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GP14 open meeting at Bolton Sailing Club

by Julie Waddington 2 Oct 08:22 BST 29 September 2019

With a weather forecast that included flood warnings, it was a small fleet of eight boats that took part in the final event of the Northern Bell Series. The rain never stopped all day and at times it was torrential.

The first race of the day was held in light, shifty winds and pouring rain and the race officer got the fleet under way with a clean start. Initially there was a close battle between locals Graham and Julie Courtney and visitors Peter Jacques and Pete Tate from Chase but Team Courtney managed to break free and take the lead. They pulled further away as behind then the Chase pair were put under pressure by father and son team Chris and Josh Aubrey from Bolton. Graham and Julie used their local knowledge and their expertise in light winds to win by a convincing margin. After numerous tacking battles and a great deal of covering the opposition, Chris and Josh finished in second place, closely followed by Peter and Pete.

The clubhouse was full of very wet sailors who welcomed the hot drinks, hotpot and cake available at the galley. Duly refreshed and slightly drier, the second race started in winds of about a force 3 and still raining hard. Chris and Josh rounded the first mark in the lead with Graham and Julie close behind. By the third mark of the course, Graham and Julie were in front and pulled away as mistakes were made by those behind. Chris and Josh had a nasty hour glass twist in their spinnaker that was so bad they had to take it down. Despite this they managed to hold onto second place until Chris did a tack and dropped the tiller extension!

Peter and Pete took advantage to move into second although Chris and Josh were close behind. The spectators thought that the Courtneys had the race in the bag but as the wind strength increased to a force 4 with strong gusts, they begun to struggle whilst Peter and Pete revelled in the conditions. They executed a fantastic spinnaker reach across the lake and won the race with a good lead. Graham and Julie held on to second with Team Aubrey in third. Meanwhile further down the fleet, all hell was breaking loose with the freshening gusty winds. Frank McMullen was struggling with his extra long tiller extension and repeatedly poking his crew in the eye with it.

Two boats capsized side by side right in front of the clubhouse for all the spectators to see and comment on their techniques of righting their boats. Zena Martin and Sue Flitcroft from Bolton manged to finish 4th despite being the lightest paring by hanging out the boat by their toenails. On their way back to the jetty, the exhausted pair misjudged it and were heading for an obstruction. Heroes' Chris & Josh Aubrey were both seen diving in to assist although Chris's boot came off in the process which he also managed to save before it sank to the bottom of the lake.

It was therefore all to play for in the last race with any one of three boats able to win the event. As the second race had taken its toll on the competitors, there were only four boats prepared to start the last race. The rain was relentless and the wind strength increasing to the point were it was exciting to watch. Again, the third race started cleanly with Frank and Dave having a cracking start. Whilst The Courtneys had a bad start, they somehow managed to get to the first mark first.

The Aubreys suffered a broach on the first lap allowing Frank and Dave through for a short time. However, the windy conditions did not favour Chris and Julie and Chris and young Josh and despite both trying their hardest, Peter and Pete from Chase were victorious with Graham and Julie in second place and Chris and Josh in third. In fact, the first three positions in the final race mirrored the final positions in the overall event.

Zena and Sue won the bronze fleet and there was a special prize for the first non-spinnaker flying boat which went to John Moulton and Kevin Band. Despite not flying a kite, they were very competitive in the first race and Kevin normally sails a Supernova. Frank and Dave were chuffed to finish in fifth overall after recently rescuing and restoring Gismo from the dinghy park and only having the opportunity to sail in her once before the event.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
114177Peter JacquesPete TateChase SC‑3112
214258Graham CourtneyJulie CourtneyBolton SC1‑223
38162Chris AubreyJosh AubreyBolton SC2‑335
413933Zena MartinSue FlitcroftBolton SC44(DNS)8
513465Frank McMullenDavid BartholomewBolton SC‑66410
614230Adam ChaplinAlice MorrisBlackpool & Fleetwood YC75(DNS)12
714060John MoultonKevin BandBolton SC5(DNF)DNS14
813710Don AppletonCath RoeBolton SC8(DNF)DNS17

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