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GJW Direct 2024 Dinghy

Les Fry Bowl and Easter Cup at Fishers Green Sailing Club

by Christian Hill 11 Apr 2023 21:07 BST 2-10 April 2023
Easter Egg Racing at Fishers Green © Angie Meyer

A busy start to spring at Fishers Green Sailing Club, with two weekends of competitive club racing and some even more competitive egg and spoon racing. Sunday 2nd April saw the first club championship race of the year, the Les Fry Bowl, with 20 plus boats joining the start line.

We would have had one more racer if, after weeks of boat bimbling, early favourite Graham Sexton hadn't somehow managed to pull his main halyard through the mast on his Solo! Club legend Steve Conroy covered RO duties giving us a great course to most of the marks on the lake. Whilst not exactly Merlin crew friendly (with lots of hoists, drops and handbrake gybes to contend with), competitors did have a nice Force 2 to work with.

For Race 1 Christian Hill & Claudia Mancini (Merlin Rocket 3607) and Matteo Mancini (Laser Radial 202093) got away from the line cleanly, leaving the rest of the fleet to deal with what can only be described as the carnage of Graham Webb & Bill Noakes (Merlin Rocket 3506) having their rudder come off just after the start. Lots of shouting and ducking for cover followed - true club racing at its best.

As ever the FGSC Solo fleet turned out in force, along with a very competitive Laser Radial fleet. With the mid-fleet so congested, clear air and mark room were in short supply yet Matteo in his Laser managed to steer clear of this and took the victory on corrected time. Second place went to Christian & Claudia and third place to dynamic father and daughter team Jon & Annabel Steward (Merlin Rocket 3770).

For Race 2 both Merlin teams managed to get away quickly and proceeded to battle each other around the race track, taking care not to slow each other down too much knowing that getting distance on the chasing pack was far more important. Next, leading the single hander pack was Blake Newman (Aero 3600) and mid-fleet tactics were in full force to maintain the advantage.

In the end it was the slick well-oiled machine of Jon & Annabel (Merlin), who nailed the handbrake gybes and avoided the shallows on the exit, who took 1st, followed by Blake (Aero 6) who separated the Merlins in second, and Christian & Claudia (Merlin) third.

Race 3 and it was all to play for. With a tweak to the course, would this suit the Merlins?

After a fantastic clean start Christian & Claudia led at the 1st mark, with Godfrey Clark (Solo 4801) and Graham Sexton (Solo 5564) noticeably closer to the front of the pack also. Jon & Annabel hit the front and stretched the lead on glorious down-wind leg, leaving Christian & Claudia desperately hanging onto their coattails and needing a good slice of fortune to get back into it.

Then, totally out of character, a poor gybe and a spinnaker entanglement allowed Christian & Claudia mark room, a short blast to the line, and Christian & Claudia took line honours and victory on corrected time from Godfrey Clark, third Jon & Annabel, fourth Mo Allen (Laser Radial).

Unfortunately my report doesn't do the racing throughout the fleet any justice - it was simply breath-taking, with battles all over the course, and great club racing,

Overall results:

1st Merlin 3607, Christian & Claudia
2nd Merlin 3770, Jon/Annabel
3rd Solo 4801, Godfrey Clark
4th Laser Radial, Matteo Mancini
5th Aero 6, Blake Newman

Sunday 9th - Easter cup

A glorious sunny day with a gentle but shifty breeze, 16 boats managed to get three races in before the family roast dinner deadlines.

Paul Durbin carried out RO duties along with club stalwart Ken Daniels, and racers took to the track with a belly full of hot cross buns, a fantastic pre race fuel.

Race 1 saw Jasper Barnham/Graham Sexton in a borrowed vintage Merlin (1742) win the start and sail off into the distance, leaving Jon Steward/Annabel Steward in their pimped up vintage Merlin "Bad Dog" (3232) to give chase until Jon missed the toestraps and went for a swim.

Then came a large pack of solos, with Nick Pighills (5429) and Godfrey Clark (4801) leading the charge, and Pete Dean (Laser Radial) also in the mix. Line honours and corrected time victory went to Jasper & Graham, in place 2nd Godfrey Clark (Solo), and 3rd position Nick Pighills (Solo).

Next up Race 2, and a little tweak to the course but the same result as Jasper/Graham took the lead comfortably, followed closely by Jon & Annabel. It was however a day of big shifts and snake and ladders, and Jon & Annabel were overtaken by Christian Hill & Cuneyd racing in style in another vintage Merlin (2997). In the end though it was still the solos making the best of the changeable conditions, and Nick Pighills narrowly passed Godfrey Clark on the last beat to the line.

Race 3, with the prize of Easter eggs already in the bag, Jasper/Graham let the rest of the fleet have a go at claiming top spot. A simple triangle course to end the day's racing, vintage Merlin Christian & Cuneyd (2997) led the way on the water followed by the Solos of Nick and Godfrey who were easily winning on corrected time. Unfortunately Christian & Cuneyd failed to count the laps (!) which allowed Jon & Annabel to win on the water and gave Nick P the win from Godfrey on corrected time.

The fleet returned to shore for Easter eggs and hot cross buns and the proper competition got started, the egg and spoon race! I'm not sure who won, I believe it's gone to a Steward's enquiry?

It was a day of firsts in many respects, with the club's first general recall of the year (and possibly of this decade?), new comers Angie & Daisy (Feva XL); Hannah (Laser Radial) Cuneyd (Merlin Rocket) and Sue Coulter (Merlin Rocket) having a crack at their first Easter cup race and Nick P taking home his first Easter Cup trophy,

Overall results:

1st Vintage Merlin 1742, Jasper/Graham
2nd Solo 5249, Nick Pighills (1st FGSC boat)
3rd Solo 4801, Godfrey Clark

Thanks to all those involved over the last two weekends. A great effort by all and what a great start to the season.

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