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ILCA Midland Grand Prix at Midland Sailing Club sponsored by Sailingfast

by Mike Homer 21 May 19:09 BST 19 May 2024

Midland Sailing Club hosted the fourth round of the Midland ILCA Grand Prix Series, sponsored by Sailingfast and Sail Birmingham, at Edgbaston Reservoir located in the heart of Birmingham, with the promise of sunny weather, warm temperatures and a gentle force 3 breeze switching between North East to East North East.

With blue skies and the sun glistening off the water's surface, thirteen travellers and ten home club sailors eagerly rigged their boats in anticipation of a good days racing, aided by bacon baguettes and a mug of tea provided by the galley crew. Race Officer Paul Young gave a short, concise briefing reminding everyone to sort any problems out on the water! Thus allowing plenty of time to splash on the sun tan lotion and make final tweaks and checks to their boats before launching.

Race 1 - As the boats sailed downwind to the start line at the far end of the lake, it was clear that the wind was gusting over the dam wall at regular intervals and also shifting slightly, causing a few competitors to consider starting on port. However, as the start gun sounded, the wind had returned to a more favourable starboard approach with plenty of boats jostling for position, resulting in the individual recall signal to be sounded, with two boats pushing a little too hard. One, trying the risky port start returned, whilst the other continued and was informed of their misdemeanour at the finish.

Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet had settled into a long starboard tack with those starting near the committee boat thinking that the first mark of the course could be laid. Alex Homer (Midland SC) found a wind lane that suited him perfectly and with a little local knowledge managed to lay the mark in first place followed by John Ling (Bartley SC), Maria Hilbert (Midland SC) and Steve Thomas (Bartley SC).

Alex extended his lead over the next couple of legs before being overhauled as the wind filled in from behind as John sailed past holding on to his lead to the finish, whilst Alex battled with Steve, and Simon Hardiman (Bartley SC) for on the water placing. The chasing group was tightly bunched with some extremely close quarter sailing, where at one leeward mark rounding in particular calls for 'mark room' were heard before the inside boat was pushed onto the mark. Shouts of 'protest' followed but no turns were taken.

Some of the surrounding pack were disgruntled at the lack of self-policing, resulting in the infringing boat retiring at the end of the race as protest forms were dusted off. In the end, with corrected times calculated, John won with the ILCA 6 of George Fereday (Earlswood Lakes SC) second and Simon in third.

Lunch was served by Rachel and Dee to a ravenous and thirsty fleet who were tempted by the galley offering of ham and cheese or pulled pork baguettes with apple sauce accompanied by home-made coleslaw and salad, all enjoyed on the sunny balcony overlooking the reservoir. Meanwhile, the RO was keen to resolve the 'mark room' incident through arbitration to the satisfaction of all parties before the commencement of the two afternoon races.

Race 2 - As predicted, the wind moved to an east north easterly direction over lunch and a new course was set. The gusts were now slightly stronger as the air temperature was rising, offering a greater variation in wind strength, making for some entertaining moments at the windward marks as the gusts blew over the dam wall and defined clear wind streams across the water.

A clean start from a square line delivered a competitive first beat as most of the fleet sailed fully hiked up the left hand side of the reservoir. Excellent work from John ensured that he rounded first closely followed by Simon Limb (Nottingham SC) and Steve with a large group of boats hot on their heels. As John maintained his lead to the finish, Christina Statham (Attenborough SC) made some great calls as she fought her way up the order to finish second.

Meanwhile, the ILCA 6 of Andy Allan (Trimpley SC) made significant gains with some great boat positioning at the mark rounding's and finding clear wind on the beats and runs, allowing him to work his way into contention towards the end of the race to finish third.

Race 3 - RO Paul Young initially intended to repeat the same course for the third race, but following some discussion with the experienced safety boat crews it was decided that the prevailing wind had shifted back to the north east resulting in the setting of a third, simpler course. Another square start line allowed for an equal distribution of boats along its length and a second clean start for the day.

Alex managed to get his nose ahead and rounded in first place closely followed by Steve, John and leading youth sailor Jason Larner (Midland SC) who displayed some very impressive sailing throughout the day. A keenly fought tactical run downwind resulted in the leading four boats maintaining their position at the leeward mark, whilst the chasing pack closed the gap in the breeze. John managed to eke out a small lead on the next beat that he held, under pressure, to the finish whilst behind him positions changed constantly in a competitive chasing pack which included the two ILCA 6's of George and Andy.

This put them in contention for the top honours at the end of the race, following the application of corrected times. In the end, George beat Andy and John finished third.

As boats came off the water, the conversation highlighted how much everyone had enjoyed the fabulous sailing conditions, the courses and the competition. Once calculated, Vice Commodore Mark McKeever announced the overall results. Third went to Andy Allan from Trimpley SC, Second to George Fereday from Earlswood Lakes SC who also won first ILCA 6 sailor and first place went to ILCA 7 sailor John Ling from Bartley SC.

In addition to the top three positions, Christine Statham from Attenborough SC won first lady, Jason Larner won first youth and Midland sailor. First Junior went to Khiaan-Paul Schild and first ILCA 4 was won by Sophie Forbes, both of Midland SC.

In addition to the announcement of the results, Midland Sailing Club also held a raffle with prizes from the overall series sponsor Sailingfast, which included an ILCA 6mm mainsheet and drinks bottles. The event sponsor Sail Birmingham provided Helly Hansen salopettes and a neoprene impact top. The sail numbers of all the competing sailors were randomly drawn from the trophy giving everyone an equal chance of winning a prize, to the delight of those who were successful.

Special mention should go to three sailors who competed in an ILCA open meeting for the first time. Congratulations to Allison Blakeway from Trimpley SC, and to juniors Sophie Forbes and Khiaan-Paul Schild of Midland Sailing Club, all of whom reported that they had learnt plenty, enjoyed the whole experience and were prepared to give it another go!

Overall Results:

1stILCA 7John LingBartley SC11‑32
2ndILCA 6George FeredayEarlswood Lakes SC2‑713
3rdILCA 6Andy AllanTrimpley SCOCS325
4thILCA 7Christine StathamAttenborough SC62‑108
5thILCA 7Steve ThomasBartley SC‑4448
6thILCA 7Simon HardimanBartley SC3‑869
7thILCA 7Jason LarnerMidland SC‑106511
8thILCA 7Simon LimbNottingham SC‑145813
9thILCA 7Alex HomerMidland SC5‑12.5914
10thILCA 6Michael DalzielTrimpley SC‑129716
11thILCA 7Dean JungMidland SC8‑141220
12thILCA 6Phil DeeleyMidland SC912.5‑1421.5
13thILCA 7Maria HilbertMidland SC715‑1922
14thILCA 7Mike HomerMidland SC11‑191122
15thILCA 6Oliver RogersSouth Staffs SC‑16101323
16thILCA 7Oliver MasonMidland SC13‑161528
17thILCA 6Khiaan‑Paul SchildMidland SC‑18111829
18thILCA 7Rob ThorpMidland SC15‑171631
19thILCA 7David BurnhamAttenborough SC17‑201734
20thILCA 4Sophie ForbesMidland SC‑20182038
21stILCA 6Robyn TaylorTrimpley SC19‑212140
22ndILCA 6Alison BlakewayTrimpley SCDSQ222244
23rdILCA 4Jack OakleyDovey YCRETRETRET48

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