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Comet Versa Nationals at Bewl Valley Sailing Club

by Mike Wilcock 3 Oct 2009 07:47 BST 26-27 September 2009

So the weather dawned bright and sunny for the Versa Nationals at Bewl – trouble was, nobody had ordered the wind. A high pressure zone stuck over the South of England for over a week meant that winds were light – to non-existent - as ten intrepid Versa sailors braved the hot sun and the drive down through the beautiful Kent Weald to Bewl.

The plan was to have five races, three on Saturday and two Sunday – with three to count, but when the Race Officer, Jeff Warley announced at the morning briefing that he couldn't guarantee the wind he wasn't lying! Setting a challenging (sausage/trapezoid) course meant that skill in light winds brought its rewards as David and Richy Talbot (Hawley Lake) rounded the first mark in a comfortable lead for race 1. But, sailing without a spinnaker all weekend, John and Jackie Sturgeon (also Hawley Lake) had taken the lead by the time the fleet reached the first mark for the second time. Recognising that Versa sailors liked to eat at least once a day (!) Jeff sensibly took the opportunity to create a finish line at the first mark and John and Jackie took the honours, followed by David and Richy in second, Michael Ettershank and Andy Dale from Eyott SC in third and Philip Bergquist, the only single hander, (Silver Wing SC) in fourth.

After lunch, a vote indicated by a clear majority that Versa sailors are either slightly mad, or up for anything, as they decided, in ultra-light winds, that they should try for a second race on the Saturday afternoon. Jeff set a similar, tho' much shortened, course in winds (could you call it wind?) which had a few crews wondering how long it took paddle to reach the race area, and to cross the start line (this time without a paddle honest!), never mind do a complete circuit. However, David and Richy again reached the first mark in the lead, and then shipped a lot of water as they bailed their way back to the second mark using a handy shoe to remove the water! Cassette tape watching became an obsession for everyone, as those with tell-tails stole every breath of wind to show the others how to sail in extremely difficult conditions and, after over an hour, Jeff took pity on the fleet and stopped us at the end of only one lap with, in a reversal of race 1, David and Richy taking the honours, followed by John and Jackie. In third place Martin and Dawn Anderson (North Staffordshire SC) beat Mike Wilcock and Chloe Thirkell in the only Bewl based Versa into 4th place.

Sunday also dawned bright and sunny, with a promise of some wind and, joined by a fleet of nearly 20 Lasers for their open meeting, the Versa fleet managed to sail out to the start line after only a short postponement. Race 3 was back to the same course as race 1, and, even though the Lasers had a five minute advantage, the leading Versas managed to catch and pass the end of the Laser fleet in the light conditions. Michael and Andy this time led from start to finish - showing others how to take advantage of the light winds. Martin and Dawn took second, followed closely by John and Jackie in third with David and Richy managing fourth.

Another vote after lunch saw the intrepid fleet once more lining up on the start line, with wind (yes wind!) playing games, as the first beat suddenly became a run just before the start; catching out the unwary and seeing those boats with spinnakers taking the first mark at some (relative!) speed for the first time in two days. Winds then came and went as the fleet again watched the transom of Michael and Andy disappear into the distance as Martin and Dawn and John and Jackie battled it out in wind that meant boats were flying spinnakers and were close hauled on the same leg! Mike and Chloe stole fourth place from David and Richy who were busy practicing their 720s!

Overall David and Richy took third place, with John and Jackie taking second. Stepping up from a Comet, Michael Ettershank's and Andy Dale's fine display gave them the honours in two races and thus overall first place and the trophy.

All to play in 2010 therefore – Instow in May holds out the promise of a rematch and hopefully some wind – anyone know how to conjure some up?

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st203Michael EttershankAndy DaleEyott SC3-7115
2nd352John SturgeonJacqui SturgeonHawley Lake STC12-336
3rd360David TalbotRichy TalbotHawley Lake STC214-57
4th347Martin AndersonDawn AndersonNorth Staffs SC-53227
5th232Mike WilcockChloe ThirkellBVSC-646414
6th247Philip Bergquist Silver Wing SC46-9717
7th310Geoff GambrillCelia GambrillHampton Pier YC857(DNC)20
8th328Marc KernickJulian SteedCrawley Mariner SC7-88621
9th225Andrew KeynesDoug ReedCrawley Mariner SC995(DNF)23
10th223Sam HockingChris TaylorCotswold SC(DNF)DNC10DNC3

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