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Langstone Harbour Race Weekend 2013

by Hannah & Richard Barnes 7 Jun 2013 20:59 BST 24-27 May 2013

Now in its 5th year, the 2013 Langstone Harbour Race weekend was held over the late spring bank holiday (24th – 27th May). The event, hosted by the three dinghy racing clubs in the harbour (Locks SC, Langstone SC & Tudor SC) had an extra special edge this year, hosting the Wanderer Class Owners Association National Championships – perhaps the first national championships sailed in Langstone harbour? Certainly the first nationals hosted at Tudor SC in recent history.

All eyes were on the weather forecast in the run up to the weekend, as the event has been plagued with a spate of wet, windy and challenging conditions in recent years. However, 2013 proved to be event to break the mould, with near perfect sailing conditions and a special guest appearance by the big yellow round thing in the sky!

Friday evening kicked off at Tudor SC, with a strong breeze & torrential rain creating concern as competitors were left hoping the weather front would blow through before racing commenced the following day. Frances Best and Claire Lewis soon put their minds at ease, welcoming sailors from far and wide at the registration desk. With 59 boats entered to sail the event, they certainly had their work cut out, getting all the sailors signed in and presenting them with their race entry packs. A total of 16 sailing clubs were represented, with a few additional trailer sailors (i.e. no sailing club) thrown into the mix. Everyone enjoyed tucking into a curry at TSC, before the race briefing.

As sailors arrived on Saturday morning, the sun was shining and the breeze was easing. The competitors all enjoyed tucking into their breakfasts as they busily prepared their boats for the racing ahead; the Wanderers were especially focused, carefully tuning their craft and hoping their recent improvements would speed them to the front of the fleet. All the competitors left the slipway without incident, heading off towards the committee boat, anchored on the southern side of the Langstone channel.

The short windward leeward course was set, with boats racing across the channel into the easing northerly wind. All fleets got away cleanly off the line, to start the first race. The action at the front of the fast handicap fleet was dominated by the usual suspects from Locks SC, with Christian Reynolds in the Musto Skiff, Matt Holden in the RS600 and Geoff & Bernice Holden in the Laser 4000 fighting for the lead.

In the medium handicap fleet, competition was fierce between the Wayfarers of Chris and Mavis Hornsey and John Reynolds and Martin Tice both from Locks SC, closely contested by some of our visitors, the Blaze of Stuart Bailey from Wilsonian SC and the RS200 of Sarah and David Green from Llandegfedd SC.

The wind continued to ease for the second race, although it was certainly no drifter.

After all sailors were safely ashore on Saturday afternoon, we all convened at Locks SC, where we enjoyed their hospitality. After eating some top quality burgers and sausages cooked by the Commodore of Locks himself (Jack Miller), a few of us had a tour of their impressive new entrance hall and changing room facilities. Following much good banter and some last minute corrections to the results, a short prize giving ceremony was held, to award the daily fleet winners and the raffle for the social. The daily prize winners were lucky recipients of hats, bags, wallets and very useful insulation tape donated by Force 4 Chandlery, Flew Sails, and Sailstyle.

After a good nights sleep, the sailors started to trickle in to enjoy another fine breakfast at TSC ably cooked by Annalise, Hannah, & Pete. The sun was out again and the wind was light and from the north-west.

The fast handicap fleet got underway in the light and fickle north westerly airs, which soon died as they reached the windward mark. The fleet was split, as some chose to sail over the Swords Sands, whilst others used the tide to their advantage, taking a sling shot up the Broom channel. The latter strategy seem to pay off, with the two Holden boats leading the Buzz of Matthew Butler & Graziano Spano from Stewartby SC.

By this time the medium handicap start had already been postponed, as the wind started to shift southwards. The race officer (Gavin Cadmore) made the tough decision to postpone the Medium and Wanderer fleets in anticipation of the impending sea breeze and finish the Fast handicap fleet after just 1 lap, so that the course could be re-set.

Whilst the hanging around was a tad frustrating for the sailors, it was certainly the right call, as the sea breeze came up providing some perfect sailing conditions.

However, the medium handicap fleet were a little too eager to get underway, forcing a general re-call on their first start. The race committee were not going to stand for another false start and hoisted flag 'I' to enforce rule 30.1 – those who jump started again would need to sail around the end of the line to exonerate themselves, or face being disqualified. Whilst the Medium and Wanderer fleet took heed of this signal, a few unsuspecting sailors fell foul during the following fast handicap start!

The Medium and Wanderer fleets got underway with a strengthening south-south westerly wind. The Blaze had a commanding lead after the first leg, reaching the windward mark in front of the chasing pack, by which point the asymmetric boats had their first taste of planing during the weekend, screaming down to the second mark and leaving the other boats in their wake.

This was rather short lived for some, as the Laser Vago of Richard Barnes and James Cameron from Tudor SC were rather out of control at this point and capsized close to the mark creating an additional obstacle on the course. This was a rather unfortunate place to capsize, as Will Tremlett from H2O Photos was sat there in his RIB, primed with his camera.

The second race for the Medium & Wanderer fleets followed straight after the end of the first as by this point the fast fleet had finished both their races for the day and were heading back to be first in the showers. Conditions had not improved much and there were thrills and spills all over the course.

In the Wanderer fleet an unfortunate capsize for Neil Boyce from the home club saw him lose several places and as a result placing him 4th in the Wanderer National Championships - still a very good effort considering he only got into a Wanderer a couple of weeks beforehand. By the end of the race the sailors were glad to get back to shore and have a well earned drink in the bar and watch the Wanderer prize giving.

After the prize-giving the competitors ventured to the other side of the harbour to Langstone Sailing club for the evening social. Langstone treated us to large portions of chilli con carne.

Whilst eating the competitors were able to see photos from Saturday and Sunday on the big screen. Once dinner was over Jane Noble and Mark Wilson had prepared a quiz including bonus points for the team who could stack as many sugar cubes on top of each other in 20 seconds. Hannah Barnes and Jack Rivington volunteered first and got respectable scores only to be beaten as the strategy for building the best tower evolved.

The breeze had increased for the race on Monday with gusts of 15 to 20 knots the course set by the race officer was a broad figure of eight using the harbour marks. The fast fleet got away cleanly with the usual jostling for space on the start line. After sailing southwards towards the windward mark they headed back up the Langstone channel to Alpha, kites up and planing all the way. The race was a real fight for survival with the strong winds and gusts making staying upright a real challenge for sailors who were already tired from the previous two days racing.

The medium fleet also got away cleanly sailing a slightly shorter course than the fast fleet – this was a challenge for some of the leading boats who merrily passed Sinah buoy and carried on towards Alpha before realising their mistake and changing direction. This gave the advantage to the Blaze of Stuart Bailey of led home to finish 1st both on the water and on handicap and also take the Medium Fleet trophy.

In the fast fleet the absence of Christian Reynolds in his Musto Skiff due to a broken wing gave challengers of Matt Holden in his RS600 and the Laser 4000 of Geoff & Bernice Holden a chance of a win. Matt capitalised on this and came home first on handicap, securing 2nd in the fast fleet overall and pushing Geoff & Bernice down to 3rd.

The final prizegiving of the weekend was held at Tudor Sailing Club with tea and a fantastic spread of home made cakes. Prizes were presented by the Commodore of Tudor Sailing Club, Richard Gunn for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each fleet and there were also quite a few special awards chosen by the race officer:

  • Capsize in the most awkward pace & wrapping the boat around the mark – Simon Palmer, RS400, Locks SC
  • For showing determination and perseverance even when behind – Nick & Susie Cheney, RS500, Tudor SC
  • For achieving their goal of finally finishing a race (they managed to finish all 5 in the end) and having a junior crew – Dan & Harvey Jarman, RS800, Locks SC
  • Closest capsize to the committee boat & distracting the race officer from his duties - Richard Barnes & James Cameron, Laser Vago, Tudor SC
  • Tour of the harbour – Mike Ford, Laser 2000, Langstone SC for sailing the fast handicap course in race 5 when he was a medium fleet boat.
  • Junior crews – James Cameron, Tudor SC and Theo Hornsey, Locks SC
  • Junior Laser Radial – Dan Gaudion, Locks SC
  • Solo to complete all races – Pete Best, HISC / Tudor SC

The special prize winners were awarded a wide range of prizes including chandlery vouchers, bags, gloves and hawk wind indicators all donated by event supporters, Flew Sails, Chris Hornsey Chandlery, Marine Superstore, Sailstyle and Force 4 Chandlery. The event team would like to thank them for their support and also thank Will Tremlett from H2O photos for spending 3 days on the water taking some cracking shots.

Full results can be found on the LHRW website: www.langstonerace.co.uk

More photos from the weekend can be found on the LHRW Facebook page (you don't need to have an account to see them): www.facebook.com/LangstoneHarbourRaceWeekend

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