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Craftinsure 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Byte Inland National Championship at Bowmoor Sailing Club

by Rick Whitehouse 4 Oct 09:33 BST 25-26 September 2021
A dramatic sky for the Byte Inlands at Bowmoor © David Fewings

The last event in the Byte class annual calendar is the Inland Championships, hosted by Bowmoor SC. Being late in each season, no event took place the previous year, due, unsurprisingly, to the "Covid lockdown of 2020".

Even this year, after over a year of the pandemic and despite widespread vaccination, at least four potential competitors were unable to attend due to illness and the current National Champion and the tipsters favourite, Louis Saunders, (Combs SC) was also absent. The buzz of hope and anticipation that this might have generated in the remaining 18 entrants was however muted by the weather, with a flat calm lake showing no suspicion of any air movement until well into Saturday afternoon. The race officer, John Banbrook was doggedly determined to get at least one race and after several hours postponement eventually enough wind was deemed to be present and racing started.

The light breeze had a distinct shift favouring the starboard tack close to the windward mark and so Rick Whitehouse and Victoria Theaker, both from Combs SC tried a starboard end start, whilst the rest of the fleet went for the initially slightly favoured port end. Despite the clear air this gave Rick and Victoria, neither the requisite wind strength nor the hoped for starboard tack shift at the windward mark materialized, leaving Rick and Victoria in mid-fleet rounding the first mark. Rick then started a campaign of attrition, picking off Bytes on every beat from a combination of attention to detail (sail trim, boat trim, tacking on every shift), 55 years of sailing experience and an uncanny ability to spot the place to be for the next bit of wind.

By the end of the race Rick was in close contention with Charlotte Hitchmough (Bowmoor SC) for the lead. Overtaking Charlotte on the beat to the penultimate mark of the race, the following reach was closely fought, with Charlotte going up to windward and gaining an overlap in the hope of getting room at the last mark. Rick took Charlotte further up to windward out-with the zone, and both boats then bore away with Rick rounding the mark on the inside. With a manoeuvre reminiscent of the similar last mark rounding in the Combs open meeting three weeks earlier (where Rick went round the outside of Louis), Charlotte footed off slightly and started gaining ground towards the finish line. Charlottes line however took her into the committee boat short of the finish, forcing her to tack onto starboard under Rick, who delayed tacking to the last fraction of a second and crossed the line inches ahead. Zoe Bazen (Bowmoor SC) was a close third.

A second race was squeezed in, back to back with the first. Having learned their lesson from the first race, Rick and Victoria made more conventional starts, Rick tacked across the course on a wind shift and rounded the first mark in the lead, with Toby Banbrook (Bowmoor SC) close behind, then Victoria. Rick maintained his lead to the finish, Toby second and Victoria third. A barbeque and bar then took precedence over any further racing that day.

Sunday started with the predicted stronger breeze, which strengthened over the course of the day. Race three saw Rick and Zoe take a long starboard tack leg out to the port side of the beat and the potentially risky port tack back to the windward mark saw them clear ahead of the rest of the fleet. Duncan Glenn (Spinnaker SC) rounded third. Despite initially pulling clear, Rick had repeated issues with weed on his foils, dropping him back to third place with Zoe winning the race and Duncan second.

The fourth race saw Rick again suffer from weed, losing the lead to Duncan, who held it to the finish. Zoe had taken a penalty at the start and did not manage to catch the leaders, finishing 7th and this result took her out of contention for first place, despite winning the 5th and final race.

This last race of the event saw Ryan Bush (Bristol Corinthians SC) join the leaders and take second place. Rick finished this race 6th, but had enough to hold onto first overall. Duncan took second and Zoe third. Toby, having retired from the third race, held third place in the fourth and fifth races, giving him 4th overall and first junior.

Several young sailors, Ollie Poxton, Martin Carr and Monty Heathcote from Bowmoor SC were new to the Byte and Angie Vale (Alton Water SC) at her first Byte open meeting all enjoyed their first taste of open meeting racing. Martin won the wooden spoon for completing all the races.

With nine ladies and nine gents, the youngest 13 and with six under 18 and five over 50, the wide appeal of this boat is evident.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st3693Rick WhitehouseCombs SC1132‑67
2nd3298Duncan GlennSpinnaker SC‑5421411
3rd3588Zoe BazenBowmoor SC3‑917112
4th3559Toby BanbrookBowmoor SC62(DNF)3314
5th3581Ryan BushBristol Corinthian‑7646218
6th3703Emma RobertsonSwarkestone SC4‑774520
7th3616Charlotte HitchmoughBowmoor SC2‑885722
8th3716Victoria TheakerCombs SC‑9358824
9th2950Kirsten GlennSpinnaker SC8‑1069932
10th356Sam FewingsBowmoor SC‑11511111138
11th3577Rachel MackinderNetley SC‑12119121042
12th2956Esther HeathcoteBowmoor SC10121010‑1342
13th3565Clare MachWeston SC15‑1712151254
14th3713Olly PoxonBowmoor SC1313‑15131554
15th493Julius MachNetley SC17‑1813141458
16th3620Angie ValeAlton Water SC14‑1614161660
17th3613Martin CarrBowmoor SC161416‑171763
18th1496Monty HeathcoteBowmoor SC1815(DNS)DNSDNS71

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