Longest Wednesday evening of the Summer. Hot and sunny. A useable breeze. Glorious sunset. Debbie's chilli. What's not to like?
At course setting time the wind was swinging regularly at least 45 degrees, but then stabilised and if anything built a bit in the start sequence. Gareth set a course that was intended to compromise between the two extremes. It was really quite short for the long evening, but one has to allow for a possible wind drop: especially on a hot day.
As it turned out the course was a somewhat port biased beat, broad reach, very starboard biased beat, long very broad reach, then a shy reach bordering on fetch back to the start. Only the long reach was a full width of reservoir leg, the others were about half width, so there was an awful lot of mark rounding action. I estimate that for most sailors there were 18 mark roundings in under an hour, and I reckon at least 24 tacks - many more for those following the shifts to best advantage - and 15 to 24 gybes, so it was not an evening for sitting down and concentrating on straight line boat speed.
Looking good early on were the leading Solos and Graham's Albacore, whilst the front end of the Laser fleet, featuring all the leading contenders, was looking very fast and very hard fought indeed. The fast handicap included former series winners Dicken Maclean and Nicola Groves, making a rare appearance in an RS200, and they were going very quickly, well up to the RS400 ahead of them. The most striking feature of the race was that the main body of the fleet never really spread out at all: the Lasers seemed to catch the Solos quite quickly, but many of them didn't manage to get through – I reckon nearly half the fleet finished within a two minute period… All this, and especially the tight course meant that clear air and smart mark rounding tactics were critical for a good result. There was a lot of action at the roundings, and much manouvering for position. The second beat was a particular challenge for clear air since the one sided nature of the run meant that boats were sailing parallell courses feet apart on the two legs.
Results…But for one fly in the ointment it was a Laser night. The fly in the ointment was M. Maclean et Mlle. Groves, who won the race by 1 (one) corrected second. I think that's the second time first place has been decided by a single second this year. Kevin Pearson, Rob Sumner and Rob Pettit took the next three places in Lasers, followed by Paul Playle (Solo) and Graham Potter (Albacore) rounding out the top 6.
Personal Handicap – the top 6 was Ian Hamilton (Topaz Xenon), Paul Playle (Solo), Clare James (RS 200/Laser), Dave Baldwin (Laser), Graham Potter (Albacore), and Robin Carter/Andy Howard in an ISO.
Series wise the top 4 remains as last week – Curtis/Mayhew/Griffiths/Pearson, but they have closed up a bit as the top three all scored (for the moment) discards, whilst Kevin's second brought him close enough to be have a shout at the series win if the second half of the series proves more Laser friendly than the first. The personal series is much closer, as one would hope. Paul Playle retook the lead from Alisdair MacLean, Clare James and Dave Baldwin maintain 3rd and 4th, but Tom Wilson and Maggie Futcher move up to 5th and 6th.… As well as the top few don't overlook Ian Hamilton further down. At the moment he's counting a DNC, but he has two race wins...