Photos © Mike Ashfield / Ben Singleton
There were four pairs of boats, sailed by fathers and sons, included in the 21 entries for this year's Lightning Open Event at Cookham Reach in Berkshire. All had noted the weather forecast of a deep depression bringing strong winds and heavy rain showers.
Sure enough the fleet and the Officer of the Day, David Phillips, were greeted with a strong south-easterly. This is a good direction for this bend of the River Thames allowing an almost triangular course to be set with a good beat down the first leg from a start line upstream. The adverse weather also discourages other river traffic.
21 boats well fills the width of the river at the start line making it difficult to break clear in the disturbed air, and some boats were premature starters for the First Race. However it was 236 Adam Styles who rounded the first mark in the lead with home boat 150 Martin Evans in third place. The leading group quickly bunched up on the first run upstream. On the second lap Adam was still holding the lead but with a really strong battle developing for second place between four boats, 253 Simon Hopkins, 325 Penny Yarwood, 402 John Claridge (Class Builder) and 406 Caroline Key. Cookham Boats were holding positions 8 to 11. The front of the fleet remained congested but throughout the fleet could be seen private battles for position. With a strengthening wind, despite the very wet conditions, Penny pulled through to lead followed by John, Simon, Caroline, and Adam in 5th place.
It was a good job the Clubhouse floor was not carpeted as some very wet competitors dripped their way through a generous two course lunch provided by the Club's Lightning Ladies. After lunch even the Commodore was seen swabbing the water off the floor!
The afternoon races were to be sailed back-to-back. The competitors, refreshed by food and drink, were met by a stronger wind now southerly in direction. The Officer of the Day moved the bottom gybe mark into a more exposed location but in a position directly behind a moored cruiser and out of sight of the lap recorder who was safely housed in the dry. Mary Webb was not impressed that it was now necessary to stand outside to record the fleet positions!
The early leader of Race 2 was Simon, closely followed by 403 Robert Claridge, Penny, Adam and 288 Matt Hopkins. Behind this group the fleet was already becoming stretched out. By lap two, Robert had pulled clear taking advantage of the stronger wind followed by a close procession of Adam, Simon, Matt, John and with Caroline close behind. Robert, now benefiting from clear air, extended his lead and started to lap the tail enders, but with the same boats in pursuit. The race finished in this order with the sun breaking through as the boats crossed the line.
The sun was still out for the start of Race 3 with the wind now being at times more westerly. The bottom mark was repositioned, this time in view of race control. It was Robert who pulled away from the start with Adam and John in pursuit. At the end of the first full lap Martin had overtaken John after which there was a steady line of seven boats. At the end of lap two Robert was maintaining his lead with Adam, Martin and John all still tightly bunched and within a boat length at the mark. The following group of seven were enjoying close racing. By lap three the wind strength was falling but Robert was now flying and had gained a commanding lead. The competitions continued down the fleet but some tiredness was now evident. The race finished with the winner being Robert with the ongoing close racing resulting in a second for Adam and third for John.
The prize giving concluded another enjoyable and testing meeting for the Lightning Class at Cookham Reach. Robert thanked all those involved and the Club thanked the competitors for coming, many from a long distance.
|Pos||Boat Name||Sail No||Helm||Club||R1||R2||R3||Pts|
|1|| ||403||Robert Claridge||Royal Lymington YC|||9|||1||1||2|
|2||Quiet Riot||236||Adam Styles||Severn SC|||5|||2||2||4|
|3||Well Greased||402||John Claridge||Royal Lymington YC||2|||5|||3||5|
|4||Crispy Duck||253||Simon Hopkins||Up River YC||3||3|||7|||6|
|5||Louise||325||Penny Yarwood||Up River YC||1|||8|||6||7|
|6||Red||288||Matt Hopkins||Up River YC|||6|||4||5||9|
|7||Four Play||406||Caroline Key||West Oxfordshire SC||4||6|||9|||10|
|8|| ||150||Martin Evans||CRSC|||7|||7||4||11|
|9||Get a Grip||292||Simon Styles||Severn SC||8|||10|||8||16|
|11||Short 'n' Sweet||304||Alex Singleton||CRSC||10||12|||14|||22|
|13|| ||49||Mark Godden||West Oxfordshire SC||12|||13|||12||24|
|15||Moxie||408||Chris Abela||Dorchester SC||13||14|||DNF|||27|
|16||Arkwright's Revenge||281||Nick Reuter||CRSC|||17|||15||15||30|
|17||May Contain Nuts||407||Wayne Jenner||Abbey SC||16||16|||TNR|||32|
|18||Sea Eagle||83||Roisin McCullough||CRSC|||21|||19||16||35|
|19|| ||273||Jack Barrett||CRSC|||20|||17||DNF||37|
|20||Flash Gordon||52||Christine Roy||CRSC||19||18|||DNF|||37|
|21|| ||119||Andrew Boxer||CRSC||18|||DNF|||DNS||38|
Derek Bayley Trophy: (awarded to Cookham Reach SC members)
1st 150, Martin Evans
2nd 124, Kevin Singleton
3rd 304, Alex Singleton
Special Awards were given to the youngest male and female competitors:
Jack Barrett (aged 12) and Roisin McCullough (aged 14)