The main celebration today was the Chair of Trustee’s 70th Birthday for which we had a sunny, warm and windy day perfect for a Race. The lunchtime presentation of a Photo Book covering David Mckee’s 10 year association with Wealden Sailability as Volunteer, Trustee and Chair of Trustees was followed by toasting David’s health with a glass of champagne and a piece of birthday cake in the presence of his wife, children and grand-daughter. A lovely occasion for a very special man. (Thank you David! Ed)

WS Racers arrived at Chipstead after the volunteers had launched and rigged enough dinghies, the Rib and Commandos to enable the expected number of sailors and racers to get on the water safely. The weather forecast was perfect for racing but the North wind was veering aand backing between NNW and NNE. The normal expectation for sailing races is that the first leg of the race is a Beat so that racers have to zig-zag into the prevailing wind. The high trees on the north bank of the lake creates a natural baffle for a north wind and this results in the creation of a wind shadow in the area immediately south of the trees and when the wind does get through it comes in swirling and uneven currents. This makes setting a course for the race with a NNW/NNE wind quite tricky. The set course was: START/FINISH line between Buoy K and a Flag opposite Pontoon #5, the windward mark was Buoy D, then Buoy C and the leeward mark Buoy A down near the waterfall.

Here are some photos of activity on the lake as the Volunteers got the dinghies ready and some WS Racers got the feel for the conditions before the race

The race fleet gradually started closing on the Start Line as the 3 minute Gong sounded at 11 am. From the video below, you can decide whether you might have arrived at the start line just as the final Gong sounded (rather than be stationary and therfore needing a few minutes to start moving). Another decision to make before a race starts is which end of the Start Line would most benefit you in sailing to the first Mark. You can test that by sailing up and down the Start Line before the fleet start gathering for the race. (If anyone would like advice on how to select which end of the Start Line to target, please ask one of the Race Organisers. Ed)

The position of Mark D was tough because of the reasons mentioned before. Both the approach to Mark D and the second leg run downwind to Mark C was made extremely difficult by the varaibility of the wind’s strength and direction. When the wind blows from the North, seasoned sailors at Chipstead aim to sail in the middle or south side of the lake and only venture north to round the Marks on their course. Nevertheless you all managed to overcome these challenges which was no mean feat. (Well done and apologies for putting Mark D in such a tricky position. Ed)

As often is the case the front runners around the upwind Mark are able to lead the Race on the water for at least the first few Laps and that was the case for the first two Laps with Peter Wagner and Martin Norman in their Libertys (Sail # 22 and 24 respectively) with Martin passing Peter during the second Lap. Imogen Fletcher and Steve Farmer in their 303s (Sail # 7 and 3 respectively) were similarly closely matched in the first two Laps but then Imogen managed to pull away on Lap 3 and managed to maintain that performance on Lap 4. Bob Fisher, Mark Cayzer and Rachel Ibbott in their 303s (Sail # 9, 11 and 2 respectively) were closely matched on Lap 1 after which Bob and Mark managed to pull away from Rachel on Lap 2 and Bob managed to shake off Mark on Lap 3. Derek Preston (Liberty # 25) was unfortunate to run aground shortly after the Start and lose a lot of time whilst waiting to be rescued by the birthday boy who was crewing on the Safety Rib (Good to see the top brass getting their hands dirty! Ed).

Here are a few more photos of different moments and situations during the Race…

And the winner both on the water and after applying the PY handicap was Martin Norman (Very relaxed. Congratulations! Ed)

The full result of the Race is:

  1. Martin Norman – Liberty Sail White #24
  2. Imogen Fletcher and her crew Mark Cartwright – 303 Sail White #7
  3. Steve Farmer – 303 Sail yellow #3
  4. Bob Fisher – 303 Sail Blue #9
  5. Ann Frewer – 2.3 Sail Red/White #279
  6. Peter Wagner – Liberty Sail Yellow #22
  7. Mark Cayzer and his crew Nigel Lamb – Sail Blue #11
  8. Rachel Ibbott and her crew Paul Chilvers – Sail Blue #2
  9. Derek Preston – Liberty Sail Blue #25
  10. Tom Phillips – 303 Sail White # 8

A big thank you to all the volunteers and sailors and to David Mckee’s family to let us enjoy a moment to reflect upon the devotion and skill provided to Wealden Sailability over many years by David Mckee on a perfect sailor’s day of sun and wind!

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