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Wanderer Inland Championship at Bewl Sailing Association

by Adam Wickenden, Mike Hamilton & Philip Meadowcroft 20 Sep 2017 12:11 BST 16-17 September 2017

Well, it looked good mid-week. A nice 7-11 knots on both days was forecast. Then as the high pressure starts to build, the forecast drops each time you look at it. Still there might be something.

So with that in mind 11 Wanderers gathered at Bewl Water for their Inlands on 16th and 17th September. Some arrived Friday for a briefing on start line tactics for those who had not raced before and helpful rigging tips from Steve Blake of Hartley Boats. Oh – and Bewl seemed a little short of water. But not so low that you couldn't sail a Flying Fifteen, but lower than we'd seen it before.

Saturday dawned sunny and a bit windless. But as the morning progressed some breeze appeared – along with cumulus clouds that promised puffs, but also rain. Enough to sail, but also conditions that make things a bit shifty.

Race Officer Mark Munday set a figure of 8 course; a longish beat, reach, gybe, close reach, gybe, reach. Enough for the spinnaker on the two broad reaches. The windward mark was left to starboard – not ideal, but you have to from time to time on a lake to keep the course where the wind is expected.

Start goes off first time. Not unusual in the Wanderer – in fact when the RO went through the start flags for the newer racers it was pointed out that the last time the class had seen the Black Flag was at Lyme Regis – in 2001!!

Paul Yeadon crewed by Liz North in 1626 gets off to a good start, along with Philip Meadowcroft crewed by Adam Wickenden in 1541 and Mike Hamilton crewed by Dave Bardwell in 1004. The wind is shifty – head for pressure is the answer. Gusts form from left or right, but not down the middle, where they tend to cancel each other out. About half way up the first beat the fleet spy Mike Hamilton and Dave Bardwell hoisting their spinnaker. "Wow – big windshift there" we think. Alas no – they'd simply mistaken the second gybe mark for the windward mark. Here we must point out that Bewl Sailing Association have cunningly camouflaged their inflatable pillar marks to match the gravel and sand shoreline.

But local knowledge becomes important – Tim Last went right towards the dam wall, and was then able to sail in on a large gust that ended up freeing him enough that he could fetch the mark. Meadowcroft follows him, then Yeadon. Tim, unaccustomed to this position, turns to the second placed boat behind him and asks "What do I do now?"!

Spinnakers down at the gybe, then a close reach, followed by a third, broad reach where the spinnaker could be used again. All the while Philip Meadowcroft maintains and protects a decent lead for the rest of the race whilst Mike Hamilton recovers well from his navigation issues and gets back to second place. Paul Yeadon is third. By the end the clouds are building and the wind fills and backs – enough in fact that some of the fleet had to tack to make the second gybe mark. The fleet finishes and sails back in a decent breeze....... and quite heavy rain. At which point – during the lunch break– the wind dies completely.

Racing binned for the day – so in the social tradition of the Wanderer fleet thoughts turned to what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Maybe hire some canoes and kayaks ? Or how about trying Stand up Paddleboarding. (Posted on You Tube this could have earned quite a bit of money for Bart's Bash). Unfortunately Philip Meadowcroft pre-empted us – and produced a boules set for a fleet competition. Now, I know the idea of boules is you can play anywhere – but the ground we picked was a bit too sloping, if you got it wrong the ball would roll back down to your feet. The trick was to land it on the nearest mole hill. Paul Yeadon and Liz North roundly thrashed everyone!

During Saturday evening most of the Wanderer fleet enjoyed a top-class roast supper, preceded by a trout salad, and followed by a fine rhubarb/apple crumble.

Sunday – Bart's Bash day. First race we sail as Bart's was a Handicap combining with the local Bewl SA Flying Fifteens and a Vago, along with Mariners of Bewl's Challengers, Hansas and an RS Venture. There is wind, more than we expected, and it is steady(ish). The game is still, however, to avoid the holes.

Race Officer Martin Brooking, assisted by Jo Mayes, sets a simple triangle. The start sees Gavin Barr and Mark Skipper collect a 720 off of Mike Hamilton, although we suspect the presence of a Flying Fifteen might have had something to do with it. Meadowcroft and Wickenden round first, emerging from the middle of the Fifteens, followed by Paul Yeadon and then Mike Hamilton. Short spinnaker reach, gybe under the race hut, then a broader reach to the downwind mark.

On lap 2 Yeadon passes Meadowcroft on the second reach with spinnaker up. These two have pulled away from rest of the Wanderer fleet, and are snapping at the heels of Flying Fifteens. Meadowcroft gets the lead back on the third beat. Richard Lewis and Neil Bridge give Mike Hamilton a fright and slip ahead but calm is restored after Lewis suffers spinnaker problems. Up front, big holes on the fourth beat allow Yeadon to regain the lead, and both Barr and Hamilton, who changed places several times. start to catch up rather worryingly. Fortunately they park in a hole at the gybe mark on the fourth lap, allowing the front two some comfort. Hamilton enjoys a lively lift on the final leg and keeps ahead of Barr. At the finish, the Flying Fifteens arrive first as Yeadon and North beat Meadowcroft and Wickenden in the Wanderer feet, but it is good enough for these first two Wanderers to take first and second place in the Bart's Bash handicap race.

After lunch and the Bart's Bash prize giving the wind still looks OK - just. We set off for third race. First boat out gets to start line and the wind promptly dies. So we take a vote, and decide to bin it. Long paddle back in. This turned out to be a good idea as we were forced to take shelter from the rain during the subsequent prizegiving; better than being stuck out on the lake in the downpour and no wind.

The prize giving not only involved that at the front of the fleet, but also a number of generous prizes from Hartley Boats, Edge Sails, and Markerstudy. were handed out to boats throughout the fleet.

Special mention must be made for Anna Knight and Sue Saich. This was their first venture into a Wanderer racing event. Their enthusiasm and cheerfulness was all too evident and we hope to see more of them. Their deserved prize was free 2017/18 winter membership at Bewl.

The winners received the Dolphin Cup which had been first competed for 25 years ago when it was won, and again in 1993, by Andy Whitelock and John Starr. Sadly, earlier this month, Andy Whitelock lost his battle against a brain tumour. The runners-up were awarded the Anglo Marine Racing plate and, reflecting a fine achievement in masterminding the organisation of a happy and relaxed event, Tim Last was presented with the Betty Proctor Memorial Plate.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2Pts
11541Philip MeadowcroftAdam WickendenSalcombe YC / Henley SC123
21626Paul YeadonLiz NorthWhitstable YC314
31004Mike HamiltonDave BardwellHurst Castle SC235
41282Gavin BarrMark SkipperWhitstable YC448
51443Richard LewisNeil BridgeShoreham YC5510
61636Tim LastHilary Morris / Louise MorrisBewl SA / Medway YC7613
71099Paul CrossJeff LeyshonWhitstable YC6713
8900Ray TennantSue HumphriesBewl SA9817
91518John RenoufLouise MorrisMarlow SC10919
10998Peter CuttsCharles CuttsBewl SA8NC)20
111576Anna KnightSue SaichRye Harbour SC111021

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