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Dam to Dam Challenge at Kielder Water Sailing Club

by Nicola Bell 9 May 2012 18:26 BST 4-7 May 2012

Kielder's May open meeting was one of the Javelin's Travellers Series and four Javelins came from far away, the furthest travelled being Gavin and Rosie Johnson from Alton Water Sailing Club in Essex. The Javelins joined the Kielder Ospreys in one fleet and there were another 12 boats, from RS300s to a Topper, in the handicap fleet.

The very light and variable winds on Saturday and Sunday caused headaches for Race Officer Steve Gibbon and the competitors alike, trying to set and sail a suitable course when the wind was varying between easterly through northerly to south westerly. There were sudden shifts often of more than 180 degrees, when one moment the wind was ahead, and the next it was behind you. One boat could be on a run when two boat lengths away another (going in the same direction) was on a close reach. Nevertheless, it was possible to complete four of the intended six races over the two days.

The Ospreys of Rob Shaw and Ian Little were first and Viola and Mike Scott were second, in the Osprey/Javelin fleet, and Gavin and Rosie Johnson were third in the fleet and first Javelin overall.

In the handicap fleet, results were very close with the first three sailors on seven points; the count-back put Mark Henman (RS300, Sunderland YC) in first place, Michael Matthews (Laser, Sunderland YC) in second and an outstanding performance by 12 year old Robbie Langford from Kielder in third place in a Topper. Robbie's winter training with the RYA North East Zone Topper Squad has clearly been worthwhile.

On Monday the wind was considerably stronger for the Dam to Dam Challenge - F4-5 from the south-east. This meant a pleasant downwind sail to the head of the lake, but a long beat all the way back again in increasing wind. The race took 19 boats the length and breadth of the lake, a total course distance of some 16 miles. Once again Rob Shaw and Ian Little were first, Viola and Mike Scott second, and visiting Javelin Richard Smith was third. A long distance race like this favours the fast boats, so your roving reporter in a Miracle, with the highest PY, cannot tell you anything about the front end of the fleet which had disappeared into the distance by the time we had rounded the top mark. Amongst the slower boats, the occasional 180 degree gust put paid to the fortunes of Mrs Fleming and Mrs Dow in one Wayfarer, and Mr Fleming and Mr Dow in another. (Suffice to say that remaining inside the boat is good). Robbie Langford, crewed by his dad Adrian, in the club's new Wayfarer had been making great progress until they stopped to see about making a rescue in the aforementioned Fleming-Dow incident and to put in a reef as they were somewhat overpowered.

Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, and special thanks go to the patrol boat crews (especially for speedy mark-moving in variable winds), the galley team for keeping everyone fed and watered, Alec Vallance for the splendid bar with beer from the Great Heck brewery, and the Race Officer and his team for organising good racing in some trying conditions.

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