Blackwater SC Club Week
by Paul Trueman on 22 Aug 2016
15-20 August 2016
Fireball fleet with eventual runner up Steve Jarred leading at Blackwater SC Club Week 2016 © Guy Hawkins
A forecast of hot sunshine and steady breezes for the start of the week was eagerly anticipated by the competitors at Blackwater SC's annual club week which saw 140 boats competing in 11 classes over the 6 days.
The forecast strong winds gusting to 35 knots duly arrived for the final Saturday meaning that only a diminished Fast Cruiser fleet plus a few Toppers ventured out however the preceding 5 days had seen perfect conditions of winds of F4 for most of the week with an above average amount of sunshine..
The mixed Laser fleet was the largest fleet with 28 competitors and comprised mostly of Radial rigs boosted by a good number of cadet members in 4.7's. Sailing Secretary Andrew Field started the week strongly with a couple of wins but ultimately finished runner up to John Crook who won the main trophy by a single point.
The absence of a couple of regular winners in the Fireball class through injury meant this class was more open than previous years with race wins shared between 4 different boats and the winner of this class came down to countback but Maria Richards & Jon Chetland's 2 wins meant they emerged as the winners with Rear Commodore Steve Jarred in the runner up slot.
The Wayfarer class had 12 entries this year boosted by several crews who were relatively new to racing. Race wins were shared by 3 boats and class captain, Julian Berney was starting to get his smart Hartley very much on the pace as the week progressed however consistency paid off for former class winners Paul Trueman crewed by Marc Griggs resulting in their names again being engraved on the trophy this year.
The number of boats competing in the club's classic Sprite dinghies dating from the 1930's was disappointingly low this year however as always the class enjoyed some close racing. Leading helms Bevis Wright and Commodore Chris Nichols have been vying for the overall honours in this class for many years. This year saw a reversal in the result from last year, it obviously was Bevis's turn to win and his 4 wins against Chris's 2 wins delivered him & Tessa the main trophy for the week.
Numbers in the Mirror fleet continue to increase. A welcome trend saw several of the leading club sailors crewed by their children competing in this class, also several of Friday adult sailors. It was probably inevitable that Dan Dixon sailing with his son would win this class however Julie Nelson & Kiley Gooch fought strongly and tied on points however the result in the final race meant that the trophy did end up in the Dixon household.
Nick Evans proved uncatchable in the small Optimist fleet and Vivien Whitchurch's consistency paid off as she emerged as the winner in the small Topper fleet.
In the dinghy handicap classes, Gareth Davies & Rob Appleby in an International 14 were the winners in the fast handicap fleet. The medium handicap class was the 2nd largest fleet with 27 entries. It was no surprise that the top 2 positions were taken by Blazes with Andy McIvor winning all races sailed and repeating his 2015 success in this fleet from Terry Crook in 2nd place. Ian Smith made sure it was not an all Blaze top 3 by taking 3rd in his Solo.
The Fast Cruiser class had 9 entries this year. The top 4 boats were consistently ahead of the others and in contention. Ultimately the result on the windy final Saturday decided the outcome. The fastest boat in the fleet, Bryan Southgate's Sigma 8m sportsboat, Sorcerer, had done well in the earlier part of the week on the longer legs down river against the flood tide and back up river against the ebb however having to take the final Saturday as his discard meant he had to count a 4th place whereas the Sargeant family's 3rd place on the final Saturday secured them the class win in their consistently well sailed Sonata. In the 12 competitors in the Club Cruiser class the stronger F4 winds prevalent during the week suited Guy Hawkin's Dufour 1800 which meant he could finish on the water ahead of most of the boats that had to give him time and his 2 wins and 2 second places meant he finished comfortably ahead of the Sun 2000's of Paul Su and Anthony Sinclair.
Vivien Whitchurch was awarded the Ladies Bowl for her win in the Topper fleet and Matty Evans was awarded the Wright Cup for best performance by a Cadet for her results in the competitive Medium Handicap fleet including a third place overall in the 2nd race series.
There were the usual social events throughout the week after racing, particularly popular was the annual Quiz night on Wednesday. Overall verdict from the sailors was that this had been the best club week sailing for some years.