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Lark resurrection at the Waldringfield Sailing Club Centenary Regatta

by Daniel Watson 29 Jun 2021 17:37 BST

Thirteen Larks descended on Waldringfield Sailing Club to celebrate the club's 100 years of existence. This happened to be the largest turn-out of Larks at Waldringfield after some lean years. But the Larks are back!

An eclectic mix of stalwarts of the club's Waldringfield Lark scene, combined with returning old hands, a couple of visitors, and flourishing new sailors (who are joining the club in abundance) competed over the weekend.

With the Lark dinghy proving a very attractive option for new sailors, with its economic entry point into the world of competitive and fun dinghy sailing, the weekend kicked off with a specially-arranged tutorial session run by local sailing legend, Gordon Harris, who instilled his knowledge and years of experience, to advise the new guys on how to keep onto the coattails of the plethora of ex-National champions ahead of them. The session proved to be successful as the new guys showed marked improvements during the regatta, over all areas of the race course and conditions.

The weekend's racing kicked off with the traditional Birketts Trophy handicap race, held on Friday evening. In the very light, almost impossible conditions Alan Krailing/Cara Bland poked the nose of their Lark ahead of all competitors to take line honours, only to be pipped on corrected time by Robert Deaves (official Lark Nationals Photographer) in his OK dinghy. Chris Fish wisely chose his lightweight family crew, in the shape of his daughter Rosemary, who celebrated her ninth birthday by coming fourth overall in the fast handicap fleet.

With traditions of the now extinct Deben Week being successfully transported into the regatta's programme, Saturday dawned with a whole host of beach games and races competitively fought on the shores of the River Deben, in warm Suffolk summer sunshine. Notable mentions include joint winners of the fancy dress, as the judges could not split the two entrants dressed as tea-party cupcakes! One Lark Sailor, and writer of this report, comprehensively won the SUP sprint race, casting aside all competitors with a voluminous wake. The crabbing competition was won by family of ex-National champion crew: MJ Gifford supported by daughter Daisy and son Eddy catching a whopping 135 crabs in the allotted 1-hour time.

On the water, two back-to-back races were held on both Saturday and Sunday, but conditions between the two days could not have been more different. Sunny and calm on Saturday; blowing up to a Force 4-5 on Sunday so providing a test for those returning sailors after their time away.

Saturday's races were located down river, focused around the Galleons Hard, with the first race offering the chance to go behind Waldringfield's famous Island. Harry Pynn and wife Gemma Cook, who recently claimed second in the National Championships at Rock, continued their excellent form by taking two bullets.

The race was not without controversy, as Alan Krailing & Cara Bland were OCS in the first race, with others looking to be up with them on the start. The mid fleet had no less of a competitive element with Andrew (DrewMan) James sailing with wife Abagail, King Crow Geoff Sinton sailing with visitor Helen Chatten and Glenn Enkel & Sara Cox-Olliff showing great bursts of boat speed and tactical ability to weave their way through numerous fleet sailors out on the water, varying from Cadets to Squibs, not forgetting Lasers, Toppers, Wayfarers, RS200s and Shrimpers to name a few classes enjoying the balmy Suffolk sunshine.

Sunday promised more of the same, but the weather gods had other ideas, as the wind swung to the west and provided PRO Richard Woolf, an ex-Lark owner himself, a challenge to host the racing for 80+ boats with the wind blowing across river. He duly set a fantastic course, up river in the Tips area, which included all points of sailing whether that was the original plan or not!

Still the fleet came away from the race course with beaming smiles from ear to ear, except maybe Harry Pynn & Gemma Cook, who having held a convincing overnight lead, lost out to Matt White & Marion Enkel, with final standings being settled by countback after both teams finished on equal points.

And, maybe Alan Krailing wasn't smiling after posting only one race result after another OCS and broken mainsheet... oh and Chris Fish wasn't overly happy after his unfortunate tiller extension breakage following a disagreement with the side deck... but absolutely everyone else was smiling especially as the sun came out for the club's Centenary Sail Past that took place after racing and included numerous dinghies, yachts and keelboats that regularly and occasionally sail at the club. The RNLI and the local vicar were also in attendance, in preparation for the evening's traditional yachtsman's service.

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend was had by all, both on and off the water. The Lark still continues to prove how well suited it is to Waldringfield's restricted waters and with local boat builder, Simon Cox, now holding the class moulds for future Lark builds, the class is in good hands for development and sustainability of its original core values of fun and competitive sailing for all the family.

The class would like to thank the committee of Waldringfield Sailing Club for hosting an event that will truly and deservedly live long in the memory, despite the (now weakening) shadow of Covid. Other thanks go to Gemma Cook and Steve Cooney for arranging and compèring the shore events, to the host of volunteers that rallied around to make the event happen and to the local boatyard owner, Mark Barton, for kindly allowing the extra boats to be stored in his yard overnight, removing the need to drag them up to the club's car park. Thank you to you all.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelm NameCrew NameR1R2R3R4Pts
1st2471Matthew WhiteMarion Enkel2‑4114
2nd2520Harry PynnGemma Cook11‑224
3rd2494Christopher FishCathy Fish‑32338
4th2410Geoff SintonHelen Chatten4‑66515
5th2477Glenn EnkelSara Cox‑Olliff857(DNC)20
6th2341Andrew JamesAbigail Matthews579(RET)21
7th2541Simon CoxJemima Cox‑Olliff(DNC)DNC4422
8th2531Daniel WatsonKim Meredrew788(DNC)23
9th2502Steve ChattenEdd Mc Ardle6(UFD)5DNC25
10th2521Alan KrailingCara Bland(OCS)3UFDDNC31
11th2504John CrooksWilliam Ellis99(DNC)DNC32
12th2500Simon HanceJulia Batcholar1010(DNC)DNC34
13th250Philippe KerampranYanis Kerampran11(UFD)10DNC35

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