Bala August regatta

Frustration in the fickle winds

Friday August 30th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Bala Sailing Club August Regatta attracted the helms and crews of 34 dinghies. Throughout the weekend the wind was extremely fickle, both in direction and strength, causing a few competitors to throw their teddies out of their boats.

In the first of three races held on Saturday, Gwil and Cath James in their RS 200 gained the perfect start in the fast handicap fleet, but were overhauled before the windward mark by several boats of faster classes, including the eventual winners, Steve and Bernie Bales of the RAF Sailing Association in their RS400 “Another Hugh Chardon”. After one lap, the wind switched 180 degrees, causing many slower handicap boats to be becalmed.

The wind direction for race two changed to the dreaded light southerly. All boats found the windward mark difficult to round, but again Steve and Bernie Bales got into clear wind first and then pulled decisively away from the fleet. To their apparent surprise, Chris and Jane Horn of Leigh and Lowton were second in the race in another RS 400.

The third race of the day finished quite late in a failing breeze after quite a good force 2 at the start. Again the RS400 of the Bales’ won clearly, but the Flying 15 of John and Bernie Saunders achieved their best result of the series in second place and Ralph Jones in his Blaze, now coming into contention and showing consistency in the testing conditions, was third.

Three further races took place on Sunday. The wind became more consistent in direction and presented fewer problems for the duty officers. Significantly, race 5 of the fast handicap series was won by Ralph Jones, thus preventing Steve and Bernie Bales from having a clean sweep of first places. Dave Eccles, new to Blaze sailing, improved his performance over the two days and gained overall third place.

In the slow handicap fleet, there was close racing between Peter Cook and Janet Exelby in their Lark, John Salomonson and Stella Shaw in their GP14, and Jack and Jennifer Mead in their Enterprise. Despite the competition, Peter Cook and Janet Exelby won four out of five races, managing to win one of the races, even though they had followed the fast handicap fleet by mistake for part of the race!

The Junior racing was dominated by Rebecca Taylor in her Optimist, winning two races and coming second twice. Jo Cannon and D. Turner in their Miracle were second and Tomos Lloyd in a Topper was third.

The Monday Regatta consisted of three races with the fast and slow handicap boats competing in one fleet. Jack and Jennifer Mead form Shustoke in their Enterprise gained a first, second and a third to win the series overall. They sailed well, using the tricky, shifty conditions to their advantage. In the final race, the Flying 15 of Stella Shaw and Tony Howard dominated and held off the challenge of the Flying 15’s of Ron Isles and Peter Goodlife, and Johan and Bernie Saunders.

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