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Vaikobi 2021 FlexForce - LEADERBOARD

Girton Sailing Club Miracle Puddleduck

by Tony Bleasedale & Bob Warriner 15 Jul 19:43 BST 10-11 July 2021

The weekend of 10th & 11th July 2021 saw the return of the annual 'Puddleduck Miracle Open', the first since 2019 when Covid-19 struck and disrupted everyone's sports calendar.

Probably due to a date clash with other events such as the Euros, Wimbledon, Tour de France, or more likely, the very light wind forecast that reduced entries to eight instead of the usual mid-teens. This event has now been running for around 35 years.

Despite the low numbers the Miracle crews enjoyed a pleasant dry weekend and good competition on the modestly sized picturesque waters of Girton SC in Nottinghamshire.

Saturday's first races began in extremely light shifty airs but away they went, under the supervision of Race Officer Tony Bleasedale assisted by Eddie Johnson. The RO reports that competitors were greeted with a challenging 2-6 knots of breeze, that intermittently died and returned with 180 degree 'under-cloud' shifts as the day went on. The race officials decided to trust the forecast and commence proceedings with a course set to take advantage of the prevailing, but fickle Southerly.

At the first start, just after 1:30pm, all boats got away cleanly. The small fleet were well spaced off the line and headed up the first beat in pursuit of the lead safety boat. Within minutes of the start the wind started to abate although the leader Wayne Atherton and Angela Sweeney in 4121 rounded the windward mark well within prescribed the time limit.

A wind strength measuring 1-2 knots at the lake surface and accompanied by up to 180 degree shifts (which appeared to coincide with the first boats completing each leg), this led to almost constantly under-powered beating on all legs. But although the racing conditions were tortuous the RO decided not to 'abandon' as the competitors had worked hard to navigate the course and the finish was currently downwind of the achieved fleet position. Luckily the prevailing Southerly returned in time to signal a shortened course at a penultimate windward mark, allowing some kite flying into the finish line.

Approximately 1.5 hours after the start, Wayne and Angela finished first with Tracey Amos and Gemma Gibson, sailing 3692, in second. Gerard and Frances Copsey, sailing 4120, took 3rd place with the rest of the fleet pretty close behind. As the breeze had apparently settled to the forecast, the agreed back-to-back start countdown commenced, albeit with a new course keeping the fleet in the main lake area in front of the clubhouse, an attempt to avoid further wind deviations as far as possible.

Wayne and Angela elected for a committee boat end start in hope that the leeward side of the lake would pay dividends. However, the wind died again within minutes of the start, and it was centre-line starters, Jon and Jessica Willars, in 3834, who led to the windward mark. The race ended as before with a shortened course flag hoisted and Jon and Jessica first, Tracey and Gemma second, Andrew Robinson and Hannah Mumford, sailing 4123, in 3rd. Wayne and Angela had worked hard to gain a 4th after their bad luck with the wind conditions at the start.

Sunday, Day 2 of the Girton SC Miracle Puddleduck, started well, with a better than forecast steady 10 knot Southerly with very occasional gusts and lulls. The RO reverted to the first day ideal prevailing wind course, and a lead boat was still provided. At a 10:30am briefing it was agreed by all registered sailors to run the day with three back-to-back races (in line with the provisions of the Sis) the aim being to maximise fair sailing within the forecast wind conditions.

At the 11am first race start, most got away cleanly, with just one overenthusiastic team, Graham Watts and Helen Jacks, sailing 4114, over the line and forced to return. Although there were place changes on the way, races 3 and 4 of the event had both consistent conditions, approximately 45 minute duration as agreed and identical performances with Wayne and Angela taking first, Tracy and Gemma second and Jon and Jessica third.

The final race, although technically a repeat of the previous two in terms of conditions and course, was slightly varied as Tracey and Gemma broke out and maintained a race long lead. The second day was enjoyed by all competitors, with close racing throughout the fleet.

Hope to see everyone back for another "Puddleduck" next year!

Overall Results:

1st Wayne Atherton & Angela Sweeney (4121)
2nd Tracy Amos & Gemma Gibson (3692)
3rd Jon & Jessica Willars (3834)
4th: Andy Robinson & Hannah Mumford (4123)
5th Graham Watts & Helen Jacks (4114)
6th Paul Robinson & Matt Gibson (4110)
7th Dave & Jean Reed (3725)
8th Gerard & Frances Copsey (4120)

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