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Northern Solo Travellers Series at Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club

by Nik James 5 Jul 2019 09:25 BST 29-30 June 2019
Northern Solo Travellers Series at Leigh & Lowton © Gerard van den Hoek

Following a very difficult day for the Race Officer and the event management team on Saturday, it was decided the trickle of a breeze was insufficient to run the event. Unfortunately for some, no racing took place.

All was far from lost, as the local Race Officer and team were willing to try again on Sunday with promises of a steady westerly. On Sunday 16 helms had covered and stored their boats with the intention to return to sail, the heat of the previous day had been replaced, but we now had a warm 10-12 mph breeze from a WSW direction, ideal conditions for sailing on Pennington Flash.

The first three races were back to back. The Solos were described as well behaved and race 1 started. Luke Shaw worked his way quickly up the first beat, rounding the top mark clear ahead. However, it was Alan Gillard who was first to complete the first lap, followed by Tony Wetherall showing his pace with local Nik James sticking close behind. These three remained equidistant throughout and after just one more lap crossed the line to the OOD's signal. Andy Fox kept up with the front runners in fourth with Luke Shaw in a close fifth.

Race two was a similar sprint affair. Brian Sprague showed that his cycling had paid off and headed the fleet up the first beat, behind him Chris Helsby, Nik, Tony and Luke followed tightly in his slipstream. However, it was Tony who showed his class and worked his way toward the front of the pack, and that's how the first lap ended. On the second beat, Luke made the inspired move and worked the corners, rounding the fleet well ahead at the top mark. Brian maintained his pace and Tony had worked hard upwind to third, again the order continued until they crossed the line. Nik and Alan Cato finished in a close fourth and fifth.

Race three started with a building breeze of 15-20 mph from the same direction. Again the fleet was off the line with continued good behaviour. Once again Brian showed a clean pair of heels up the first beat, with Luke, Alan Gillard, Tom and Nik following in line astern. The breeze continued to build, allowing the heavier weather skills of Tom to keep it flat and although the top five places swapped several times he took the lead at the top of the second beat. Luke worked hard upwind again and crossed ahead of Brian. These three helms maintained their podium places to the finishing signal. The two Alans filled out the top five places.

We broke for a very deserved lunch, time to recuperate and enjoy Leigh & Lowton's famous galley and the wrap, the chips or the lemon drizzle cake.

The Race Officer tweaked the course for the SW breeze as the gladiators re-entered the ring. Race 4 was started with the wind speed now in the mid-teens. As the fleet beat up to the windward mark dark clouds loomed ominously. Foxy stepped up and was untouchable upwind, with Luke keeping in touch, Stephen Restall and Nik wrestling for third and fourth and again Tony demonstrated how to hike in a building breeze. The wind continued to pick up with white horses dancing on the short Flash chop, with gusts of 35mph, the wind returned to the West, making the beat sided remaining until the end. Andy was sublime in these conditions finishing at the top of the pile, as was Tony who had kept his Solo flat and crossed in second. Luke was able to hold on to third. Nik held off a very tough Stephen to keep fourth and Stephen in fifth.

The podium places went to Tony taking the top spot, Luke one point behind in silver and Andy claiming bronze, equal points from Nik, Brian just one point behind in fifth. In reply, Tony thanked everyone involved, praising Leigh & Lowton and Race Officer for patience, resilience and the friendly nature everyone was welcomed.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoClubHelmR1R2R3R4Pts
1st5612 Tony Wetherall2‑3125
2nd5722Budworth SCLuke Shaw‑51236
3rd5745Leigh & Lowton SCAndy Fox4‑86111
4th5818Leigh & Lowton SCNik James34‑13411
5th5417Leigh & Lowton SCBrian Sprague723(DNF)12
6th5807Leigh & Lowton SCAlan Catto‑855616
7th5617Elton SCStephen Restall‑1079521
8th5350Leigh & Lowton SCChris Helsby968‑1023
9th5675Viking SCAlan Gillard1(OCS)4DNC25
10th5767Budworth SCEric Paalman6127(DNC)25
11th4521Leigh & Lowton SCStuart van den Hoek‑121010727
12th5398Budworth SCMark Cleary‑149111131
13th5272Leigh & Lowton SCDave Kelsall‑151312833
14th5120Leigh & Lowton SCJohn Watt11‑1414934
15th5460Etherow SCJohn Berry1311(DNC)DNC44
16th5623Elton SCRob Gasgoine(DNC)1515DNC50
17th5605Shotwick SCGordon Bennell(DNC)DNCDNCDNC60
17th5312Shropshire SCStuart Norris(DNC)DNCDNCDNC60
17th5763RYASteve Denison(DNC)DNCDNCDNC60

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