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British Moth open meeting at Frampton on Severn Sailing Club

by Chris Latham 23 Oct 2014 08:18 BST 12 October 2014

Chew Valley Lake sailor Andy Matthews lead home the fleet in a dominant display, surviving the foggy conditions, to win the 2014 Frampton On Severn British Moth Open meeting, leaving behind him a close battle for second that carried on until the last lap of the last race.

The sailors who braved the drop in temperatures were met with thick fog and visibility as low as 25 meters. However with the fleet keen to get afloat it was not long until boats were being launched and the race officer, Andy Smith and his race crew, set about the unenviable task of setting a course in a shifty and patchy wind, unable to see from one buoy to the next.

Soon the first signal was fired and the sailors made their way to the start with silhouettes gently emerging one by one from the fog to converge on the line. The fleet got away at the first attempt and it was Matthew's who lead at the first mark, setting the tone for the rest of the day. In close pursuit was Chris Latham and the two sailors proceeded to open up a lead over the chasing pack, lead by Roger Witts. Matthews went on to pull away from C Latham and comfortably took his first win of the day.

Meanwhile Witts used his experience and showed why he has previously won the national championships and open series, making his move by gybing out into the middle of the lake on the downwind leg, opening up a gap on Tony Latham and Ian Haywood who were enjoying a close battle for fourth. The move also closed the gap on C Latham who managed to hold on to second in an exciting finish, with Witts settling for third.

The second race started in similar conditions to the first and again Matthews quickly took to the front and opened a lead that he held on to until the end. Ian Haywood started brightly before suffering at the hands of the wind as a header whilst on port left him unable to cross a starboard bow and resulted in penalty turns, relegating him from a good position. It was the turns of Witts this time to take second place early on and he comfortably retained the position until the end. Anne Widdows, in her first open meeting, moved in to a deserved third place in the first lap after a good start before being passed, with C Latham finishing third.

Over lunch the sailors recharged and reflected on the unique experience of racing in such poor visibility, all commenting on the need to feel the wind in the absence of being able to see the patterns on the water. Everyone commented on the balance of the course given the poor conditions.

The third race saw the fleet joined on the water by club racers as the wind temporarily built to blow away the mist. The break did not disrupt Matthews, who again took an early lead and again held on to the end. It was Matthews boat speed and ability to read the tricky conditions and work his way up the shifty beats that meant he deservedly took his third bullet of the day and with it the Suspense Trophy. Behind him Witts was in second and covered well when challenged by C Latham, who slowed in his wind shadow. Witts opened up a gap on C Latham who was now passed by T Latham. Haywood was also making a charge through the fleet. Witts had to retire from the race, owing to other commitments, promoting T Latham to second and Haywood, who had recovered well from the start, to finish third.

The fourth and final race saw Matthews take to the shore having already taken the title, leaving father and son to battle out for second place. It was the younger C Latham who held the 1 point advantage going in to the final race counting a 2,3,4 with T Latham counting a 4,4,2. T Latham took an early lead from the start, before C Latham made the most of the shifts to head at the first buoy.

Downwind though it was T Latham who held the advantage with superior boat speed and he was soon passing to leeward on the reach. He started to extend his lead before C Latham again made the most of the shifty conditions to take the lead up the beat. This was a pattern that would continue throughout the race with many place changes, until T Latham was able to cover up the beat and extend an unassailable lead downwind before taking first place and with it second overall. C Latham finished second with Haywood finishing strongly in third.

Matthews was a deserving champion and thanked the race committee for their efforts and his fellow competitors for making an enjoyable day. Anne Widdows took sixth overall and with it the ladies trophy and also thanked the race officer and his team. Tony Latham finished second overall with Chris Latham in third.

With this open meeting being the first of the 2015 open series Andy Matthews takes an early lead before the winter break with the fleet eagerly looking forward to the next event in this friendly and competitive class.

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