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Blithfield Barrel - Round 4

by Tim Male 20 Feb 21:03 GMT 17 February 2019

The fourth and final round of the 2018-19 Blithfield Barrel was another windy edition, the wind was challenging, but nowhere near as extreme as the previous round which was abandoned mid-race due to deteriorating conditions.

February's conditions were strong enough to deter a number of teams, but a good turnout took part, with a high number of capsizes and breakages in the first race. A reduced fleet started the second race of the day with the wind reduced to a more manageable strength providing enjoyable conditions and excellent racing. Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby representing Blithfield demonstrated excellent boat handling and lead fleet in both races with the rest of the Merlin Rockets in close pursuit headed by Rob Kennaugh and Andrew Prosser (Midland SC). Fastest singlehander on the day was Andy Couch, back in his Phantom and splitting the lead pack of Merlins.

On reflection, the 2018-19 series has been a standout year for the event, with attendance at a 5 year high and an excellent prizes thanks to generous sponsorship. Although the first two rounds had rather light winds, and the last two rather too much wind, the event has been a true winter festival of sailing each month with clubhouse packed with various amounts of sailors and spectators. Overall 91 boats took part and 45 managed to put a series together despite the windy and abandoned races.

The race team were lead and coordinated by PRO Steve Watson who ran the races promptly and efficiently with the minimum of hanging around. The event uses unmodified RYA yardsticks, and these have provided extremely close results between National Champions (past and present) sailing a variety of classes. Uniquely amongst the large Winter open meetings, the Blithfield Barrel uses average lap racing meaning that all boats take part in the same race whether they are a "fast" or "slow" class.

It was fantastic to see the Optimist of Thomas Kelsall (Staunton Harold) recording a sixth in the first race challenging some of the fastest boats in the country surely a name to watch in the future. Caroline Croft was first lady helm in third overall with fellow girls Bekka Jones crewing to second overall and Pippa Kilsby crewing the winning boat.

Weekly prizes of wine and sailing goodies were provided by Birmingham Dinghy Services, Dinghytec and Creation Covers. Spot prizes of Craft Lager giftpacks were provided by Freedom Brewery. Further prizes throughout the fleet were provided by Harken with the Junior winner, Youth winner and Highest Scorers all receiving dry bags, sailkote lube and beanies. Many thanks to all the sponsors!

  • 1st overall - Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby Merlin (Blithfield SC)
  • 1st singlehander (7th overall) - Eden Hyland, Blaze (Chase SC)
  • Harken First Junior - Thomas Kelsall, Optimist (Staunton Harold SC)
  • Harken First Youth - Lydia Barber, Laser Radial (Blithfield SC)
  • Harken High Score - Rob and Esther Swinnock, Merlin Rocket (Blithfield SC)
  • First Lady - Caroline Croft (Blithfield SC)
Full results www.blithfield.org.uk/barrel

Next winter's event will start on 24th November. We're looking forward to it already.

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