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GP14 Midland Bell Open at South Staffordshire Sailing Club

by Chris Martin 3 Sep 2019 05:53 BST 1 September 2019

Nineteen boats came to South Staffs SC to contest the penultimate round of the 2019 Midland Bell series. This was quite possibly the strongest fleet assembled so far this season on the local circuit, though the wind direction made it quite likely to be snakes and ladders!

The first race got under way cleanly though a sudden shift with 5 seconds to go made an early tack onto port seem a winning strategy. Nobody told whichever god was in charge of the wind about this however and the several boats who must have been rather pleased with themselves coming in from the right of the course were left somewhat dismayed to see the other half of the fleet coming into the windward mark on a massive lift from the port lay line! There was surprisingly little chaos though the predicted running order was slightly disrupted. One team who were not disrupted were Mike and Liz Senior who rounded the mark never to be seen again. Mark McKeever and Kevin Hopkins were comfortably second for much of the race only to slip on a banana skin and down several ladders on the penultimate lap. The group behind were waiting to pounce and Dave Young and Laura Burch came though to second, with Mark and Kevin fighting back to third.

Race two was preceded by a large squall and fairly hefty rain. Once the sequence got under way the wind dropped back down to around force three and the direction stabilised slightly to the north of where it was in race one. RO John Billingtion had duly altered his course and again we got under way cleanly. Again the right hand side seemed to pay and this time there was much less of a left wobble. Again Mike and Liz got around first and disappeared leaving second place the one to fight over, six boats being in the mix for it! Midway through the second lap Chris Martin and Samuel Bailey found a wind lane on the run and charged through to third place. They then nailed the subsequent two beats to take and hold onto second with as comfortable a lead as its possible to get in such shifty conditions - you are never truly safe! Dave and Laura made a late comeback, but didn't quite get close enough to challenge and had to settle for third.

For race three the wind had gone round even more to the north, and the apparent strength had increased. It was however by now very turbulent and unstable with some quite wild shifts and gusts on the water that never connected with the sails. Clearly Mike and Liz Senior found one of these as they were observed in reverse at speed on the start line at the gun, eventually crossing the start line DFL. The large shifts made the top of the beat taxing and calling your lay line nigh on impossible. Mark and Kevin got this right and rounded first with Dave and Laura and Ross Kearney and Steve Graham hot on their heels. You can never write off a world champion, and as the race got on it was clear that Mike and Liz were not going to settle for two wins and were progressing through the fleet. Ross and Steve had assumed the lead by mid way through the race before an enthusiastic roll tack combined with a cruel wind shift saw them take to the water up a beat. This allowed Mike and Liz through to first resuming normal service. Dave and Laura had also been on a charge and taken Mark and Kevin to take second place in the race and overall. Mark and Kevin had to settle for third in this race, Ross and Steve again took to the water on the finish line but had already finished so there was no opportunity for Chris and Samuel to take fourth place.

Mike and Liz Senior from SSSC were clear winners in all three races, despite making the third about as difficult as possible. A consistent performance from Dave Young and Laura Burch also from SSSC saw them take second overall. The battle for third was less clear cut, SSSC/Midland SC's Chris Martin and Samuel Bailey's second in race two seeing them pip Mark McKeever and Kevin Hopkins also from Midland SC on count back. Ross Kearney and Steve Graham came in fifth.

Thanks to all at SSSC for putting on a great event. The Midland Bell series concludes at Chelmarsh SC on 5th October. First place is sewn up, second is very much up for grabs!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1st13417Mike SeniorLiz SeniorSSSC‑1112
2nd14110Dave YoungLaura BurchSSSC2‑324
3rd13326Chris MartinSam BaileySSSC‑8257
4th14208Mark McKeeverKevin HopkinsMidland SC3‑447
5th14242Ross KearneySteve GrahamSSSC‑6538
6th14119Chris WhiteRich BoothSSSC47‑911
7th14177Pete JacquesMichelle EvansChase SC5‑9611
8th14168Oille GoodheadSam ThomsonSSSC‑106814
9th13611Will CroxfordHolly EvansSSSC7‑11714
10th13904Martin WarburtonEllie DaviesSSSC9(DNF)1019
11th14018Dave MorganFinn MorganSSSC138‑1421
12th14139Derek FlemingSeonaid YoungSSSC1110(DNF)21
13th13974Nick BrandonLisa CarpenterSSSC‑15121123
14th14194Pete ThomsDawn FrostNantwich SC1213(DNS)25
15th13931Chris JonesBrian WaymontSSSC‑16161228
16th13423James AshworthMatt DoomerSSSC(DNF)151328
17th14059Mike DaviesRich FarmerSSSC1417(DNF)31
18th13566Martin TempleMike PattersonSSSC(DNF)14DNF34
19th13893Pete FairhurstAnnette FitzpatrickSSSC(DNF)DNFDNS40

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