The members of Bassenthwaite SC must, surprisingly, be more righteous than most, because their collective prayers for wind, in the run up to this year's Great North Asymmetric Challenge, were rewarded in abundance. Forecasts during the week preceding the event, suggesting winds of up to 50mph, persuaded many not to travel. Some who made the journey decided to let discretion be the better part of valour, as they watched the white horses galloping across the lake towards the clubhouse. Despite the conditions the entry still exceeded that of last year's inaugural event, with 29 boats, representing 9 classes, including stalwart RS400s competing in the RS400 Bolle Northern Tour, opting to sail.
Defending champion, Paul Allen, was unimpressed to find that he would not have an opportunity to avenge his recent defeat at the hands of fellow RS 400 sailor, Wayne Fletcher, who was third in last year's event, when Wayne failed to emerge from his camper van. This, however, was only the first of the vicissitudes which Paul was to experience during the weekend.
The race was sailed in cold, blustery conditions, with patches of relative calm giving respite between the overpowering gusts. Paul and Jude Allen's second disappointment of the weekend came when their bowsprit gave up the unequal struggle and collapsed, preventing them from completing the course.
As the fleet prepared for the second race the wind eased slightly, and some pleasant sunshine gave competitors some welcome warmth. Paul Allen managed to borrow the bowsprit from Wayne's unused boat and returned to the fray. However, at the first hoist, he discovered that the pole was incorrectly rigged and that the 'wing wangs' couldn't be adjusted. He struggled with the pole during the race and could only finish eighth. Mike Hart and Sally Kilpatrick from Port Dinorwic, sailing an RS 400.
The fleet took a short break ashore to refuel, treat injuries and recover. PRO, Steve Hunt, decided that with the wind forecast to increase to Force stupid on the Sabbath it would be sensible to get five of the scheduled eight races sailed while conditions, although taxing, were not impossible - and the sun was shining.
Paul and Jude Allen had managed to rig their pole correctly whilst ashore, only to have one of the 'wing wang' lines break during the third race. They still managed to finish in second place.
The demanding conditions took their inevitable toll and only fourteen boats contested the final race of the day. Many competitors were wondering if they would have sufficient energy left to do justice to the evening festivities, but for most the Italian meal and accompanying libations proved quite sufficiently restorative.
When Sunday came (all too soon for some) the wind had failed to build to the extremes that had been forecast, so PRO Steve Hunt started racing on time, aiming to sail the remaining three races back to back, before conditions became untenable.
Seventeen boats took to the water under leaden, threatening skies, as the wind whistled through the rigging. Paul Allen took a third and a second, whilst Mike Hart took second and fourth to improve his overnight standing, before remembering that his mast sheared off at deck level in the opening race of last year’s event and deciding to quit whilst he was ahead.
The wind continued to build, with vicious gusts causing problems for many in the final race.