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Byte Open at Combs Sailing Club

By John Saunders on 23 Jul 2013 20-21 July 2013
Photos © John Saunders
Combs Byte open
Combs Byte open
Rick Whitehouse wins the Combs Byte open
Rick Whitehouse wins the Combs Byte open

The Combs Sailing Club Byte open took place over the weekend 20th & 21st of July. The event began on Saturday morning with a training session where Rick Whitehouse, current National Champion, gave a short technical lecture about performance in general and the Byte in particular which was appreciated by all. This was followed by Louis Saunders, current Inland Champion, taking the Bytes onto the water for a practical training session. Every sailor who participated in this joint training felt that they had gained something from it, Louis from Rick and Rick from Louis!

After weeks of golden sunshine Saturday was perversely cloudy, quite a shock! Close racing was expected from this quality fleet particularly from club mates and friendly rivals Louis and Rick. When the 12 boats took to the water for the first race the wind was blowing a steady 10-12 mph if a little shifty, so not bad.

As the boats jockeyed for the start a few surprise gusts came through causing Sue Sloane to capsize but she was quick to recover and made it to the line. Combs veteran Harry Mayo was also involved in this melee sailing a Byte for the first time.

The start for race one was tight off the short line and the close pack of boats streaked away from the start. Suddenly Louis peeled away and made for the shore. The assembly holding all his minor control blocks had pulled away from the deck making the boat impossible to sail. Louis retired and Rick sailed to a win followed by Mike Radford and Eddie Pope.

Fellow club mate Sue Sloan was kind enough to lend Louis her boat for the next race and he quickly altered the controls to suit his more violent style of sailing. In race two Rick sailed impeccably and Louis sailing an unfamiliar boat was able to keep up but never close enough to mount a challenge. These two then finished first and second with Mike again in third.

Rick was unable to compete in race three because of another important engagement. Louis led the race from the line but on lap three Mike Radford managed to catch him in the easing wind and both boats set off on the long downwind leg with Louis Trailing Mike. A fantastic battle of gybing and shoving around lasted for the whole long leg with Louis getting water at the next mark. Great sailing. But allowing Eddie Pope to close up After the Mark a short two tack sprint saw Louis first to the line by a single boat length. So this race went to Louis followed by Mike then Eddie. Kevin Moore was now slowing and being harried by his Daughter Rachael as his stature was less suited to the lighter winds!

In the evening a barbecue was held attended by visitors and club members alike while Louis boat was quickly repaired.

Early on Sunday morning Louis cooked breakfast for all the Byte sailors including Rick who was looking a little bleary after his engagement the night before. The event result was still open at this point because Rick and Louis had already taken their discards. When race four began Rick started well and established a short lead before the first tack. Louis was giving it his all in an attempt to make it to the windward mark and in his enthusiasim managed to drop the boat in twice on roll tacks. Never the less he was second to the mark after Rick. A series of favorable wind patterns gave Rick a massive lead over Louis who in turn had an equally massive lead over the squabbling Mike Radford and Eddie Pope. Kevin Moore was now fighting off his Daughter Rachael and lightweight newcomer Hannah Bard. This race was won by Rick followed by Louis and Mike.

At the start of race five Louis found himself pushed over the line and had to tack back and start again but he chased the pack down and once again followed Rick round the windward mark. On lap two he managed to pass Rick after an intense tacking battle in shifty winds at the top of the lake but Rick regained the lead on the next long down wind leg. The order stayed the same and Rick crossed the line followed by Louis,and Mike.

It was a great weekend of intense sailing, training and socialising. Rick Whitehouse was immaculate on his home water but close battles continued throughout the fleet.

After racing Hannah Bard left for the NSSA championship at Bassenthwate where she will be crewing a 420. We wish her luck.

Next is the Nationals at Weymouth on August 24th. and 25th when the battle re commences.

Overall Results:

1st Rick Whitehouse, (Combs) 4pts
2nd Louis Saunders (Combs) 7pts
3rd Mike Radford (West Oxford) 10pts
4th Eddie Pope (Ogston) 14pts
5th Kevin Moore (Weston) 19pts
6th Rachael Moore (Weston) 21pts
7th Hannah Bard (Marconi) 25pts
8th Sue Sloane (Combs) 28pts
9th Harry Mayo (Combs) 29pts

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