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Sunrise to Sunset event (S2S) 2023 at Leigh & Lowton Sailing Club

by Cathy Lunn 14 Jun 2023 20:26 BST 10 June 2023
Sunrise sees racing begin - Sunrise to Sunset event at Leigh & Lowton © LLSC

On Saturday 10th June 2023 Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club hosted the second of their Sunrise to Sunset races at Pennington Flash. Now destined to become a firm fixture in the clubs busy sailing calendar, the club played hosts to teams from two visiting sailing clubs.

Returning from their visit in 2022 were Combs and Toddbrook, bringing two GP14s and an Enterprise together with newcomers to the race, Midland Sailing Club, with an Enterprise. LLSC were fielding six boats with crews of a range of abilities and one Parents and Juniors team. The Northern Feva squad were also present with a mix of sailors from various local clubs, having to get to grips with the intricacies of symmetric spinnakers instead of the asymmetric spinnakers they are normally handling.

With the weather for the whole of the preceding week being generally fine, sunny and very warm, the prospects for the day were looking good. But with storm Oscar in close proximity to the UK by the end of the week, the Met Office forecast was predicting thunderstorms for the day but the timing of the start of these storms varied hugely from anytime from midday onwards! The race team were prepped to cover all eventualities!

So Friday evening saw visitors and club members pitching tents and setting up campervans on the club's recently landscaped camping area, undertaking last minute training and intense team talks for the strategy for the day ahead as well as participating in the BBQ provided by the club's galley and propping the bar up later on in the evening where, it is rumoured, shots were being drunk until the early hours.

Saturday morning saw people stirring around 03:30, starting to rig boats and the race team were setting up the course and starting equipment. The preparatory signal was sounded, well whistled, and the fleet pennant displayed at 04:35 and the fleet had a clear start at 04:40 as the sun just started to appear over the trees on the eastern shoreline.

The breeze was a beautiful 8 knots with the occasional gust of 12 knots coming through, from an ESE direction, exactly as forecast. This allowed a long beat up the length of the Flash, then a good run down most of the northern shore until arriving at the opposite end, where the fleet turned back upwind to pass through the lap gate in front of the clubhouse.

LLSC's Slimfast team with a trio of Budworth SC ringers added into the mix, led by Dave Exley took an early lead. They led the fleet around the first lap, taking the Sparrow's Fart prize for the Fastest First Lap by 38 seconds on corrected time ahead of Team Southwell in their Enterprise. These two boats were closely followed by team Toddbrook GP14 in third place. The first set of results posted at 06:00 showed that on the average corrected lap time there was 30 seconds between Slimfast and Southwell and only 7 seconds between Southwell and Toddbrook GP14!

Over the next few hours, these three teams battled it out with all three positions changing on a regular basis. By the time the Midday Madness race was ongoing, the lead seemed to have settled down in Slimfast's favour with Team Southwell just managing to hold off Toddbrook with the 13:00 positions showing less than two seconds on the corrected average lap time between the two of them.

At mid-afternoon, Toddbrook had managed to work themselves into second place and were now starting to reel in Slimfast with less than 15 seconds between them on the average lap times and by 16:00 hours, Slimfast's lead was only 8 seconds. The wind was dropping to about 5 knots and was moving around to a SE direction, with lots of shifts in the breeze. Team Southwell suffered a set-back when the forestay fitting on their boat came adrift meaning a hurried change of boat was implemented but this then put them out of touch with the two leaders.

The Ladies Race for the Pina Colada Trophy for the fastest first lap after 17:00 hours, sailed by an all-female crew went to Toddbrook GP14 with a lap that was 1 minute faster than the Leigh & Lowton Lovely Ladies Team, with the Feva Team in third and the Parents & Juniors fourth.

By this time storm clouds were definitely building on the horizon. The Met Office predicting thunderstorms for early evening with heavy rain to follow for about three hours. The Race Team began to make preparations for the possibility of race postponement in line with the amendment to the Sailing Instructions which had been issued before the event started, with a close eye on the current forecast and a lightning locator app.

By 19:00, and the start of the Masters' Race, the race team had set in motion the requirements for an early finish to the race and, with heavy clouds now overhead, lightning flickering around the lake, and lightning strikes being shown as occurring in Newton-Le-Willows, only a few miles away, the RO took the decision at 19:20 to shorten course and finish the race. With the race team using three safety craft to identify the finishing positions of each competitor around the course, the fleet made its way back to shore and boats began to be packed away.

About 30 minutes later, having had a few rumbles of thunder around, there was an enormous flash immediately followed by a loud thunderclap overhead and the pace of packing away accelerated somewhat. The heavy rain never really materialised but the breeze dropped, swung through 180 degrees and then disappeared.

The early finished allowed sailors to grab some well-earned sustenance and refreshment from the bar whilst final results were drafted ahead of the day's third and final protest hearing! The prize-giving followed shortly after led by the club's president Mike Barnes - who was the main mastermind behind the event - certainly to push for it be run after last year's success.

Prizes were awarded for all individual race within race laps, first Enterprise, a special trophy awarded by the GP association for the fastest 14th lap by a GP and overalls as below.

Mike also thanked all the competitors, support teams, race management team, the galley and the bar staff and all those who'd inputted to make the event a fantastic success. He did forget to thank Laura (his daughter) but corrected it only after she'd left the room!!

The bar remained open till the early hours of Sunday morning for those with the energy there was also late night Karaoke by the Toddbrook team albeit the guest beer had long since been drunk!

The club look forward to the event becoming a regular fixture in their calendar and for it to continue to grow - with Budworth SC already having sampled and enjoyed the event we hope they'll muster at least one team next year too alongside the established regulars.

DATE FOR YOUR DIARIES FOR NEXT YEAR - SATURDAY 8TH JUNE 2024

Special Prizes:

PrizeDescriptionWinning team
Sparrow’s FartFastest first lapLLSC Slimfast GP14
Cowboy timeFastest first lap after 10 to 10LLSC Slimfast GP14
Midday MadnessFastest first lap after 12LLSC Slimfast GP14
GP14 Association TrophyFastest 14th lap by a GP14LLSC Slimfast GP14
Cakes up for Tea timeFastest first lap after 15.30Toddbrook GP14
Pina Coldada raceFastest first lap sailed by an all female crew after 17Toddbrook GP14
Masters Race[not all teams completed lap but prize awarded to the LLSC team]

Overall Results (top 3):

PosClassClubTeam name
1STGP 14LLSCSlimfast
2NDGP14TODDBROOKToddbrook
3RDENTERPRISELLSCSouthwell

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