The Russell Trophy this year started with the Grafham Grand Prix.  Four boats from Paxton Lakes SC made there way to Grafham on the 30th December.  Cold water and big winds were the order of the day, Gusts of 35 knots were recorded while racing.  Pat Overs and Andy Anderson competed in the single handed fleet in Solos.  Joe Sharp and William Russell raced a Bosun in the Slow Fleet and Gareth Russell and Paul Carrington took a Hornet into the Medium Fleet.  All four boats completed both races which was better than a lot of the competitors managed.  With a small glitch in the results prepared by Grafham Water it looked like Joe and William may have won the first race, it turned out that the number of laps was incorrect and the result has now been corrected.  The full report is here.

Next stop was the Bloody Mary at Queen Mary Sailing Clun on 12th January.  With slightly warmer temperatures and winds only gusting up to force 5, three boats made the trip this time. Pat Overs took his Solo, William Russell his Topper and Gareth Russell this time with Toby in a Hornet.  The Bloody Mary is a two and half hour pursuit race which tests the fitness and endurance of all sailors.  338 boats entered the race with all three Paxton boats completing the race.  Toby & Gareth came a credible 69th, with Pat Overs coming 171st.  William in his first time out sailing away from Paxton on his own was lapped by some of the front runners, however seems to be lucky in his placing in the overall results scoring 70th one place behind his Dad.  A call from Queen Mary the week after queried if that was correct and he was replaced as 269th.      The full report is here

William Russell in Topper at Bloody Mary 2013

Pat Overs in Solo at Bloody Mary 2013    Gareth Russell in Hornet at Bloody Mary 2013

  Pictures from Alex Irwin

What was originally the final event of this years Russell Trophy the Tiger Trophy was sailed this weekend.  Again a windy one.....  Nigel DeRoeck arrived with his Fireball with Pat Overs crewing and Toby and Gareth entered their Hornet to give a total of 208 boats.  Saturday's conditions were fairly brutal on the boats and sailors with 30 knot gusts.  Nigel and Pat as a new pairing and Pat not having done much trapezeing before were pushed to their limit and their day was cut short with a big swim in the first race.  Toby & Gareth secured three consistent results in the top 50 despite Gareth's best efforts to not rig the spinnaker correctly or at least tie a bowline correctly on the spinnaker downhaul.... Doh...  Also in the second or third race there was a big bang heard in the Hornet going down one of the reaches and the boom lifted an inch or so.  They couldn't find what had caused it so pulled the spinnaker up and carried on.  Being a two day event its a good excuse for a night out and a tradition of the last few years has been a meal at the Anchor with the sharing of war stories over a beverage or six.  The next morning arrived with big breeze.  The race officer promised that it was a "lovely raceable breeze and is due to drop".....  Hmmm didn’t look like that from where I was standing.  However both boats were willing to give it a go and while sorting out the Hornet Gareth discovered what had caused Saturday's bang.  The mast step had compressed into the floor and had snapped.  No more sailing for the Hornet until it has returned from the boat menders....  Nigel and Pat launched and the wind gradually reduced during the race to provide a very enjoyable race for then and coming 139th.  Full report here.

Gareth Russell is currently leading the Russell Trophy with Toby Barlsey-Dale in second, Pat Overs in third and William Russell in forth.  The final event, the re-scheduled Steve Nicholson Memorial Race will be on 23rd February.

Russell Trophy Results after three events

Please find below the overall results for Paxton Lakes Sailing Clubs RNLI 24 Hour Race 2012


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

Saturday 7th January was the annual pilgrimage to Queen Mary Sailing Club for the 39th Bloody Mary.

Pat Overs took his Solo and arrived early at the club.  Gareth arrived a few minutes later with Toby and Gareth's new Hornet.  Pat got his boat near to the launch area to prevent a repeat of last year's queuing behind Merlins and B14s at the slip way.  Gareth and Toby's Hornet is part way through a major re-fit and as such they set about screwing in the last few fittings before their first sail in the boat and trying to work out which spinnaker had the fewest holes in it.

The Bloody Mary is a 155 minute pursuit race with Toppers as the first start.  Pat started 15 minutes later with Toby and Gareth having practised a few tacks and a spinnaker hoist starting 36 minutes after the Toppers.  At the start of the race the wind was blowing force 4-5, but with a balmy 10 degrees.  Due to the wind direction, there were a number of very gusty and shifty parts of the lake.  The course had two short beats, some runs, broad reaches and a number of non spinnaker reaches.

The biggest issue to contend with at the Bloody Mary is traffic in the form of 302 boats this year.  Added to this some large fleets which create a large wall of boats to get past.  Being a pursuit race there are always slower boats to overtake and faster boats trying to overtake you.  The key thing is trying to keep your air clear and not get tangled with boats.  This isn't always easy when foiling Moths travelling at 20 knots trying to get in front of you on a downwind leg and then stopping as they sail into your wind shadow.  At the Bloody Mary there are normally a number of in-experienced racers who panic when presented with 30 boats trying to gybe at the same mark.  Then added to this, mainly due to the gusts you have unexpected capsizes in front of you causing you to have to think and react quickly.

Having said this, all three Paxton sailors came off the water with big smiles, but feeling worn out having sailed hard for the entire race to make it to the finish and having dealt with all the challenges presented.  This becomes more impressive when you see that 52 out of the 302 entries didn't finish the race.  Neither boat was very sure where they had finished.  When the results were published Pat Overs was placed 184th with Toby and Gareth 89th.

Toby Barsley-Dale and Gareth Russell in the Hornet

More pictures of the Bloody Mary here

Official Yachts and Yachting Report here

This has put Pat into the lead for the Russell Trophy.  The next event is the Steve Nicholson Memorial Race at Northampton Sailing Club on Saturday 28th January.

Provisional Russell Trophy Results here