It would appear that March winds have blown themselves out by April for, as happened last year, the wind (or lack of it) almost again caused the postponement of the Championship. Then the Weir Wood wind guru tantalisingly came in at about 5 miles per hour which was just enough to get racing underway.
The first race started on schedule at 11:00 hrs but the fleet had other ideas about keeping within the time limits because the Race Officers were forced to sound two general recalls which- including the third start- wasting a valuable 15 minutes. The race team decided that as we were not here for starting practice we applied the Black flag to the third start. It was here that the race team made quick reference to the procedure required for restarting under a Black flag (answers on a postcard to the usual address), but thankfully our research was not required. Even so there were four boats in the exclusion zone in the minute before the start and they were consequently disqualified.
The race team had hoped to use an Olympic style course, ie triangle + sausage, but due to the length of this course and extremely light and fickle wind were forced to use the much shorter windward leeward course.
Race 1 turned into Laser benefit race with David Giles, Bruce Ramshaw and winter member Rob Cage taking the first three places followed by John Ramshaw, crewed by ‘Mum’ Miriam, taking fourth in a RS 200. As the RYA 2017 PY numbers were applied it was somewhat surprising that the 2000 (ex-Laser 2000), which benefitted from a rating increase of six points, did not figure. This was most likely due to the weather conditions for it is to be expected that in fresher conditions the boat will be extremely difficult to beat on handicap.
Following Race 1 the wind died away completely and the lake surface turned to glass, it was at this point when the race team seriously considered abandoning the event, but in true Weir Wood form just as the team consulted with other senior members of the club racing fraternity, the breeze filled in, so we persevered and started the sequence for Race 2. During this sequence the wind clocked west through 50 degrees and give the race team more than a few jitters, thankfully it clocked back and the race got under way.
As with Race 1, Lasers dominated the first three places with Dave Binding first, Rob Cage second and Bruce Ramshaw third, it could have been four Lasers but due to a ‘technical’ infringement David Giles retired whilst in a commanding position. In this race the Mirror of Paul Cullen, ably crewed by his son Alfie, came fourth. This race, more than even the first, was dogged by fading wind and huge shifts, so much so that many of the clubs recognised ‘experts’ were confined to end of the fleet places. The conditions at this time did rather put the race team on the spot for running a pursuit race.
Having results for the two Handicap races it was decided to ‘just go for it’ , the Mirror of Paul and Alfie was first away and such were the conditions that having hit the line it took some time for the boat to actually clear it, needless to say these conditions did not persist and some of the starters had a reasonable breeze to get away, this we thought spelt doom for the slower boats, but Lady Luck was a little more even handed and most boats at some time got their share of the patchy breeze. As time progressed coming up to what turned out to be the last mark, there was a fleet of about nine boats (out of twelve starters) led by Colin Hatton in his RS100 all bunched up and shouting for water.
The last mark was rounded with eight minutes to go and it was anyone’s race, in fact the comment heard at the prize giving was that it had been a c**p race but due to the close racing and the banter a most enjoyable one.
Coming up to the final two minutes it was still going to be tight between John and Miriam in the RS200, David Giles in the Laser, Mike Uher in his Phantom and Colin Hatton in his RS100, this was in fact the finishing order but it was amazingly close between four different classes after 75 minutesof racing.
As the results show, David Giles deservedly retained his Club Champion title by counting a first and a second place, well done David and congratulations to you, the Master mastered! David was followed by John and Miriam, with Rob Cage in third spot.
We, the race team, like to think the championship went well but we will all have our prayer mats out from Christmas on wards next year praying for more wind. (Which ,on the face of it, should not be difficult following the festive indulgence!)
The team- Ernie and Barbara Hatton, Pete Clifton and Andrew Barnes, ably assisted by a post operation convalescent David Ramshaw.