There was hardly sufficient wind to ruffle the surface of Chipstead Lake when the first volunteers arrived to rig and launch the fleet of Wealden Sailability’s dinghies and safety craft last Thursday. The forecast was for a gentle breeze of 6 to 7 knots from the West, backing to the South-west and South later in the day. As can be seen from this photograph,

The calm before the Race

The calm before the Race

taken just before the start of the race at 11:30 AM, the 10 Helms who had gathered to do battle were in for a gentle ride – with lots of potential for frustrating moments when deciding whether to tack…or not…Yes, I’ll tack…just done it….oh no…look where the wind has moved to now! Arrgggh!!! (And I thought that sailing is a sport that enables folk to get away from it all and relax! Ed.)  Nevertheless, there they were: two 2.4s (108 is still being repaired), two Liberties, a solitary Martin and five double-handed 303s milling around on the millpond.  The bigger and faster boats were close up to the start line whilst most of the 303s were hanging back. This resulted in an exhortation over the tannoy from Race Control for them to get closer.  The Gong for the start sounded but regrettably the wind conditions were such that those Helms in the fleet furthest away from the start line, were still struggling to get over the start line 5 minutes into the race.  But back at the front of the fleet, we didn’t have to wait long for a bit of action. Surely like last week we couldn’t have had a clear front runner, streaking away from the pack. There was just insufficient wind. No, that’s right. Nobody was moving very fast. In fact, one boat was moving so slowly on port tack that it was not able to avoid two other boats on starboard tack. So we had our first collision – which took place pretty much on the Start Line! (Hang on. I didn’t see any 720 penalty turns. Have the rules changed? Ed) But WS Racers being such a nice bunch of people, they just sorted themselves out and got on with it. (Well done, chaps! Ed.)  However the two innocent parties to this incident must have been slightly concerned when they saw the other party apparently disappearing into the distance and building a sizeable lead – as can be seen here…

Brian Mac makes a great start

Brian Mac makes the most of nice Messrs Gregory and Mason

Because of the light wind and the self -imposed 50 to 75 yard penalty (as described above), many boats in the fleet struggled on the initial Tack up to Mark B. Even the Red Torpedo, helmed by the skilful and fit Peter “Hand-cycle” Gregory, appeared to stand still in the water at times. But gradually, Peter and the front runners crept closer to the windward Mark.  Just after Peter rounded it, some 50 yards in the lead, the breeze picked-up and that helped his pursuers to finish the upwind leg and get around Mark B.  But that very same gust helped to propel the Red Torpedo away from the clutches of David Mason (2.4), Kelly Tripp and her crew Di (303D), Brian Mac (Martin) and Lisa Holland and her crew Sue Ives (303D), downwind towards Mark C and onwards to the Leeward Mark. And by the time the front-runners of this group had managed to get to Mark C, Peter Gregory was rounding the LeewardMark (which was a temporary Flag 150 yards due East of the middle of the start line). (There is just no slowing him. Is there? Ed.) 

In fact, Race #5 seemed to be split into a race between the 2.4s and a separate race involving the others. As can be seen from the three photos below, Peter Gregory demonstrated the impressive performance which he manages to get out of the Red Torpedo.

Stratos 3, helmed by our very own, highly experienced sailor, Bob Marsh, crossed the Start/Finish Line, to complete his first lap, 3 seconds ahead of Brian Mac in his Martin who crossed the line at the end of his first lap, 8 seconds before Peter Gregory arrived at the very same spot on the Lake to complete his second lap. What to do when confronted by two big boats apparently blocking your path? The answer can be seen in the photos – you just sail straight between them and say “Bon voyage, mis amis!”  (So how come he still came 2nd? Ed.) 

It was this level of sailing that enabled Peter to complete three laps at 9 mins 45 sec per lap – whilst the fleet managed 18 to 29 minutes for a single lap. Not that they weren’t trying, they were very competitive with some close racing, but the conditions were very, very tricky and there were reports that some boats suffered dreadfully from having picked up large bundles of weed around their keels and rudders. (Nobody can sail with  such drag or stopping them steering. Can they? Ed.) So WELL DONE to all you WS Racers for sticking to your guns and a big THANK YOU as always to the volunteers for crewing and for helping those boats that had the weed problems and had steered themselves into trouble. (See grouching below!! Ed.)

Final Result

  1. David Mason in a 2.4
  2. Peter Gregory – 2.4
  3. Kelly Tripp – 303D
  4. Fay Watson – 303D
  5. Mark Cayzer – 303D
  6. Lisa Holland – 303D
  7. Brian Mac – Martin
  8. Peter Wagner – Liberty
  9. Rachel Ibbott – 303D
  10. Martyn Norman – Liberty

4 comments on “WS Racing – Summer Series 5 – 31st August

  • Martyn and I both had exactly the same problem with steering all I could do was to turn left in circles. But David Mason won the big problem of the day when he had a huge ball of weed wrapped around his centreboard in the afternoon!

  • I did wonder why all those smaller and allegedly slower boats overtook me on the penultimate leg. I thought for a minute I was losing my touch. It seems that the weed is growing not just round the pontoons at this time of year, but in the middle of the lake also. If the monster continues to proliferate, the lake might become unsailable before the season is out. Has this happened before?

    • David, you have been watching too many horror films! A September drop in temperature(which already seems to be happening!!) and the weed will sink back in to the depths…to bide it’s time until next year when it will rise slowly before slowly creeping up the side of the boat and along your arm and……..

    • It has been far worse before. I have seen algae blooms as thick as pea soup on the water, and it smells too! (as a note to Graham, Sue and Helen, you may want to avoid taking the dogs up to the boat park area, as there was a bloom near to the bank)

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