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Blithfield Barrel - Round 1

by Chris Martin 26 Nov 16:58 GMT 25 November 2018
Blithfield Barrel Round 1 © Tim Male

The first round of the Blithfield Barrel winter series took place on Sunday. A cold north-easterly didn't put too many off with 61 boats coming out to play - the largest turn out form quite some time.

The large fleet led to the starts being split into fast and slow flights. The fast start got away first time, and boats that got to the left had side of the course did the best. Club commodore Paul Hollis and crew Paula Mason got there first and rounded the windward mark with a healthy lead in their Merlin, with a further gaggle of Merlins in hot pursuit. A group of the pursuing Merlins managed to find a large hole on the first reach making this race appear to be a bit of a two horse affair between Paul and Paula and Steve and Gill Leney - more of that later.

The slow flight also got away first time, and again the left paid. While then faster classes clearly got their first, the wise money was on then Optimist of Thomas Kelsall who rounded with boats behind him and a clear lead on handicap.

On the water Steve and Gill found another hole and relegated themselves by several places and Paul and Paula were ground down by Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby, Caroline Croft and Tom Lonsdale and alter Steve and Gill recovered too - all in Merlins and thats also how the fast fleet ended up on handicap. Thomas' Optimist won the slow fleet convincingly with a 6th place overall. The Harken High Score award went to Jamie Mason in a Laser Radial

Lunch ensued and as we eat the wind appeared to rally encourage the PRO to get the fleet out on time for race 2

The fast fleet again got away first time, Taxi and Pippa leading round the first mark with the Osprey of Chris Gould and Nick Broomhall just behind them. The Slow fleet had a general recall but got away the second time with a substantial gap between the two fleets making things significantly easier for the front of the fleet having hit the back of the fast fleet on the first race.

About half was through the sun started to drop, as did the temperature and with it the wind. The race officer had little option other than to shorten course about halfway through the the third lap leaving the leaders on the water to sweat out a slow fourth lap. Taxi and Pippa were first with Andy Couch - this year in a a Finn - in second. The Harken High Score Award went to Lydia Barber, also in a Radial.

Thanks to all from the club who helped out and our sponsors Birmingham Dinghy Services, Harken and Freedom Brewery. The next round is on Sunday the 16th December - see you there!

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