Held 9th & 10th September, Datchet Water Sailing Club
Three visiting teams from as far away as Canterbury and Derby joined the growing local fleet at Datchet Water Sailing Club to compete for the Southern Area Championship. Several of the usual travellers were unavailable for a variety of reasons, but Michael McNamara made the long journey from Norfolk just to return the trophies, while David Roberts also popped in for a tea and a chat before racing began.
The weather forecast was suitably autumnal with the threat of rain on Saturday and a westerly 13-18 knots, while Sunday was predicted to be very blustery with gusts in excess of 25 knots (and increasing) in the early afternoon. In the event we had 8-15 knots on Saturday, accompanied by sun, rain and thunder. Sunday was only a little windier, and the strongest gusts and steady rain only arrived as we were all safely ashore and de-rigging our boats. Water levels in the reservoir were very low which meant that wind shadows from the wall were more extensive than usual.
The event was shared with the K1 National Championships and a Flying Fifteen Open Meeting so there were plenty of boats on the race course. ...read more
Racing started after a short delay on Saturday with three races back to back on a classic triangle/sausage course. The pattern for the weekend’s racing was set early on with Len Jones and Jamie Lea taking an early lead followed by Andrew and Tom Wilson. Racing behind these two was close with several place changes before Derek Lambert and Oliver Gore Lawrenson got the nod for third.
The second race of the day was again led from the start by Jones/Lea, although positions at the windward mark were close with Lambert/Lawrenson and the Wilsons close behind. Jones/Lea led from start to finish with the Wilsons finishing second and the Tim and Jacqueline Townsend just pipping Lambert/Lawrenson for third.
By the time the third race started the wind had increased and there was sporadic rain and claps of thunder. This time Jones/Lea and the Wilsons exchanged positions a few times during the race before Jones/Lea pulled clear to take their third win of the day. The Townsends finished third in this race too, a comfortable distance in front of the pack.
Sunday dawned with the promise of more wind than the previous day. There was more wind, true, but not as much as forecast, and the fleet generally coped well with the slightly tougher conditions. Although Jones/Lea had dominated the first day’s results, they could still theoretically be beaten if the Wilsons won all of Sunday’s races. Andrew and Tom did their very best to beat the odds by enjoying a very close fourth race with Jones/Lea; the lead changed hands several times and at the finish it was the Wilsons who took their first win of the weekend. Tony Cooper and Neil Hume got their best result of the weekend holding off the Townsends to claim third place. After a distinctly average (for them) first day this also saw a resurgence of form from Nigel and Michael O’Donnell until they had a brief inversion just after the second gybe mark while lying fifth.
The fifth race was also a humdinger. The Townsends were OCS (and took nearly two minutes to extricate themselves and return to the start!). However, at the front, it was Jones/Lea and the Wilsons going at it hammer and tongs, once again exchanging the lead several times. In the closing stages of the race the Wilsons held a slim lead but they were unable to hold off the series leaders who took a narrow win and, with it, the Championship. Lambert/Lawrenson took third in this race and went into the final race with one foot on the third step of the podium.
With the runners up spot guaranteed the Wilsons exchanged positions for the final race of the event. Rumour has it that Jones/Lea also intended to swap positions in the boat but abandoned the project after an adverse risk assessment! The race began with a general recall, but got away cleanly at the second time of asking. Jones/Lea took an early lead and led throughout. The Wilsons proved it’s all about the team (not just the helm) by taking the runners up spot from the Townsends. The O’Donnells planed across the finish line in fourth place for their best result of the weekend as the wind started to build inexorably.
Overall Jones/Lea dominated the weekend’s racing, winning five of the races, although often only after tussles with the Wilsons who secured a comfortable second place. The Townsends’ third place in the final race was enough to see them step onto the podium at the end.
This was the sixth event of the Craftinsure National Circuit and Travellers Series for the UK Wayfarer Class and the results mean that the Wilsons continue to lead although Jones/Lea have closed the gap to 0.5 points, with just two events to go. Bill Whitney and Lisa Whitney/John Shelton lie in third place but the Townsends move up to fourth overall.
Datchet Water SC put on a good event, with excellent race management and lots of assistance on the shore from students of Brunel University who helped launch and recover the boats. Club Commodore, Mike Becket, presented the prizes. Thanks to all of them, and also to Neil Hume who provided much of the material for this report.
(To see this report including the table of results please visit the Racing Results page)