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Lightning 368 Noble Marine Insurance Travellers Series at Up River Yacht Club

by Caroline Hollier 10 Apr 08:27 BST 6-7 April 2019

The first event of the Noble Marine Insurance Travellers Series of the Lightning 368 Class took place at Up River Yacht Club in Essex, over the weekend of 6th/7th April, and Sunday's racing on the water was shared with the Comet Class.

On the Saturday, 14 very keen sailors arrived from as far afield as Yorkshire and Cheshire for a special Lightning Training Day led by Simon Hopkins, with an opportunity to do a bit of boat tuning, practice starts and a chance for the inland sailors to get a feel for the salty stuff.

A good wind allowed some great fun, a capsize or two, and the fleet were able to try out the spare Mark 3 that class builder John Claridge had brought along with an experimental carbon lower mast section. A guest who joined us for a test sail was so impressed he placed an order for a new boat with John there and then!

The Sunday was the Open Meeting, and we lost a few who could not stay, but gained the Up River club boats for a respectable entry of 15. While Saturday was the perfect wind, Sunday was pretty dire, and Matt Pickett our race officer for the day, decided to change the published race programme to 3 back to back races, due to the light wind conditions.

Courses were set using the Upper Crouch navigation marks. Race 1 got under way, with 3 boats over the line, including Simon Hopkins who had obviously not listened to his own advice from the day before. Due to the wind direction, the fleet set off on a reach down the river to the East mark. Penny Yarwood and Ben Harris got off to a flying start, hotly pursued by Jeremy Cooper, sailing for the first time on this tidal river.

Bryan Westley meanwhile was trying out the new proposed rig, with a borrowed better sail, and had a storming first leg. The fleet headed off down the South Bank and had been advised in the familiarisation walk earlier that morning to cross the river at Brandy Hole due to the strong current round the bend.

Meanwhile Penny Yarwood, Robbie Claridge and John Claridge bucked the trend and hugged the South Bank. Penny was first to the East mark, followed by Jeremy. Robbie's hunch paid off as he rounded 3rd, closely followed by Ben, Bryan and Caroline Hollier. Up the beat to the Clements mark, Caroline, who was pointing higher than Ben and Bryan, got past them both. The finishing leg took the fleet back towards the East mark. At the finish it was Penny, Jeremy, Robbie and then Caroline.

Race 2 got off very soon after the last Comet had finished. The course this time was Clements, Stowe, East, Clements, Finish.

Robbie was quickest off the very biased start line, followed by Marcus Ingram and Ben Harris who elected to start on port behind the fleet. Caroline Hollier was doing her best to try and get past John Claridge whilst being pursued by Penny Yarwood. Going right paid, and Ben and Marcus led at the first mark, but were soon overtaken by Robbie down the reach to Stowe.

After gybing at Stowe, these places remained unchanged, whilst further back down the fleet other battles were taking place. Penny eventually overhauled Caroline and John before East, and Caroline passed John, whilst gaining ground on both Ben and Marcus. At the finish Penny had taken Marcus. Robbie took the win, followed by Ben, Penny and Marcus just ahead of Caroline.

So with two races held, and two winners, it could be anybody's day.

For Race 3, the course was Clements, and then the long leg back upriver to Horse, Ditch & Tower. The majority of the fleet were struggling to cross the line on starboard, so most tacked onto Port and were able to lay the first mark.

Simon Hopkins briefly led off the line but Penny was soon leading the way followed by Robbie and John. Upon starting Caroline noticed that her main sheet had doubled back through the pulley and was completely jammed up. Unable to free it, she had to untie her main sheet and re-thread it through the blocks, so it was a good job that the wind was light.

By the time she had sorted herself out, the whole Lightning Fleet had passed her and the Comets had then started 5 minutes later. Thinking that this would be her discarded race, being some 6 minutes behind the rest of the fleet, she was on a charge.

After rounding the bend at Brandy Hole, Simon had led some of the fleet across the river to take the slacker tide on the South Bank. Caroline meanwhile was steadily catching up the fleet in clean air.

The South Bank group came almost to a standstill as the wind faded, and Caroline passed them cleanly on the North Bank where there was still a reliable breeze. Meanwhile out at the front of the fleet, local Graham Lazell was taking the lead. With the wind dropping, Race Officer Matt Pickett decided to shorten the course, so there was no trip up the river to Horse, or up the creek to Ditch, much to the relief of many.

As the fleet approached the club it was Graham, Penny and Caroline, who by now had overtaken the rest of the fleet. It became a tight fight to the line, with Graham just losing out to Penny, with Caroline third.

So the overall result of the 1st Noble Marine Insurance Travellers' Trophy event was 1st Penny Yarwood, (2 points) 2nd Robbie Claridge, (4 points) and 3rd Ben Harris (6 points).

Many thanks to all at Up River Yacht Club for their hospitality over the whole weekend.

The next Noble Marine Insurance Travellers Trophy event will take the Lightnings to a new venue, Shotwick Lake Sailing Club in North Wales.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3Pts
1st425Penny Yarwood1‑312
2nd429Robbie Claridge31‑64
3rd404Ben Harris‑5246
4th413Caroline Hollier4‑537
5th177Jeremy Cooper2‑12911
6th417Jason Gallagher7‑10512
7th427John Claridge66‑712
8th342Marcus Ingram104‑1414
9th430Graham Lazell‑1413215
10th428Simon Hopkins97‑1016
11th402Steve Hodgeson‑1181119
12th407Bryan Westley13‑15821
13th433John Butler8‑141321
14th294Jamie Cornwell‑Stevens‑1591221
15th335Luke Lazell1211‑1523

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