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Oulton Week 2017 at Waveney & Oulton Broad Yacht Club

by Veronica Falat 1 Sep 2017 11:37 BST 20-25 August 2017

Weather conditions were kind to competitors at this year's Oulton Week with plenty of warm sunshine and light to medium breezes. 142 boats, from Optimists to large River Cruisers, took part in the 6 days of racing from 20th to 25th August at Waveney & Oulton Broad Yacht Club.

This is a week that can be as frenzied or relaxed as you like, with a very busy race schedule but also the chance to just sit and watch the racing with a glass in your hand! As usual, the keelboat racing was particularly competitive.

In the morning Mixed One Designs series Denise and Kerr Sinclair in their Squib Slinky won 2 of the 6 races but, in predominantly light winds, it was hard to hold off the challenge of the traditional keelboats and the series became a battle between Chris Bunn's Yare & Bure Fox and Simon Marfleet's Waveney Iris.

Everything rested on the final race which was sailed in the lightest of breezes; Bunn needed to win to take the series but it was Marfleet who came through the fleet and finished 1st and so secured victory.

The afternoon series also had a tight finish. Bunn won the first two races but David Gooch was sailing Richard Barrett's Squib Drips to good effect and these two tied on points at the end of the week with the trophy going to Bunn on the tie-break.

In the class races, Iris won the Waveney series ahead of Trevor Balls' Creeping Jenny while Fox was first in all the Yare & Bure races, 2nd place going to Paul Carrington's White Ermine. Jimmy and Jill Tubby did not start the first Squib race after Jill suffered an injury as the spinnaker pole flew back but, with reserve crews, Jim won 3 of the races. However, Drips and Slinky were the series leaders, finishing with equal points and the trophy went to Drips on the tie-break.

The biggest keelboat class fleet of the week was the Broads One Designs with 16 boats, 5 of which won races in the series. Tim Frary's Albatross emerged as the winner, the only boat to score 2 wins. Sam Cole's Pipit was 2nd.

Meanwhile, in the dinghy fleets it was generally more clear-cut as to who the leaders were. Duncan Madin, sailing his K1 Soteria, won the morning Fast Handicap series counting only 1st and 2nd places. Veronica Falat's Streaker Pickle was the runner-up with Nick Crickmore's RS Vareo 3rd.

In the afternoon series, Soteria was even more dominant, only counting 1st places! Pickle was 2nd again and Gary Fryer's RS300 Blackcurrant was 3rd. Joe Drake was unbeaten in the Laser series, while Fin Dickinson did very well to sail his Laser Radial to 2nd place overall, ahead of the other standard-rig boats; Edward Nourse was 3rd.

The Slow Handicap results were dominated on corrected time by the Optimists. William Pank in Pank Panther won all three series, only rarely finishing worse than first, while Joshua Means was the runner-up each in each series. The Toppers also enjoyed good racing in this fleet and the boats of Thomas Alston, Tom Thwaites and Charles Alston took turns as the leading Toppers in the three series. Also going well was David Means in his Topper Topaz Uno and he won the Wherry Trophy for Monday's lunchtime Slow Handicap race.

As usual the lunchtime Fast Handicap series attracted a big entry with 37 boats sailing at least once. Lasers did well at the start of the week with Richard Smith winning the Courage Cup for Sunday's race and Joe Drake the Catchpole Cup on Monday. However, Madin's Soteria won the next 3 races and finished 1st overall, with Joe Drake just beating Veronica Falat to 2nd place.

The Norfolk Dinghies provided the smallest fleet of the week with only 3 boats racing for the Tideway Tankard and the winners were David Yapp and Julia Deary in Dodman. Meanwhile 8 Hansa dinghies were raced by members of Waveney Sailability; Anthony Barkes finished 1st with Jerry Balham 2nd and Bob Waters 3rd.

The River Cruiser racing was a great spectacle despite the absence of a few regulars, notably Raisena and Storm. However, with 7 boats in the 'fast' fleet and 12 in the 'slow' they put on a good show. Nick Hovey's Moonshadow won the lunchtime fast fleet series and also the new Bonito Trophy, kindly donated by the Mackley family for Wednesday's race. She also won the Goldfish Bowl for the combined fleets while Chris Pank in Whisper was the leader of the slow fleet and 2nd overall in the combined results, thus winning the new Matilda trophy, kindly presented by Anthony Landamore. In the evening races John Kerridge's Viking was the first in the 'slow' fleet while Matthew Ellis in Zingara won the 'fast' and was first in the combined results.

Despite the breeze fading in the evenings, all the evening races were completed. These included the Pensioners Plate race for keelboat sailors over 40, this year sailed in Toppers and won by Anthony Landamore. The junior Broads One Design race attracted 18 youngsters and so was sailed in two flights with a final race as it was getting dark! The winner was Optimist sailor Joshua Means.

The BOD ladies race was won by Steph Dickinson from Hayling Island. The annual team race for the Blackburn Trophy, in which the BOD, Waveney, Yare & Bure and Squib fleets each puts forward a team of 4 boats, was very competitive. After one lap the Waveneys looked to be in charge but the Yare & Bures came through and took the win for the second year running.

The final race of the week was the Bloodbath Pursuit Race in which 35 dinghies and keelboats raced round the broad. The Optimists started first and for most of the race Will Pank was the leader but the Hansa dinghy sailed by Jonathan Blankley gradually overhauled him. Despite other faster boats catching up, especially Gary Fryer's RS300, Blankley was the winner with Pank 2nd and Joshua Means 3rd.

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