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GP14 Southern Travellers Series Round 3 at Maylandsea Bay Sailing Club

by Matt Hall 17 May 09:23 BST 11 May 2024

The third round of the GP14 Southern Travellers series was hosted by Maylandsea Bay Sailing Club on May 11, 2024. Relatively new to the GP14 southern circuit, the venue has become a firm favourite, and once again delivered fantastic racing, fine weather, beautiful scenery and excellent hospitality.

Undeterred by theM25 closures, nine visitors from Papercourt, Welsh Harp and Frensham Pond made the journey to deepest Essex where they joined by two local boats to complete the fleet. A mid-afternoon high-tide provided plenty of time for rigging, admiring last year's champion's brand new boat, and a necessarily extremely detailed briefing. By 1:15pm enough water had arrived and the real fun began.

Race 1 began in Lawling Creek with the start line laid a short distance from the club slipway. Successfully, for the most part, avoiding the shallows the fleet got away cleanly and set off into the wind and tide towards the river Blackwater. The 2 Frensham boats of Paul Trubridge and Matt Hall and Tony Perkins/John McGuinness, led initially, gratefully taking advantage of an uncharacteristic navigational error by the reigning champions, (Maurice and Romek), missed the second mark. As the race progressed up the creek ground was gained and lost, generally by being in the right or the wrong place relative to the tide. By the time the first boats emerged into the main river, Tony and John were leading, closely pursued by James Ward and Richard Whitehill who had found a way passed Paul and Matt. Out in more open water James and Richard moved into first place on a close Spinnaker reach and held the lead on in the final run to take the win ahead of the 2 Frensham boats. Maurice and Romek took what would prove to be a very significant 4th place following an impressive recovery, from their earlier error. Tomek and Charlie completed the top 5, but had sustained some hull damage following a meeting with the inaptly named Doctor buoy.

For Race 2, the race team set a traditional triangle-sausage course in open water opposite Orsea Island. The fleet got away first time and close racing ensued with conditions rewarding hard work (both physical and mental). Again, the Frensham boats got away well with Tony and John first to the windward mark in front of Paul and Matt. But this time Steeve Cooper and Liz Guest were in hot pursuit and had moved into second place by the leeward mark. Tony held on to the lead in the second beat, and again on the run, but now Steve had the bit between his teeth, and eventually overhauled Tony to take the win. Matt and Paul followed in third, with James and Richard in fourth and Sue Tomkins and Yossi in 5th.

Time and tide waits for no man (or woman), and this is particularly true at Maylandsea Sailing Club, where getting timings wrong can prove an extremely muddy mistake. And so Race 3 was essentially a race to get back to the bar whilst there was still enough water to reach the slipway. This said, with 5 boats all with a mathematical chance of overall victory and a 2 further in contention for a podium finish the situation was tense, and the general recall following the first start was perhaps predictable. Tidal constraints forced the unfurling of the black flag and, with the second attempt, the race was on, for everyone except Paul and Matt, who decided to give the rest of the fleet a head start by hitting the committee boat. Back to infamous Doctor buoy for one last, cautious, visit, the fleet then hoisted spinnakers and headed back towards Lawling Creek, with Steve and Liz leading and looking increasingly difficult to beat. With wind dropping and tide ebbing, things began to get quite interesting in the creek, Steve and Liz were largely untroubled at front, but behind them positions were swapping regularly. By the finish Maurice and Romek had snuck into second place, with James and Richard in third. Sue and Yossi took fourth and Tony and John came in fifth.

With their win in Race 3, Steve and Liz secured overall first place. James and Richard taking second on countback ahead of Tony and John. Countback also spilt 4th and 5th with Maurice and Romek edging ahead of Paul and Matt.

Following the prize-giving MBSC laid on an excellent meal after which the visitors somewhat reluctantly set off for home, and the locals stayed on for a barn dance. Thanks again to MBSC for hosting a memorable event. The series now moves back inland to South Cerney on 23rd May with the prospect of more close and competitive racing.

Overall Results:

1st Steve Cooper and Liz Guest
2nd James Ward and Richard Whitehall
3rd Tony Perkins and John McGuinness
4th Maurice Cleal and Romel Kowalewski
5th Paul Trubridge and Matt Hall
6th Sue Tomkins and Yossi
7th Tomasz Szakola and Charlie Cotter
8th Jamie Isles and Caro Mitchell
9th Vicky and Richard Broomfield
10th Stephen Bethel and Guy Harden
11th Dean Saxton and Mark Harman

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