With many reservoirs and lakes around the Midlands low on water, a good turnout was expected for the first round of the Barrel series at Blithfield SC. This turnout was better than we ever imagined with 71 boats taking part, and with the quality of the fleet and a nice force 3 to 4 excellent racing looked in the offing.
OOD Geoff Wright set a nice long line, but a shift after the start sequence heavily favoured the committee boat end. In this highly competetive fleet a general recall was inevitable. A restart under black flag got away cleanly, and the left side of the beat now seemed favoured and there was less traffic with much of the fleet opting to go from the committee boat end. Gareth Caldwell and Jon Gibbons rounded first in Jon's Osprey, followed by the Merlin Rocket of Chris Martin and Dan Morgan. Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis picked a gust and surged through on the first reach, eventually overhauling the Osprey too on the water. A pack of 6 or 7 boats escaped the congested mid fleet, and sailing in relatively clean air was always going to help on corrected time. The race was a bit of a Merlin benefit, Matt and Ben won, Rich Adams and Chris Gould second, Steve and Gill third, beating Chris and Dan to fourth. 5th place was taken by the GP14 of Mike Senior and Chris White.
Lunch ensued, Jayne Tatton and Diane Watson once again fed the fleet with some excellent pies.
The wind increased slightly for the second race, a steady force 4 with more of a swing to the east. A pin end bias was fully exploited by Chris Martin and Dan who led at the first mark with the Osprey of Jon Batt and Nick Broomhall close on their heels. The Ospreys never quite had enough wind to get properly going and once again were vulnerable to the more agile Merlins on the water, as what shifts there were were worth taking. Once again getting clear of the fleet congestion was essential to do well on handicap, and it was pretty much the same group that got clear again. Matt and Ben won (Merlin), Rich and Chris second (Merlin) and Chris and Dan third (Merlin). Mike and Chris again lead the charge of the slower boats, taking their GP14 into 4th.
It was great to see so many juniors racing at the club. Tom Dunne and Josh Moseley lead the club juniors around, beating Lizzie Hendon and Hannah Hindley both sailing RS Fevas.
Thanks to Geoff Wright and his team for running two brilliant races, Jayne Tatton, Diane Watson and their team in the galley, and everyone else who helped make the event work. Thanks also to all the visitors for coming. We hope to see you all again for the next round on the 11th December - can we break the 80 mark?
Full results can be found on the club website.