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Streaker Northern Paddle Series Opener at Ripon Sailing Club

by Chris Wright 26 Mar 2018 14:25 BST 24 March 2018
Streakers at Ripon © Jamie Kerslake

Ripon SC hosted their first open meeting of the season on 24 March when they held the opening event of the Streaker Northern Paddle series, sponsored by Sail Register. The omens were not good, with a forecast of only a 4mph north-westerly. Even this proved optimistic initially, with sunshine and a glassy calm contrasting with the storms and snow of the previous weekend.

After an hour's postponement sailors had had of enough standing around chatting and drinking coffee and ripples on the water encouraged 20 boats, including 10 visitors, to launch and head for the start line. A short course was all that was feasible in the light wind but they got away first time and tried to make sense of the opening beat in a shifty, light wind. A group of three escaped from the rest of the fleet and they swapped places throughout the race, with local sailor Peter Robinson relinquishing the lead on the final beat to finish third behind Phil Manning (Delph SC) with Steve Blackburn (West Lancs SC) taking the win. The first half of the fleet were enjoying their lunch by the time the remaining half finished, the wind having dropped behind them to leave the followers ghosting home. It was never a complete drifter, but exciting it wasn't.

Race two proved very similar to race one, again with only a light wind and again with the same three boats in the top three places for most of the race. As before the lead changed several times. If there was a pattern to the shifts only these three managed to find it while the rest of the fleet tried to decide whether the left, right or middle of the beat was the best option. It was never the same for two laps running. Steve Blackburn was again in the top spot when it mattered, despite having been challenged a number of times, and this time was followed home by Peter Robinson then Phil Manning.

Race three was sailed in the best wind of the day and it was even possible to sit on the windward side deck at times. No leaning out was required though, the wind hadn't improved that much. Steve Blackburn again took the lead, yet again chased by Phil Manning. Peter Robinson had started in the second tier of the start line and took some time to make his way up to third place. There he was tested by Neil Dyer (Hykeham SC) who passed him, was re-passed in turn and then Neil picked the correct lottery numbers up the final beat to take third place across the finish line.

If there was a lesson to be learned from all this it was that there appeared to be no discernable pattern of shifts up the beat but the leaders seemed, by some mysterious alchemy, to make the right choices most often.

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