However, with the fleet having made their way through Brightlingsea harbour, the race committee, led by the formidable Dave Charlton, managed to put on five great races over the weekend in not the easiest of conditions.
The first race started cleanly, and Sam Watson and Henry Collinson made their intentions for the weekend clear with a solid first from the outset, followed by Jack Hawkins and Christopher Thomas, with David Conlon and Fin Anderson just sneaking in front of Alex Mothersele and Hamish Ellis for third. As the wind built ever so slightly for the next race, the fleet again got away cleanly and Ian Payne and Chris Berry were a solid few boat lengths in front at the windward mark, which they refused to let go of for the rest of the race. Alex and Hamish decided to assert themselves a bit more in this race, and took the second, and with Sam and Henry following them with a third, they set up what was to be an intense battle at the top between these two light-winds geniuses. A strange bit of sailing by David and Fin meant that they did not endear themselves to Alex and Hamish on the last lap of the final race of the day, choosing to gybe off at the top mark, whilst solidly between Alex at the front of the fleet, and Sam who was just behind us. This let Sam close the gap and got a crucial extra point, leaving him tied on points (if counting a discard) with Alex, while David and Fin were left kicking themselves all the way to the line, taking third.
So at the end of the first day Sam/Henry and Alex/Hamish were battling it out for the top two spots, David and Fin were slotted in nicely behind them with Ian Payne and Chris Berry still looking potentially dangerous in fourth, with Lilly Carlisle and Ben Gratton showing a decent and consistent bit of sailing to take fifth.
For various reasons a number of the fleet were not feeling too fresh on Sunday morning so the 4 knot zephyr that greeted the fleet at the club was perhaps welcome. They slowly made their way out to the race area, where the wind had clocked 90 degrees. Mothersele, switched-on as ever, looked pretty confident to be taking the first race, with Sam and Henry not too far behind, and their nearest competition, David and Fin somewhere around 11th or 12th. So it looked as though the top two were going to fight it out all the way to the finish, leaving the rest to scrap it out for third. Conlon, unfortunately, was not happy with this. Taking advantage of his local knowledge and a relatively decent downwind leg, he tacked off immediately on to port for the final race, and, knowing the tide as he does, overlaid the mark massively, so that as the wind died off to almost nothing, he was able to sail swift and loose, needing only one short tack to get round the top mark. Thanks to Alex’s calling the tack slightly too early, David and Fin squeezed around in first, gybed round into the tide, and cruised down on a gust with Alex and Hamish just behind. Ollie Cooper and James Poyner showed themselves pretty savvy in these conditions, no doubt thanks to their Hayling roots, taking third, with Sam and Henry in the pack, needing a good next race to challenge for the overall win.
This they got, despite having to wait a good hour and a half for the breeze to fill in again. The start for the fifth (and, as it turned out, final) race of the day was a bit of a melee, with a number of boats OCS, most of which went back. Conlon/Anderson, with a bit of a points gap behind them, decided to hope for the best and go for a win to challenge for the top. This turned out to be quite a bad idea. Going around the bottom mark in front of the fleet at the same time as Joan ‘cool-as-ever’ Furness and Will Carlisle, Conlon and Anderson didn’t have a massive amount of room, so heeled the boat over to lift the gunwale over the buoy. Unfortunately, they heeled it a bit too far, and proceeded to capsize, in all of 3-5 knots of breeze, in front of the whole rest of the fleet (they soon discovered they were OCS anyway). Joan was not perturbed, and sailed off into the distance, with Sam and Henry not too far behind her, but Alex and Hamish a little way into the pack.
That left the regatta as Sam and Henry’s to win, as they were counting a third, rather than Alex and Hamish’s fourth. They pursued Joan all the way to the finish; Joan, despite Sam’s efforts to snatch the win at the pin end of the line, never looking as though she was worried in the slightest, calmly claiming the win. However, Sam’s second meant that with the last race having to be cancelled, despite the race officer’s best efforts, due to a lack of breeze, they had won the event after sailing a beautifully consistent weekend, only once dropping outside the top three. Alex and Hamish deservedly took the second, with David and Fin on third, despite their catastrophic last race; Lilly and Ben took fourth just ahead of Ollie and James in fifth.
Everyone thanked BSC for putting on a great weekend, and thanks as ever to Harken for continuing to sponsor the series.