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Annual John Ashley long-distance race at Clevedon Sailing Club

by Martin Gibson 12 Sep 2019 11:11 BST 7 September 2019
Start line action in the annual John Ashley long-distance race at Clevedon SC © B Whybrow

A gentle North to North Easterly breeze greeted the 13 mixed-handicap competitors for Clevedon Sailing Club's annual John Ashley long-distance race. The course tests the crews' abilities far out into the channel, where the tidal stream is greater, and even more so in light winds. The wind direction meant race officer Sarah Hotchkiss set a windward first leg to Avon Buoy and next two legs would be downwind; and then to the finish of the 7 mile course in the bay.

Even before the end of the pier had been reached, the fleet had been split into two distinct groups, an initially subtle but later painfully felt gap. Among the front-runners were Elliott/Fairhurst in an RS200, who had started impeccably, now finished fourth. Credit to the two visiting crews from Portishead YSC; a family affair, with twins Anthony and James taking first place and parents Andrea and Andy the second in a Fireball. The twins recovered their position, despite effectively starting later with the second wave. Third place went to the ever-consistent Martin Gibson in a Laser, whose well-judged start line position meant he was in with the very much advantaged head starters.

Overall Results: (top three)

1st Anthony & James Wilcocks (29xx)
2nd Andrea & Andy Wilcocks (Fireball)
3rd Martin Gibson (Laser)

Apart from needing boat speed; good timing, applying local tide knowledge and sometimes a dose of luck are what each crew is striving for. None such for Warren-Cox's single-handed attempt in a Mirror, unfortunately suffering gear failure on the slip.

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