Banbury SC GP Open report 22nd June 2008
It seems that we can never get the weather quite right for the GP Open, last year we were struggling to make Force 1, this year we were sailing in winds averaging Force 6 with the highest recorded gust at a nearby weather station recorded at Force 7.
We all fully expected the wind to restrict the number of boats taking part, but on this occasion it was the Banbury boats that didn’t sail. Race 1 started with nine boats, six of whom were visitors, at least three boats capsized before the start, and my new helm for the day decided it was so much fun reaching across on the plane, he forgot to listen for the guns and when we passed the committee boat with just the class flag flying (indicating one minute left) we were going so fast it was difficult to turn back.
Three boats crossed the start line on time, followed by the other six when they got their boats under control; by the end of the first lap 14003 helmed by Matthew Thursfield from Chelmarsh was leading. Tim Foden and Howard Collerson had returned to shore without completing a lap, by the end of lap one 13932 helmed by Tim Matthews from Banbury with Chris Moody standing in for his normal crew had retired after capsize, along with 13816 helmed by Steve Ellison from Aldridge. By the end of lap two only two boats remained: Paul Leavers in 13709 with his crew Nigel Spurr, and Banbury’s own David Bolton-King with yours truly as his stand in crew.
At the end of lap three the Race Officer took pity on us and finished the race after just 53 minutes. I have never been so pleased to see Flag S flying from the RCB.
After some discussion Race Two was set to start at 1.30, as we sat on the pontoon rigging a squally wind passed through and many left their boats and stood on the Pontoon. With some discussion of postponement, Paul Leavers and Nigel Spurr left the pontoon to show us how it was done, the competitive spirit took over and others followed. David Bolton-King and I paid more attention to the start and led the fleet through the first three marks, hit by a nasty header at the north end of the lake, and with a relatively inexperienced crew, David decided against tacking where Paul Leavers with his regular and more experienced crew tacked through the headers and eased up on the mark in front of David. Another two gruelling laps saw everyone else retire or capsize, and once again it seemed that the battle would be between David and Paul. As David rounded Mark 1 in the south west corner of the lake, bearing away and trying to keep the boat well trimmed a gust blew through and knocked him (and I) into the water. As ever at Banbury the mast was soon in the mud, combined with my sheer exhaustion, we were forced to retire leaving Paul to sail to a clear victory.
The Race team abandoned Race three after discussion, no boat had avoided capsize, and the rescue boat crews were as exhausted as the sailors.
The final results were difficult to calculate as it ended up with a number of boats on equal points for third place, so after discussion with the Race Officer and the area representative, the third place prize was awarded to Matthew Thursfield and Sally Fowler from Chelmarsh for completing the most number of laps before retiring, Second place went to David Bolton King and Ian Davies, First Place went to the only boat to complete both races, Paul Leavers and Nigel Spurr – many congratulations to them, and my personal thanks to all who came and made this one of the most exciting opens I have taken part in.
Ian Davies - 24th June 2008