Chilly Winter Champs
Weather forecasts on Friday for the weekend were generally great for those wanting to go ballooning but not very encouraging for sailing, with only 5mph winds forecast for Saturday in the Midlands.
However, those willing to take a chance that the wind forecasts might not be so accurate weren’t disappointed at the first Vareo Winter Championship at Draycote Water, sponsored by Gul. The fleet enjoyed three races Saturday afternoon in a good Force 3.
Luke Fisher missed the first race at midday, but laid down the gauntlet by winning the remaining two races on Saturday, with Martin Barrett in hot pursuit. It was good to see a new face, Lawrence Hayward, in Vareo number 262 that he’d collected from the RS dealer only the day before. Lawrence had honed his skills in a Laser 2000 and, wanting the independence of a single-hander that retains the excitement of sailing with an asymmetric, had chosen the Vareo.
Racing on Sunday was scheduled to start at 10:30, but the wind wasn’t going to make it easy for those on race duty. After half an hour of shifting the marks racing was started. Unfortunately a big shift shortly after the start made the first race short and rather processional, the nominal one-hour race being completed in 30 minutes and the windward legs being completed on one tack! The wind was around Force 2 in the morning and faded to Force 1-2 for the final race, still rather shifty. So Sunday favoured the lightweights and suited those of a sensitive, patient disposition!
First place went to Luke Fisher, who maintained his form all weekend and won five races (reminder: I must buy myself some garden gloves and a cheap watch). Martin Barrett was never far behind and also sailed really consistently, with one 1st and five 2nd places, giving him second place overall. Local sailor Guy Fillmore, normally competing in a 29er, took third place.
1st Luke Fisher
2nd Martin Barrett
3rd Guy Fillmore
4th Robin Sanders
5th Graham Cooper
Gul RS400 Winter Championships, Draycote Water SC
Two events took place at aptly named RS400 Winter Champs at Draycote over the weekend of the 15/16 February. The events were held in winds that varied from 5kts. to about 20kts. over the two days but with one constant factor, the numbing cold which took its toll on the 22 hardy teams who entered the events.
In the first event Roger Gilbert and James Stuart battled with themselves to see just how far over the horizon they could get before the finish gun sounded. Winning five out of the six races (being beaten by the cold in the last rather than another competitor and wisely pulling out before the start) they were only headed briefly in the second race following a poor start. Plan “B” was executed and the downwind leg saw them blast through from seventh to first with awesome downwind speed. Other than that it was plan “A” and superior upwind speed and tactics on the first beat to set themselves up for the win.
The second event was a tightly fought affair. In race one David Giles and Fiona Clark from Weir Wood sailing club had a comfortable lead until the last downwind leg when Phil Jackson and Gerard Barron found a patch of wind on the left bank to overtake just before the finish line.
For race two the wind had risen considerably and the heavier crews came to the front. A perfect pin end start by John Date and Neil Hughston saw them sail into a comfortable lead at the windward mark. Pushed throughout the race by Tom Halhead and Chris Priest, they hung on for the win.
With the wind rising further, Simon Potts and Alan Woosey showed good speed to stay ahead of Dan Vincent and Adrian Lynham with the consistent Jackson third.
It was finely balanced going into day two with the first four boats separated by four points. The wind and (unbelievably) the temperature had dropped and the men were really sorted out from the boys when the race officer held the fleet on the water for forty minutes while the course was adjusted before the start of race four. When those still able to move eventually got away, on the second attempt, in a shifty 10 kt. breeze, Mark Reddington and Phil Scott led the way with Giles just behind. Giles snuck past on the second beat to score the win with Reddington hanging on for second ahead of Hywel Roberts and Melissa Storey who seemed to be relishing the lighter conditions.
Race five saw Greg O’Brien and Colin Stait leading around the windward mark ahead of a pack of boats that included Giles, Date, Roberts and Potts. In the shifting wind fortunes changed. O’Brien dropped away and Giles came through for the win. Date was second and Roberts third.
The wind had dropped to about five knots for the start of race six and there was many an envious stare as Gilbert and James sailed off to call it a day. The fleet split off the line with those heading to the left eventually paying off. Potts lead around the first buoy followed by Roberts. These two had a large lead and were not seriously challenged by the rest of the pack. Roberts overtook Potts while Giles worked through to third by the finish. With some relief the remaining boats sailed for home and a hot shower.
Roger Gilbert thanked Draycote for running a challenging event, which provided close racing for the majority of the competitors. The Saturday in particular provided some superb racing and the off the water hospitality was, as ever, superb. Thanks were also given to Gull for their generous sponsorship of the event.
1st Roger Gilbert / James Stewart
2nd David Giles / Fiona Clark
3rd Simon Potts / Alan Woolsey
4th Hywel Roberts / Melissa Storey
5th John Date / Neil Hughston
Gul RS700 Winter Championships, Hayling Island SC
The barometer showed 1 degree and that was before the cold Northerly wind-chill was taken into account. However 29 competitors braved the cold and turned up for the first RS700 event of 2003.
Race 1 started in a F4-5 with typical HISC chop. After the long winter lay-up some boat handling skills seem to have been replaced by extra kilos and the name of the game was to stay upright. Local boy Neil Robinson proved best of the bunch to take the victory ahead of another local, Neil Upton-Brown and Jerry Wales from QMSC as the wind eased back at the finish.
Race 2 got under way promptly by a well oiled race committee and to the relief of competitors. The tide had turned and became a bigger factor now. Local knowledge seemed to pay as Nick Rizzi from the home club began his domination of the remaining races that day. Cleverly sailed and showing good boat speed he took line honours from new 700 sailor Andy Peake from BoughBeech and Neil Upton-Brown showing good consistency in 3rd. Race 3, again smartly away in a shifting breeze. Rizzi did the double, mirroring his performance from the previous race with Peake and Belbenscoring a dead-heat for 2nd. However Upton-Brown got blind-sided, slippingto 8th in a tight field allowing Wales and Andy Irons into the top five.
Sunday appeared a similar day to Saturday with temperatures barely above freezing but a good breeze blowing. Race 4 got underway on time in a F2-3 with Peake and Irons leading at thewindward mark. Irons was troubled by Wales downwind but did enough to stay ahead until the finish with Rizzi staying in contention with a 4th. The battle was now on between Rizzi and Peake for the overall victory. Race 5 saw a different name at the front. Dave Smithwhite from HISC read thefirst beat best and sailed into the windward mark on a lovely lift in goodpressure.
The chasing field couldn't catch him and Belben ended up the best-of-the-rest. Peake recorded a 4th and Rizzi a 6th.Race 6 and Peake had it in the bank. This 600 sailor until November last year showed that pure time in the boat over the winter was the best preparation he could have done. The wind was shifting and failing as the race progressed. It was anybodys race and even local knowledge was of limited use now. The lead swapped several times until, at the death, Peake put the cherry on the cake to take the bullet with Smithwhite 2nd and Wales 3rd.
1st Andrew Peake
2nd Jason Belben
3rd Nick Rizzi
4th Jerry Wales
5th Neil Upton-Brown
Gul RS800 Winter Championships, Hayling Island SC
'Winter Champs', the seasonal aspect to this regatta was never in doubt yet this did not deter 50 hardy souls from shaking the ice off the covers and heading out into a brisk and cutting nor'easter. If the wind chill made eyes water, the fleet, racing in Chichester out of Hayling Island Sailing Club, were soon warmed up a notch or two by the close and tactical racing that took place over the three races on Saturday.
A progressively gustier breeze off the land, matched with an ever increasing ebb tide, made the beats a 'who dares wins' affair in the ever narrowing channel. Often ignorance can be bliss which is the only excuse I can find for some punchy and very successful moves by some visiting teams that resulted in the likes of Spod Olive and Mike Warren sailing in the newly sponsored Sola boat, putting in some excellent beats on the 4 lap courses to be in or near the lead at some stage in all three races. He did however lose the chance of being overnight leader when pushing it just a bit too far.
After taking the lead in race three from Barrie Edgington and Harvey Hillary sailing Team RWO, he stopped for a bit of a rest on the emerging mud, no doubt to warm up a bit judging from the flapping arms and motivational language. But as is often the case, Geoff Carveth and Craig Davies, sailing Fat Face, put in there usual consistent performance keeping cool heads, while others seemed to be losing theirs to the numbing effects of the cold. They marginally lead the chasing pack of Sola, Nick Peters and Nicky Griffin in Fat Face 2 followed by Rick Tagg, new crew Roz Allen and Team RWO with 2 points separating the lot after day one.
Day 2 - Tropical! At least a heady 2 degrees warmer, I know this because I was able to fold the cover rather than lift it off like a frozen lid. Still some of the fleet had obviously had their fill of ice cream heads and decided to stay close to the club fire. As it turned out this was their loss as the early start near the top of the tide facilitated better course area made for a cracking days racing. With less tidal influence and short sharp races, a well judged move bythey race team led by Messrs G Wells and B Moss, it was the shifts and pressure that were the key to success and ironically this seemed more to the liking of the locals rather than the sniggly tidal stuff of Saturday.
Mike Lennon and Emma White failed to feature in the overalls points after day one due to missing race one, apparently to an unthinkable 'over sleeping' incident that has yet to be fully explained! They did however emerge bright and breezy on Sunday to add a solid set of results to the two 'counters' from Saturday and secure an excellent 3rd. Team RWO also got it together on Sunday to score 1,4,1 and rue what might have been, but day one's Captain Consistency became the Come Back Kid on Sunday to fight his way onto the podium with 2,2,2 score line with some punchy sailing and excellent calls when needed, especially on the downwind, to take the places he required to secure the win another RS title to add to the long list.
Roll on summer ….
1st Geoff Carveth / Craig Davies
2nd Barrie Edgington /
3rd Mike Lennon / Emma White
4th Ricky Tagg / Rozalyn Allen
5th Alan Olive / Mike Warren