After a week of strongish winds, the breeze on Saturday morning was almost too light for meaningful racing for the seven Redwings & six One-Designs, however there was just enough to get the programmed two races completed.
In the first race which was started at Garland with Drum as the windward mark, Under Tyne as the leeward mark and a short beat to an inflatable finish line, the Redwings played safe and no one was in danger of being over the line. The fleet split on the beat to Drum with the majority remaining on starboard and heading towards the St Helens shore. Nick Wakefield in No 35 Bizarre was first round with Michael MacInnes in No 2 Avocet and Tom Scott in No 36 Siskin trading places as they drifted back to Under Tyne. Unfortunately Nick initially went round the leeward mark the wrong way and frustratingly watched most of the fleet overtake him as he corrected himself. Tom was best positioned and took first place; second was keenly contested with Andrew Eddy in No 40 Plover just managing to find better boat speed in the last 20 metres or so to cross inches ahead of Robin Ebsworth in No 41 Quintessence and Michael in Avocet.
With the One-Designs making slow progress in the light airs, the second race was started before they reached the line. With six of the Redwings well spread along the start line, there was no room initially for Andrew Eddy in No 40 Plover to squeeze across the line on port, however having ducked Quintessence he was kindly let through by Jessica Speare-Cole who had taken over the helm of No 2 Avocet. At the windward mark (Britten), the leaders were Tom Scott in Siskin and Andrew in Plover with Richard Jessel in Blue Jay II third. Although the run to Garland was pretty slow, at least the short beat to Nainby was a bit faster and whilst the front three were unchanged, it did give the opportunity for some place changing mid-fleet.
In their first race, the One-Designs made an excellent start with six boats well spaced along the line. Having watched the majority of the Redwings heading towards the St Helens shore, everyone followed suit. Peter Summerhayes in No 1 was first round Drum and finished well ahead of Robin Joy in No 10 and Jos Coad in No 11. With a slightly reduced course for their second race, steady progress was made initially and having gone the wrong way and come last in the first race, it was James Row in No 8 who was first round Britten by a considerable margin. James Palmer in No 3 was second and Jos in No 11 third as progress slowed as the breeze again died away as they made their way to Footprint where the Race Officers wisely decided to finish the race.
Sunday’s forecast looked a bit more encouraging and indeed there was a nice Northerly F2 as boats headed out of the harbour to start. However sadly it dropped to F1 as the Redwings started, but there was just enough for them to make a surprisingly good start with Nick Wakefield in No 35 Bizarre timing his return to the line from the course side to the second! All eight boats followed the same tactics as the previous day and headed towards the St Helens shore; after a period of no wind the northerly breeze picked up a knot or two and allowed them to all eventually make the windward mark (Drum) with John Raymond in No 18 Harlequin, Robin Ebsworth in No 41 Quintessence and Tom Scott in No 36 Siskin rounding quite close together. The zyphers stayed with them to just past St Helens Fort before dying off again and becoming a drifting match to the shortened course finish at Under Tyne. Although Harlequin & Quintessence managed to hold on and take first & second, third to drift across the line turned out to be James Axtell in No 1 Paroquet.
The five One-Designs followed a similar route to the Redwings to eventually reach Drum and indeed it looked at one stage as if they were going to catch the fleet in front, but then they too found the windless hole. At Drum the order was Russ Fowler in No 1 with William Bland in No 12 not far behind, however on the run towards Under Tyne, William was overtaken by Hugh Doherty in No 10 and James Palmer in No 3. With no one looking likely to make Under Tyne, it was agreed, much to everyone’s relief over the radio, that the race order would be wherever they were as No 1 passed Footprint!