Two events featured this weekend.  The Solo Class held its Winter Championships at Grafham Water and just a bit further up the A1 at Rutland Water was the Tiger Trophy.  With a Weather forecast changing every few hours leading up to the weekend no one could be sure what the wind would be like. The only thing that was certain was that the temperature would be somewhere between cold and very cold along with some snow at some point.  The snow was made more certain when a dutch sailor nearly didn’t make his crewing spot in a Flying Dutchman when Schipol Airport was closed on Friday due to the snow that was on its way to the UK.  Thankfully the airport re-opened and he made it to the UK late Friday night, although BMI didn’t seem to have though important to load his sailing kit on the plane.  So Toby and Gareth having spent all day working on their Hornet fitting the new mast, checking the new North sails and finalising the new systems installed since the Bloody Mary then set about finding some spare kit for Marc to borrow.  They weren’t sure was more insane planning on going sailing at the weekend or working outside on the boat at 8:00 pm.  So Saturday dawned and 4 Paxton boats proceeded carefully up the A1 in -7 degree temperatures.  Pat Overs and Andy Anderson to Grafham with their Solos’s.  Paul and Tori Carrington with their Fireball and Toby and Gareth with their Hornet.  Arrival at Grafham greeted the competitors with blue sky and sunshine for the 36 competitors that had been brave enough to make it for three races over one day.  The rest of the story is told here in the Yachts and Yachting report.

So to the final event of the Russell Winter Handicap Trophy 2012, The Tiger Trophy.  Gareth and Toby arrived at Rutland first with Paul and Tori shortly after.  After much boat bimbeling the sailors headed out for the first of three back to back races with 160 boats.  The fleet was split into a fast and slow fleet with the Hornet and Fireball being some of the slower boats in the fast fleet.  Just before the start of the first race Gareth spotted a loose fitting in the bottom of the boat and set about sorting that, just in time for the first start. Which turned about to be a general recall.  Then the Hornet Jib Halyard stretched a little and they lost all rig tension .  That was solved just in time for the re-start.  The first race proceeded without incident for both Paxton boats in a shifty gusty breeze.  (We won’t mention Paul sailing the wrong course so only being counted for 1 lap).  Toby and Gareth were only sailing the boat for the second time and lots of thing had been changed since the first sail so it was very much a case of making it up as they went along  At the start of the second race it was starting to get colder again although (thankfully) the race officer went straight to Black Flag which allowed us to get away first time.  This time Paul sailed the correct course and improved his result.  The third race was the best for both Paxton boats.  Slightly helped by a reduction in numbers due to the cold.  Boats were packed away just before the snow started.  After a couple of drinks in the bar we headed back to home for overnight with Gareth being told repetitively to drive carefully in the settling snow. Andy Anderson joined The Hornet and Flying Dutchman Sailors at the Anchor in Little Paxton to share lots of sailing talk, oh and a couple of jars of Full Potential Juice.  It was still snowing when we left the Anchor and we were left wondering how much snow there would be in the morning for the 40 mile drive back upto Rutland Water.

Sunday dawned with snow on the ground and fog.  After a careful drive up the A1 the Paxton sailors arrived to sweep snow off there boat, fix the few bits that needed fixing and then hide from the cold in the club house nursing warm cups of coffee waiting for the briefing of the 2 hour pursuit race.  As the middle of the lake appeared and disappeared with fog, stories of sailors and race officials stranded or held up in the snow came through and the wind was coming and going, there was some uncertainty if the race would or could go ahead.  With no information to suggest the race wouldn’t go ahead we wrapped up in our warmest sailing kit and set out onto the water.  With not a lot of wind on the lake and dense fog the pursuit race course had been set a lot shorter than usual. The Hornet set off from the start just a minute behind the competitive Merlin Rockets with Fireballs another minute later.  This was to be a day of total concentration with hopefully a little bit of luck.  By the end of the first lap Toby and Gareth in the Hornet had overtaken enough boats to get upto 14th place with no one having overtaken them, or those that had managing to stay in front of them.  Over the next lap they sneaked past a few more boats and managed to keep anyone faster behind them to finish the race in 8th Place.  Paul and Tori also got their best race result of the weekend coming 82nd.  The pursuit race had pushed Toby and Gareth dramatically up the results sheet from their overnight place of 59th overall to 30th.  With Paul and Tori just outside the top 100 at 106th.

Gareth Russell and Toby Barsley-Dale in trhe Pursuit Race at the Tiger Trophy 2012

Full report, results and pictures

The Tiger Trophy was the final of 4 events for the Russell Winter Handicap Trophy.  With results all counted and verified the final placings for the Russell Winter Handicap Trophy are:

1st Toby Barsley-Dale and Gareth Russell – Hornet

2nd Pat Overs – Solo

3rd Andy Anderson – Solo

4th Paul Carrington and Tori Carrington - Fireball

Final Results for the Russell Winter Handicap Trophy 2012