As the competitors look forward to the last weekend of the GJW Direct Insurance sponsored Tipsy Icicle Winter Series at Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club there is still everything to sail for in some of the fleets.
Week 9 of the series and a total of 169 boats have taken to the water during this series. This weekend saw a few new faces join as 72 boats took to the water and were treated to bright sunshine and a light force 2 breeze from the east for the first race which as it progressed swung more to the ESE and picked up with gusts between force 3 – 5. Race 2 was run in slightly lighter wind from the same direction.
Again the series dedicated PRO was Peter Baldwin assisted by helpers both on the committee boat and in the rescue crafts. On shore the competitors and spectators were fed and watered by the galley crew of Helen and Ann.
First away was the thirteen boat Asymmetric Fleet and such is the closeness on points of the top three consistency proved to be key in order to close the gap. Overall leaders Paul/Mike Allen (RS400/LLSC) struggled to hit form as they scored a 9 & 3. Starting the day in second overall were Dave Exley/ Nigel Hall (RS400/LLSC) but they could not capitalise on the Allen's poor showing by scoring a 4 & 10. Form and consistency shone on the crew of Chris Pickles/Matt Sharman (RS400/Delph SC) who came away with a 3 & 2. 'Boat of the day' in the fleet was the RS200 of Louise Mckeand/Cathy Partington (RS200/LLSC) who scored a 2 & 1 while the other RS200 of Tony Taylor/Sarah Tyson (Budworth SC) won the first race but only managed an 8th in the second. Casualty of the day was the RS400 of the Martin/Liam Parker (LLSC) who during race one saw the top of their mast snap on a windy reach which put paid to their day. As it now stands the Allen's are now joint leaders with Pickles/Sharman, who have leapfrogged Exley/Hall, and both boats are on 17 points. Exley/Hall have 22 points and Mckeand/Partington are fourth with 23 points.
The twenty strong Laser Fleet were next away and this saw the return of Andy Green (LLSC) who went on to win both races followed by the current series leader Andy Stott (LLSC) who, for the second week running, recorded two seconds. Stuart Bellfield (LLSC) came home third in both races and Graham Macwhirter (UKLA) scored a 4 & 5. Stott remains top of the pile with 12 points while Macwhirter goes into second with 26 points. Jack Hopkins (Delph), who was missing this weekend, drops to third with 32 points.
In the Handicap Fleet start thirty nine boats, which included 14 from the Junior Fleet and 14 from the Solo Fleet, took to the start line. The return of the series leaders Christian Day/Sophie Richards (National 12/LLSC) saw them go on to win both races. After an enforced absence Richard Catchpole (RS300/LLSC) returned to the fleet to score a 2 & 4. Second in the series is Andy Flitcroft (RS300/Burwain SC) who managed a 3 & 5 with Mark/Sam Platt (GP14/Bolton SC) scoring a 5 & 2. Overall Day/Richards now lead with 12 points but there is a battle for second between Flitcroft with 26 points and the Platts with 27 points.
In the Solo Fleet the first race was won by Paul Heath (LLSC) but he found himself 'black flagged' in the second. His nearest rival is Steve White (LLSC) who, after a battle in race 1 with Heath and Graham Bristow (LLSC) only managed to score a third while in the second race he, like Heath, was black flagged. Bristow scored a 2 & 2 while the race winner in race 3 was Dave Eccles (LLSC) who scored a 4 in race one. Terry Flannagan (Pennine) came home third in race two. It remains Heath leading with 10 points, White with 17 and Steve Ferrington (West Kirkby SC) with 25.
In the Junior Fleet it looks like it has now become a possible four way battle for the series with just 6 points separating the top four places. Drew Gibbons (Topper/Redesmere SC) returned to the fleet and went on to win both races. With his closest rival, Tom Wallwork (Topper/LLSC) missing this weekend the series leader, Hayden Griffiths (Topper/LLSC) could only manage a 5 & 2. Oliver Blackburn (Topper/LLSC) scored a 4 & 6 to keep himself in touch with the top two while Nick Devereux (Topper/LLSC) has given himself an outside chance with a 3 & 5. In race one Olivia Cuthbert (Topper/LLSC) again showed promise with a second in the first race and Archie Leckie (Topper/LLSC) scored a third in race two. Overall its exactly the same as last week with Griffiths leading with 10 points, Wallwork 11 points, Blackburn 12 points and Devereux creeping back into the frame with 16 points. With a few boats rumoured to be away training this weekend the top of the junior fleet, and other fleets, could change during the final weekend.
The club would once again like to say a big thank you to all the visitors and members for coming, to everyone who helped to run the day and to our sponsor GJW Direct Insurance. The last weekend of the series is this coming weekend and with a (currently) favourable wind forecast we would like to see you there. – visit www.llsc.org.uk for the results and further information on Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club.
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