Bewl- Inland series 2 - Report
29 June 2006
It was for many people their worst ever journey to a windsurfing event - on the Friday morning at 10am a container lorry had overturned and caught fire on the M25 near Leatherhead, crashing into a lamppost on the central reservation, burning off large chunks of the road surface. The M25 was closed in both directions throwing the bottom right hand corner of England into a serious state of chaos as thousands of cars tried to flee the M25 causing the mother of all gridlocks. Some unfortunates were still trapped on the M25 and the police helicopter was dropping bottles of water to them! It sounds like a scene from the latest disaster movie. What would usually be a simple one hour journey from Chertsey to Bewl took nearly five hours.
However Saturday dawned bright, sunny and windy, and the previous day's tribulations were forgotten as 39 Raceboards, 25 Technos, 4 Formulas and 7 Junior Grand Prix sailors gasped in amazement to find that contrary to all the outdated TV and newspaper reports Bewl was FULL OF WATER, in fact it was so full that with the large turnout and the many club dinghy sailors there was a serious shortage of beach on which to rig up! The lake looked quite beautiful in the flaming June sunshine and we soon realised that we were about to experience a classic day's racing.
The wind was blowing in an unusual direction for Bewl, straight onshore at the clubhouse, it was really gusty, with one gust of 20 knots or so according to the electronic display in the Bewl clubhouse.
The sailors could hardly believe their luck as they blasted around the course for four laps. Care and attention was needed on the first part of the beat if you stayed on starboard as there came a point when you could stray too close to the peninsula and fall off into the hole in the wind, but there were some great reaches and the view from the Committee boat looking back towards the bottom gybe mark must have been quite a spectacle. Everyone came in buzzing from their first two races with the expectation of more excitement to come and they were not disappointed. They needed little encouragement to drag themselves away from some run-of-the-mill footie match on TV to get out on the water to enjoy what many described later as their best ever day's windsurfing racing.
Race Three saw a sizeable chunk of the raceboard fleet start one whole minute "early", having set their watches by the warning flag. What evidently happened was that the gap between the lowering of the warning flag and the raising of the class flag was two minutes instead of one. Those who were watching the flags however got it right and there was rather a lot of "going round the ends". Some deluded people simply continued however, thinking they'd got the best start of their entire lives and were eventually rewarded with an OCS.
As at Christchurch in the really windy weather where Adam Pepelasis totally dominated the Raceboard fleet on his 7.4 IMCO (yes, read that again slowly), there was enough wind to enable him to keep the bigger sails at bay for most of the day although Rob Kent on a 9.4 did push him very hard and stole two first places. Overall they finished on the same points total but Adam had more firsts. In Race 4 Adam had an unfortunate start where he was elbowed to the wrong side of the pin and had to come round and start again but he still managed to overtake the entire fleet to finish in first place.
Race Officer Jay Williamson sprang a "Long Distance" special on us for tha last race of the day, taking the fleets up two of Bewl's three arms. Incredibly the wind held out most of the way and Rob Kent, Bob Ingram and Tim Gibson were able to take advantage of their larger sail area to push Adam Pepelasis down into 4th place.
The final results of the raceboard fleet were very interesting in that the top spot was held by Adam Pepelasis on his 7.4 IMCO ahead of Rob Kent on a 9.4 and Tim Gibson on an Unlimited. Annette Kent filled 9th place as first lady, also on a 7.4 IMCO. First of the RSX's was Ed Strange in 16th, with Kirsten O'Callaghan first girl in 20th.
In the Formulas, Keith Atkinson dominated, sailing on his home water and revelling in the breeze and the sunshine. Keith scored four bullets and a DSQ to take first place overall, ahead of Liam Round.
A very enthusiastic Techno Fleet had a great day's sailing, the 6.8's mixing it with the big boys on the main course. Ali Masters came out top with three 1st places out of five, Lewis Robinson - 2nd overall and Jacob Brubert 3rd collected one race win apiece. Avril Gibbons in 6th place overall was first girl ahead of Izzy Hamilton in 7th who won the 6.8 fleet, two points ahead of Sam Latham.
Chris Lewis and his team handled the RYA Grand Prix fleet, squeezing in ten races over the two days as well as masterminding a team quiz which diverted the attention of the youngsters from their water chucking shenanigans. Jack Brooks from Hythe made a virtual clean sweep, discarding his two second places and carding eight bullets. Kieran Martin collected one race win and an impressive list of seconds to finish ahead of Stuart Hards. Robyn Robinson won the 3.5 open and collected one race win.
Although they did not know it at the time, the main fleet in fact finished their racing on the Saturday evening, which was enlivened by Bill and Val Keeling's motorcaravan catching fire as an aerosol polish container in a cupboard ruptured and ignited in the heat! The blaze was quickly extinguished but it did rather put a spoke in their planned holiday to Ireland. Bill's windsurfing kit was fortunately still rigged on the beach at the time!
The main fleet did not race on the Sunday due to the very light wind, instead we just enjoyed the sunshine and contemplated the previous day's excitement.
Thanks go to all those whose efforts made this Bewl event a weekend to remember, especially to the Race crew who had to watch everyone else having a wonderful time and to our scorers, Clare and John, who kept their cool throughout the hottest day of the year.