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South Staffs Open Meeting Report

Tony Hotchkiss - 31st March 2009

What a difference a day makes! Saturday saw a contingent of around 14 boats for the training session. Having established some key issues the fleet took to the water for some practise and observation but the strength of the wind made it difficult to be objective. So the fleet joined in (or should I say made up) the club fleet for the afternoon races. Some video was possible interspersed with some rescuing after a mighty squall came through!! Although very windy a good day of sailing was had by all, which was both useful and exciting in the testing conditions.

After a typical Lark evening there were a few tired sailors ready to face the challenges of the Open Meeting. Bright sunshine greeted the arriving sailors but a total lack of wind. With a very unpromising weather forecast Bill Bradburn, the OOD, was determined to get the event sailed and the 30 boats arrived at the start line on time. However, a short postponement was essential but finally the fleet did get away chasing the wind around the pool! Stuart & Charlotte Norris from Shropshire found the best gust and made the early break before dropping back to finish 3rd. Unfortunately some of the leaders had failed to see the course change after the postponement and went to the wrong mark. The others battled the tricky conditions with Mike Senior & Liz Pugh from South Staffs (noted GP sailors in Dave Young's boat who was away on holiday) pulling through closely followed by Harry Pynn & Helen Krailing from Waldringfield. The race finished in this order with Stuart and Julia Allen from Northampton, making up fourth place.

After lunch the wind again proved difficult to predict but the fleet got away first time and again Mike Senior & Liz Pugh found the position and boat speed to lead the fleet. After the first mark a number gybed and sailed into a hole and by the time things settled Harry Pynn & Helen Krailing and Hannah Showell & Stuart Hydon from Shustoke were taking the 2nd and 3rd slot. They could make no impression on the leading boat and apart from Justin Jones & Lucy Evans from South Staffs, who manage to fight back to 4th, the gaps hardly changed within the top ten.

Although the meeting was already won by Mike & Liz, they made the start line for the last race. However, they could not repeat the previous great starts and this time it was Justin & Lucy who found the best shift early on and led at the first mark. John & Sue Billington from South Staffs were close behind and these two were never seriously challenged. Stuart and Julia broke free of the rest to finish 3rd with Hannah and Stuart coming in 4th. The race proved very frustrating for many with several of the fleet being lapped!

Although frustrating in many ways, it was an interesting days sailing in beautiful spring weather. The OOD did a great job to fit in the 3 races and all the fleet made the most of the tricky conditions. Once again the Lark fleet gave terrific support to South Staffs and lets hope that the good turnout is a sign of things to come for the rest of the season.

Overall Results
1st 2507 Mike Senior & Liz Pugh, South Staffs SC
2nd 2452 Harry Pynn & Helen Krailing, Waldringfield SC
3rd 2489 Justin Jones & Lucy Evans, South Staffs SC
4th 2301 Stuart & Julia Allen, Northampton SC
5th 2495 Hannah Showell & Stuart Hydon, Shustoke SC
6th 2499 John & Sue Billington, South Staffs SC
7th 2517 Stuart & Charlotte Norris, Shropshire SC
8th 2468 Tony Hotchkiss & Pippa Vick, South Staffs SC
9th 2488 Cole & Darren Briscoe, Shustoke SC
10th 2515 Chris & Ann Biglin, Shustoke SC

The Belle Isle & Crew's Series results have now been updated.