The Race Report from the pen of your roving Race Controller Fleur Bryant:
It was a windy one! Arriving early at the club, the wind was fairly light and lulled most of us into thinking it would stay like that. The wind seemed to build before our eyes but it was great to see so many of you still keen to take part. Again apologies for the delay to the start but thank you for your patience whilst everybody got onto the water.
Just when you thought that you had Starts nailed, we threw another challenge in with a downwind start. What was impressive is that you all coped with it so well, particularly so given the strong winds. The downwind start led to a flying first leg down to the leeward Mark. Leading the charge was Martin Norman in his Martin closely followed by David Mason in his 2.4.. Although just as they arrived at Mark D, Peter Gregory, in the Red Torpedo, made an incredible move to sneak inside both Martin and David as they were rounding the leeward Mark D and take the lead on the water as they all set off on a Broad Reach towards Mark C. (Over lunch, I heard talk of “Loud shouting for Water/Room at the Mark by a boat that seemed to come out of nowhere”. So? I asked. “We all obediently moved out of the way!” Remember that in sailing races you only have to play to the Rules –NOT just move out of the way of the helm shouting instructions! So, at the moment you are THREE of your own boat’s lengths away from the Mark to be rounded, unless the following boat has its bow closer to the Mark than the stern of your boat, then hold your course and deny “Room at the Mark”. The following boat will then have to alter its course and sail a longer way – around you and the Mark. Ed.) The 303s were led to the first Mark by Steve Farmer followed closely by Fay Watson.
The exciting action was maintained up the first beat, Peter Gregory stretched his legs and his lead but Peter Wagner sailed an awesome leg and Mike Blatchford, having suffered a false Start and as a result losing some 50 seconds, started to ease his way up through the fleet in his Martin. In the 303s, Kim Sparkes sailed herself to the front of her Class, although, like a number of you, on the downwind leg she found a few holes in the wind out on the course and slowed – even appearing to stop at times – whilst, when the wind strengthened, the boats behind caught her up.
The greatest sight of the race had to be seeing Mike, Martin, David and Peter Wagner sailing 4 abreast around the windward mark and then chasing each other downwind. Great sailing and no collisions!
The pace was maintained up to the start/finish gate where the time between the 1st boat of the 4 and the last was just 9 seconds – what a race! During the 2nd lap, Kim really stretched her legs creating a substantial gap on the other 303s. We were sorry to see Mark Cayzer having to retire and sailing in substantially lower in the water created by slightly hairy moment. Great to see you pushing so hard though Mark! (Or was that mishap all due to your crew getting a little over- excited in the strong wind? Ed.)
The sail of the 2nd lap has to go to Mike Blatchford for an incredible sail, narrowing the gap substantially to Peter Gregory. The 303s continued to sail a tight race. The two 303s of Louise and Rachel stuck closely to each other (Literally, as if glued together at times. Ed) for much of the lap, crossing within a second of each other through the gate!
The wind continued to gust heavily with the variation in strength creating some difficult wind shadows particularly visible on the downwind leg. Well done to you all for persevering. Overall, everyone had a brilliant race with only one retiree in difficult conditions. Well done Peter Gregory for another superb demonstration of how a 2.4 should be sailed and to Mike Blatchford for a well deserved win on handicap in his Martin and it was great to see Kim back on song in her Access 303. A final observation is about Louise Fisher, who is a novice dinghy sailor and who could be seen improving each lap. (One to watch in the second half of the races in the Summer Series, perhaps! Ed.).
Final Result – subject to: scrutineering, boat weighing and measurement, helm/crew testing!
- Mike Blatchford in a Martin
- Kim Sparkes – 303S
- David Mason – 2.4m
- Fay Watson and her crew James Thomas – 303D
- Peter Gregory – 2.4m
- Peter Wagner – 2.4m
- Martin Norman – Martin
- Steve Farmer – 303S
- Rachel Ibbott and Rick Atkinson – 303D
- Tom Phillips and Colin Barnes – 303D
- Louise Fisher – 303S
DNF Mark Cayzer and his overly intrepid crew John Douglas
[Apologies for the bath tub school of sailing Mark! Ed.]