With a weather forecast that promised everything from sun, rain, strong winds and thunder storms, 18 brave skippers arrived to light rain with light variable wind down at water level.
PRO Clive Bardell set to with his committed Watermead team to have a scoring tent, awning and a course set for a start just after 10am with 2 fleets. With a few stronger gusts from the SE slowly appearing, skippers were mixed between the brave in A rig and the cautious in B rig with some close racing up until lunch time in the shiftng and patchy conditions. At the front end of the fleet John Tushingham with his Dreadnought and Brad Gibson with his ‘pimped’ Paradox were posting consistent scores. Other skippers to enjoy the lighter going were Roy Stevens with his Quark and Paul Stubbs with Darin Ballingtons ROK. After 4 rounds and with the predicted winds starting to shift to the SW, lunch was called to allow time for the wind to settle for a reshuffle of the course. Wind to settle, well we thought it would…….
Under threatening skies in the SW distance from behind the Ski slope that overlooks the sailing area, B fleet took to the water. The speed in which the storm front was approaching had more thinking Armageddon than yacht racing and as quick as the first bullets of wind swept the course, all hell broke loose. The heat was abandoned with boats being flattened, rig bags taking flight from the rigging area landing some 30 feet into the pond and generally skippers and officials running to hold down anything they could get their hands on. The ensuing drama that passed as quickly as it arrived left our RIB drivers and skippers busy for the best part of an hour searching and retrieving gear from out of the lake. Not to be deterred and with the sun now out and wind settled, a new course was set and racing got back under way.
Light A rigs came out for the resumption of racing, only for the wind to steadily increase to solid C and C2 conditions for the final 2 rounds. In the afternoon racing, Peter Stollery with his Crazy Tube Free and John Cleave with his Skalpel settled down for some fine results, BG stayed consistent and John Tushingham had a couple of drops to B fleet that proved costly. Dave Potter after a solid day was coming to terms with his Creme Cracker and with the strengthening wind posted some good scores, highlighted by his all the way win in the last A fleet heat of the day.
The final results after 8 rounds had Brad Gibson taking the win with his 20 year old design, from Peter Stollery 2nd and John Tushingham in 3rd with only the smallest of margins separating the podium. John Cleave placed a well deserved 4th and Roy Stevens kept steady all day for a fine 5th.
It was pleasing to see that despite the, at times trying conditions, only one boat could not see out the full day (due to only having 1 new rig finished in Nigel Browns case). New skipper Peter Ferguson survived what could be described as a baptism of fire for his first full event with his new boat and showed steady improvement over the day. Returning skipper Graham Bartholemew took little time to get back into the swing and others such as David Alston and Bill Culshaw had some good races with recently updated older designs.
Skippers thanked Clive Bardell and the Watermead team for once again stepping forward and giving their time for a most enjoyable days racing, despite what came at us from above.
The class now looks forward to the 2 day ranking event to be held on the famous Fleetwood Marine Lake on the 13th & 14th of September. With the prospect of fast open water conditions on the cards, we expect skippers will be running a fine tooth comb over their yachts in preparation.