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Wanderer Inland Championship at Bewl Sailing Association

by Adam Wickenden 21 Sep 2018 07:02 BST 15-16 September 2018
Wanderer Inlands at Bewl © Mark Munday

Admirably hosted by members of the Bewl Sailing Association, eleven Wanderers made the trip, including one each from the Reigate and the Sheppey Sea Cadets over the weekend of 15th & 16th September.

The last three Wanderer Championships have all been two-day events, which only saw one day's sailing. High winds or zero wind scuppered one of the days on each occasion. Would we break the curse this time? More importantly, would the Brown Trout pub in nearby Lamberhurst have any Bewl trout on the menu for the Saturday night fleet dinner?

Saturday dawned with a gentle 7 knot breeze blowing from the South West. One race was run before lunch, two back-to-back after lunch.

Race 1 - The wind allowed Race Officer Jo Mayes to set a triangle/sausage course. The committee boat was anchored right outside the club, with the beat up the western arm of the lake. This did however lead to a significantly port-biased line, along with a rather large committee boat set at the port end. General consensus was start on port. Diana Sewell and Dave Bardwell in 1004 got it right, and lead round the first mark, pursued down the first reach, which was nearly a run, by Matt and Ethan Kelly in 1729 and Philip Meadowcroft and Adam Wickenden in 1541. Diana Sewell had the inside overlap on Matt Kelly at the mark but they somehow conspired to lock themselves together and then drift on past the mark. This automatically let in Meadowcroft and Wickenden to set off on the second reach though it was too tight to continue flying the spinnaker.

The second beat required us all to sail through the start/finish line before continuing upwind. The wind was, well, a bit floppy. It was one of those days where you couldn't really formulate a decisive plan. We found that going right along the club house shore paid as there was more wind. We would then tack away from the shoreline only when we were about to run over a group of visiting Scouts learning to canoe whilst Diana Sewell along with Lindsey Weatherley and Hillary Handley in 1795 went further to the left. This paid with the direction of the shifts, but not with the wind strength – a conundrum which bedevils dinghy sailors. Meadowcroft in 1541 won, followed by Lindsey Weatherley with Diana Sewell in third.

Race 2 – The course was left the same, the wind had backed slightly. Thus another port tack start. Diana Sewell got it right again, followed by Meadowcroft, Lindsey Weatherley and Matt Kelly. This time the first leg was more of a reach. Going low seemed a good option and going high would sail you into a hole, even if the rustling of Lindsey Weatherley's crisp new spinnaker above you tempted you up in a gust. Meadowcroft managed to pass Diana Sewell and Dave Bardwell on the run on the second lap. However the finish line gate created a moment of confusion for Meadowcroft who had inexplicably convinced himself that the race had been shortened (it hadn't of course) and he ploughed forward on port towards his imaginary finishing line only to face a fast-approaching Dianne Sewell on starboard. A crash tack was inevitable with your correspondent making robust enquiries about his helm's plans. Inevitably Sewell and Weatherley, close behind got ahead. More accurate reading of the shifty breeze (with the odd stroke of good fortune) in the western section of the lake allowed Meadowcroft to claw back into second place and eventually overhaul Sewell on the reaches.

Meadowcroft won, Diana Sewell second and Matt Kelly finishing strongly in third. Further down the fleet there was plenty of close sailing involving Peter and Charles Cutts, Nigel and Maria Lamb, and Paul Cross and Jeff Leyshon.

Race 3. Back to back straight after race 2. Diana Sewell again won the port tack start and lead most of the way. It was close, and the wind continued its shiftiness. This allowed for some close racing and a fair amount of position changes at the front of the fleet. It took until the last gybe on the last lap for Meadowcroft to pass Sewell, thanks to his crew's quick 'n' slick spinnaker setting.

With three bullets Meadowcroft and Wickenden had won the regatta, with the battle for second remaining between Diana Sewell and Lindsey Weatherley.

A somewhat stronger wind with gusts up to 20knots was forecast – and, indeed, delivered - for Sunday. Two races were on the card. Firstly we were to sail as part of the Bart's Bash handicap races, alongside Flying Fifteens, Lasers and the 'Mariners of Bewl' Sailability. THis was not to count as part of the championship. The fourth championship race was then to be held after lunch. As Meadowcroft had already won with three first he elected to swap places and let his crew steer in Bart's Bash, and then to sit out the last race.

The wind was more southerly, with the beat up through Bewl's southern arm. A square-ish course was set by the OD, with a nice trap included – the first reach was set to take the fleet straight through a large hole under one of Bewl's headlands.

Now the trick of doing a port tack flyer is to have the courage of your convictions. Peter Cutts in 998, crewed for this race by Dave Bardwell, pulled off a perfect one. He easily cleared ourselves in 1541 by a good half a boat length, and we were the only boat that was up on the line at the start The Flying Fifteens, who had all engaged in a bunfight at the committee boat, were no problem.

And then Peter blinked!! OK – I know Fifteens are big and scary, and they do tend to sail through things rather than round them. However, Peter blinked, and then tacked. Result – he became sandwiched between a Flying Fifteen and another Wanderer.

The rest of us made our way fairly unscathed to the first mark, a starboard rounding. Thus on to the first reach, and the aforementioned trap. Everyone (well all the Fifteens) went high. The lead Laser, followed by ourselves in 1541, headed pretty much straight downwind. This is the benefit of not being in the lead in such a situation, we went straight under all but the lead Fifteen to round the gybe mark in 3rd. Just like sailing at Salcombe, minus the moving water bit. This pattern was to repeat itself for the remaining 3 laps.

1541 was the lead Wanderer, finishing 4th on handicap, behind two Fifteens and a Laser. Lindsey and Hillary came in 11th, Peter Cutts in 12th, Nick Hawkins in 13th and the Reigate Sea Cadet boat of George Mitchell and Amy Lewis in 15th.

Race 4 reverted to the triangle/sausage configuration of Saturday, although as in the morning the beat was up the southern arm of Bewl, and with Starboard hand mark roundings. Diana Sewell and Dave Bardwell managed to be over the line at the start. This resulted in Nick Hawkins and Mike Judson in 1604 from IOSSC leading round the first mark, closely followed by Lindsey and Hillary in 1795. With the wind still rather fresh none of the fleet elected to carry their spinnakers, except for Diana and Dave in 1004. They had rounded the first mark last, and needed to catch up.

The race for the lead was tight with Lindsey Weatherley and Hilary Handley and Nick Hawkins and Mike Judson in contention all the way around. However, Diana Sewell and Dave Bardwell, flying their spinnaker, were reeling the fleet in. By the end of the last reach Diana and Dave had passed into a nail-biting dash for first place, thus securing an overall second in the event. Lindsey Weatherley's second in Race 4 secured her third place overall.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
11541Philip MeadowcroftAdam WickendenHenley SC / Salcombe YC111(DNC)3
21004Diana SewellDave BardwellBewl Sailing Association‑32215
31795Lindsey WeatherleyHillary HandleyCotswold Sailing Club2‑4327
41729Matt KellyEthan KellySpinnaker Sailing Club434(DNC)11
51604Nick HawkinsMike JudsonIsle of Sheppey Sailing Club‑756314
6477Nigel LambMaria LambChipstead Sailing Club665(DNC)17
71099Paul CrossJeff LeyshonWhitstable YC‑887419
8998Peter CuttsCharles CuttsBewl Sailing Association578(DNC)20
91689George MitchellAmy LewisReigate Sea Cadets‑111110526
10740Ray TennantSue HumphriesBewl Sailing Association1099(DNC)28
111688Ella GambellAlfie AllanSheppey Sea Cadets91011(DNC)30

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