Bright sunny skies and a glassy harbour greeted the 29 Larks that ventured to Rock on the bank holiday weekend. PRO, Martin Hough, however, had had a word with the powers that be, and by the time the fleet reached Padstow Bay, the wind had increased to a nice F2. The early starters from the gate start were first to round, with Emma Harris and Becky Priest, sailing together for the first time since 2005, breaking through to lead to the finish, but not without a scare from Steve Cumley and Eluned Jones, who had expertly navigated their way through the fleet to finish a whisker behind in 2nd. New pairing, Nigel Hufton and Ellie Bremer followed in 3rd. The same collection of early starters found their way to the front in Race Two and a little more breeze found some crews resting their behinds on the side decks. Hufton/Bremer led from early on to the finish. Jon Fish and Toby Lewis started to show their colours by coming in 2nd with Chris and Rachael Jenkins in third.
Sunday dawned cloudy and breezy, although the fleet were fooled into believing their was more breeze than there turned out to be. In the bay, the conditions were near perfect, with a westerly F3, rolling waves and some bright stuff coming from the sky. It was a day for banging right and pathfinders Steve Hall/S Haughton took full advantage with a whopping lead which was never threaghtened. Harris/Priest, who had started early and crossed behind the fleet on the first beat, climbed to 2nd with Dave Young and Milly Parsons very hot on their heels. There was a postponement for Race 4 as pathfinders Chris Ellis and Stephen Videlo broke their gooseneck and had to bow out of the job. New pathfinders, Tom Jeffcoate and J Baldwin, were handed the job and lead throughout. Amazingly, with a little help from Heath Robinson, Ellis/Videlo managed to sail the whole race with the tail end of the outhaul holding the boom to the mast and just held onto 2nd by the gun, with Fish/Lewis hotly pursuing.
The forecast for Monday and the promise of a 9am start were not too inspiring and the fleet was reluctant to go afloat. With winds gusting into the mid 20's and grey skies, the harbour looked plain mean. The traditional "Big Monday @ Rock" was on the cards. The fleet got away after a general recall and Fish/Lewis quickly took the lead and shot off into the distance. Harris/Priest, having round in 8th, found some speed and worked their way upt to 2nd and only a few boat lengths behind Fish/Lewis. Ellis/Videlo, showing they can do wind, finished in a tidy 3rd. The result left it all to play for in the final race with just one point separating Fish/Lewis and Harris/Priest.
With an increasing wind and gusts recorded at 31 knots, a depleted fleet lined up for the final race. It was to be a trial of strength and boat handling. James Stewart and Ruth Johnson and Jeffcoate/Baldwin sped up the 1st beat swapping positions before Jeffcoate/Baldwin took the race win. Cumley/Jones battled through well to 3rd, but the race for the event was going on behind. With a bad start and first beat from Fish/Lewis and a series of mishaps, they set themselves a massive challenge. All Harris/Priest had to do was play it safe which they did, coming in 5th.
Notible performaces came from Chris Whitehouse and J Stephens who, finishing 7th overall, won the Silver Fleet by a considerable margin. Also John Crooks and Helen Winward who had a superb weekend, finishing 20th overall and first in the Bronze Fleet.
A huge thank you must go to Rock WSSC for their wonderful hospitality and for laying on such a great weekend's sailing and socials. A special thank you also to Martin, Lynn and Caroline Hough for their hard work on the comittee boat.
1st Emma Harris & Becky Priest, Waldringfield SC, 16pts
2nd Jon Fish & Toby Lewis, Waldringfield SC, 19pts
3rd Steve Cumley & Eluned Jones, Northampton SC, 24pts
4th Steve Hall & S Haighton, Notts County SC, 26pts
5th Tom Jeffcoate & J Baldwin, 27pts
6th Chris Ellis & Stephen Videlo, Frensham Pond SC, 34 pts