With clear blue skies and forecasted winds of between 14 - 18 knots, Marconi SC on the east coast was definitely the right place to be sailing a lark for the weekend.
As most people know, the Blackwater Estuary is also renowned for its mud, it also has strong tides! With a strong flooding tide for the start the the 1st race, the fleet were off with a bang, or shall we say Mr Hufton (2538), who some how managed to misjudge the tide resulting in him getting caught up on the committee boat!
With Hufton still trying to cross the start line, Steve Chatten & Matt Thomas (2502) lead round the first mark, followed very closely by Steve & Ally Hall (2537) and Harry Pynn & Gemma Cook (2520). With a quick hoist Steve & Ally managed to sail away from Steve & Matt to take the lead, going on to win this race with Harry & Gemma coming 2nd. Steve & Matt would have come 3rd but after lots of deliberation in the boat about the upwind gate, they decided not to sail through the gate resulting in unfortunately getting disqualified.
Race 2 - after the fleet all learning from Nigel Hufton mistake in the first race, the 2nd race started well with a strong tussle up the first between Steve & Ally, Harry & Gemma and Nigel & Matt resulting in Steve & Ally leading round the first mark with all top 3 boats holding positions to the finish with Glen Enkel & Celie Broomfield (2477) finishing 4th on the heels of Nigel & Matt.
Race 3 - saw the tide turn providing a flatter sea state but, saw the wind increase from averaging 18 knots in the first two races to averaging consistently over 20 knots gusting up to 24 knots, providing to be more challenging conditions. This however didn't seem to stop Steve & Ally getting a quick getaway up the first beat to once again lead the race. The strong winds still didn't slow down the feather weight pairing Harry & Gemma who showed hiking hard does make a difference going round 2nd, and Nigel & Matt 3rd, with the rest of the race very closely sailed for 2nd & 3rd placing down to the finished, with Nigel & Matt taking the marginal 2nd place from Harry & Gemma on the finish line.
After 3 windy races it was decided not to hold a 4th race but to retire to shore for a Mexican evening and the fleet watching the semi final of the Americas cup, where all the helm learnt from Nathan Outeridge what not to do when your leading an Americas Cup race!
Sunday saw once again a lovely warm day with slightly strong wind conditions (18+ knots).
Race 4 - saw Steve & Matt lead round the windward mark closely followed by Steve & Ally and Nigel & Matt, with Steve & Matt and Nigel & Matt going straight for a kite on the reach which proved to be a bit too tight. With lightweights Steve & Ally deciding to two sail providing Steve & Ally with a lead before hoisting their spinnaker after the gybe mark and stretching away into what looked like a comfortable lead. That is until they capsized at the final gybe mark, resulting in them losing their lead leading to Nigel & Matt who took the race win. With other capsizes in the fleet, Dan Watson had a opportunity to move up to finish 2nd.
Race 5 - with a lumpy sea state and challenging conditions this race lead to a number of boats capsizing saw similar finish positions as previous races with Steve & Ally winning, Nigel & Matt 2nd and Steve & Matt 3rd.
Race 6 - with the wind shifting and gusting over 24knots, the final race was a short 20 mins race making it challenging conditions and saw 6 boats finish. This race saw the same 3 people finished top 3 as race 5, but saw Glen & Celie finish 4th after a good competitive sail against Dan Watson & Ed Harris (2531) and local sailors Chris Tillyer & Jason Clarke (2177).
Overall results for the open where:
3rd overall - Steve Chatten & Matt Thomas
2nd overall - Nigel Hufton & Matt Wood
1st overall - Steve Hall & Ally Hall
A big thanks to Marconi SC who ran a fantastic event in the conditions managing to get 6 races in. It was also great to see some local boat racing along with a couple of youth sailors.