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Blithfield Barrel Winter Series 2017-18 - Round 4

by Phil Mason 12 Feb 14:42 GMT 11 February 2018

Competitors from across the country were greeted by a bitterly cold 4 degrees and 38mph NW gusts hitting the boat park as they arrived. In a scene reminiscent from 'The Good, the Bad & the Ugly', Caroline Croft & Matt Lulham-Robinson, Andy Davies & Tom Pygall, and Matt Biggs & Beka Jones were poised to shoot it out for overall Barrel honours. A test of true grit.

Our PRO Geoff Wright completed a briefing to 50ish boats, 23 then took to the water. Assisted by Noelle Wright, Richard Smith and Phil Dunn, Geoff showed no mercy and set a long first beat followed by a couple of gybe marks on the flight back to the leeward mark. The fleet set off cleanly in bright sunshine and provided spectacular viewing for those on shore, after 40 minutes the skies darkened, a snowstorm ensued, visibility down to 50 yards and the fleet sailed for 10 minutes in a deep freeze. As the storm clouds cleared Andy & Tom claimed 1st, Matt & Beka 2nd, followed by Caroline & Matt 3rd, Paul Young & Nancy Gudgeon 4th and Ian Hopwood 5th, all to play for then in the last race of the series.

As competitors enjoyed a legendary lunch lovingly crafted by Barbara Gibbons & Diane McDonald, the sun shone, the wind dropped, encouraging others to rig for the final race. But before the launch the weather had other ideas; two Merlins were blown off their trolleys and those that had rigged hurriedly replaced the covers.

With gusts between 35 and 40 mph the last race was underway with 13 boats battling the elements. Keith and Brian Walker, Andrew Mellor were kept busy on safety, Dan Johnson & Ben Latham lost their Fireball mast and many took a dip. In consistently strong wind all competitors showed tremendous skill, all we could do on shore was to watch in awe. Andy & Tom took the second bullet on the day, closely followed by Simon & Ally Potts in 2nd who were literally flying in Mocking Jay, Matt & Beka taking 3rd from Caroline & Matt who fell victim to the hairy gybe, Tim Male & Jon Gibbons 4th and Mark Weighill & Carl Martin in 5th. Lydia Barber took 1st Junior honours on the day.

Competitors gathered to be served free drinks by Roy Jones (arguably the most important role of day), courtesy of round 4 sponsor Chris Gould of Creation Covers. Lynn McHale of SSW was on hand to present the prizes to the victors & participants.

81 boats competed in this years Blithfield Barrel series. Congratulations to Andy Davies & Tom Pygall finishing 1st overall, followed by Matt Biggs & Beka Jones in 2nd and Caroline Croft & Matt Lulham-Robinson in 3rd. Chris Gould & Nick Broomhall in 4th and Chris Martin & Sam Bailey in 5th. Ross Fergusson took 1st Junior with Jamie Mason 2nd. Full results can be found on Blithfield Sailing Club website, www.blithfield.org.uk/barrel

Overall Winners:

1st - Andy Davies & Tom Pygall
2nd - Matt Biggs & Beka Jones
3rd - Caroline Croft & Matt Lulham-Robinson
4th - Chris Gould & Nick Broomhall
5th - Chris Martin & Sam Bailey
1st Lady - Beka Jones
2nd Lady - Caroline Croft
1st Single Hander - Julian Basset - Laser
1st Junior - Ross Fergusson
2nd Junior - Jamie Mason

Fleets not in overall positions:

Merlin Rocket
1st - Colin Anderson & John Hacket
2nd - Paul Hollis & Paula Mason

Supernova
1st - Cliff Milliner
2nd - Phil Mason

Laser
1st - Jamie Mason
2nd - Mike Guy

RS400
1st - Mike Tustin & Emily Watson
2nd - Paul & Michelle Keeling

GP14
1st - Sam Watson & Ben Swainson
2nd - Mike Senior & Chris White
20th - Mike Thursfield - Aero 7
30th - Richard Fairbrother - Supernova
40th - Dana Church - Supernova
50th - Richard Instone - GP14
60th - Martin Smith & Karen Beston - Merlin Rocket
70th - Julian Harms & Sam Harms - Merlin Rocket

Congratulations all, see you all at the Barrel later on in the year. Many thanks to all our sponsors; Creation Covers, Dinghtec, Birmingham Dinghy Services, HD Sails, Freedom Brewery, Nestle & SSW, and our volunteers who make it all possible.