Blackwater SC, 19/20 September 2009
Report by Charlie Stewart
Eleven 505s from ten different clubs converged on the Blackwater Sailing Club to contest the 505 and Fireball joint Open meeting on 19/20 September. Unfortunately the wind gods decided to play havoc with the wind and it was a light to non-existent wind weekend. All the boats had to be towed downriver on the Saturday to get to the race area and after an hour's delay the race finally started with a little sea breeze that kicked in.
In race 1, the South African pairing of Graeme Willcox and Tiffany Baring-Gould made a great start towards the pin end of the line and got away nicely to lead up the beat. Charlie Stewart and John Gibson rounded the windward mark just ahead of Terry Selfe and Alan Montague and Matt and Daniel Hart. Graeme and Tiffany showed excellent boat and spinnaker handling and gently pulled away from the chasing pack. On the second beat the Hart brothers managed to sail from fourth place at the leeward mark to second at the windward mark and the positions at the front of the fleet from this mark on remained unchanged for the rest of the race. Further down the fleet there was some close racing and we had several boats who had never sailed at an open meeting before and who were enjoying the experience. Unfortunately due the time that we had had to wait for the wind to fill in we were unable to sail the second race as we would have run out of water for the sail home. This meant an early afternoon finish so we had to endure an extended afternoon sitting in the sun drinking beer and cider. The evening meal was brought forward due to the onset of the munchies and this was washed down with yet more beer and once the bar had run out of cider the die hard visitors had to visit the local pub for more supplies. The two local boats and the Fireball fleet ducked out at this point as we hoped to be sharp and on the pace in the morning!
Sunday morning showed loads of promise of a nice force 2/3 breeze and we all shot down river very quickly. Typically as soon as the race got underway the wind started dying. Graeme and Tiffany once again gave a great display of mastering the variable conditions and sailed away again from the start. The Hart brothers were second round the windward mark followed by Rob Napier and Francis Cram. Rob & Francis found the boatspeed they had been lacking on Saturday and overtook the Harts on the next beat and sailed into a very comfortable 2nd place with the Hart brothers in 3rd place.
For the last race the whole fleet was over-eager [Rob & Dennis mentioning no names!!!] and we had a general recall so we had to start behind the Fireballs under a black flag. By the time of the second start the wind had faded to almost nothing but we could see it coming in from down river on the right hand side and it was a question of who could get dialled into it first. It was all very tight at the windward mark with the consistent Hart brothers just rounding in front of Rob & Francis. Graeme & Tiffany rounded in a close 3rd and the rest of the fleet were very close on their heels. At the windward mark most of the lead boats gybed off back towards the sea and the breeze but almost 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Graeme and Tiffany and Charlie and John followed the Fireball fleet towards the wing mark where it all got very congested in the drifting conditions. It was very nip and tuck as to who would get to the wing mark first but eventaully the Hart brothers & Rob and Francis just managed to sail down on the breeze and squeezed in just ahead of the fireball fleet and Graeme and Tiffany and finished in that order. Dennis Cartwright and Roger Deane also managed to slip in just ahead of Charlie and John but Terry and Alan and Greg and Ollie who had also been in the group that went the long way round got buried in a raft of Fireballs at the mark and finished 6 & 7th. The race was finished after the one lap much to the relief of most of the competitors.
Although the Blackwater SC is not known for it's 505 fleet, we only have 2 boats in the fleet at the moment, we were honoured to be asked to stage an open and were delighted that so many boats turned up to participate. It was great that some boats turned up that had never competed at an open before and close racing was enjoyed right through the fleet. We hope that everyone had an enjoyable weekend although next year we hope that the wind gods will be more favourable for us.
(3 races, 3 to count)
1st Selden RSA 8340 Graeme Willcox/Tiffany Baring-Gould VLC 1 1 3
2nd GBR 8694 Matt Hart/Daniel Hart Shotley SC 2 3 1
3rd Orlando GBR 8701 Rob Napier/Francis Cram Bowmoor SC 5 2 2
4th Walkabout GBR 8384 Charlie Stewart/John Gibson Blackwater SC 3 5 5
5th GBR 8650 Terry Selfe/Alan Montague Stone SC 4 4 6
6th GBR 8497 Roger Deane/Dennis Cartwright Burton SC dnc 6 4
7th April Fool GBR 8234 Shaun Seear/Stuart Curtis Alton WSC 6 9 7
8th GBR 8532 Greg Brown/Ollie Boyes Southwold SC 7 7 8
9th GBR 8208 Mike Jones/Russell Tredgett Thorpe Bay YC 8 8 9
10th D'Oh GBR 7803 David Hewes/Corrine Scuff Marconi SC 9 dnc dnc
11th Syd GBR 8525 Nigel Clark/Colin Hennessey Blackwater SC dnc dnc dnc
Mike Jones commented:
I really enjoyed the weekend. It was the first ever open meeting I have done, so it was a bit of an eye opener. What impressed me was the social attitude of everyone, and the general attitude of 'we are here to enjoy it' – even on the water. The only down side was the lack of wind in two of the three races, which meant it was quite hard for us to learn much, or see what the good guys were doing and how they read the conditions and made their boats go quicker than us. Just listening to comments about different tactics and boating bits made us feel somewhat lost, but we can only learn, if the brain cells are still capable of it.
I would certainly like to go to other open meetings or training sessions and try to learn more if both Russ and I can get away for a weekend.
The most useful tip I picked up from the weekend was about newspaper in the boots. And good to finally meet the poor person responsible for all the communications. See you again soon.
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