Having checked the weather forecast, which predicted a decent 6-10 knots of wind from the North Westerly direction, we arrived at Chipstead to find the lake looking like a sheet of glass…without a hint of any wind…?!? During the morning, whilst setting up and launching the fleet, this did improve, or at least it did in respect that some wind arrived, but sadly it couldn’t seem to decide whether to blow from the North West, or the North East??…meaning it would be tricky to set a course for the racers and even trickier for the racers themselves…!!
Despite this uncertainty, a course was set, with the intention being to head west along the lake, taking Mark B to port, heading downwind to Mark A, to also be taken to port, followed by a reasonably long sail down the lake to the narrows, to go around Mark D and Mark J, both to starboard. (Note: if a reasonable amount of wind stayed then these 2 marks were to be moved further into the narrows to make a larger course. Ed.) “Plan B” was, if the wind decided to swing around to North East, then the course would be reversed to Marks D, J, B, then A..!!
Eventually the time arrived for the start and as is becoming the norm with racing at Wealden, there was very little breeze and it still could not decide in which direction to blow…!?!?!? Considering the conditions, several boats still managed to make good starts, most being the usual guys in the larger boats, but they were joined at the front of the fleet by Imogen Fletcher in a double handed 303 (with Tony Merrick as crew: Ed.).
I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone to hear that the first boat to round Marks B & A was the Red Torpedo himself (Peter Gregory: Ed), although it had taken Peter nearly 10 minutes to get this far. Then, having reached half way down the leg to Mark D, with the chasing boats still making their way around Mark A, Peter found himself almost at a standstill. Behind him, David Mason and Peter Wagner in the other two 2.4m’s picked up a relatively ‘huge’ gust, which carried them down the lake and past Peter G..!! (Note: Closely followed by Imogen & Tony in the lead 303…!! Ed.).
That lead change didn’t last for too long though, because by the time they had rounded Marks D & J, Peter G had regained the lead, to be the first through the start/finish line at the end of his first lap.
By now the wind appeared to be slightly more consistent in the area of the lake in front of the race box, but this may not have been the case down in the narrows. Although it was a little tricky to see from the race box, it would seem by the times taken, that because of the very fluky winds in the narrows, everyone struggled getting successfully around the two buoys at that end of the course….
Then at around the 20 minute mark, after 4 or 5 boats had already completed their first lap, the wind died off yet again. Discussions were held in the race box as to whether to shorten or even abandon the race, but the decision was made to hang-on and see whether everyone could sail/drift to the finish…which they all did eventually, although the last finisher was at 53 minutes….?!?!
(Note: Before finishing, sailors need to complete a full lap, or laps, and be gonged through the finish line…..or they will be NOT be given a finish time….!! Ed.)
So to the results, which are: –
- Malcolm Hill (Martin16)
- Martin Newman (Martin16)
- Steve Farmer (303S)
- Peter Wagner (2.4m)
- David Mason (2.4m)
- Imogen Fletcher (303D) crew Tony Merrick
- Mike Blatchford (Liberty)
- Peter Gregory (2.4m)
- Rowan Nichols (303D) crew Di
- Bob Fisher (303S)
- Keith Eeles (Liberty)
- Sophie Absolom (303D) crew Graham
- Jake Jones (Stratos) crew various
- Fay Watson (303D) crew Sue
- Trevor Monk (303S)
Tom Philips – DNF (Did Not Finish)
Rachel Ibbots – DNS (Did Not Start)