STOP PRESS: Nicola Groves has won a Gold Medal in the 49erFX at Sail For Gold, the Olympic classes event at Weymouth.
At Island Barn things were not promising as we arrived at the club on Wednesday: at least 15knots of breeze, which is OK, but regularly gusting up to 25 and occasionally hitting 30, which some of us felt was a bit generous... Drizzle and light rain in patches wasn't that encouraging either, "Oh to be in England, now that summer's here [sic]", he misquoted... So, not everyone got as far as rigging their boats, and it was hard to blame them. At least I'm not going to seeing as I was one of them... Happily the rain did more or less stop by the time the race started.
Anyway, course set was a quadrilateral with a "will it won't it pay" possible kite reach across the top, a run, then a very shy reach back to the start and the beat. I wandered over to the leeward mark with my camera, but truth to tell the wind had moderated quite a bit for the first couple of laps, and no especial drama ensued. Then.
From the slow boat start Graham Potter's Albacore was going well, chased hard by Gareth Griffiths Solo. Evan Cairns was being chased round the first lap by Ben Jones, and although he did manage to pull out a bit of a lead later he lost most of it again when he succumbed to a vicious gust on the run.
The two RS400s were also having a good fight round the first couple of laps, and also a good fight to make it round the mark at the end of the first reach - at one point I heard a thunderous roar and looked up to realise it was flogging sails on Mike and Julie's RS400 - some half a kilometer upwind of me!
As I noted above, no especial drama had ensued over the first couple of laps and the wind had moderated, so with the drizzle showing signs of returning I put the camera away and trudged back to the clubhouse. With the drizzle came a bit more wind, and with the wind came drama...
The first sign of this was as nasty an assault on a poor Topper as one could hope not to witness. Poor Tony Sproat had just tacked his Topper when he was viciously rammed amidships by a port tack [redacted - class name of a particular solid and substantial boat]. The poor little Topper was actually knocked over by the force of the collision! Anyway no great harm seems to have been done, other than to the race reslts of both parties, the offending boat having sportingly stopped to check all was OK before doing the required penalty turns and continuing the race.
Thereafter things livened up with a number of competitors going swimming and wiping out hard won leads on their classmates... Sadly these all evaded the camera, but not, of course the effects on the results sheet.
So speaking of results, here they are. I think its quite clear, looking at the sheet, that the answer for the question "will it, won't it pay" for the kite boats on the top reach was "No, it didn't", because the singlehanders dominated the results. Gareth G took a third win on the trot, and is at serious risk of building up a big lead in the series. Richard Barker (Phantom) took 2nd by just a few seconds from Mike Storey's EPS, whilst 4th and 5th went to Evan Cairns and Ben Jones' Lasers. Chris Smith rounded up the top 6 with his Streaker.
The two Lasers took first and second in the Personal handicap, with Mike Storey 3rd and Ian Hamilton 4th, his RS400 being the only kite boat in the top 6 on either score sheet. Messrs Griffiths and Smith rounded out 5th and 6th.