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Burton Blizzard 2023

by Adam Kenney & John Gay 18 Jan 10:54 GMT 14-15 January 2023

Burton Sailing Club brought in the new year by hosting the first of the Midlands Mini Series, The Burton Blizzard.

Dinghies (report by Adam Kenney)

29 boats rocked up on Saturday morning in conditions that has made the event live up to its name for the third year in a row. A strong, cold wind picked up just in time for the morning's pursuit race, and fleets of Phantoms, Merlins, 505s, and a bunch of other worthy Midlanders, waited patiently for their starting number to roll around before beginning their share of the 80-minute race.

George Crammond, in a Europe, led for an impressively long time, being chased down by Bird/Priddle in a 505 and Hope/Stewart in a fireball, who were the last two boats to start. As the faster boats chased down the slower, it became clear with 40minutes gone, that Merlin Rocket Champions, Gillard/Grey were on course to get their nose out front. Taking the lead nearly 20 minutes before the final whistle, Tom and Rach sat tight in first place, careful not to succumb to the day's vicious gusts and the arbitrary shifts that challenged even the most experienced of sailors. Second was Burton's own Duncan Adam's in a Phantom and taking bronze was Kev Hope and Andy Stewart's Fireball.

After a well-earned refuel, the first of 2 afternoon handicap races saw the wind pick back up and the rain fall. A period of 'Shakespearean' conditions took out a considerable number of the fleet and put the rescue teams through their paces. Those that made it round, holding on for dear life, secured themselves an extremely well-earned beer in the bar, and those that didn't drank away guilt free in the knowledge they'd at least had a go in what was, at times anyway, nightmare conditions.

In what has become a bit of a tradition in British sailing, Tom Gillard and Rachel Grey sat top of the leader board overnight with three bullets.

Sunday broke with slightly moderated conditions to tempt out the battered and bruised contestants of the previous day. Soon enough, however, the conditions likened themselves to the day before as the breeze built. A heavily biased start line meant Race 4 got under way under false pretences and a GR brought the fleet back for another go. The race-officer, rightly blaming everyone but himself, got things going again under a black flag. A simple triangle course saw Hope/Stewart take Race 4's honours, Gillard/Grey take second, and fellow Merlin Rocket Chris Martin and John Tailby take 3rd.

A twin-pole injury (we've all been there, right?), took Gillard/Grey out of the picture in Race 5. This, however, did not stop Merlin Rocket dominance! Chris Martin and John Tailby took the honours, Hope/Steward in 2nd and local boy Duncan Adams found his pursuit race pace and broke into 3rd. The fleet were all done by lunchtime and, after scoffing Burton's now famous fish-finger sandwiches, Gillard/Grey were crowned champions of the Burton Blizzard with an impressive 5 points over 5 races. Can you stop this pair? Have a go at the next instalment of the Midlands Mini-Series over at Notts County Sailing Club on 28/29th January. See you there.

Windsurfers (report by John Gay)

17 hardy competitors braved the conditions to take part in the windsurfing races at this year's Burton Blizzard, with a strong contingent from the RYA Midlands Regional Training Group that includes many young Burton windsurfers.

The entrants were looking forward to the strong winds that were forecast, and the weather on both days did not disappoint. Most chose to downsize to smaller sails than normal, with a few tough competitors managing to hang on to their usual 6.8 and 7.8 sails, Tian Zhang and Matthew Edward deserving special mention in this respect.

This year the windsurf races were completely separate to the dinghy races, with the respective race officers working well together to ensure an enjoyable format for all. Saturday's racing consisted of a downwind Slalom format, complete with "Le Mans" style beach starts in the full planing conditions. All 4 races were closely fought, with youth Amelia Gay leading at the end of day one, on equal points with adult Joe Faulkner. The rest of the fleet were hot on their heels, with some spectacular wipeouts along the way, which meant that staying upright was just as important as going fast.

The temperature dropped overnight for a colder day 2, which didn't deter our intrepid competitors, although the sun did actually make an appearance to brighten up the day. Day 2 started with a Course Race with a planing reach finish, which was won by Saturday's race officer Sam Birch, closely followed by Joe and Amelia. For the final race, the race team reverted to a Slalom format, which again included plenty of planing and even more sensational wipeouts. By the end of the event Joe managed to pull ahead of Amelia and finish first overall, with Matthew consolidating his well deserved third place.

Overall Results: (PDF format)

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