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Byte National Championships at Warsash Sailing Club

by Rick Whitehouse 3 Nov 2011 19:39 GMT 29-30 October 2011

The Byte Class national championships took place over the weekend of 29th and 30th October at Warsash Sailing Club near Southampton. Three races were held back to back each day. Although Warsash is on the Hamble estuary, the racing took place on a triangular course approximately two miles away from the clubhouse, in the upper Solent. Consequently the fleet of 13 boats left shore at 11:30 on Saturday, not returning until about 4pm, repeated but an hour earlier on Sunday (the clocks went back an hour overnight, giving a much needed extra hour in bed between the two days). Wind was variable between a force 4 and 5 on Saturday (though the Clubhouse claimed to have recorded a gust up to 24 knots -force 6) and moderated slightly on Sunday (3-4), resulting in hard work up the beats and almost constant planing on the reaches (at least for the lighter members of the fleet!).

The course was shared with a larger fleet of Finns, who started after the Bytes but sailed a sausage course on Saturday and a mixture of sausage and triangles on Sunday. This caused a little entertainment in the first Saturday race, where recalls in the Finn fleet delayed their start until the Bytes, led by Eddie Pope, with John Futcher in second place, were sailing back close to the start line on the way to the looward mark. The more observant (and slightly trailing) third placed Byte (Rick Whitehouse) took a banana round the pin end of the line, avoiding the need to sail through a fleet of highly competitively sailed, predominantly starboard tack beating Finns. Upwind on the second lap, a recollection that the sailing instructions only required boats to pass through the finish line at the end of the race and not at the end of each lap also allowed Rick to take a more advantageous wide starboard side route up the beat, which took him into first place, held to the finish. John also got past Eddie to give them 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In the second race the wind strengthened and the chop increased, which gave an advantage to the heaviest sailor in the fleet, Kevin Moore, but also seemed to the liking of John, who usually sails just down the coast at Weston Sailing Club. John led the race from start to finish, with Kevin in second place. Rick eventually caught Kevin at the last mark, taking it just ahead but then tacked early. Kevin took the starboard side to the line and beat Rick back into third place. Eddie suffered in this race, with capsizes putting him back to 5th.

In the third race, Kevin stormed away and was 100 yards ahead around the windward mark. Rick was trailing him, unfortunately too far behind for his faint calls of “you’re going the wrong way” to be heard. Rick himself heard this from John who was in third place. Kevin sailed off for a large orange buoy half a mile to windward of our gybe mark, but distinguished by a large cross on the top of it. Kevin corrected his error when he was close enough to see the cross, but dropped back to 6th. Eddie passed John on the final beat to get 2nd place. The end of Saturday racing then saw Rick in first, 1 point ahead of John and with all the others carrying at least one result they would hope to discard!

The first Sunday race saw Rick and the defending National Champion Louis Saunders (also from Combs Sailing Club) contending for first place. At the finish Louis took the port side to the finish line but couldn’t catch Rick in time, Eddie held 3rd place and Kevin 4th, consistently faster upwind but slower down than the rest.

Race 5 was led by Rick from the end of the first lap. Eddie was a close contender but miscounted the laps, unnecessarily going through the line at the end of the 2nd lap, allowing Rick to get a safe lead for the third lap. Chris Rees sailed his best race, finishing third.

Race 6 was sailed in worsening visibility with low cloud and drizzle. On the final lap , Kevin led, Rick second and Louis third, but close together, disappearing into the mist from the view of the spectator (Louis’s father on the cliff overlooking the course) towards the windward mark.

Eventually, the boats re-appeared on the reach, Rick leading, Kevin second and Louis third. Kevins son Stuart had his best result, coming 4th. The first lady went to Maggie Futcher, a stalwart of the Class. New to the Byte fleet and very welcome were Bruce Weymark and Shaun Hampton-Matthews

Overall Results:

1st Rick Whitehouse (Combs SC)
2nd Eddie Pope (Ogston SC)
3rd Kevin Moore (Hawley Lake SC)
4th Louis Saunders (Combs SC)
5th John Futcher (Weston SC)
6th Stuart Moore (Hawley Lake SC)
7th Chris Rees (Warsash SC)
8th Michael Radford (West Oxfordshire SC)
9th Maggie Futcher (Weston SC)
10th Bruce Weymark (Netley SC)
11th Olwen Binks (Weston SC)
12th Shaun Hampton-Matthews (Warsash SC)
13th Cathy Brassington (Aylesbury SC)

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