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Lark Open at Banbury Sailing Club

by Stuart Allen 28 Jun 2021 16:44 BST 26 June 2021

What a great experience to get back to sailing open meetings and welcoming guests from across the UK! Banbury Sailing Club hosted the annual Midlands shift-fest and the racing was excellent.

The Race Officer, Tim Matthews, had his work cut out for a number of reasons, not least the shifty Easterly that was building to a fine breeze throughout the day. The over-worked duty crew continually moved the marks around to make the best of the conditions and were rewarded with good spectator seats and cakes to finish the day; a big thank you to them all.

Racing was close throughout the fleet, not dissimilar to a game of snakes and ladders which kept everyone on their toes. In the first two races Steve Cumley & Eluned Stewart gave a masterclass in sniggly sailing and great boat speed to take two bullets from Samuel Bailey & Laura Burch. The remaining fleet was propped up by respective third and fourths from Jonny Coate & Kate Phillips, swapping places on the race course with Stuart & Julia Allen for race one and two. Neil & Sue Firth took a few ladders up to the front and got their fair share of snakes to drop out of the top spots. Meanwhile, Nigel & Fiona Denchfield rolled the dice with Tony Hotchkiss & Kimmy Dooner and Andy & Toby Ward; all of which had good starts and made good ground throughout the races only to be thwarted by the tricky conditions.

The afternoon was slightly windier, although it remained shifty and tricky to manage. Most teams had a few opportunities at or near the front until a cruel lull or nasty shift sent them back down the twisting snake tail. In race three, Samuel & Laura battled with Jonny & Kate for first place, while Neil & Sue showed good pace to give Steve & Eluned a tight battle for third, only to be overhauled on the final lap. Stu & Jules took fifth while Tony & Kimmy, who were having a good afternoon, got the better of Nigel & Fiona.

That left everything to play for in race four. The decider was between Steve & Eluned and Samuel & Laura, with Jonny & Kate still able to mix things up. Samuel & Laura took an early lead, chased by Steve & Eluned. Jonny & Kate were snarled up with the rest of the fleet but showed good downwind speed to break free and ultimately sneak through into second ahead of Steve & Eluned. Meanwhile, there was a tight battle going on for fourth with many place changes. Master tacticians, Tony & Kimmy, ultimately found a sneaky ladder to snatch the place from Neil & Sue and Stu & Jules.

Overall, a good set of results for the top three with only a few points separating them. The Banbury Open winners, Samuel & Laura, showed great skill and tactics in some very tight racing, doing enough to pip master wind-sniffers Steve & Eluned. Jonny & Kate, new to Larks and loving the boat, were also worthy contenders for the top spot. A notable mention for Andy & Toby who, after a lunchtime chat and some boat tuning, showed improved boat speed, taking on the fleet with renewed vigour!

Our thanks to Banbury Sailing Club and all the volunteers who helped to make the event a great success. We look forward to hosting the Larks again in 2022!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameClubHelmCrewR1R2R3R4Pts
1st2468AriadneSouth Staffs SCSamuel BaileyLaura Burch(2)2114
2nd2496Nelly the ElephantNetley SCSteve CumleyEluned Stewart11(3)35
3rd2464Rocket RonnySouth Staffs SCJonny CoateKate Phillips3(4)227
4th2509Fluffy ThwartsBanbury SCStuart AllenJulia Allen435(6)12
5th2537Black VelvetBanbury SCNeil FirthSue Firth(5)54514
6th2532JezebelSouth Staffs SCTony HotchkissKimmy Dooner(7)76417
7th2459BuffyGrafham WaterNigel DenchfieldFiona Denchfield66(7)719
8th2481Thin Blue LineShustoke SCAndrew WardToby Ward(8)88824

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