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Middle Nene SC & Burton SC Flying Fifteen Open Meeting

by Jeremy Arnold 11 Oct 2018 07:29 BST 6-7 October 2018
Middle Nene SC & Burton SC Flying Fifteen Open © Laurie Jones

The long-established Flying Fifteen open meeting at Middle Nene SC was held on 6th & 7th October, and this year also incorporated the rescheduled Burton SC open meeting which that club had earlier not been able to host due to low water levels. Thus the combined Middle Nene SC and Burton SC event became the penultimate event in both the Flying Fifteen Northern and Southern traveller series, and a welcome mixing of crews and boats that don't often meet.

Heavy rain and a cold, blustery wind was forecast for the first day of the event and undoubtedly reduced the entry list somewhat, but a hardy band of competitors nevertheless came to the line for the first of six races early on the Saturday afternoon. The gusty wind, plus a very short windward leg to a mark in the shadow of trees, began a rather frantic first race where the local boats soon showed the visitors the way around the lake. The race was eventually being won by Mark Greer & Jim Reid from Middle Nene SC, followed by Chris & Marion Bowen from Northampton SC and then another boat from the home club – that of Matt Yallop & Katy Brown – in third.

The Greer/Reid and Bowen boats were in fact to dominate the racing throughout the weekend, with either one or the other winning every race (apart from the crews' race) and finishing the event only a single point apart – this despite the fact that one of the boats is a very recent 'Gold fleet' Flying Fifteen whilst the other is a very-well sorted and full-tuned 'Classic' boat originally built some 40 years ago. Several other Classic boats were also competing at this event and the very close racing through the fleet illustrates the effectiveness of the handicapping system that the Flying Fifteen class uses to equalize the results across the different types of boats.

The last race on the Saturday was the traditional Middle Nene "crews' race" (where helm & crew swap positions), which has it's own prize and doesn't count towards the overall result. On this occasion it was won by Richard Hope & Jeremy Arnold from Draycote SC / Notts County SC, much to the comical disgust of Middle Nene fleet captain Emma Brown who had led until the last leg, only to discover afterwards that she'd been over the line at the start anyway.

Middle Nene SC hosted a very enjoyable meal and entertainment for the visitors on the Saturday evening, after which everyone retired to their various hotels and motorhomes in good spirits.

After the rather miserable weather of the first day it was a surprise to everyone that Sunday dawned warm and with blue skies – but unfortunately with almost no wind, and indeed only 3mph forecast all the way until late afternoon. The fleet launched more in hope than expectation, and after drifting around for 40 minutes or so a very short windward-leeward course was laid and racing got underway, and despite being totally buried at the start it was again Greer & Reid who picked their way through the shifting, patchy wind to score another victory.

So on to the final race, help in a breeze which was building beyond what had been forecast, but which unfortunately also shifted during the race and turned the simple triangle course that had been set into three reaches with no passing lanes. This time it was the Bowens who took the victory, followed by Yallop & Brown in second and Bob Tait and Peter Comber from Broxbourne SC in third.

Thanks to Middle Nene SC for hosting another enjoyable event, to Burton SC for supplying some of the prizes, and to Waples Wines for their sponsorship. The Southern traveler series now moves on to Broxbourne SC for their final event of the year on 27th -28th October, and the Northerners similarly convene at Notts County SC on the same date.

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