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Graduate open meeting at Bolton Sailing Club

by Andy Flitcroft 29 Aug 2018 10:57 BST 27 August 2018
Graduate open meeting at Bolton © Andrew Craig

There were five Graduates at Bolton Sailing Club for the annual Graduate Open. With one week to go there had been ten boats lined-up to come but a combination of individual circumstances halved the fleet as the week progressed. The prize for the most impressive "excuse" (if I may call it that) went to the helm who needed to fly out to West Africa to assist in the repatriation of a ship just released by pirates.

In anticipation of a different sort of drama on the high seas at Bolton Sailing Club, several additional kind and willing volunteers were recruited to double the planned number of safety boats on the water. The Graduates had their own start as first fleet off in the club Handicap Open and the forecast was a far cry from the recent weeks of light winds and scorching sunshine. And so it proved to be with a wind strength of 28mph gusting to 35mph.

The racing was close. All the way up the first beat there was a change of lead boat each time the fleet crossed. Visitors Adam Froggatt and Isabel Tate rounded first followed by Ben and Gabe Hill, with Andy and Sue Flitcroft in hot pursuit just inches behind. Everyone survived the gybe mark and enjoyed a fast reach to the next on which the Flitcrofts sailed high and powered into the lead.

After another upwind battle against the elements the Hills took the lead which they held on to all the way down the run. The Flitcrofts passed Adam and Isabel on the run to round the bottom mark second. After a gruelling repeat of the first beat the Flitcrofts were back in the lead at the top mark. Adam and Isabel found some impressive boat speed down to the gybe mark, getting a small overlap, rounding on the inside and pulling away slightly. At the end of the fast reach the Flitcrofts didn't get the weight out quickly enough, ending inevitably with a capsize.

By the next windward mark the Hills were again in lead position for the run but capsized on the gybe just before the last mark as a particularly nasty squall blew through. With the Hills in the drink, the Flitcroft's boat still half full of it, and the Ivins/Aubrey boats flying down the run some way behind, Adam and Isabel had some breathing space and wisely elected to tack rather than gybe. In spite of a broken jib downhaul, they held onto the lead to finish first with the Hills second, Chris Aubrey and son Sam in a borrowed boat third, Flitcrofts fourth and Dave Ivins and Josh Aubrey a creditable fifth.

Everyone had at least one opportunity to inspect the centreboard during the race except Adam and Isabel who had got that chore over and done with before the start.

During lunch the weather continued to deteriorate as low cloud and driving rain obscured the view of the first mark. By the time the first gun of the next race sounded it really was boat breaking weather. The handicap fleet and two of the Graduate fleet had already packed-up for the day and with the wind and forecast showing no signs of abating the remaining three Grads unanimously decided to do likewise. The safety team were not upset. It was an unfortunately premature end to a day of close and entertaining racing, but at least all boats and crew had survived to do battle another day. Bring it on!!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubPoints
12955Adam FroggattIsabel TateChase SC1
23018Ben HillGabe HillWest Lancs YC2
32871Chris AubreySam AubreyBolton SC3
43001Andy FlitcroftSue FlitcroftBolton SC4
52878David IvinsJosh AubreyBolton SC5

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