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Dubarry Women's Open Keelboat Championship 2016

by Trevor Pountain 7 Jun 2016 21:41 BST 4-5 June 2016

The 8th Dubarry Women's Open Keelboat Championship was hosted by the Hamble River Sailing Club over the weekend of 4th & 5th June. A record number of 17 yachts, crewed by 140 women, entered this year's championship.

A feature of the briefing on the Friday evening is the forecast for the weekend, delivered by the events meteorologist Libby Greenhalgh. Having flown in from New York the day before, Libby, also a competitor, was able to deliver in person this year. The wind for both days was going to be from somewhere in the North. I say somewhere, because Solent Sailors will tell you how unpredictable a northerly can be. "Puffy and Fluky" were the words Libby used. So, it was with some trepidation that the Race Committee, led by RO Kathy Smalley and comprised of a hardened bunch of Garmin Hamble Winter Series regulars, set out on Saturday morning.

The Committee Boat anchored in the vicinity of mark Jonathan Jansen (4Q), and prayed that the 5 Knot northerly breeze would stay and settle for Race 1. Their prayers were answered, so Kathy Smalley was able to set a short beat with a short starboard spreader mark and a return downwind to Jonathan Jansen. Both classes got away well, and those who chose to go right early, like "Two Frank", Sam Flint, made substantial gains, using the North West going tide to their advantage.

Class 1 all managed their allotted two circuits of the course and Laura Dillon, the defending champion, brought "Journeymaker II" home in front of "Booty", Kate Loveys, in second, and Marie-Claud Heys in "SinerJy" third. Class 2 however, were having difficulty finishing with the strengthening cross tide as the wind got less puffy and flukier. Libby Greenhalgh in "J'ronimo" got home in first place, but the rest of the class were left struggling make any headway at all.

The 40 minute time limit came and went, and the RO helpfully suggested that the recorded times for round one could be used to place the nine remaining boats. This it turned out was not a popular suggestion and good deal of Saturday evening was taken up with a redress hearing where, DNF's, OTL's and whole range of other things were discussed. In the end, the protest committee came up with the Janice Nichols solution – "Oi'll Give it Foive" and gave the rest 5.5 points each. (Apologies to those of you too young to remember Thank Your Lucky Stars.)

There was a bit of wait for Race two and a debate over whether or when the sea breeze might kick in. Eventually, enough of the northerly came back to run another narrow starboard hand triangle. "Journeymaker 11" could only manage third in Class 1. "Southern Child", Lucy Jones, came second and Marie-Claud Heys brought the new J11s, "SinerJy" home in first place. Class 2 saw "Two Frank" first with "Wahoo", Sarah Rossiter, second and "Swallow", Lulu Wallace, in third.

The Race Committee set up for a third race and, just when it seemed all was over for the day, 12 knots of SW breeze arrived. East Knoll was quickly identified as the windward mark and both classes got away in the best conditions of the day. In Class 1, Laura Dillon brought "Journeymaker 11" home in first again, followed by "Night Owl", Julie Fawcet, and Performance Yacht Charters "Southern Child" in third. In Class 2, "Blackjack 11", Annie Kelly, revelled in the windier conditions to romp home first, followed by "J'ronimo" and "Two Frank".

Day two promised sunshine, and so it proved, though one or two revellers from the Frocks and Flip Flops party the night before were somewhat slow to appreciate it. This time there was no breeze in the race area from the moment the Committee tried to put on a race. Instead cockpit speakers on "Night Owl" were driven by funk and rock and the party continued.

Eventually, enough wind from the North came along and Race 4 got underway. With the tide under them two boats were recalled in Class 1, and Sam Flint in "Two Frank", Class 2, excited at being in second overall overnight, ended up with a slow crawl back against the ebb. Laura Dillon with six of her Irish friends on board brought "Journeymaker 11" home first again in Class 1, whilst "R&W", Christine Allen, had their first podium of the weekend in second and "SynerJy" was placed again in third. In Class 2, "Blackjack 11" scored another first, followed by "Swallow" and "J'ronimo".

There was plenty of time for lunch as things went very hot and windless. With the Spring tide now at its strongest a real intervention was called for and once again just when things started to look hopeless a sea breeze from the direction of Cowes arrived. This allowed a beat onto the Bramble Bank followed by a run to hamblewinterseries.com and a fetch to Jonathan Jansen. Both classes' managed two rounds of the course (except for "R&W" who missed a mark) albeit shortened for Class 1 at hamblewinterseries.com." Journeymaker 11" was first in Class 1 again followed by "Booty" and "Southern Child". "Blackjack 11" led "Swallow" and "Two Frank" in Class 2.

Back at HRSC, Kathy Smalley explained to those crews who were frustrated by the weather that the wind is very much like sex. You don't know when you're going to get it, how hard it's going to be and how long it's going to last! There speaks the voice of experience.

Before the prizes were handed out it was announced that £1350 had been raised for Breast Cancer Care and the Hamble Lifeboat. This was another record for the weekend.

The fabulous prizes supplied as always by Dubarry were distributed as follows:

Class 1:

1st – 4 pts – Journeymaker 11, Laura Dillon
2nd – 11 pts – SynerJy, Marie-Claude Heys
3rd - 14 pts – Southern Child, Lucy Jones

Class 2:

1st – 7 pts – Blackjack 11, Annie Kelly
2nd – 10 pts – J'ronimo, Libby Greenhalgh
3rd – 11pts – Swallow, Lulu Wallace

The overall champion was again Laura Dillon sailing Journeymaker 11.

There just remained the two special awards. The Most Improved award went to Sam Flint and Two Frank, who were last boat in the world last year, but only missed the podium by a point this year. The Spirit of the Event award went to Night Owl 2 for the entertainment they provide whilst waiting for the wind.

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