- Written by andy anderson
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Report by Andy Anderson with spelling by Pat Overs ;-)
As Paxton Lakes Sailors took to the water on a sunny Sunday morning for the first races of the 2012 series, two of the regulars were missing!
It was also the first races of the Solo Eastern Region Series being held as a joint event with the Thames Valley Region. So as top club sailors from both regions took to the water, the Paxton Lakes ‘Solo Duo’ Andy and Pat were there to make their mark!
The race officer was keen to get going on time as the light winds were forecast to drop off during the day and we had 3 races to fit in.
Race 1. With a pin end bias that popped up in the last minute of the start sequence, boats at that end of the line got away and tacked well ahead of the remaining fleet. Andy was about the middle of the line and Pat closer to the committee boat end where there looked to be more wind. About half way up the first beat, the wind died for a period then reappeared at 90 degrees to the original direction. Andy was among the first boats to get this wind and took advantage by pulling up some places before the first mark, rounding about a third of the way down of the fleet. Pat was a few places behind. There were a few places exchanged over the remaining lap but it was typical light wind sailing, where not a lot happened but concentration levels were high to sense any changes in the wind.
On lap2 the wind dropped off for what felt like a week! It then filled in from behind, pushing most of the boats into a big bunch. A photo that Jen took at this point showed Pat and Andy in a group of 5 boats level pegging! Then the wind gods shone on Andy as he picked up a light draught and pulled clear and rounded the next mark as the others were drifting.
The course was shortened soon after this and Andy finished 8th with Pat 22nd among a large group of boats. This was a race where luck played a big part and the Paxton boats were not that far apart.
Race 2. The wind was very light by this point and a very short course was set. All boats get away cleanly with Andy in close tow of the lead boats and Pat not far behind. This proved to be a very frustrating race with the wind much reduced and the boats just ‘ghosting’ along. It was also very variable as I could see boats going in the same direction but the sails set for a different point of sailing.
Have to say it was a blessing when it finished as it was like double slow motion on the water. Andy got 8th again and Pat clearly wasn’t ‘the wind gods’ friend at 15th. It was however a very experienced fleet and both our sailors had respectable results.
Race3 was cancelled as the wind had dropped off completely.
The final results put Andy punching well above his weight in 7th place and Pat in 14th. The sun shone, the surroundings were butiful, but more wind next time please!
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On Sunday 25th March there is a first for Little Paxton. Our first Sport Relief Mile. Paxton Lakes Sailing Club have started a team to run and raise funds for this wonderful charity.
So join in and enter the Sport Relief Mile or Sponsor our team here http://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/paxtonlakessc.
There are three different lengths of run you can enter and if you dont feel like running come along and support us. The run starts at the Village Hall in Little Paxton and you will be able to spot us as we will all be wearing at least one item of sailing kit with starts between 10:30 and 11:00. So that you dont miss out on Sunday sailing the racing programme will be compressed so that all 3 races will be run in the afternoon following an early lunch. The First race will start at 12:30.
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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.
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
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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.
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.