Photos © Demelza Mitchell / www.demelzamitchell.co.uk
Great sunshine but fluky winds for the Inland Championships
Simon Blake and Alex Jackson win the Inland Championships 2010
Merlin Rocket Inland Championships 2010
sponsored by Speed Sails
The first day of summer arrived at the same time the fleet pulled their boats up the slope to the vast, raised waters of Queen Mary reservoir. A gentle breeze accompanying the hot rays of London sunshine played a pattern of cats paws on the blue waters.
The RO Rob Lineham rang the bell for the briefing; giving the fleet an unusual ‘P’ course to complete three laps each in three back-to-back races. As the fleet set off for a midday start with their colourful spinnakers shimmering, the day couldn’t have looked more perfect.
It couldn’t have been further from the truth on the water, for a north east wind oscillating around the mean by 20-30 degrees meant that it was variable in strength from a force one to force three; giving grounds for difficult sailing in what were light, fluky winds.
The first race was won by Simon Blake/Alex Jackson in 3707 (Monkey Business), but the unreadable shifts were enough to knock back Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe (sailing S. Goachers 3670 Filthy/Gorgeous), who took the first mark in a very close first lap, Blake and Jackson were in the lead by the beginning of the second lap and completely left the fleet behind on the last beat over the finishing line followed by Tom Stewart/Liam Dempsey in 3683 (Blue Bird), Mike Calvert/Chris Downham in 3691 (Quick Fix) and Patrick/Jilly Blake in 3676 (Hot Totty).
Conditions stayed the same in races’ two and three; in the former Dobson/Tunicliffe rounded the first mark in the lead and stayed that way to the end; a tussle ensued for second and third position between Matt Biggs/Ben Hollis in 3705 (2 Pints of Lager), Stewart and Whitworth/Turner in 3703 (Faithless), where they all took a left hand tack which changed the outcome of the race as David Winder/Pippa Taylor in 3662 (Attack of the Clones) and Andy Davis/Tom Pygall 3684 (Keyser Soze) tacked right overtaking all three winning second and third places respectively.
In the latter race we saw Dobson and Davis lead off the line, at the pin end the wind changed direction giving Tim Rush/Piers Lambert in 3671 (Snakey ‘B’) and Steve/Gill Leney in 3716 (Carbon Footprint) the lead around the mark. Whitworth in 3703, Davis in 3684, Calvert in 3691 and numerous others were stuck out on left hand side of course in virtually no wind, it had shifted 40 degrees giving everyone on right huge tactical gain - effectively over everyone on left hand side, it was practically impossible to know which way to go as one beat would be playing one way, and the next one would be blowing the other.
It all was based on luck, chance and judgement giving those who could read the shifts massive gains once in them. Blake/Jackson won with Rush/Lambert next and Dobson/Tunnicliffe came third. All in all, a most challenging time on the water making for very interesting racing.
On the Sunday the fleet waited until 11am for the ROs’ decision to start racing, but it was called off due to no wind whatsoever. The prize giving went ahead seeing Simon Blake win his second Inlands, in a seemingly unstoppable new partnership with Alex Jackson, (his first success was sailing 3612 (Manana), at Datchet Water in 2003, with Linton Jenkins). Second prize went to Tom Stewart and Liam Dempsey, third to new faces in the fleet Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe.
Special thanks to those who helped with the reporting and our photographer Demelza Mitchell, whose pictures can be seen here.