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Lightning Rum and Mince Pie Open at West Oxfordshire Sailing Club

by Caroline Hollier 17 Nov 2017 16:35 GMT 11 November 2017
Penny Yarwood wins the 2017 Lightning 368 Travellers' Series © Simon Hopkins

Following the cancellation of our Inlands, due to Strom Brian which was scheduled to be held at Hunts on 21 October, our season finale Rum and Mince Pie also incorporated our Inland Championships which was held on Saturday 11 November 2017.

The forecast earlier on in the week looked promising with winds predicted at 14 mph, gusting 25 mph, but when the day dawned, it was a light Northerly 6-10 mph, but this was better than last year, when we sailed on a mirror.

Seven visitors from the north, south and east of the country joined the two home boats of Sophie, sailing her first Lightning Championship and regular open meeting competitor Caroline.

After two minutes silence at 11am, race one got underway, with our current leader of the travellers series "the lovely Penny" taking an early lead, closely followed by Sophie and Caroline, with the rest of the fleet behind. Going downwind to mark 10, most of the fleet came in to almost sweep up the leading three ladies. Back on the beat, they took the leading three positions again. With the wind dropping off, our race officer Andrew decided to shorten the course on lap 2, with Penny taking the lead followed by Sophie and Caroline.

Chile and rice was served for lunch, with second helpings for many, followed by mince pies. Thank you Emily.

Races two and three were held back to back, race two being the better race of the day with a constant wind. Some of us even had to hike out!! Once again Penny took an early lead. She can be on the only sailor to be in an RTA, wrecking her Claridge boat and getting into an old Giles boat that goes even faster than her original one.

Sophie and Caroline were close behind at the first windward mark. The rest of the pack were more bunched up and not far behind. Penny extended her lead, Caroline sailed under Sophie up the beat to take second, but Sophie got her own back on the next downwind leg. With a de ja vu moment after mark 10, when Caroline sailed under Sophie again and pulled away from the pack. Meanwhile Penny was almost a leg ahead of the rest of the fleet. Places were constantly changing mid and rear of the fleets. "Sorry guys, wasn't paying much attention as to what was happening behind". Over the next couple of laps, Caroline picking up good wind shifts gradually reeled in Penny and on the final leg there was only inches between them. Expertly covering tacks ensured Penny took her second win, securing the overall win of the Open. Taking advantage of the slightly stronger wind and spotting the wind shifts, John passed Sophie to steel 3rd place from her.

In race three with Penny having the overall win in the bag, decided to swap boats with Simon, who was sailing "Woody", the new Claridge prototype. The old Giles boat is certainly fast, as Simon took an early lead from Penny and they held on to these positions for the whole of the race. Yet again Caroline and Sophie were jostling for third and fourth positions. These positions were to continue for the remainder of the race. As Simon and Penny had switched boats, it was decided that they would both retire from this race, as Simon's first place would have given him an unfair advantage over the rest of the fleet, so Caroline took first, Sophie second and John came in third.

A big well done to Sophie sailing her first Lightning Inlands. She should feel very proud to have beaten 2 previous National Champions. As it was the final event of the travellers' series, we also awarded the Bernard Patterson trophy which this year went to Penny, second was Simon and third Caroline. Thanks go to Emily for providing a superb galley and Andrew and his race team for putting up some excellent courses.

After packing up of boats, seven of us took to the local pub for our end of season meal. This gave us all the opportunity to sum up the year and plan for the next one. Our next event will be the Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace - the start of our 40th Anniversary year.

Overall Results:

1st Penny Yarwood (Up River Yacht Club)
2nd Caroline Hollier (West Oxfordshire Sailing Club)
3rd Sophie Kitching (West Oxfordshire Sailing Club)
4th John Claridge (Lymington Town Sailing Club)
5th Jason Gallagher (Denholme Sailing Club)
6th Simon Hopkins (Up River Yacht Club)
7th Ian Ranson (Bolton Sailing Club)
8th Graham Lazell (Up River Yacht Club)
9th Bryan Westley (Chase Sailing Club)

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