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Bank Holiday Splash at Kielder Water Sailing Club

by Judy & John Scullion 1 Sep 2016 18:15 BST 27-28 August 2016
George and Luke Stewart at the Bank Holiday Splash at Kielder Water © Annabelle Scullion

Over the three days of the Bank Holiday weekend, Kielder water experienced all possible combinations of "summer" weather. On Friday evening there was a fresh easterly breeze with strong gusts. Saturday, on the other hand, once the morning mist had cleared, was bright and beautiful and sunny – with just a whisper of wind.

The young windsurfers of KWSC's Team 15 took to the water to practise their tacking in light airs, and after lunch went out again to practise their manoeuvres for the annual freestyle competition. This took place in the bay by the clubhouse, giving the judges and spectators a close-up view of moves and stances including sailing while kneeling, sitting down or standing on one leg, sailing clew-first, duck gybes and rig 360s, not to mention some interesting moves involving detaching the rig from the board.

The Commodore, Alec Vallance, brought his own special twist to the proceedings by sailing in "normal" clothes while eating a packet of crisps. The jetty seemed to exert a magnetic attraction on many boards and a number of competitors spent a lot of time trying to sail out of its zone of influence whilst still looking elegant or at least interesting.

Although the freestyle competition was open to adults as well as juniors, the younger set were definitely more stylish and the winner was Nick Pike, with Luke Stewart second and Archie Dodd a very close third.

Sunday brought drizzle and very light winds, so only the most dedicated sailors got out on the water, although the time was not wasted as the windsurfing team drilled their aspiring assistant instructors in coaching techniques.

Monday was dedicated to the Little America's Cup – match racing in Toppers and Optimists. This is open to all KWSC club members, and a wide range of adults and juniors took part. Happily the wind had picked up, giving gusty and exciting conditions for sailing.

Competitors were randomised into groups for Topper racing (all ages) and Optimists (juniors). A number of juniors entered in both categories, thus maximising their time on the water and opportunities to perfect their performance.

Michelle Russell as race officer, ably assisted by Alison Dodd, ensured the smooth running of the races; each person sailed against every other in their group, and then the two in each group who had won most races were entered into the final. Competitors had to change boats between races, and woe betide those who failed to check that the rudder was down and the mainsheet running freely.

Many fierce battles were fought, and lost or won on sailing ability, tactics, mistakes, wind shifts, capsizes and sudden gear failures. But in the end a clear winner emerged; Ben Russell, 15, managed the double first of winning both the Optimist and the Topper races against all comers.

Junior (Optimist) results:

1st Ben Russell
2nd Luke Stewart
3rd George Stewart
4th Poppy Nixey-Godfrey

All ages (Topper) results:

1st Ben Russell
2nd Archie Dodd
3rd Steve Gibbon
4th Richard Longbone
5th Judy Scullion
6th Luke Stewart

Great fun was had by all, and we are looking forward to the next events at Kielder: the Swallows and Amazons experience on 3rd September (open to all, please book) and the Open meeting on 10th-11th September, with fleet and handicap racing – see Notice of Race [PDF] for details and how to enter.

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