For those competitors who enjoyed the relative calm and tranquillity of last weekends restricted (river or estuary) Craftinsure Silver Tiller at Cookham Reach, Hayling Island’s 2 day event (the eighth so far in the series) proved to be physically more demanding – at least on the first day!
Saturday’s racing, an open water (reservoir lake or harbour) event held within the wide expanses of Chichester Harbour tested skill and determination as race one kicked off in a force 4 gusting force 5. With the north easterly creating wind over tide conditions, skilful sailing again ensured a minimum of start line incidents as the fleet of 33 boats finally sheeted in for the first beat after only one general recall!
In the lead at the windward mark William Warren and Chris Robinson in 3685 succumbed to the strong pressure from Colin Smith and Graham Williamson who themselves were acutely aware of Britain’s 2012 Olympic 470 contender Stuart Bithell crewed by Christian Bithell being only too close for comfort! As the fleet powered away down the first reach with much position changing in the fast planing conditions it was Stuart and Christian who were in the lead by the bottom mark, a position which they continued to hold to the flag, marking what appeared to be a very successful repeat guest appearance in the Merlin Rockets!
However slightly further down the fleet Jon Gorringe & Toby Lewis in 3712 were making a late charge happy to settle for second place whilst keeping a weather eye on Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis in 3722 coming up for third.
The twist in the tale – joy for some disappointment for others – Stuart and Christian black flagged at the start so the results were:
1st – 3712 – Jon Gorringe /Toby Lewis
2nd – 3722 – Matt Biggs /Ben Hollis
3rd – 3736 – Colin Smith/ Graham Williamson
4th – 3728 – Judith Massey / Harvey Hillary
5th – 3734 – David Hayes / Jonny Radcliffe
6th – 3723 – Simon Potts/ Holly Scott
With no sign of the wind abating, the start of race two saw ten competitors black flagged and head home for an early shower. Now the reduced fleet were left to battle it out for “first to the windward mark” and Mike Calvert and Ian Garwood in 3691 made best use of the toestraps on the beat to get the pole position and be first to hoist on the reach!
Fired up after their win in race one , Jon and Toby were now determined to make it their weekend and some slick spinnaker work saw their second place position turn into that of lead boat as they roared down the harbour on another exhilarating three sail reach ! Working hard to maintain the position they were finally rewarded with the welcome sound of another “first to finish gun” despite a tough challenge from Mike & Ian who being both hunter and hunted did consistently well to secure second place. Matt Biggs and Ben Hollis sailing with “Blood Sweat and (no) Beers” finished in third.
It’s amazing what a hot shower can do and revived competitors headed first to the bar and then to an excellent HISC Mexican dinner , plenty of time then to contemplate the day’s events and what tomorrow’s similar forecast would have in store?
Sunday morning again dawned with torrential rain in the bleak and cold conditions and no sign of the force 5/6 north easterly slackening towards more acceptable sailing weather.
Eventually after a slight lull and with the wind swinging more toward the east, the race team decided to proceed and crews were despatched to rig and prepare. However conditions on the water from the committee boat proved less than satisfactory and wisely (though disappointingly for some) the meeting was abandoned.
So Jon & Toby held onto their well-deserved two first places and were declared the overall winners of this year’s Hayling Island Silver Tiller event!
Next stop Rutland Water May 6th. With the training event taking place in advance and new skills to be tested on the water in the race it promises to be an exciting weekend. Let’s hope for some sunshine for this one!
Report by – Steve Storey