were Martin Newman’s Martin (Sail # 125) and Bob Fisher’s Liberty (Pink Lady) but as can been seen from the series of photos below there was lots of competitive sailing involving the 2.4ms, helmed by Peter Wagner (#108) and David Mason (#109), and Elle and Helen and Fay Watson and James in their 303s, up to the windward Mark J and across to Mark D on the north bank of the lake.
As with our recent races in light and variable winds, the 2.4ms have shown their superior speed through the water and David and Peter were indeed leading at the end of the first lap – crossing the line with the clock at 8 mins 15 seconds and 9 mins dead respectively. Peter was being closely pursued by Martin Newman in his Martin #125 (9 mins 15 secs) and a little further behind him on the water was Elle and her crew Helen Fairfax, in their 303 #Red 5 (9 mins 46 secs). Mike Blatchford – who had given up his 2.4m so that David Mason could race – was off his normal pace but also suffering from having to perform a 360 penalty turn after colliding with Fay Watson (Quite correctly! Ed) after his main sheet got tangled just as a gust hit him as he was leading David Mason after rounding Mark D but when approaching Fay as she was heading for Mark J.
The rest of the fleet gradually got stretched out along and across the lake BUT, as all the WS Racers know, it is critically important that each helm and crew keep concentrating on their own boat handling – given the wind available – because the PY handicap system will smooth out even apparently large distances between the faster and slower boats. Clearly, if a 303 can keep within a few minutes of a Liberty, Martin or 2.4m, it will probably be in the lead on handicap.
Due to the lack of wind, only half the fleet were asked to sail two laps of the course. The cut-off was at 20 mins .15 secs when Louise McSweeney crossed the Finish Line closely followed by other 303s and Tom Phillips in his Liberty. The others kept racing over a second lap and the two 2.4ms were sufficiently ahead that they sailed three laps. The two photos below show the illusion of how one Martin becomes two…..(Or is that Martin Newman passing Mike Blatchford to his lee? Ed)
Being the end of the Spring Series (see separate Post), here is a photo of a few of the Qualifiers having lunch in the sunshine. A very happy occasion.
Finally, a big thank you to all the WS volunteers who make the WS Racing possible and so much fun!! You know who you are.
Result of Race #13
1. Elle and her crew Helen Fairfax (303D)
2. David Mason (2.4m)
3. Scott / Anne (303D)
4. Peter Wagner (2.4m)
5. Mike Blatchford (Martin)
6. Martin Newman (Martin)
7. Bob Fisher (Liberty)
8. Louise McSweeney (303S)
9. Steve Farmer (303S)
10. Fay Watson / James Thomas (303D)
11. Tom Phillips (303S)
12. John Davis Ashdown / Mike Cartwright (Stratos)
13. Malcolm Hill / John Masters (Venture)