Mengeham’s annual “Winkle of the Harbour” handicap was sailed on December 27th in mild conditions with a force 2-3 shifty south west wind, insufficient to tempt the foiling moths to display their skills. In an empty harbour the thirty strong fleet beat up to a windward mark tucked out of the tide, just under the Winner Bank with the gybe mark laid under East Head.
The RS 700 led the fleet but Julian Smith in his Finn was already well up on handicap together with many of the nine Finns from the host club. Peter Bannister who had arrived late in his Flying Fifteen was clawing back the distance but then there was a significant gap following these before the slower boats led by Nick Rawlings in his Solo, Penny Dormer in her Streaker and Anthony Parke in his Laser Radial and Robert Masterman and Duncan Paine in a Feva rounded. Behind them four Toppers were fighting it out, but were generally out of touch on account of the strong flood tide.
The wind dropped mid race but the Finns consolidated their hold with John Tremlett (unknowingly OCS at the start –in spite of generously providing the committee boat with chocolates!) and Julian Smith fighting it out while Matthew Walker closed on them. However, as their race concluded after the third round on a shortened course, so the breeze increased to the benefit of the slower boats who were no longer punching a foul tide on the beat. This enabled them to make up some of the disadvantage they had suffered earlier in the race, so much so that Penny Dormer, who had also made the most of the shifts, looked to be in the hunt by the time she finished, convincingly ahead of the first Solo.
The handicap calculations proved this to be so with Penny 1st, Julian Smith and Matthew Walker 2nd & 3rd (all MRSC), Peter Bannister 5th (1st Traveller – HISC), Nick Rawlings 6th (1st Solo - HISC), Robert Masterman 8th (1st Junior -HISC), and Niall Houston 17th (1st Topper – MRSC).