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Flying Fifteen Open at Broxbourne Sailing Club

by Pip Hudson 22 May 06:52 BST 18-19 May 2019
Off the start during the Broxbourne Flying Fifteen Open © Stuart Hutchinson

Very light and variable winds greeted the competitors to the Broxbourne Flying Fifteen open meeting on the weekend of 18th & 19th May. This is an event for all Fifteen sailors with handicap allowances for the older Silver and Classic boats.

After postponing for an hour, the race officer declared that the wind seemed likely from the South West and set up the course. Most of us couldn't discern any wind but at the start a light zephyr came in from approximately that direction. Pip Hudson and Mick Musgrave (3889) led the way around the first (maybe windward) mark from Neal Bartholomy and Ed Connellan (2700) from Middle Nene and Toby and Maxine Cooper (3705) from the home club. Down the first run, too light to even set spinnakers, the front runners ran into a hole and as the breaths of wind filled in from behind, those at the back overtook those at the front. At the end Neal finished just behind Toby but first on handicap.

There was slightly more wind for the second race and spinnakers were actually flown on the downwind leg for the first two laps, with Pip again leading though he was overhauled by Toby who went on to take the win on the water and on Handicap after an excruciating crawl around the 3rd lap. Most boats were finished after two laps and for a while it looked as if the two lap finishers might even beat the three lappers on corrected average lap time. There was no appetite for a third race and so the fleet repaired to the clubhouse to enjoy an evening meal together.

Sunday dawned with a very light 3-5 mph northerly breeze which at least was roughly in line with the forecast. Toby turned up with a secret weapon, namely his tiny granddaughter Ruby to crew.

The line seemed very port biased but actually the boats at the starboard end got slightly more pressure and made it first to the windward mark. However, by the end of the first lap, 3889 led from 3705 with 2700 and Brian Turner with Jackie Burns (3031) some way behind and for a while it looked as if the two leading boats would easily save their handicap. However, this is Broxbourne and a period of calm at the windward mark saw 3705's momentum take them past 3889 and the gap to the two following classic Flying Fifteens greatly reduced, hence a second win for 2700 and a second place for 3031 on handicap.

It was all to play for in the final race. Again the wrong end of the line paid, though by the first mark there was considerable bunching and the main protagonists were in the front by the leeward mark closely followed by John Harvey and Tim Greaves in the silver fleet boat (3359). At the finish 3705 was first followed by 3889 and 3359. Thus Toby Cooper and family won on countback from Neal and Ed in their Classic fleet boat. It was close right down the fleet and most could have claimed their moment of glory during the two days racing.

It was great to see some of the less experienced club sailors turning out and to reward their efforts with special beers sponsored by our local New River Brewery. The New River is a 400 years old man-made aqueduct that runs close to the club to move water from Hertfordshire to London. Apparently their Blind Poet beer is named in honour of a poet who lost his way returning home one evening and took and unplanned dip in the New River or was it one of our Flying Fifteen sailors returning from a session in the sailing club bar. We will never know but it makes a great excuse to try the range.

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