Autumn is well advanced but today was a fabulous day for our race day. It started with hardly a ripple on the surface of the lake at 0830 and gradually built up to a steady 10 knots with erractic – in direction and strength – gusts up to 20 knots. The scene at 0930 from the Race Hut showed a perfect setting of the foreshore, the dinghies in all their colourful glory, the ruffled lake, the garland of trees on the north bank and sun on the North Downs.

After the normal preparations and the arrival of eleven eager WS Racers – some welcomed back after a few weeks absence and no doubt keen to improve their places in the Summer Series standings! The conditions were sunny but we soon had a lake full of dinghies battling with an increasingly strong and rather chilly wind. Big gusts could be seen from the Race Hut dashing down the lake from the West and all the helms and crews had to be fully on guard to spill the wind from their sails as they were smashed into by the elements. At least that meant the sailors were working hard and keeping warm. After a brief delay to ensure Mark Rainbow could get on the water before the 3 minute Gong was sounded, the race started as can be seen in this video. Look at how the fleet split with two boats going south on starboard tack and the rest of the fleet heading north on port tack before the northern leader, now on startboard tack, crossed just in front – forcing the port tack boats to go behind.

Due to the sustained wind speed this was the fastest race of the year so far and all the helms and crews were forced to sail very well. The slightest drop in concentration or mishandling of the sheets could result in missed opportunities to get past a competitor or losing a place to a boat behind. The wind favoured the four bigger Liberty class dinghies in the race but Kim Sparkes (Access 303 Red #5) bought her A Game today and after a very good start she sailed her smaller Access 303 brilliantly to keep in touch with Peter Wagner (Liberty Yellow #22) as he rounded the winward mark Buoy A first. Kelly Tripp (Access 303 Red #10) also sailed very well to get round Buoy A ahead of Mike Blatchford (Liberty Blue #25) with Imogen Fletcher (Access 303 Blue #11) rounding the Mark just a few metres behind Mike. All very close racing!

But on the downwind legs from A to C and C to D, Peter increased his lead and Mike made up ground and overhauled Kelly. Only Kim managed to keep in touch as they approached the leeward Mark, Buoy D. This close combat sailing continued throughout the next four laps but at the end of each lap the order was Kim, Peter, Mike. The second battle in the fleet was between Kelly, Imogen and Mark Rainbow (Access 303 White #7) and Daniel Wilson (Liberty White #23) who managed to sail past Imogen on the water before completing their third (and final) laps. But that was on the water – with the lower PY handicap the Liberty was pegged back and Imogen beat Daniel. But in these conditions all the helms had to sail well just to finish the race.

Here are some photos that show how hard the wind was blowing and how close the racing was… (Bravissimo tutti! Ed)

Result for Race 11 of Summer Series is:

  1. Kim Sparkes – 303 Sail Red #5
  2. Peter Wagner – Liberty Sail Yellow #22
  3. Mike Blatchford – Liberty Sail Blue #25
  4. Kelly Tripp and her crew James Thomas – 303 Sail Red #10
  5. Mark Rainbow – 303 Sail White #7
  6. Derek Preston – Liberty Sail White #24
  7. Imogen Fletcher and her crew Helen Fairfax – 303 Sail Blue #11
  8. Daniel Wilson – Liberty Sail White #23
  9. Steve Farmer – 303 Sail Yellow #3
  10. Tom Phillips – 303 Sail Blue #9
  11. Ann Frewer – 2.3S Sail Orange/White #279 RTD

As always many thanks to the volunteer crews and helpers who enable the racing to take place alongside the other demands placed upon WS resources and those who keep the Tea/Coffee and cakes flowing.

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