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Supernova Open at Bolton Sailing Club

by David Bartholomew & Alex Collins 18 Nov 2020 06:33 GMT 26 September 2020

We will all remember 2020, though for all the wrong reasons. Like much of life, the Bolton Supernova Open Meeting was characterised by risk assessments, social distancing and the 'rule of six'.

Neither can it be ignored that if the name of your club is 'Bolton Sailing Club' at a time when the town is hitting the news on a daily basis as the highest area for COVID-19 infection across the country then it is reasonable that questions about the safety for anyone attending such an event are asked. However, Bolton Sailing Club is situated high on the moors in a beautiful location and with careful planning it was possible to put measures in place to protect everyone attending the event.

The Supernova Association had a high standard of safety for the event in terms of minimising the risk of COVID-19 cross infection. While they, like us and all dinghy sailors across the country, desperately want to enjoy our sport this has to be within limits. Fortunately, the RYA has provided some very helpful guidance that enables such events to take place and remain Covid safe. The BSC Committee and Fleet Captain worked closely with the supernova association to establish a clear protocol of how this could work. The main characteristics of this were:

  • All sailors allocated to a group of six or less and a cordoned off area to prepare boats for racing
  • Competitors were asked to use their judgement in relation to the conditions (the 15 -20 knot winds led to five sailors not getting their hulls wet)
  • Launching took place in the groups of six
  • Sailors entering the clubhouse limited to six at any time
  • OOD and Safety crews were made up from household groups - safety crews had PPE for themselves and competitors requiring assistance
  • Prize giving took place outside following social distancing guidance
If you like strong winds, the conditions were beautiful, if a little cold and 15 competitors got onto the water where they were then able to enjoy some fantastic racing.

Race 1 started with most of the fleet up at the committee boat end of the line, up the first beat it was close throughout the fleet with Collins narrowly ahead of T Critchley, Platt and Flitcroft. At the end of the first lap Collins had built a narrow lead but was being chased hard by the rest of the fleet. As the race went on, the front of the fleet bunched together as key shifts at the top end of the fleet were being played by all. Pressure continued throughout the race with Collins taking first place followed by C Critchley in second place and Young in third. In the middle of the fleet there were changing positions between Thompson, Anderson, Bartholomew, Brown and Moodie though with Thompson taking a lead in the second lap and retaining until the finish line.

With no easing in the wind, the second race got under way with a haste from the fleet and the OD signalled for a general recall. The second start got under way and like race one, it was close throughout and saw Collins and T Critchley lead at the first mark followed by Flitcroft, Biggs, M Critchley and Young. The shifts were ever present once more and so strategy differed with a lot of the lead boats taking alternate routes up the beats and choosing sides once more on the runs, where a lot of places were gained and lost. On lap 2, Flitcroft and Critchley came flying down the run and broad reach to catch up Collins and all three were in a line coming down towards the bottom mark with a good tacking battle carrying on up the lake. Collins regained the lead though with T Critchley a constant threat until the finish line and Young in third place.

Race 3 saw the tightest at the front with Biggs getting into a nice bit of clean air out front with Collins, Critchleys, Young, Flitcroft all chasing. At the top mark however it was Collins who played the shifts to lead around the first mark with Biggs close behind. Downwind, Biggs cruised past Collins to take the lead coming around the island with T Critchley and Flitcroft fast approaching. A capsize by T Critchley downwind saw him retire meanwhile up front, Biggs had pulled a good lead on Collins as Young, Flitcroft and Platt approached with solid downwind speed. Rounding the bottom mark, Biggs and Collins split and crossed paths on each alternate tack having some laughs along the way. Coming around the island, Collins took advantage of some small lifts and shifts to take the lead narrowly from Biggs where he kept it until the finish with M Critchley finishing third. Further down the fleet Brown was sailing in spectacular form in his mark 1 securing 8th place.

So an excellent day's racing and while we all missed the social element of these occasions, those days will return, in the meantime we at Bolton Sailing Club would urge other clubs to work with associations, and governing bodies to run similar safe and enjoyable events.

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