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Noble Marine Lightning 368 Southern Championships at Cookham Reach Sailing Club

by Simon Hopkins 20 Jun 2019 20:04 BST 15 June 2019

It was a cold, wet, blustery, summer's day on the River Thames at Cookham Reach Sailing Club for the Noble Marine Insurance Southern Area Championships on June 15th. Five visitors joined the eight home boats for a hearty welcome and what was to be an entertaining day's sailing.

For Race One there was a good 14 knot wind was blowing straight down the river, well when we say straight we're exaggerating, as 30 degree wind shifts were to be the 'norm' for the day.

With the wind up it was no surprise when Simon Hopkins, still regretting missing the big winds of day two at the Nationals, stormed off the line to round the windward mark well clear of the chasing pack. The 'pack' consisting of local Enterprise sailor David Phillips, Jeremy Cooper and Bryan Westley putting his lager storage device to good use as ballast.

David hung on for a few laps but Jeremy eventually got through to second. By this time Simon's lead was unassailable and it ended in this order.

Race Two was back to back, and this time it was the middle of the river that paid, with locals David Phillips, Martin Evans and Clive Evison leading the charge out to the left bank.

Simon and Jeremy missed this and were marooned in a hole on the right bank. However, the wind soon filled in across the course again and as the boats approached the windward mark Simon had worked his way to the front and rounded on David's tail.

Simon passed David on the run and extended his lead on the next few laps, whilst Jeremy also got clear into second. On any other bit of water Simon's lead would have been enough but this was Cookham and on run three the wind turned off leaving the leading boats ghosting along against the flow.

Simon then heard the sound no leader likes to hear as Jeremy got the new wind first and planed up for an overlap before Simon even got the new breeze. Although Simon retook the lead by the windward mark, such was Jeremy's superior downwind speed in the lighter winds he sailed through to take the win in race two. David hung on for another third place ahead of Peter Withrington who was sailing a borrowed boast whilst he waits for his new Mark 3 to be built.

The sailors then retired for a fantastic lunch of fish and chips, followed by strawberries and cream, which was so good there was talk was of staying ashore as the rain hammered against the windows.

But no, the hardy fleet took to the water in torrential rain and a much lighter wind than the morning, although there were still some savage gusts and shifts to contend with.

Race 3, with a even start over the width of the river, it was not unexpected that Simon and Jeremy were crossing tacks for the lead with the Cookham Reach contingent of Clive, David and Martin, then Peter close behind.

The deciding moment on the race came as with Simon to leeward and Jeremy to windward approached the windward mark on starboard, about a boat length apart, the wind went and gradually left both of them struggling to make the mark.

Jeremy shot the mark and made it, Simon had to gybe out and perform a risky port entry behind Clive and the pack. When it all settled down on the run, Jeremy had a 100 yard lead ahead of the pack and never looked back, whilst Simon was swamped and dropped to sixth.

By the end of the race Simon had worked his way back to second, but there was no catching Jeremy who took his second win of the day. Clive came home third ahead of David and Peter.

With two firsts to Simon's one, Jeremy became the 2019 Southern Area Champion, proving a well sailed Mk1 Giles boat can still win open meetings. Simon came home in second in his Mk3 and local Davis Phillips in another Mk1 in third.

Overall Results:

1st 117Jeremy CooperShotwick SC‑2112
2ndMsocnir428Simon HopkinsUp River YC1‑223
3rdFreya259David PhillipsCRSC33‑46
4th 108Clive EvisonCRSC‑6538
5thFinale372Peter WitheringtnBurfield SC‑9459
6th 150Martin EvansCRSC56‑711
7thMay Contain Nuts407Bryan WestleyAldridge SC48‑912
8th 441Ian RansonBolton SC7‑10613
9thVertigo124Kevin SingletonCRSC‑87815
10thSea Eagle83Andrew BoxerCRSC(DNF 14)91019
11thSynchornicity251James LongCRSC10‑111121
12thArkwrghts Revenge281Nick ReuterCRSC1112(DNC.14)23
13thCalculus412Tricia EvisonCRSC(DNF 14)DNC.14DNC.1428

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