52 boats assembled to take part in the second round of the Barrel series, braving a fairly cold day but an otherwise pleasant force 3-4. The infamous "pipe" is now gradually disappearing, but was replaced by a 30-ton crane on a floating barge which was no less of an obstruction but was at least difficult to miss!
To take this into account the whole course was moved further up the lake, so after an extended sail out to the start then fleet found a reasonably steady breeze and a relatively unbiased line. The first start was recalled, but the second under black flag got away with only one casualty. In such a large fleet a good start was essential, and neither side of the beat seemed especially favoured though coming in on port meant you were . The 505 of Jim Hunt and Andy Davies rounded first followed Jon Batt and Nick Broomhall in an Ospey, with a gaggle of Merlins just behind. Andy Couch in his Phantom managed to power through while boats were setting spinnakers and then managed to hold the Merlins behind him for the rest of the race. Jim Hunt's 505 led on the water, but couldn't pull away enough to take the race on handicap and Jon Batt and Nick had a close encounter with number 4 mark which was very costly on time. Andy Couch won the race, Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis took second in a Merlin and Tim Fells and Chris Downham came third in another Merlin.
The ladies in the galley again did us proud with an excellent hot lunch.
The wind had started to diminish as we launched for race two, and the forecast was not promising. After another general recall and restart there was almost no wind at all which turned the fleet upside down at the first mark as the breeze looked likely to fill in from one side and then the other. Andrew Wilde broke clear in his Phantom, taking the race on the water and on handicap. Ben Crossdale followed him home in another Phantom and ther GP14 of Mike Senior and Chris White took third place.
So at the halfway point in the series Matt Biggs leads, Rich Adams is second and Mike Senior third. Anything can still happen in a fleet of this quality, and the next round takes place on the 15th January. We hope to see you there!