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Ovington Boats - VX One

Kielder Water Sailing Club May Dam to Dam

by John & Judy Scullion 4 May 2017 08:03 BST 29-30 April 2017
Rob Shaw and Ian Little, winners of the Kielder Water May Dam to Dam Race © KWSC

The two-day Dam to Dam Event at Kielder on the early May Bank Holiday was attended by a select group of sailors including, on the Sunday: five Ospreys, two VX Ones, a Flying 15, a Musto skiff and a Hartley 15.

Race Officer Mike Collins' instructions were simple: from the starting line head up to the eastern dam and round the mark, then sail the length of the lake and round the next mark, a good five miles away at the western dam. Then beat back, swing round the easternmost circle buoy, and head for the finish line.

The forecast – for force 5 gusting 6 – had possibly discouraged some potential competitors, but ten boats set out bravely into the easterly wind. It was perhaps not the ideal time for Alex Willis, successful Osprey helm but without either her usual boat or crew, to attempt to race with a borrowed boat and two unfamiliar crew, one of them your correspondent. Having attempted to sort out crew roles and the problem of crossing the boat without snagging on each other or the rigging, we lurched our way towards the windward mark, yours truly getting somewhat gingerly out on the wire while Alex kept the boat flat and pointing in the right direction, and Jane took charge of the jib, which seemed to have a mind of its own. All in all it was something of a relief when a jib sheet block pinged away from the side and it seemed only sensible to quit while we were only half a mile from the clubhouse. We were in good company; within half an hour six of the ten boats had retired due to a variety of reasons, most of which came down to common sense overriding the desire to win at all costs in the face of gear failures, a suspected cracked rib and the awareness that conditions were likely to get worse further down the lake, with larger waves and less constant winds.

Nonetheless, two of the Ospreys and the two VX Ones – who were visiting from Tynemouth and probably not in the least incommoded by our little inland waves – battled out a glorious race all the way round, the VX Ones crossing the finish line within a couple of minutes of each other. Nathan Batchelor crossed first, taking just over an hour and twenty minutes and clocking speeds of up to 22 knots en route, and was followed within a couple of minutes by Neal Piper. The first Osprey, helmed by Alec Mamwell of Coniston, was less than a minute behind them, and Rob Shaw arrived three minutes later, the Ospreys beating the VXs on corrected time.

It was a short but eventful afternoon, leaving time for a pleasant stroll along the Kielder Forest paths before reconvening for an evening meal provided by the wonderful Helen Shaw, ably assisted in the kitchen by Cathy Smith. The Mediterranean chicken was warming and superb, while I am assured the vegetarian option was equally good. A choice of three flavours of cheesecake rounded off the meal, while draught beer, laughter and games of Exploding Kittens enlivened the rest of the evening.

Bank Holiday Monday dawned still windy, but on the whole less so than Sunday. Some younger club members arrived to join in the racing, with Abi Cowley and George Stewart taking one Hartley 12 and Luke Stewart taking another. Although the four finishing boats from Sunday sailed as before, a number of the other sailors reshuffled themselves and their craft into more hopeful combinations, with Viola Scott helming for Geoff Brown in his Javelin, and Alex Willis this time borrowing a different boat – Graham Thumwood's Osprey – complete with his crew, Alec Vallance. Dave and Geraldine Rosser in their Flying Fifteen had competition on the Monday in the form of Adrian Frey and Andrew Billington in their Flying Fifteen.

The race this time was a little longer, as it seemed a shame merely to go dam to dam and back again, so competitors were given an extra excursion up towards the yacht club and back. Geoff Brown tracked the race on his GPS and found he'd covered 26.8 km in distance, with a top speed of 26.0 kph and – interestingly – a 331 m gain in elevation, which was presumably the effect of going over a succession of waves, unless he has resources the rest of us are unaware of.

All ten boats finished, with the VX Ones rounding the last mark, setting spinnakers and planing across the finish line first on elapsed time, with the Ospreys only a few minutes behind them. Rob Shaw and Ian Little took first place on corrected time, Nathan Batchelor second, and 16-year-old Luke Stewart placed an impressive third in a Hartley 12.

The latest finishers, Abi and George in their Hartley 12, crossed the finishing line after 3 hours and 3 minutes, to a spontaneous round of applause from the watchers in the clubhouse.

The overall winners of the two-day event were first Rob Shaw and Ian Little of KWSC, second Nathan Batchelor, Richard Watson and Sarah Kincaid of Tynemouth, and third Alec Mamwell and Arthur Butler of Coniston.

Commodore Alec Vallance presented the prizes and Rob Shaw thanked the visitors from Tynemouth, Coniston and Derwent who had come to experience the Dam to Dam Challenge. We hope to see them all again in the future.

Overall Results:

PosClassSail NoHelmPYR1R2Pts
1stOSPREY1337Rob Shaw935213
2ndVX One226Nathan Batchelor860325
3rdOSPREY1350Alec Mamwell935167
4thVX One191Neal Piper860448
5thHARTLEY 12 Luke Stewart1320DNC317
6thOSPREY1314Viola Scott935DNF519
7thOSPREY1Alexandra Willis935DNF721
8thFLYING FIFTEEN Dave Rosser1015DNF822
9thFLYING FIFTEEN Adrian Frey1015DNC923
10thHARTLEY 12 Abbi Cowley1320DNC1024
11thMUSTO SKIFF556Steve Robson847DNFDNS28
11thOSPREY1340Graham Thumbwood935DNSDNS28
11thHARTLEY 15 Amy Holley1150DNSDNS28

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