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John Siggers Pursuit Race at Draycote Water Sailing Club

by Jeremy Atkins 5 May 07:20 BST 3 May 2021
A course covering most of the lake for the John Siggers Pursuit Race © Jeremy Atkins

The forecast was to be windy and get windier, and it did not disappoint! Racing was full-on as the OD set a course covering most of the lake, while the RYA training groups for Fevas, Toppers and Optimists filled any remaining spaces.

Draycote Water's usually open bank holiday pursuit race series is restricted to members only at the current time, but this and the forecast did not stop 30 boats signing on for the race. There were 15 different classes, with the most popular being the Laser Radial / ILCA 6, with a number of standard Laser sailors downsizing out of respect for the weather.

First off was the Feva of Luke & Ian Marshall, followed by the Solo of Jon Hughes. It was tough for the slower boats who were out the longest in the testing conditions. The Marshalls managed to stay the course along with 22 other boats, and all credit to them in the conditions.

An early contender was Millie Irish in her 420. Deprived of her usual crew for pursuit races, dad Steve, who was coaching the Optimists, she pulled in the expertise of multiple champion Dave Wade on the wire. They were going to be a combination who would be tough to beat.

But with about 10 minutes to go, the Flying Fifteen of Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett took the lead from them. Following rapidly was Ed Tuite-Dalton in his Sprint 15 and Richard Byne in a Contender. Would the Sprint 15 grab the lead in the dying minutes as he had done in the last (possibly even windier) pursuit race at Easter? No, the Flying 15 just managed to keep the lead. Not a boat one would normally link to success in extreme winds, but in Jeremy and Martin's hands it goes damn fast in any conditions. Uffa Fox would have been delighted!

The fairness of the Great Lakes handicaps was once again demonstrated by the fact that 11 different classes filled the first 11 places.

Soon we hope we will welcome visitors to this series again just as we are already welcoming many organised training groups. The way the Optimists, Toppers and Fevas trainees handled the conditions was particularly impressive - the coaching was obviously working!

Overall Results: (top five)

1st Flying 15, Jeremy Davy & Martin Huett
2nd Sprint 15, Ed Tuite-Dalton
3rd Contender, Richard Byne
4th 420, Millie Irish & Dave Wade
5th Fireball, Mike Deane & Paul Roe

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