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Vortex South Eastern Championship at Wilsonian Sailing Club

by Mike Gower 15 Jul 2013 16:42 BST 13-14 July 2013

The Vortex fleet returned to Wilsonian Sailing Club to compete within the Medway regatta; the event was sponsored by MTS, Harken and Hyde Sails.

As competitors arrived from the distant shores of Scotland, Stokes Bay and the nearer lakes of Rickmansworth, the water remained distinctly calm and unruffled by the preparations. The locals spoke of the mystical "sea breeze" that would shortly appear and promised that all would change within an hour or so and all would have an excellent day's racing.

The wind did indeed swing round to the East on cue but struggled to get much above 5mph.

The postponed first race got away with a tacking duel trying to keep out of a strong incoming tide. Jonathan Carter made the initial move with Mike Gower hanging on behind. As the wind slightly picked up Mike got the edge and managed to pull away only to lose it in the wind shadow of a moored barge.

Continuing upwind Nick Ireland got firmly in his stride catching Mike with great speed; unfortunately he didn't judge the shallowing waters so well and kept on testing the Medway mud at the shoreline tacks. Mike managed to finally get clear using local knowledge and tidal advantage.

The race was shortened at the top mark with the top 3 in that order, followed in by Alec Glendinning and Angus Winchester.

The start of the second race looked promising; almost trapezing winds and the promise of 11 knots further downstream. Mike caught Jonathan port and starboard on the line and was so pleased to see his rival tack off that he tacked himself right in front of Angus; the resulting turns left him way behind the pack. Determination (and luck) saw him power off below the fleet to take the lead by the first mark and gradually pull away from the others.

The fleet split behind, Jonathan looked good on the right then fell into adverse tide and no wind. Angus went way way left (where there is never any wind) picked up a huge lift and sailed over everyone to lead around the windward mark. Now it was a downhill race back to the line.

Again the fleet split, Angus goosewinging down the middle, Mike out on the right, the others on the left. The lead seemed to keep alternating between Angus and Alec until on the final run in Angus managed to get away for a well deserved win. Mike was hot on Alec's tail and as the wind freshened they were both gunning for the line. Mike tried to go over the top but Alec was having none of it. As they got to the line they went each side of a moored boat and the RO gave them second equal! In the race behind Jonathan had managed to get ahead of Nick.

Sunday morning gave us a light SW and we started on time, hoping to get a race in before you know what appeared. Mike and Jonathan were first away, got a big gust with the kites up that forced them both way off course. Meanwhile Angus just carried straight on and pulled out a good lead. Mike managed to go just a bit higher though on the next leg with Jonathan close behind. Coming back up river the keelboats were waiting to start their race; this left masses of totally disturbed air to try and pick a course through. Once again Mike seemed to have all the luck here and managed to pick his way through. However approaching the finishing line the wind decided to do all sorts of odd things; Mike managed to just hold his lead whilst behind Angus, Nick and Jonathan were continually swapping places. The frustration was too much for some with vocal opinions of what did the wind thnk it was up to sounding across the water. At the end Jonathan came in second about 2 feet in front of Nick !

So final race, all to go for!

The wind was still from the SW, Mike and Phil Harris got a blistering start with Angus close by. Mike gybed off then back again on a gust and was gone leaving all the others in his wake. Phil eventually realized that he had left his bungs out which was why he was going slower and slower (and lower and lower...).

The sea breeze did finally arrive half way up this leg and Mike took full advantage to extend his lead even further and then blast back downwind towards the finish with no further problems. Meanwhile behind Jonathan decided to run aground to give Nick and Angus a chance to catch him. As they came into the line all three were neck and neck with an Alto in amongst them just to mix it up. Again they all took a different line to the finish this time with Nick just pipping Jonathan to the line.

Despite the light winds, a great weekend's racing with everyone having a go at the front at some point. Our thanks to all the organizers who as usual did a fantastic job of keeping everything running smoothly.

Overall Results:

1. Mike Gower (Wilsonian SC)
2. Jonathan Carter (Rickmansworth SC)
3. Nick Ireland (Stokes Bay)
4. Angus Winchester (Castle Semple SC)
5. Alec Glendinning (Annandale SC)
6. Jason Ramsden (Wilsonian SC)
7. Phil Harris (Wilsonian SC)

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