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Wanderer Travellers' Trophy Series at Papercourt Sailing club

by Tim Robertson 29 Apr 2014 10:06 BST 27 April 2014
Tim and Max Robertson win the Papercourt Wanderer open © Wanderer Class

The Travellers' Trophy series continued at Papercourt Sailing Club on the 27th April with 4 boats competing in the 2nd event of the series of 10 events over the summer.

Papercourt is a friendly inland gravel pit club just off the A3 in Surrey, near Ripley. One local boat and three travellers rigged in the car park with 8 GP14s, with whom we were to share the day, before the 10:30 briefing got underway, the race office promised 3 races over the day, one in the morning followed by lunch in the clubhouse, then two shorter races in the afternoon. The GP14s were to get away first with their start signal being the Wanderer 5 minute signal.

The weather was brighter than the forecast of heavy rain showers and the winds lighter, with frequent shifts and lots of quiet patches, suggesting that the lightweight crew of W1038 were going to be heavily favoured by the conditions. A figure of 8 course was set at the far end of the lake with the race officer working from a committee boat. The Figure of 8 courses led to much excitement all through the day as fleets under spinnaker crossed each other in the centre of the course.

Race #1 got under way on schedule after a gentle beat down the lake from the club house for all. The race lasted just over an hour as promised and places changed frequently. Philip and Jill Meadowcroft made the best of the start in W1541 and won the first beat, arriving at the windward mark just ahead of Tim and Max Robertson in W1038. The first mark was tight under the trees and the winds were very tricky, swinging wildly and dying frequently. Philip and Jill lost momentum at the mark and drifted down onto it, allowing Tim and Max to sail round them and take the lead. Flying their spinnaker on the tight reaches across the centre of the course on most laps Tim and Max were able to then defend this lead to the end. Mike Bennett and his crew for the day Paul Truscott were able to use their local knowledge after a poor start to leap up the fleet and pass Philip and Jill to take 2nd place for the 2nd and 3rd laps before Philip and Jill fought back to retake 2nd place only to be pipped at the gun again by Mike and Paul on lap 4. David Bardwell and Saffron Gallagher brought up the rear after starting well (ahead of locals Mike and Paul after 1 lap) to come in fourth, a rear buoyancy box full of water not helping their boat speed as the race progressed – a missing stern bung was the culprit. The winds were light and shifty throughout, particularly at marks on the windward side of the course. Getting the spinnaker to pay on tight and shifty reaches was tricky and required quick work to drop and stow it once the wind headed you. If you could get a good set with the pole set high to allow you to point higher it would add three or four boat lengths over non-spinnaker boats however, even on the short legs at Papercourt. Following the shifts up each beat was also crucial, with roll tacking helping the leader to maintain boat speed through the frequent tacks. Much fun was observed between the fleet on collision regs in this shifty environment with great difficulty planning when to stand on or dip other boats.

Lunch was served in the club house with large quantities of Chilli Con Carne or beans and cheese on baked spuds with salad washed down with copious tea or coffee, before the race officer suggested we launch for the two shorter afternoon races starting at around 13:45.

The marks worst affected by the windward trees were moved further into the lake and the course reversed for the afternoon races, meaning a starboard rounding of the first windward mark, however the confusion started right at the start with a port biased line encouraging three of the four boats in the fleet to try a port flier at the pin end. Mike Bennett chose the starboard run down the line and managed to block the port boats perfectly down at the pin end with lots of boat speed. Mike’s appeared to be a perfect start until the last of the port fliers, unsighted by the two other port boats ahead of him hardened up at the gun and T boned Mike Bennett’s Y knot firmly about half way down the foredeck leaving a significant scar in the fibreglass and spoiling Mike’s otherwise fine start. This allowed the two foiled port starters who had had to dip under Mike on the line to sail clear and battle up the beat to the windward mark. Tim and Max managed to get over the top of the Meadowcrofts once they tacked onto Starboard and reached the starboard rounded mark first. At the end of the first lap W1038 led W1541 by a minute and a half, with the recovering W1416 only 17 seconds further back and W1004 1:34 seconds in arrears. After lap 2 W1038 was stretching his lead out to more than 2 minutes over W1541. W1004 had climbed to 3rd less than a minute behind with W1416 dropping back to 4th a further minute behind. Positions didn’t then change before the finish, with Tim and Max bringing W1038 home in 1st, Philip and Jill in 2nd, David and Saffron 3rd and Mike and Paul 4th.

For the final race the conditions went even lighter and the crew of W1038 remembered watching Paul Yeadon and Liz North sailing away from the fleet at Bewl in similar conditions a couple of years earlier. It turned out they had removed their mast chocks and reduced rig tension significantly in the very light airs so these actions were copied before the start and boat speed was found to increase significantly. A much calmer start this time with everyone approaching the line on starboard saw W1038 slip into the gap over the top of W1541 at the committee boat end and as the fleet approached the windward mark managed to get above W1416 on starboard preventing him tacking and sailing him out to the lay line for the mark. Using spinnaker W1038 could then sail clear on the reach, leaving the rest to contest the other positions with some extremely close quarters action, particularly at mark roundings. By lap 4 after 45 minutes the leader had managed to lap the Wanderer fleet, catching W1416 on the final beat to the line and winning by a lap and 10 seconds. W1541 finished 3rd 50 seconds or so behind Mike and Paul with David and Saffron closing off the day only a further 25 seconds back.

Boats were packed up and prizes awarded with tea and cake before warm showers and getting away by about 17:30 for the drive home. Many thanks to all at Papercourt for another very welcoming day sailing in Surrey.

Next event is Langstone Harbour Race weekend over early May bank holiday, based at Tudor Sailing Club, just off the M27.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelm & CrewR1R2R3Pts
1stW1038Joshua SlocumTim and Max Robertson‑1112
2ndW1416Y KnotMike Bennett and Paul Truscott2‑424
3rdW1541Black MischiefPhilip and Jill Meadowcroft‑3235
4thW1004TeaselDavid Bardwell and Saffron Gallagher‑4347

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