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Byte Open at Combs Sailing Club

by Richard Whitehouse 17 Sep 2021 10:54 BST 11-12 September 2021
Combs Byte Open © John Saunders

The joy of sailing! As the restrictions of the last 18 months ease, the enthusiasm for returning to our favourite sport was clear, with 19 boats entering the Combs two-day open meeting (two more than the Nationals!).

The wide appeal of the Byte was evident, with 9 of the entrants "girls" and 10 "boys", ranging in age from early teens to 60's and 70's.Three races were planned for each day but with a forecast of light winds on Saturday and almost no wind on Sunday, four races were achieved on Saturday. A north-westerly "breeze" varying between one and 10 mph and with large recurring dead spots produced a challenging start line, with wind shifts constantly changing the end bias and shallow water at the shore end of the line.

In the first race, an early contest between Rick Whitehouse and Louis Saunders (current National Champion) developed at the windward mark where Rick's attempt to clear the mark on starboard just ahead of Louis failed, resulting in penalty turns after the mark and Louis taking over the lead. Later in the race Rick regained the lead but on the last beat Rick tacked for the line too late and Louis regained first place, with Toby Banbrook (Bowmoor SC) third.

In the second race Bryn Abendstern (Todbrook SC) got an early lead which he extended over the first lap to give an easy victory, followed by Louis and then Toby. Rick made a poor start but made gains through the fleet during the race to finish fourth. The third race saw Rick raise his board and risk the shallow water to get a flying start at the (briefly) favoured starboard end of the line. Rick held onto first place throughout this race.

In the last race of the day, another starboard end start by Rick saw him take the lead for the first lap but poor decisions in the second lap saw Louis overtake and then Victoria Theaker pushed him into an unforced error at the windward mark, dropping him into third place. Louis held the lead with Victoria second, Rick third and Bryn in 4th. The end of the first day saw Louis in the overall lead, followed by Rick then Bryn and Toby.

The second day dawned with a mirror smooth lake. The first catpaws of wind appeared at 9 AM but with little further improvement, racing started at the planned 10 AM. Two races completed the series of six with one discard. Rick won the first race of the day, putting him back into contention, as a further win could give equal points with Louis and one extra first place. Louis was pushed back to third by Henry Bayliss, a laser radial sailor in a borrowed Byte, who had not competed on Saturday.

The final race was consequently a tense affair as both Rick and Louis got excellent starts with Rick following Louis round the first mark approximately 10 yards behind and with Henry next. Louis pulled away upwind but Rick closed downwind until, after three laps and approaching the final mark of the course, Rick gained an inside overlap more than three boat lengths from the mark. Louis manoeuvred and both sailed beyond the mark before turning in towards it, Rick losing the overlap, still outside three boat lengths. Louis then had the advantage rounding the mark but lost boat speed and Rick went round the outside, footing off slightly towards the shore and maintaining boat speed in a light wind. Tacking on to starboard for the finish line Rick was 10 yards to starboard of Louis and gained from a slightly stronger and more advantageous wind direction which took him to the finish just ahead of Louis.

A special trophy for the first Classic rig went to Harry Hillesdon.

Overall Results:

1st Rick Whitehouse (Combs SC)
2nd Louis Saunders (Combs SC)
3rd Bryn Abendstern (Todbrook SC)
4th & 1st Junior Toby Banbrook (Bowmoor SC)
5th & 1st Lady Victoria Theaker (Combs SC)
6th Eddy Reid (Glossop SC)
7th Alex Bowden (Combs SC)
8th Kate Fox-Davies (Combs SC)
9th Henry Bayliss (Todbrook SC)
10th Jenn Bennett (Combs SC)
11th Sam Fewings (Bowmoor SC)
12th Amanda Wild (Combs SC)
13th Jenny Hesketh (Combs SC)
14th Harry Hillesdon (Combs SC)
15th George Jacobs (Combs SC)
16th Maggie Futcher (Weston SC)
17th Rachel Mackinder (Netley SC)
18th Mark Jacobs (Combs SC)
19th Sue Sloan (Combs SC)

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