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Coniston Sailing Club Open Dinghy Regatta sponsored by Lennon Racewear

by Judy Leese 1 Jun 2018 13:48 BST 26-28 May 2018
Coniston Sailing Club Open Dinghy Regatta sponsored by Lennon Racewear © Rob Swyer

Preparations for the Regatta were done in the rain on Friday 25th May, but all forecasts were promising lots of sunshine and warm weather for the next three days – this was good news for the Regatta other than the wind was forecast to be Easterly F5-F7 on Saturday, reducing slightly on Sunday and again on Monday. Regular sailors on Coniston Water will know that Easterly winds bring strong and unpredictable gusts with wind shifts when you least expect it.

Reception opened bright and early on the Saturday and by the time we got to the briefing we had 30 boats entered ranging from Ospreys to RS Tera Sports. A late entry on the Sunday took the total number to 31. This was substantially less than 2017 when Coniston welcomed over 50 entrants, but a number of Coniston boats were away at various different junior regattas or RYA Instructor training. The Osprey fleet had a clash of events as did the Lasers with the Laser Lakeland Border team holding an alternative event therefore reducing numbers in both fleets.

However, lack of numbers did not mean low quality racing – Tony Johnson (Sailing Chairman) organised Committee Boat starts for each race and managed to create near perfect starting lines with some competitors claiming it was so good they couldn't decide which end to start! The boats were split into 3 fleets – Fleet A consisted of 12 boats; Fleet B, 15 boats and; a Junior Fleet with 4 boats.

A key benefit of a Notherly/Easterly wind was that the starts were held in full view of the clubhouse and the majority of racing was in the club bay creating a great sight for the spectators enjoying the sun on the balcony and around the club – it also meant the finishing ODs in the race hut had lots of warning for when the boats were approaching.

The promised strong gusts dominated Saturday racing and the long reach across the Lake gave the whole fleet some interesting and exhilarating sailing – the Ospreys and Fireballs leaving huge bow waves as they flew down to the next mark – it would have been interesting to see the race sponsor, Michael Lennon, in his foiling moth on this leg!

Mark Fearnley, South Windermere, in his Blaze and Max Hindry, Coniston, in his Laser Radial dominated Saturday's racing with both securing two wins. However, the junior fleet which had now shrunk to two Coniston boats saw 14 year old Mary-Anne Beacock in her Topper and 10 year old John Bridgeman in his Tera taking one race each – this was to continue right through the regatta and whilst there may have been only the 2 of them with the Radial joining in on Monday, they had some fantastic, extremely competitive and very sporting races between them.

Sunday racing continued to the same standard with slightly less wind but still warm and sunny. The B fleet had some close racing with positions being decided by a difference of seconds on corrected times. A protest following race 4 gave the Osprey boys something to do after they had finished the last race. The race 5 in controversy in the B fleet as 8 boats played follow me leader when the first one left a mark to Port rather than Starboard. This resulted in a mass retirement with the competitors further down the fleet moving up into the higher positions and therefore opening the fleet up before Monday's racing.

The F2 to F3 forecast on Monday was about right on average but Coniston played its holes and gusts game resulting in some substantial fleet changes during both of the 2 races – the race hut ODs finally had to work hard with 10 boats in the B fleet finishing within 43 seconds! But In the end the results remained as they were on Saturday with the Blaze, the Laser Radial and the Topper taking first prize in each of the fleets.

Commodore, Maria Swyer and Sailing Chairman, Tony Johnson performed the prize giving with prize winners receiving Lennon Racewear vouchers, Race Bibs and Rash Vests and Mary-Anne Beacock receiving the Huey Carroll trophy for the Best Coniston Junior and Max Hindry the Gondola trophy for best Coniston Sailor.

There were lots of catering and social events over the weekend but the highlight was definitely the Band on Sunday evening. Consiton Sailing Club member (and another who has grown up at the Club), Ashton Naylor, and his Chorley based band AVISO gave a sterling performance of some covers and their own material (including one inspired by sailing on the West Coast of Scotland with his parents (a CSC past Commodore).

Overall numbers may have been down on last year, but all agreed it was one of the best regattas in the 40 years Coniston have been running these – with good weather, great sailing and the overall atmosphere. Congratulations to all the competitors!

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