Mixed fortunes over the long weekend with racing on Saturday seeing more boats retiring than finishing when the afternoon sea breeze failed to materialise. Sunday made up for it with a pleasant northerly providing just enough wind power to ensure that both fleets were able to complete two races. And Monday’s northerly F5 was definitely not for the faint hearted!
Thirteen Redwings started from a laid line between Pepe & Garland with Morton as the windward mark; although everyone initially made progress in the light easterly breeze, it was not long before they found themselves coming to a halt as the wind died. It was certainly an interesting sight to see all the boats keeping as close inshore as they dared so as to dodge the tide. With Joe Robertson in No 24, Red Gauntlet II, Colin Samuelson in No 11, Toucan, & Tom Scott in No 36, Siskin, leading the fleet as the ghosted slowly towards the Lifeboat Station, the race officers decided to change the course and make Cochrane the windward mark when it began to look as if the south easterly sea breeze was about to kick in. Unfortunately it did not materialise and Red Gauntlet II, Toucan & Siskin found themselves slowly drifting away from the mark as the tide began to ebb. Those who had still not made the Lifeboat Station sensibly decided to call it a day and head back to the moorings at Under Tyne. This left a small group of boats who managed to somehow drift down with the tide and occasional zyphers to finish the shortened course at Cochrane. First over the line was Philip Bown helming No 21 Redwing; second was Mary Luxmoore-Styles in No 22 Capercaille, third was her brother Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore in No 5, Snow Goose and Alastair Speare-Cole helming No 2, Avocet, was the only other finisher in fourth place.
In the meantime, the seven One-Designs who had started were making even slower progress towards their windward mark of Fitzwilliam (changed to Tara when the breeze looked as if it had backed SE’erly). With even Tara looking somewhat illusive, most decided to call it a day and got a tow back to the Under Tyne mooring. However, Norman Marshall in No 7 & Robin Joy in No 10 decided to persevere and were rewarded with the gentlest of breezes that allowed them to finish the shortened course at Tara. The other five boats retired.
Sunday afternoon’s races enjoyed better conditions with a pretty steady Northerly F3 breeze which for the Redwings made Warner the perfect beat from Under Tyne. With none of the fourteen boats wanting to push their luck, the start was relatively pedestrian however the fleet then split on opposite tacks as they headed up the long beat to Warner. Robin Ebsworth in No 41 Quintessence, Colin Samuelson in Toucan and Rosie Gosling in No 45 Gosling made the best progress and rounded well ahead of the remainder of the fleet. The dead run back to Under Tyne certainly kept everyone on their toes with the slightly more westerly route just paying off. Having rounded the leeward mark within seconds of each other, the final short beat to the line could have seen any of them take first place. In the event Quintessence crossed the line less than half a boat length ahead of Toucan with Gosling a similar distance behind – quite a finish after an hour and a quarter’s race. Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore in No 5 Snow Goose was fourth a minute later and Meri Benham in No 1 Paroquet was fifth.
Seven One-Designs had a rather shorter course with Derrick as the windward mark. Rather like the Redwings the start was not particularly exciting but Charles Harcourt-Smith in No 8 was the closest to the line and Charles Abel Smith in No 7 closest to the Committee Boat. All kept left on starboard tack until close to St Helens Fort and then it looked as if most followed a central track towards Derrick; that said, there was apparently a bit of confusion as to which Derrick was and a few boats took a slightly scenic route via Wreck! The result was that No 8 & No 7 got well away from the rest of the fleet with Charles H-S finishing a minute ahead of Charles AS; Hugh Doherty in No 10 was third some four minutes later and Brian Orange in No 12 was fourth a minute later.
Having finished their race ahead of the Redwings, the Race Officers managed to get the One-Design’s second race started before the Redwing’s reached the start/finish line. Down to six boats (No 6 helmed by Willie Cobb who had gamely sailed the first race with a storm main instead of a normal main, deciding that it was too difficult to change up), the start was much closer than for the first race. Charles H-S in No 8 was initially OCS and had a bit of difficulty extracting himself from the middle of the fleet and going back. With the course kept the same, it was quite surprising to see Hugh Doherty in No 10 rounding Derrick a long way ahead of the rest; D Orange in No 12 was second a couple of minutes behind and James Beart in No 5 was third a minute later.
The Redwing’s second race of the afternoon was for Lady helms. The six competing boats were set the same course as the One-Designs and after quite a good start had an excellent beat to Derrick, a testing run back to Under Tyne and a short beat back to the finish line. Becky Samuelson helming No 11 Toucan found the conditions much to her liking and once round the windward mark never looked as if she would be overtaken by Lucy Benham in No 1 Paroquet so was the worthy winner of the Mercedes Trophy. Sarah Nainby-Luxmoore, helming No 5 Snow Goose for the first time came a very creditable third ahead of Rosie Gosling in Gosling.
Monday’s northerly F5 with accompanying lumpy conditions kept numbers down, however the eight Redwings and four One-Designs who braved it were rewarded with some exciting sailing at times! With a target race time of an hour and a half so that boats could then get back into the harbour, the Race Officers set a windward/leeward course with Derrick as the windward mark and Under Tyne as the leeward one and a running finish at Footprint. Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore in No 5 Redwing Snow Goose lead from the start and despite pressure initially from Olav Cole in No 38 Goose and Joe Robertson in Red Gauntlet II, always looked in control. It was good to see No 18 Harlequin out racing and although towards the back after one round, helmsman Chris Hill made up a lot of ground on the second round and finished in second place ahead of Joe Roberston who just pipped Rob Ebsworth to the line. The One-Design race turned out to be a bit of a procession with Jos Coad in No 8 well ahead throughout the race despite best efforts by Hugh Doherty in No 10, however it would have only taken one bad tack to have changed things. Norman Marshall was third in No 7 and all credit to Tim & Hessie Bonham in No 2 who kept going all the way to the finish line despite always being at the back of the fleet.
Congratulations to Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore who won the Redwing Gunston Trophy and to Hugh Doherty & Robin Joy in No 10 One-Design who won the Lowry Corry Cup.