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Blaze Training and Open at Carsington Sailing Club

by Richard Botting 19 Apr 06:10 BST 13-14 April 2024
Blaze Training and Open at Carsington © Alfie Hawsworth

What the Blazes...?

14 intrepid sailors travelled to Carsington Sailing Club (well, 11 technically, if you exclude the home clubbers), nestling just south of the Peak District, for a duo-weekend of 1 day of training and 1 day of racing.

Many had pulled-in on the Friday evening, with one arriving well before with his double-stacker showing off both a Blaze, and a past stablemate, an ISO on board, en-route to Bassenthwaite.

Saturday, the morning of the training, got off to a stuttering start as we all found ourselves locked out of the club grounds until 8.30 as the keyholder took an unscheduled lie-in!

In the run-up to the weekend the Class had gone from the threat of no trainer, due to Adam Bowers' rescheduled hip replacement operation, to a very welcome 3 on the day, comprising a brace of Bowers - Adam and his brother Richard - and multi Blaze National Champion, Ben Harden. Adam was confined to shore so took the classroom duties while Ric conducted the water exercises with Ben nipping between sailors to give more Blaze-specific pointers.

With a forecast of strong wind in the afternoon, everyone was keen to get on the water early so the first session consisted of many practice starts with some short course racing thrown in. The training area was near the Southern dam wall, which provided challenging conditions against an awkward southerly breeze gusting, veering and shifting throughout.

During lunch, the video debrief was conducted, exposing the start bandits, the "Oh, $@&%" moments and of course, the excellent boat handling skills we all demonstrated...

Session 2 was similar to session 1 but added a leg to the course, chucking some gybes in for good measure. As the wind had built over lunch, we were all quite glad that the suggestion to move further away from the dam wall had been adopted. After another solid couple of hours putting in to practice the theory from the classroom it was back to the club for showers and further debrief.

Both the sessions highlighted who were going to be the ones to watch on race day, with local boy Will Gould, Scottish Londoner Doug Clow, and newcomer to the class, Cornish-based Alan Harris-Guerrero, all showing their credentials early on.

Adam and Ric generously stayed on, mopping up peoples queries and specifics before we all adjourned to the Carsington dining room for a fabulous steak pie dinner, generously laid on by the dedicated Carsington catering team.

Sunday, and race day dawned. The wind was mellow - a little too mellow for some - but we all knew the build was coming.

Race Officer (and weekend co-organiser), Alf, conducted the briefing and thankfully for the visitors had decided to remove the complication of competitors needing to know the club mark layout by opting to use 4 inflatable buoys and a Blaze-friendly trapezoid course. The club racing would also be run on this course with them going first for the morning's 2 races and Blazes first for the afternoon 2 races. Word was to order lunch from the well-stocked galley before going afloat, so Paninis, chips, giant Yorkshire puds filled with sausages and mash were duly ordered. (Not all for me of course;)). Class Rep, Andy Wilson, also informed the Blazers that the 5th placed finisher would be writing the report!

So, we all launched to find the race area conveniently where we had undertaken the training! The wind was just south of west and about 8mph. Alf had set a long beat and run with fairly short top and bottom reaches to complete the trapezoid. I must say though the reaching angles were spot on for the Blazes.

Race 1 got away cleanly on a nice long start line (courtesy of the club race numbers). It appeared that everyone was putting their training in to practice, getting clear lanes upwind with well-executed mark roundings. With the wind direction being the most unstable at Carsington, as ever, huge gains and losses could be made on the shifts and sometimes heading towards the island on the beat would be rewarded by a lovely lift.

Race 1 was won by Alan with Darin Wigg in second and Julian Owens in third. Local lad Will was uncharacteristically down in 9th so gave himself a stiff talking to!

Race 2, and the wind was up. Again, the Blaze fleet started after the club fleet so we watched with interest as they took to the beat. The course was pretty much unchanged but the building wind, up to 12-15mph by now made for interesting gybes for some.

Will Gould, battling with Doug Clow went on to win this race, his post R1 talk obviously having done some good.

Alan finished third, having recovered well from a nasty port/starboard incident approaching the windward mark.

In for lunch to enjoy the pre-ordered spread, which certainly delivered what it promised.

After lunch, the wind had increased, and Alf having tried to adjust the start line to square it off was thwarted by the shifty breeze and it seemed to get more biased. The ability to cross on starboard was very sketchy but it was game on for Race 3.

With the Blaze fleet starting first, there was no-one to follow. A port start would have been ideal but with the newly shortened start line it was never going to come off. Will managed to nail a port approach, tacking on to starboard under the fleet to cross the line at the pin and then jump on to port.

Your correspondent here managed to drop into irons with 30 seconds to go to the start but this allowed him to go straight on to port and fly up the first beat, going on to finish third behind Alan and Will in first and second respectively. With the wind up, and tired bodies, the attrition rate was starting to show. With a couple of non-starters and several Blazes retiring, opting instead for a warm early shower, we were down to 10 boats for Race 4.

Race 4 - a similar story to race 3 but it seemed that the competing boats became strung out quite quickly. Will and Alan again in close battle but Alan came through to take the win, and collecting 3 bullets from the 4 races, had won the day.

The prize-giving rounded out the day. Carsington Sailing Club were thanked for their warmth, hospitality and hosting generosity throughout the weekend and the Blaze Class happy to pledge to return in the future.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoBoat NameClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1stAlan Harris‑Guerrero848Sail Shape 1‑3113
2ndWill Gould869 Carsington SC‑91225
3rdDouglas Clow777 Island Barn Res. SC42‑639
4thJulian Owens870Blue WhalePembrokeshire YC3‑74411
5thRichard Botting862 Draycote Water‑843613
6thAndy Wilson811LeviathanIsland Barn Res. SC12(RET)5522
7thNeil Smith830 Manor Park SC55RET(DNC)23
8thOllie Williams621Across the pond 6‑117RET24
9thlan Kelly780  ‑10610824
10thMarcus Flint822Spirit ‑1199725
11thDarin Wigg872 Leigh on Solent SC28(DNC)DNC26
12thBob Ladell773 KGSC7‑128RET26
13thAndrew Maughan859 Carsington SC1310(DNC)DNC39
14thTheo Holmes606Blaze of GloryCarsington SC1413RET(DNC)40

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