- Written by Matt
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Four boats from Paxton Lakes Sailing Club made the short journey to Grafham Water SC on Saturday 9th June for the Beds and Cambs regatta. They arrived to find a very small turnout of only 15 boats and strong winds. We were informed during the briefing that the wind on the course was around 20 knots and gusting 27, but all boats made the brave (maybe foolish decision) to launch for the first race. It was only once we launched and sailed out to the start line that we realised quite how strong the wind was. However before the start every sailor had a huge smile on their face as they sailed around the start area waiting for the race committee to get us underway. For many of the Paxton boats (all except Gareth and Toby really) these were the strongest conditions we had ever raced in.
All was going well for the Paxton boats in the first race with Gareth Russell and Toby Barsley-Dale leading the fast fleet by a long way in their Hornet. Matt Bowden (Laser Radial) and Pat Overs (Solo) were really close as they rounded the 2nd mark after an exhilarating reach from the windward mark. Joe and Helen Sharp weren’t far behind in the Bosun. From there the first race went slightly downhill for a few of the Paxton sailors. The run proved very unstable for Matt who just about managed to reach the leeward mark and gybe unharmed but then decided to be the first Paxton sailor to try out the water with 2 death rolls within the space of about 2 minutes. This coupled with the cold forced Matt to retire from the race. Matt’s retirement was closely followed by Gareth and Toby who were towed in by a Safety Boat after the rudder fittings failed just after completing their second lap. Unfortunately this put an end to their day with the Jib getting torn on the tow in. The 1st race wasn’t all doom and gloom though for Paxton sailors as Pat put in a very solid 4th and Joe a fantastic 3rd.
The afternoon saw 2 back to back races, and to the dismay of the sailors the wind had not decreased as forecast if anything it had increased. This didn’t put off the hardy Paxton sailors so Matt, Pat and Joe (with his new helm Gareth) launched and sailed off to the start again. All Paxton boats completed the first lap with Pat and Gareth and Joe sailing off up the beat followed by Matt. The reach and run then saw Matt overtake Gareth and Pat still sailed in the distance. According to Gareth the look on Matts face down the run was one of pure fear! Pat then decided he would test the water and turtled his solo ¾ of the way down the run after what can only be described as a dodgy gybe! This led to Pat having to retire from the race but both Matt finished (4th) and Gareth and Joe (3rd). Matt then followed Pat into shore as he was unable to physically start the last race but Joe and Gareth did and recorded another 3rd place.
Overall all the sailors had a great day (if at times very scary). Overall Joe came a fantastic 3rd in the slow fleet followed my Matt 4th and Pat 5th. Grafham SC swept up all the firsts and seconds in both the fast and slow fleet. Matt was the first junior overall.
A huge thanks has to go to the Race Committee and Safety boat crews who did a fantastic job in what were awful conditions.
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This annual event is held to raise much-needed funds for the R.N.L.I. Money is raised by sponsorship either as a total or on a per lap basis. To date we have managed to raise over £55,000, which has been used for many things including buying a new engine for an Atlantic 21 Lifeboat stationed at Great Yarmouth.
The sailing club has a good sheltered sailing area with two islands and plenty of grounds for camping and caravanning. Camping and sailing in the dark, without the risk of getting lost, for youngsters up to the age of 70+ it is an ideal adventure opportunity!
This year we are once again including a Juniors Race within the main event. This will be for teams whose members are aged 18 years and under at the start of the race. This is a great opportunity for youngsters to experience the fun of night sailing.
There will be a BBQ provided by the Sea Cadets for the Saturday evening and breakfast Sunday morning along with snacks and the all important caffeinated tea and coffee available throughout the event.
The race will be held under the ISAF rules, RYA rules and PLSC instructions. Boats are restricted to a mono-hull design with a maximum length of 17’6” and an official PY handicap or club handicap. It is a team race where teams typically vary from three or four for a single-handed dinghy up to say ten for a double-handed dinghy. Race duties, such as time keeping, safety boat and Galley, are carried out by team members.
I do hope that you will be able to enter a team. Entry forms are available from the Clubhouse, online or at the address shown below. We appreciate that it is often difficult to set a team in advance so we do accept that teams can be changed on the day. Also if you would like to take part but do not have a team, get in touch with me and we can find you a team to join.
Prizes will be awarded for 1st team, 1st visiting team, 1st local team and 1st junior team.
If you have any queries please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
For further information about the 24 hour race, entry forms, sailing instructions and sponsorship visit our web site www.paxtonlakes.org.uk
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If you are not sure about organising a team, or would like to join a team please email me and I'll let you know more about it, or find a team for you to join.