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Sailing Strategy - Wind and current by Ian Proctor
 Sailing Strategy - Wind and current by Ian Proctor

Sutton Bingham Icicle Open Pursuit Race: SSW Winter Series Round 5

by Chris Jones 1 Feb 2019 20:35 GMT 26 January 2019
Team Hawkes win the Sutton Bingham Icicle Open Pursuit Race in the Sailing Southwest Winter Series © Lottie Miles / Sailing SW

There was some lively weather around Sutton Bingham Reservoir, with forecasts of 30+ knots just right for the first of the three lakes events that make up rounds 5 to 7 in the Sailing Southwest Winter Series. A fleet of 26 boats representing eleven different clubs with fifteen visitors were in attendance. The longest distance travellers were David and Ros Downs from Tata Steel SC in Wales.

The event was a 3 hour pursuit race in which the slower boats start first followed at intervals by progressively faster boats, according to their handicap rating. All boats carried TracaceTM GPS tracking devices enabling boat performances to be viewed live on a screen in the clubhouse and reviewed at

The day dawned with light winds but it was building throughout the morning. By the time the first boats started, there were gusts of 15+ knots. With the prospect of increasing winds maybe the faster boats would be favoured, but on the lake nothing can be taken for granted.

The fleet were led away by Archie Coates in his Laser 4.7, followed 8 minutes later by 4 Laser Radials. Graham Cook in a Radial was the first challenger and passed Archie to take the lead as they approached the end of their third lap. Andrew Frost in the RS Aero 5 was by now on Graham and Archie's heels, and Noah Rees led the group of RS Aero 7s.

Later on the water the Osprey sailed by Nemo and Simon Hawkes launched their attack followed by a rare site on a small lake the International Canoe sailed by Chris Hampe. Unfortunately for Chris on a gusty day he did not have the space to let the canoe really fly but he did a fantastic job to stay upright, working his way through the fleet nicely.

As the race progressed into the last 60 minutes, Graham had established a decent lead but Andrew Frost was not giving up. At times the gap between them closed to just a few meters, but Graham seemed able to hit the gas pedal when he needed it. In the meantime, Noah had managed to get himself clear in 3rd place and the three Phantoms of Nick Orman, Richard Cumberbatch and Martin Moore were having a great battle between them.

At 30 minutes to go, the wind was increasing with some really strong gusts coming through. Graham was still leading Andrew, but it was close. Noah was gradually closing the gap but it looked like he would run out of time to catch them and he now had the D-Zero of Steve Bolland closing in behind him. Further down the field, the Osprey and Canoe were working their way through the field with impressive speed. It could still be anyone's race.

The Hawkes duo in the Osprey were flying as they started what would be their final lap with just 15 minutes of the race remaining. They had just passed Steve, but could they catch Noah, Andrew and Graham in time?

In the final minutes, Graham and Andrew were still tussling it out, but it seemed Andrew could not quite find a way through. The Hawkes' shot past Noah who had the leaders in his sights. This was going to be close! At the gun it was the Osprey by just a few meters, with Graham in second, having pulled out a small gap to Andrew. Noah in the RS Aero 7 ran out of time to catch Andrew and Steve Bolland was just behind him in fifth. Chris Hampe scored a well deserved sixth place in his International Canoe. The top six in six different classes of boat gave us a fantastically tight finish just what you'd hope for in a good pursuit race.

This win for Nemo & Simon Hawkes put them in a really strong position in the SSW Winter Series 2018-19, just 1 point behind the series leader Ben Flower. Chris Hampe moved up to 3rd overall. Next up in the series is the Roadford Rocket, which takes place on the 10th February 2019.

At the prize giving Simon Hawkes reminisced over Sutton Bingham being where he sailed for many years and where he first sailed with his son Ben (Nemo), before thanking the race management, Sailing South West and the generous sponsors; Allen Brothers, GJW Direct Insurance and Admiral Trailers.

More pictures of the action can be viewed at thanks to Saffron Gallagher and Len Copeland.


1st - Ben (Nemo) and Simon Hawkes, Osprey (Castle Cove YC)
2nd - Graham Cook, Laser Radial (Lyme Regis SC)
3rd - Andrew Frost, RS Aero 5 (Sutton Bingham SC)
4th - Noah Rees, RS Aero 7 (Torpoint Mosquito SC)
5th - Steve Bolland, Devotti DZero (Bristol Corinthian YC)
6th - Chris Hampe, International Canoe (BCU)
1st Youth - Archie Coates, Laser 4.7, (Sutton Bingham SC)

Full results at