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Kielder Water Sailing Club May Open

by Judy Scullion & Adrian Langford on 9 May 2013 4-6 May 2013
A Class Cats during the Kielder Water Sailing Club May Open © John Scullion

The wind was force 4-5, gusting 6, as the valiant competitors assembled for the first day of the Kielder Water Sailing Club May Open. There was a fleet of class A catamarans, the fastest single-handed racing catamaran in the world, plus a variety of different boats in the slow and fast handicap fleets. Officers of the Day were Rob Shaw for the cats and Steve Gibbon for the handicap races.

The strong and gusty south-westerly wind gave choppy water on the Saturday, and the catamarans managed two races, followed by four more on the Sunday afternoon when the wind had moderated a little. The windward-leeward course gave some fine racing with the cats jockeying for position and outmanoeuvring each other to find the best wind.

In the A-class fleet Phil Neal of Rutland took an impressive first place in every race, while Struan Wallace of Thorpe Bay Yacht Club came second overall, hopefully making it worth the long trek from Southend. Third place was taken by Derek Gibb of Largo Bay Sailing Club.

The handicap fleets managed one race on the Saturday and a further three on the Sunday. The OOD set a triangle-sausage course for the first three races, followed by a windward-leeward for the last one. Saturday's conditions were tricky for much of the slow handicap fleet, and only two of the six boats managed to finish the race, while a fair amount of swimming practice took place. The fast handicap boats fared better, however, and on Sunday the wind was a little less fierce, giving good sailing for both fleets.

Results were, in the fast handicap fleet: first Viola and Mike Scott (KWSC) in their Osprey, second John Reekie and Andrew Hooton (Bassenthwaite) in their Merlin Rocket, and third Alec Mamwell and Ian Little (Coniston / KWSC) in an Osprey.

In the slow handicap fleet first place was taken by Richard Purdy of Sunderland in his Laser, second by Robbie Langford (KWSC) in a Topper, and third by Adrian Langford and Judy Scullion (KWSC) in a Wanderer.

The evenings were convivial with meals from the KWSC galley complemented by a selection of real ales and wines from the sailing club bar. The visiting sailors commented that the weekend was very enjoyable with good food, camping and patrol boats, and a very friendly atmosphere.

KWSC's legendary Dam to Dam race took place on Bank Holiday Monday. The wind was thankfully less strong than over Saturday and Sunday, so a varied fleet of 22 boats took to the water. Rob Shaw set up a start line in full view of Tower Knowe, which delighted spectators, and after a well contended start there was a fascinating, tactical beat up towards the yacht club.

The boats started spreading once they headed towards Bull Crag, with a range of positions being taken up to manage the wind shadows. Rounding the corner, and beating up towards Leaplish, the fleet divided into groups, with the A Class Catamarans and faster handicap boats well ahead of the Laser 2000s, then the slower handicap boats watching where the pressures and lulls were.

The wind started dropping off in the leg towards the top of the lake, and becoming very shifty indeed. It was a delicate matter to pick the patches of wind and make best use of them.

As the faster boats started returning, the slower boats appeared to have made good time, but this soon proved a false illusion as progress nearing Gowanburn, at the top of the lake, was very slow.

Spinnakers made an appearance passing Hawkhirst and again once past Leaplish, where the breeze filled in once more, allowing a superb long broad reach to run that Kielder offers its sailors.

The Race Officer shortened the course so that the fleet went to the bottom of the lake then back to the line to finish. From the slow handicap end of the fleet, it looked to be a close result between the faster of the Laser 2000s, the Wanderer and the faster Miracle, which turned out to be the case. What they couldn't see was that 'Think Again' was significantly ahead, and the honours for the day went to Viola and Mike Scott in their Osprey from Kielder Water SC. Adrian Langford and Steve Gibbon from Kielder, on their first Race together, took second place in the Wanderer, followed very closely by Simon and Ellie Fay from Tynemouth Sailing Club in their Miracle.

A good time was had by all over the weekend, with the sometimes challenging winds providing some superb sailing opportunities. Special thanks go to the patrol boat crews, the galley team and the bar for keeping us safe, fed and watered, and to the Race Officers for organising good racing. Thanks also to all those who travelled to Kielder to enjoy, and to contribute to, a great weekend of racing.

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