The final race of the WS Spring Series was very well attended with 13 racers across the Access 303, Liberty, Martin and Venture classes plus 2 of the Stratos fleet, helmed by volunteers, crossing the start line.
By 10.30am when many of the racers were either on the water or getting ready to go on the water, the sun was making an effort to come out from a generally cloudy sky and the wind from the South-west, backing into the West, was gradually increasing up to its forecast 14 knots with gusts to 20 knots.
The start line and course were very much the same as in previous weeks when the wind is blowing from this direction. Namely, the start line was between Buoy K to a Distance Marker with a Flag in the middle of the lake; the upwind leg to Mark B, followed by the downwind leg to Mark C which would be the gybed around before continuing downwind heading to Mark D. Because of the significant increase in the amount of weed in the water, Mark D had been positioned close to the northern bank of the Lake and the racers had been advised to sail as much as possible in the middle of the lake between Mark D, the starting gate and the windward Mark B.
After a short delay to enable as many sailors as possible who wanted to race to get into their boats, the 5-4-1 start sequence ended with most of the fleet bunched up at the starboard end of the start line and 1 or 2 boats on the port end of the line. These helms soon found out why they were in the minority!
Malcolm Hill and his crew Dan in their Martin sail #125 were just first across the start line in the lead of a group of similarly quick starters comprising Mike Blatchford in his Liberty, Pink Lady; Peter Wagner in his 2.4 sail #108; Brian Mac in his Liberty sail #2290; David Mason in his 2.4 sail #109; Mark Cayzer and his crew Nic in their Access 303 sail #4; and Andy Wallace and his crew Helen in their Martin sail #126. But as this group got into their stride tacking up the Lake, the speedy 2.4’s and Andy Wallace’s Martin made grounds on Malcolm Hill’s Martin and were 1st to round the windward Mark B. A few hundred yards into the downwind leg, Peter Wagner had over a 100 yards lead on the 2nd and 3rd placed boats, another 2.4 helmed by David Mason and Andy Wallace’s Martin, which were vying for supremacy of position all the way down to the Gybe Mark C. These three were being earnestly pursued by Stratos 2, Brian Mac’s Liberty, Mike Blatchford in another Liberty,Pink Lady, and Stratos 3. This order was maintained all the way downwind to rounding Mark D – Peter Wagner having pulled out a 200 yard lead by then, and they were followed by Malcolm Hill and Dan’s Martin , Paul Hagan and Nigel Lamb in the Venture and Fay Watson and Rick in their Access 303.
In the short tacking sequence from Mark D to the Start Gate, Mike Blatchford made his move to overhaul Andy Wallace and close up on the leading 2.4s. Once into the second lap the leading 4 boats started to pull away from the rest of the racing fleet but always keeping in touch of each other; both Stratos 2 and 3 were also mixing it with the leading pack from time to time, whenever their helms wanted to show their true pace. As is expected the slower Access 303s fall back down the fleet on the water but they were battling each other and the wind which was fluctuating in both strength and direction. Georgia Pearless and Pat were the first 303 to complete Lap 1 over 1 minute ahead of Fay Watson and Rick but this had changed around by the time they completed Lap 2 with Fay storming ahead to lead Georgia by 1 minute and Fay maintained this standard of sailing by completing a third lap at the same pace as her fast second lap.
All in all there was plenty of toing and froing between the classes of similarly PY handicapped boats and although the results below show a rather static 1,2,3 etc…the detail behind these numbers shows how close the racing is. Namely: the differences in the average lap speed between the first six places are: 1st and 2nd = 10 secs; 2nd and 3rd = 3 secs; 3rd and 4th = 1 sec ; 4th and 5th = 5 secs; and 5th and 6th = 5 secs also!!! I say this in order to encourage every helm to see that you can climb up the results sheet by sailing just a few seconds quicker each lap.
Well done to every WS Racer who participated on another tricky sailing day at Chipstead. And finally, a special congratulations to Lydia Thorn who was presented with a very well achieved RYA Sailability Gold Award by Steve Thomas during lunchtime.
1. Mike Blatchford
2. Peter Wagner
3. Andy Wallace (with Helen as crew)
4. David Mason
5. Brian Mac
6. Fay Watson (with Rick as crew)
7. Georgia Pearless (with Pat as crew)
8. Bill Garry
9. John Hancock (with a crew)
10. Mark Cayzer (with Nic as crew)
11. Paul Hagan (with Nigel as co-helm)
12. Malcolm Hill (with a Dan as crew)
13. Lydia Thorn