Earlier in the week, the weather was not encouraging, with fog, frost and very little wind, but the day before saw a marked change with warmer South Westerlies coming in right on schedule, and promised a good day's sailing for those who had made the effort to attend.
Race 1 commenced in cloudy conditions with an 8-10 knot breeze, and it was Paul Smith who got cleanly away at the start, closely followed by the chasing group of Neil Storr, Charles Watson, Bob Carter and Steve Hanby, and these boats progressively pulled away from the rest of the pack, seeking out every small gust and lift to aid their progress.
Smith continued to stretch his lead at the front, but the four boats behind jostled for position throughout the race. Watson was doing well until a mis-judged rounding of the leeward mark resulted in a 360deg penalty, thereby relegating him to 5th place for the rest of the race. Carter meanwhile was battling through and later emerged into 2nd after lap 3, while Hanby made a late charge to take 3rd from Storr. The biggest gain however took place literally at the back of the fleet where the Beaver boat of Matt Smith, who had not enjoyed the best of starts, battled relentlessly throughout, to finish in a very creditable 6th place, proving that it's never over 'until the fat lady sings'.
The fleet then came ashore for sustenance, and to consider the strategies for race two.
This began in brighter and more lively conditions as the sun came out and the wind picked up to around 15 knots - perfick! First to the windward mark this time on the same figure-of-eight course as before was Carter, closely followed by Smith and Hanby, and these three soon opened up a huge lead on the rest of the competitors as they pushed each other ever harder in the increasing breeze, making it very much a 3 horse race. However, on lap 2, it was Hanby who came through to lead, and he proceeded to pull away from the other two, effectively making it a 1 horse race from there on. By lap 3, Smith had managed to overhaul Carter after the leeward mark, but then had to work hard to hold on to second. Further back, Watson was 'beavering away', in close company with local boats of Ken Harvey, Matt Smith and Pete Richardson, but it was Matt Smith who got it right as he consolidated a good 4th place to the end.
Thus in the final countdown, it was Paul Smith who took the meeting overall with a 1st and a 2nd , followed by Hanby with a 3rd and a 1st , and Bob Carter with a 2nd and a 3rd.
Everyone enjoyed themselves, and thanks were extended to all competitors who attended, including visitors Keith Bartlett from Angmering on the South coast who travelled the furthest, Phillip Howden and Bob Carter from Grafham, Steve Tunnacliffe and Charles Watson from Halifax, and Jonathan Stone from Draycote Water, which is where the next Winter traveller meeting will be hosted on Saturday 15th January 2005, so see you there.
Paul Smith (1961)