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Byte Inland Championship at Bowmoor Sailing Club

by John Saunders 3 Oct 2019 11:57 BST 28-29 September 2019
Byte Inlands at Bowmoor © John Saunders

It is often said in sailing that consistency is everything and so it was at the Byte Inland Championships which took place at Bowmoor Sailing Club last weekend.

Louis Saunders, (Combs) was perhaps the greatest exponent of this theory with six clear wins from six races but Matt Banbrook (Bowmoor) also contributed with his five second places and one third. Lurking in the background were the 'diminutive' Emma Pearson (Stokes Bay) and 'mature' Rick Whitehouse, (Combs) utilising, in view of the harsh conditions, his C1rig. Huw Nunn (Bowmoor) was also finding some good speed under the conditions.

Saturday saw some very solid wind with awkward gusts slashing across the Bowmoor lake. Most sailors were caught out at some point or other finishing up heels in the air while a few of the less experienced called it a day and and understandably fled to shore. Louis was first to the windward mark in all four races followed by Matt. 15 year old Matt has now left the class because of teenage growth spurt but was happy to race in a borrowed boat. The conditions certainly supported his decision!

Emma, having chosen the C2 rig, clung on with a consistent five, four, five, five, super quick downwind but hiking her legs off up. Rick by contrast with his smaller C1 sail was fast up but slower down wind with three, three, six, four. Huw made it four, six, three, three. At the end of the day this left Louis and Matt clearly one and two followed by Rick and Huw on 16 points and Emma with 19. but what wind would the following day bring? I am of course only dealing with the front runners but close racing was going on throughout the fleet. At one particularly awkward gybe mark situated very close to the shore boats came hurtling towards it their helms having to decide on gybe or tack. The confident sailors gybed at speed whereas the less experienced tacked round only to be faced with bearing away while trying to tuck inside the mark. It made for very entertaining viewing!

Day two dawned with a lighter wind which would level the playing field and assist some of the less experienced sailors. Huw and Toby Banbrook (Bowmoor) managed to box Louis on the line so that he only reached the windward mark in fifth, however he set off passing boats and eventually caught Matt on a down wind leg going on to win again. The lighter wind now suited Emma who managed a third place but only after a quick capsize! Rick was now disadvantaged by his choice of C1 rig made it into eighth with Huw fifth.

Now for the final race. Louis and Matt could not be touched but the other places were still up for grabs. Louis again led from start to finish with Emma second and Matt third Rick was 4th and Huw 6th.

This is where that consistency paid off. Obviously Louis had won with his 6 bullets in front of Matt but Emma with her second and third gave her a third place overall. This meant that that the podium was identical to the Nationals which were sailed under a similar weather pattern. Racing had been exciting for a very mixed fleet made up of both sexes and a wide spread of ages. Although the racing had been fiercely competitive it had been a fun weekend due in part to the presence of the crazy go at anything kids and the more restrained older sailors. No other class can combine all these attributes where the boat simply encourages lighter sailors.

At the prize giving Louis was keen to point out that despite his dominating performances, which may make it look easy, he is in fact trying very hard all the way and is only too conscious of the quality chasing fleet who are ready to punish him for any errors he may make! As ever Bowmoor provided excellent race management and comfortable facilities which were much appreciated.

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