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Kielder Water Sailing Club September Open

by Judy Scullion 13 Sep 2017 09:32 BST 9-10 September 2017
Greg Liggins, winner of the Laser event during the Kielder Water SC September Open © Judy Scullion

Kielder's September Open this year included an Osprey fleet, a Laser fleet and a handicap fleet. Unfortunately the Team 15 windsurfing nationals were held the same weekend, some 250 miles away, which meant that a number of sailors were away cheering on their offspring rather than racing themselves, while other families had to split their forces between the two events.

The weekend got off to a good start on Friday night with Alec Vallance's barbecue, accompanied by a couple of rather nice beers from the Great Heck brewing company.

Saturday's wind was forecast to be light from the north or north-west – always an awkward direction at Kielder - and promptly died on cue as the hooter went to begin the starting sequence. However the wind gods had a few tricks up their sleeve and the day was enlivened (for the onlookers) by the sight of frustrated sailors drifting along one part of the course while those in other places were being wrong-sided by squalls or even finding good steady wind for as much as a few minutes at a time.

Saturday's racing included the Lakeland and Border Laser Grand Prix event, with seven competitors ranging from teenagers to the more venerable end of the spectrum. There were three races of up to three laps each, and the Lasers sailed a simple triangle, giving them time to rest between races while the Osprey and handicap fleets finished. The preferred resting position appeared to be perching on the side of the boat, with the masthead resting on the water, which was slightly disconcerting for those of the patrol crews who expected boats to remain upright by preference.

The first race went to three laps and the second race was shortened to two. The wind picked up a little during the third race, giving the opportunity for three laps again.

In the Laser fleet, Greg Liggins of Derwent Reservoir achieved a convincing first overall, discarding a second place to finish with three points. He was followed by Richard Benson of Tynemouth in second, and Harry Myers of Derwent in third, both on four points, but Richard beat Harry in the last race.

The Osprey fleet comprised seven boats, and the two-day event formed part of the Osprey Scottish and Northern Championships. There were three races on the Saturday and two on the Sunday, with the Ospreys sailing a triangle-sausage pattern, giving scope for some fine spinnaker work on both runs and reaches.

Alan Henderson and Alastair Barrie of Prestwick showed consistent form, leading the fleet to win the first two races, and just being pipped by Rob Shaw and Ian Little in the third race; after an hour and 8 minutes the Kielder pair beat the Prestwickians by a single second. On the Sunday Alan and Alistair again won the first race, but slipped to third in the final race, which was won by Viola and Mike Scott of KWSC, with Alex and Nick Willis of KWSC and Hayling Island taking second place.

At the back of the fleet more drama was being played out; in three of the five races Chris Davies and Lorraine Ball of Carsington, and Graham Thumwood of Kielder with Alastair Raynard as crew, finished within a couple of seconds of each other; indeed, in the third race neither the race officers nor the video camera could tell who had crossed the line first, and the result was given as a draw. In the other races, however, Chris and Lorraine just had the edge on Graham and Alastair. Meanwhile Alec Mamwell and Arthur Butler of Coniston held the middle of the fleet.

Overall Alan Henderson and Alastair Barrie took a solid first place, with Viola and Mike Scott second, and Rob Shaw and Ian Little third.

The Handicap fleet also sailed five races over the two days, although not all competitors managed both days. On the Saturday Steve Gibbon and Phil Armstrong of KWSC, in their Laser 4000, were joined by Amy Holley and Chris Dougall, also of KWSC, in a Hartley 15, and Alistair McDonald and Liz King of Berwick in Alistair's newly-acquired Merlin Rocket. The first race seemed to be something of a shakedown sail for both the H15 and the Rocket, as neither pair were accustomed to sailing together in that boat, and a certain amount of good-natured banter could be heard as they tried to sort out who was in charge.

The handicap fleet sailed a triangle course, with three laps for each race except the second, which was shortened to two. The Laser 4000 crossed the line first in the first race, dead-heated with the Merlin Rocket in the second, and came in behind them in the third, as a pit stop for repairs led to a late start, but the Rocket beat the 4000 in all three of Saturday's races on corrected time. Meanwhile Amy and Chris, both relatively new to sailing, managed to pilot one of the club's new Hartley 15s around the course successfully, although they sailed into a hole in the wind during the second race and gracefully admitted defeat rather than hold up the start of the third race.

Saturday night was convivial with an excellent meal provided by Helen Shaw, good company, good beer, conversation and card games – not to mention a short musical interlude when Alistair McDonald got his guitar out.

On the Sunday it was found that the Merlin Rocket's success (or perhaps the singing) had exhausted Alistair and he preferred not to sail again. However the fleet was augmented by successful racing pair Robbie Langford and James Nohl in another Hartley 15, and by Dave Watt in his Supernova.

The wind was an improvement on the day before, having come round to the south-west and strengthened. Robbie and James really put the H15 through its paces, managing to overtake Steve's Laser 4000 on the broad reach, and although Steve crossed the line first the Hartley's handicap put Robbie and James in first place for the two Sunday races. Meanwhile Amy and Chris improved their performance as the weekend went on, with the exception of an unfortunate capsize which turtled the H15 – something the participants on the previous weekend's safety boat course hadn't managed to achieve even with the help of a RIB. Dave put up a good performance in his Supernova, achieving a third and a second place in the two races.

Overall, however, Steve Gibbon and Phil Armstrong (KWSC) had earned a well deserved first place by the end of the weekend, with Alistair McDonald and Liz King second, and Robbie Langford and James Nohl third.

It was a most excellent weekend, and thanks are due to all those who helped in capacities as diverse as patrol crew, galley staff, assistant race officers and small dog wrangler, as well as to all the competitors who had travelled from as far afield as Hayling Island, as well as points further north. But special mention should go to our barman, barbecue provider, race officer and prize presenter – commodore Alec Vallance had so many hats over the weekend that he decided to wear a Kim Jong Un wig as befitting the man who is in charge of everything. It was a strange sight, well worth travelling to Kielder for.

Overall Results:


1stLaserGreg LigginsDerwent Reservoir SC1‑223
2ndLaserRichard Benson ‑6314
3rdLASER RADIALHarry MyersDerwent Reservoir SC‑3134
4thLASER RADIALLuke StewartKWSC2‑446
6thLASER RADIALStephen RobertsSouth Windemere SC‑55510
5thLASER 4.7Oliver LovellKWSC46‑710
7thLASER RADIALArchie DoddKWSC‑77613


1stAlan HendersonAlastair BarriePrestwick1121‑35
2ndViola ScottMike ScottKWSC23‑4218
3rdRob ShawIan LittleKWSC321‑4410
4thAlex WillisNick WillisKWSC44‑55215
5thAlec MamwellArthur ButlerConiston‑5533516
6thChris RetfordLorraine StaylbridgeCarsington‑6666624
7thGraham ThumwoodAlastair RaynardKWSC‑7767727


1stLASER 4000/ 4000917Stephen GibbonPhil ArmstrongKWSC2222‑38
2ndMERLIN‑ROCKET981Alistair McDonaldLiz KingBerwick Upon Tweed111(DNC)DNC9
3rdHARTLEY 151150Robbie LangfordJames NohlKWSC(DNC)DNCDNC1114
4thHARTLEY 151150Amy HolleyChris DougallKWSC3(DNF)34414
5thSUPERNOVA1075Dave Watt  (DNC)DNCDNC3217

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