UKWA/LWA Inlands report

16 June 2008

Sat 14 & Sun 15 June, Oxford Sailing Club

Oxford SC put on a beautiful sunny day and even an RAF flypast for a superb turnout of 29 Technos, 22 Raceboards, 13 RS:Xs and 5 Formula sailors as well as 30 Juniors sailing on the Team 15 Course, of whom 8 stayed to sail on the Main Course on the Sunday.

However, the beautiful sunshine, as sometimes happens, was not accompanied by similarly splendid wind. Race Officer James Palin was at times beset by 120 degree windshifts and wind strengths from zero to 10 knots within seconds of each other, which made it very difficult indeed to set a start line which was going to be viable for more than a few minutes at a time.

Nevertheless eventually racing did get underway and it soon became clear that at the front end of all the fleets there was a small group of sailors who did not have to depend on luck, but who were able to get a solid grip of the problems presented by the shifting wind and the occasional puffs. In the Raceboard fleet the leading bunch consisted of Rob Kent, Paul Leone, Bob Ingram, Chris Gibson, Tim Gibson and Annette Kent, who between them filled most of the top six places in nearly every race. Just occasionally someone else got lucky, but consistency was the name of the game.

At the sharp end the event became a duel between Rob Kent on his Tushingham Lightning 9.4 and International Raceboard Class Association President Paul Leone using a Spanish Aerolite 9.5. Rob only once dropped out of the top two places, which was fortunately his discard, whereas Paul, despite his two wins, was forced to count a 4th place. Their struggle was complicated by the presence of Chris Gibson on his 9.5 Demon and Bob Ingram and Tim Gibson who were Unlimited on Demon 10.25s. Annette performed miracles on her 8.5 Mistral, her best position being a 3rd.

As expected Sunday produced even more unpredictable wind, Chris Gibson winning the first of the two races and Rob Kent winning the second, which for everyone except the leading bunch was finished at mark two on the first lap as the wind faded dramatically. This left Rob with a margin of 3 points over Paul Leone, although in the LWA one-day results which did not include Midland sailors Bob Ingram and Tim Gibson, Paul won the event although he and Rob were on equal points.

In the RS:Xs Ali Masters (U20) and Ed Strange (U20) battled it out at the sharp end, and by the end of day one they were on the same points, with two wins and a second apiece. Connor Bainbridge (U17) took advantage of the shifting winds on the Sunday, recording two second place wins which brought him well up the field and he ended the day only two points adrift from Ed. Harriet Ellis (U20) and Kate Strange (U15) enjoyed a titanic battle all weekend, finishing on the same points, with the honours going to Harriet on countback. They pipped Polish sailor Jenifer Kesik (U20) by 4 points.

The Technos, the biggest fleet on the course, were dominated by Sam Sills (U17) with four bullets and a 2nd, fortunately for him he was able to discard his 11th. This kept him well clear of George Bowles (U17) who discarded an OCS in Race 1 and managed to finish just two points ahead of a hotly pursuing Matthew Brown (U17). Kieran Martin (U15) sailed very well to record two 4ths and a 5th which made him first 6.8 and 5th Techno overall.

Joanna Evans (U17) recorded a couple of 4th places and a 5th but was forced to count a10th and a 13th, finishing with 36 points, nevertheless she was well clear of Jade Rogers (U15), also sailing a 7.8 on 50 points. Noelle Finch (U15) finished in 15th place overall, first girl in the 6.8 fleet.

From the Team 15 Event on the Saturday 8 sailors stayed on to sail on the Main Course on the Sunday. Henry Bloodworth and Alice Butts battled it out in the 4.5s, with the honours going to Henry and Alice finishing First Girl. Oliver Bradley-Baker and Jack Bailey finished on equal points in the 5.5 fleet, with Oliver winning on countback. Emily Hall was First Girl. Kia Bainbridge was the lone 6.8 Open sailor.

The Formula guys actually did line up for a start late on the Saturday afternoon when it seemed that at last the wind direction and strength was sufficiently constant. The pre-start period received a sudden injection of drama as Dan Simpson sailed back to the jetty, hastily dumped his board and sprinted up the steps to the cheers of the waiting masses, he certainly looked like a man on a mission. Was it a forgotten tally? No, the piece of rope which he was grasping in his hand as he sped back to his board betrayed the fact that Dan was a victim of the notorious Farmoor Reservoir nibbling vole whose favourite food is boom clamp ropes. Dan struggled manfully to replace the offending article as the seconds ticked away to the start. Helpful suggestions were made by Oxford SC colleagues on the lines of "Prior Preparation & Planning" but it seemed that poor Dan was doomed to miss the start. Just as all seemed lost he was saved by his fairy godmother when the wind dropped and the race was binned! Such a shame that Mike Simpson, Dan's dad, was not there to chronicle the spectacle, he would have enjoyed it!

Thanks go to all the guys at Oxford SC who made us so welcome, and to all those who made the occasion such a success, the boat crews, the registration and shore staff and of course to all the parents who sacrificed their weekend's weeding to bring their offspring to the event.