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Lightning 368 Inland Championship at Oxford Sailing Club

by Simon Hopkins 22 Aug 2016 22:53 BST 13 August 2016

Maybe it was the holiday season or the strong winds forecast but only six Lightnings arrived at Oxford to contend the Inland Championships. Those who did not come were to miss a day of the proverbial champagne sailing as the wind was steady and the puffs great for planning on.

The course for the day was a trapezoid and following the Solutions start it was clear the only place to start was on the pin end. Spike Daniels decided he wanted to start by the pin and he did, but unfortunately couldn't clear it and had to re-round. This allowed Penny and Simon to tack onto Port for a clean get away to round the windward mark in that order. Spike was not going to outdone and showed his blistering downwind speed to be up with Penny on the second reach before gear failure put him out of the race. This left Simon to lead home ahead of Penny and a fast charging Caroline Key, Sue Thomas and Bryan Westley.

The competitors retired to the club house for a lunch punctuated by the sound of hammers and screwdrivers as Spike put his boat back together ready for two races back to back in the afternoon.

With the line still heavily biased, Simon went for the classic port end flyer crossing Spikes bow my inches. When asking the RO after the race how close it had been the reply was, 'depends if you consider the front or the back of the buoy the line'. However all were clean away and it was an intense battle to the first mark with Simon scraping round ahead of Spike and Penny and Caroline having to contend with Bryan who had obviously now woken up! As the boats flew off downwind it was Spike who got the inside slot having sailed a superior run to lead out down the second reach. The next lap saw Simon and Spike swap the lead until the final leg when a timely gust kept Simon's nose in from to the line for his second win of the day. Woops of delight were heard from behind as Bryan kept Penny honest to the line and finished ahead of Caroline. Sue having had enough even with the small rig on and had gone ashore.

For the final race the line was more even and all boats started on the line at speed. This time it was Spike showing his superior fitness and he led Simon round the first mark. After the reach in a world first Simon overtook someone on a run to briefly retake the lead before Spike planned past him again on the reach and Penny came back into contention rounding on Simon's transom. Simon tacked off and went left and Penny went right and Spike was left in the middle wondering who to cover. By sheer luck the left paid and Simon retook a slender lead which he held down the run. The final reach to the line Spike went high, Penny went low, now leaving Simon in the middle not sure who to cover with Caroline storming up behind. With 200yards to go it was Spike on the charge so Simon luffed hard and just crossed his bow to hold the lead to the line. All four boats finished within a few seconds of each other completing a great race!

Counting 3 wins Simon continued his unbeaten streak since buying his new Claridge boat, ahead of Spike, Penny, Caroline, Bryan and Sue. All agreed it had been a fantastic day's sailing. The roadshow now moves onto Northampton SC for the nationals over the weekend of 3rd and 4th September. Pre-drinks on Friday 2nd before hostilities begin at lunchtime on Saturday. With the rumoured absence of Robbie Claridge it looks like we will have a new name on the trophy this year.

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