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Ocean Safety 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Blithfield Barrel Round 3

by Phil Mason 16 Jan 2020 07:11 GMT 12 January 2020
Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby win Blithfield Barrel Round 3 © Neil David

Champagne sailing conditions greeted a fleet of 44 dinghies and their expectant crews at Blithfield Sailing Club for the third day of the Midlands premiere winter handicap series.

With Storm Brendan looming, Blithfield was blessed with a 15 to 20 mph westerly wind, a pleasant 8 degrees C and copious amounts of sunshine, after the morning rigging drizzle had subsided. A mix of visiting club sailors and ex World and National Champions gathered to enjoy breakfast baps and a warm drink, before attending the day's briefing delivered by our PRO, Alan Skitt.

The scene was set, starting would be split in half, fast and slow PY fleets, with courses anticipated to make full use of the fantastic expanse of water and a prompt start to ensure the best use of the fabulous conditions.

As noon approached the fast fleet lined up to make their start. With a slight pin end bias they got away cleanly, setting up an interesting first beat as the fleet headed left. Three minutes later the slow handicap fleet lined up for a carbon copy first beat, the split starts providing close and competitive racing for all. The course tested all points of sailing, especially the close reach from Mark 8 to 2 before a 'hand-brake' reach-to-reach gybe and further reach along the dam wall, before rounding the leeward mark to start the long beat again.

The first race saw a Merlin whitewash in the fast fleet, headed by Andy Davis and Pippa Kilsby, followed by Chris Gould and Caroline Croft in 2nd with Matt Biggs and Beka Jones hot on their heels in 3rd. Meanwhile the slow PY group saw a spread across the fleets, the Finns of Andy Couch and J Sinclair plus the GP14s of Sam Watson & Andy Hunter and Mark McReever & Kevin Hopkins, and the Supernova of Mike Gibson always vying to be first round the windward mark, followed by a plethora of Supernovas, Streakers, Enterprise, Wayfarers, Lasers and RS Aeros. After plenty of place changing during the race the results were in, Sam Watson and Andy Hunter taking line honours in their GP14 (5th in race) in 2nd was Phil Mason in his RS Vareo (7th in race) followed by Andy Couch in his Finn in 3rd (8th in race).

A warm welcome awaited the sailors on their return ashore with club members helping with trolleys and the legendary hot lunch hospitality lead by Jayne and Steve Tatton. Hats off to Steve, not only working with Jayne on preparing the lunch, but also managing to get out in his Flying Fifteen with crew Chris Guy and bagging a couple of good results.

By now the wind was creeping its way anti-clockwise to the South and the race team adjusted the line and course accordingly. At 2pm the second race got away in similar fashion, except for the eagerness of Tom Chadfield which saw him returning in his Supernova to follow the slow fleet across the line. With two beats and slightly broader reach, many with kites were tempted to fly them, only to find the the gusts sending boats off course momentarily, followed by furious stowing!

Fast fleet honours were again dominated by Merlins, with Andy and Pippa taking their second bullet of the day, followed closely by Chris and Caroline taking another 2nd place, this time it was Rob Kennaugh and Andrew Prosser taking 3rd. Dan Johnson and Ben Latham spoiling the Merlin party by taking 4th, travelling to Blithfield after a windy Bloody Mary the previous day, top commitment chaps. In the slow PY fleet, again Finns, GPs and Supernovas were dominant, this time with the Laser of Carl Avery putting the pressure of the front runners. Slow PY fleet finished with Andy Couch in 1st (5th in race), followed by Sam and Andy in their GP (8th in race), with J Sinclair taking 3rd (12th in race).

As the fleet returned to shore in glorious sunshine the wind settled, lots of smiles showing a great day had been had by all. Coining a phrase from Hamilton the musical, "You'd got to be on the pool where it happened, the pool where it happened, the pool where it happened".

Cakes and refreshment greeted the crowd anticipating the day's results, Ted Kurcaba and Pete Slater duly obliged, thanking all the volunteers and sponsors; Harken, Creation Covers, Birmingham Dinghy Service, Hartley Boats and Freedom Breweries.

It's all looking pretty tight moving into the final, so come along on the 9th February 2020 and join in the action.

Massive thanks to all the sponsors Harken, Birmingham Dinghy Services, Creation Covers, Hartley Boats & Freedom Breweries for supplying fabulous prizes.

Thanks to all for making round 3 a most enjoyable and memorable event, see you all at the finale on 9th February, come and be "on the pool where it happens"!

View full results at

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