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Medway Yacht Club Cruiser Autumn Series 2021

by Paul Smith 1 Dec 2021 10:17 GMT 24 October - 28 November 2021
Race 6 start during the Medway Yacht Club Cruiser Autumn Series 2021 © Paul Babington

The popular, season closing Autumn Series returned over six Sundays from 24th October to 28th November. After last year's event was curtailed after only two completed races by the imposition of Covid Lockdown a full series was sailed in 2021 and attracted a total of 22 entries including visitors from Greenwich and Ramsgate.

The racing class for boats rated using IRC was the most popular with 11 entries ranging from 25ft to 42ft giving the race officer a bit of a headache setting a suitable course for all boats. The two cruising classes were handicapped using the RYA's NHC system and were split by those flying spinnakers and those opting for a more leisurely race under white sails only.

The first two races were slated to be long distance races run from the Medway Yacht Club fixed line with the final 4 being shorter in river races run from a committee boat. As well as announcing courses over the radio they were also sent out to a Whatsapp group which seemed to be a popular way of passing on information.

24th October dawned with almost perfect sailing conditions with a steady breeze allowing classes 1 (IRC) and 2 (NHC with spinnaker) to race out into the Thames Estuary while the more cruising oriented boats in Class 3 (NHC White Sails only) stayed within the confines of the Medway Estuary. After a little under 3 hours racing the first boat to finish was "The Wizard" (Dehler 34 David Sussams and Tim Gorman) who managed to hold their time to win class 3. Some 15 minutes later the first boat in class1 finished, having sailed almost 10 miles further, being "Mercury" (Club Swan 42, Ross Eldred) who could not save his time on the smaller boats who were able to carry a building flood tide up the river Medway with the winner on corrected time being "Big Zipper" (Dehler 34 Clinton Lyons). Shortly after Class 1 finished the first boat in class 2, "Sulis" (Dehler 35 Roger and Julie Griffiths) finished after more than 4 hours but could not save their time on the chasing boats. The corrected time winner was "Petite Fleur" (Ecume de Mer Nigel Miller).

The conditions on 31st October could not have been worse with a gale blowing and horizontal rain. All of class 3 and most of class 2 decided that it was far better to stay at home although 7 boats in class 1 and one in class 2 braved the conditions. A short course within the confines of the Medway was set for both classes who started together at 9:30. Shortly after the start a gale force gust knocked a number of boats flat and 3 decided that it was not for them before the first corner of the river, leaving just 5 boats continuing. The retirements continued, including race 1 winner "Big Zipper" whose mainsail split. Only 2 boats finished, being "Reefer X" (X-99 Aaron and Paul Goodman-Simpson) who sailed part of the course under headsail alone, and won the race on corrected time from "X-Ray" (First 31.7 Andrew Baker) who used their storm jib for the first time.

For race 3 the Committee Boat "Doraway" was pressed into service and a reasonable westerly breeze allowed a start line to be set at the eastern end of Gillingham Reach with the first leg being towards buoy 30 before turning the fleets down river. A long run down river against the tide gave a big advantage to the boats with conventional symmetrical spinnakers as they could hug the side of the river and minimise the tide effect. Class 1 was won by "Big Zipper" sporting a brand new black mainsail with the diminutive "Hellaby" (Davidson Quarter Tonner Robbie Stewart) taking 2nd place. Class 2 was won by "Brigand" (Robber 3E Dick Owens and Keith Lennox) from "Petite Fleur". "Muskrat Ramble" (First 32S5 Bob Turk) won class 3 from "Freya" (Bavaria 34 Steve Smith).

Strangely for November, the conditions for race 4 on 14th were almost the same as the previous week enabling the committee boat to set a line at the eastern end of Gillingham Reach again using buoy 30 as the first windward mark. The wind was slightly lighter this week and these conditions benefited "Hellaby" who won class 1 from "Reefer X" in one of the closest races of the series with 4 boats finishing within a minute at one stage, keeping the race management team on their toes. In class 2 "Brigand" continued their winning ways from "Sulis" while in class 3 "Wizard" returned to the front from "Muskrat Ramble"

On 21st November the wind had veered to the North West and brought the cold temperatures with it. It also made it very difficult to set a good beat with the wind blowing across most of the river which was at its narrowest as the start time was just after low water. The committee boat set a line at the western end of Gillingham Reach and sent the fleet on a short first beat upriver to Buoy 30A before a series of reaches and short beats and fetches further down river before turning back to finish at the same line as was used for the start. The conditions should have benefited the larger boats but "Mercury" managed to park themselves on the mud by the entrance to Chatham Dock for about 10 minutes just after the start. Once they had freed themselves they managed to catch the rest of the fleet but finished only a few seconds ahead of "Mittens Revenge" (Far East 28 Andrew Peake) who had their best result of the series in 3rd on corrected time. First place went to "Reefer X" from "Zephros" (Dehler 34 Tim French Syndicate). In class 2 it was as you were at the top with "Brigand" winning from "Petite Fleur", while in class 3 it was "Wizard" winning from "Freya"

By 28th November winter had really arrived. Luckily the gales of the previous day had blown themselves out and a moderate WNW breeze allowed a course to be set from the Western end of Gillingham Reach to buoy 30A again before sending the fleet down river returning along "Long Reach" with a number of zig zags built in to the course giving short beats diagonally across the river. To make sure the fleet was back in time for the post series lunch and prize-giving the finish line was set upriver by the club house giving the competitors the chance to fight the shifts in "Heartbreak Reach" with the committee boat tied up to the club pontoon. Class 1 was won by "Reefer X" from "Big Zipper" giving them first and second places overall. "Brigand" won class 2 from "Sulis" meaning "Brigand" won overall from "Petite Fleur" who missed the last race. Class 3 was won by "Wizard" from "Freya" again meaning they finished in first and second places overall.

Overall Results:

PosBoatClassSail NoClubHelmIRCNewRatingR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
Class 1 Fleet
1stReefer XX‑99GER 4228Medway Y CAaron Goodman‑Simpson0.959 ‑21‑52115
2ndBig ZipperDehler 34GBR 3724TMedway Y CClinton Lyon0.913 1(RET)13‑427
3rdHellabyDavidson Quarter TonnerNZL 4320Medway Y CRobbie Stewart0.903 3(DNC)21‑539
4thMittens RevengeFar East 28251Medway Y CAndrew Peake155 ‑6(RET)443415
5thZephrosDehler 34GBR 9746RMedway Y CTim French0.914 (RET)(RET)352818
6thX‑RayFirst 31.7GBR 7317NMedway Y CAndrew Baker0.945 426‑76‑718
7thMercuryClub Swan 42GBR 962RMedway Y CRoss Eldred1.159 ‑8RET86‑9527
8thToucanFirst 31.7GBR 1598RMedway Y CJoe & Vanessa Bolton0.948 5(DNC)‑998628
9thThe WorksProjection 762GBR 7639RMedway Y CSimon Clegg0.947 7(RET)787‑929
10thNimbusFormula 28GBR 3230LGreenwich Y CTim Jeffrey0.904 (DNC)(DNC)1010101040
11thDaylight RobberyRobber Mk2GBR 6131Royal Temple YCAndrew Ketteringham0.894 (DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC48
Class 2 Fleet
1stBrigandRobber 3E420Medway Y CKeith Lennox & Richard Owens0.8490.877‑2(DNC)11114
2ndPetite FleurEcume de MerGBR 6500Medway Y CNigel Miller0.8110.8161RET2(RET)2(DNC)7
3rdSulisDehler 35GBR 7680Medway Y CRoger Griffiths0.9580.941‑3(DNC)323210
4thPochardHallberg Rassey 29K 3277TMedway Y CMalcom Crawford0.8590.843(DNC)(DNC)434DNC17
5thXephaMGRS34GBR 4566Medway Y CSimon O'Loughlin0.8830.883(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC24
Class 3 Fleet
1stThe WizardDehler 34GBR 6068TMedway Y CDH Sussams0.9340.9811(DNC)‑31114
2ndFreyaBavaria 34GBR 4397LMedway Y CSteve Smith0.940.92(DNC)(DNC)23229
3rdMuskrat RambleFirst 32S5GBR 9962Medway Y CBob Turk0.9190.9412(DNC)12(DNC)DNC12
4thSun TrekGK24GBRMedway Y CRoger Vine0.8530.8283(DNC)44(DNC)RET16
5thAurynDragonfly55Medway Y CPaul Cameron1.1551.128(DNC)(DNC)DNC53DNC22
6thIreneDufour 34D34Medway Y CSteve Treadwell0.960.96(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCRET26

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