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Rollesby Broad Sailing Club Spring eSailing Series - Day 1

by David Houghton 7 Apr 2020 09:48 BST 5 April 2020
Virtual Regatta sailing in the 49ers © Virtual Regatta

With the current situation preventing normal club sailing members at Rollesby decided to take heed of the current request to 'stay at home' and sail from their own home by embracing the virtual world. They joined the many other sailing clubs around the country opting to take advantage of a RYA promoted club membership to the online e-sailing game Virtual Regatta.

A short 'training' session was held on Saturday to allow those new to the game to get to grips with their new craft with members swapping Lasers, Solos and Wayfarers for the 49er skiff. After three quick races it was obvious there was a huge variation in ability with Phil Highfield taking line honours in all three by a considerable margin.

Sunday racing was scheduled for a 10.00 start. The sailors were transported to the World Championship venue of Aarhus in Denmark with a considerably larger sailing area than that of Rollesby Broad. With races scheduled to last less than ten minutes five were planned. Penalties for any rule infringements are automatically enforced and the Virtual Race Officer takes a dim view when you plough through the Committee boat at the start! In race one Phil Highfield and Keith Sykes sailed away from the rest of the fleet as they headed upwind. It was all very tight at the mark, Sykes on starboard and Highfield coming in hard on port deciding there was room and tacked in front, Sykes failed to avoid and the jury awarded the first penalty of the series. Highfield was now clear ahead and Daniel Harvey now moving up to second spot. After two laps Harvey had closed the gap but Highfield crossed the line just four seconds ahead.

Race two saw Highfield and Harvey sail clear of the fleet finishing in the same order with Harvey just three seconds behind. Sykes almost got the perfect start but with timing measured in fractions of a second the jury thought otherwise and he was judged over the start line and was penalised. Despite this he managed to recover to take another third place.

Highfield was still looking good but not quite as convincing as the night before, had others been doing some secret practising? In race three Keith Sykes timed his start to perfection and was first off the line and took an early lead. Highfield slowly closed the gap over the two lap race with Sykes crossing the finish line just one second ahead.

Unfortunately for Sykes he was unable to produce another perfect start ending up last over the line in race four. Highfield and Harvey led the fleet opening up a good lead with Highfield taking line honours. Antony Barnes was now getting to grips with the 49er leading the rest of the fleet home to finish third.

The final race proved to be the most fiercely fought with the usual suspects again at the front of the fleet with just a few seconds separating Highfield, Harvey and Sykes. This remained right up to the finish with Harvey beating Highfield by just one second.

With everyone appearing to enjoy the friendly competition all were looking forward to the second instalment next Sunday.

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