Gorgeous clear blue skies and a F3 with the promise of more greeted the fleet of 19 assembled RS400’s to do battle at 300 hectre Carsington Water. One of the larger lakes on the Northern Tour, set in the beautiful Peak District, Carsington SC has recently seen a resurgence in RS400 numbers.
With the forecast for Sunday looking patchy at best, the Race Officer’s (Keith Appleby, Henry Wright and team) made the popular decision to run 4 back to back races on Saturday in order to capitalise on the good conditions.
As the fleet left the shore for the 5 min sail to the starting area, the RO team was ready and waiting with the course set, ready for the fleet to get away on time.
Race 1: The fleet got away cleanly under the U Flag with Sean Clearly and Annalise Nixon (Oxford SC) leading up the first beat and by a comfortable margin at the windward mark. Dave Exley and Richard Brown (Leigh & Lowton / Carsington SC) showed good speed downwind to pass them and led until the last beat when Mike Sims and Sam Leiper (Carsington SC) came in on a strong left hand shift clawing his way back from 3rd place to take the lead at the last windward mark, but they were unable to hold onto the lead as Dave and Richard passed them on the last downwind leg to take the win from Mike and Sam, with Sean and Annalise in 3rd.
Race 2: Once again the fleet were cleanly away from a well set square line and many chose to hang their hats on the left hand side of the first beat, but on this occasion the leaders came in from the right, being helped by the shifts coming off the adjacent hills. The race followed the same pattern with the right benefiting many, but Sean and Annalise managed to keep finding nice pressure on the left hand lay line and used this to good effect. The front of the fleet was always close with many place changes. Eventually Sean and Annalinse took a well earned win, closely followed by Richard Catchpole and Gary Coop (Leigh and Lowton SC) with Chris Pickles and Matt Sharman (Bassenthwaite SC) in third.
Really close racing, wall to wall sunshine and full on hiking conditions were showing on the faces of many, as water was being downed rapidly in the short break between races.
Race 3: With the wind shifting gradually right, the ever efficient Race team had already started to move the windward mark just as the last boat started their final downwind leg of Race 2, meaning that the 3rd race got away promptly. An exceedingly close battle ensued between the top 6 boats. By the final downwind leg, Mike and Sam had the luxury of a 5 “comfortable” boat length lead and took a conservative middle downwind route, Chris and Matt and Richard and Gary Richard went left which had been working well all afternoon, but were battling with each other. Rounding the final windward mark in 5th Sean and Annalise threw the dice and went right, all the way to the right hand corner of the run and came in hot on the port lay line for the finish and nipped into 2nd place by half a boat length from Chris and Matt and then Richard and Gary only another boat length behind them. Phew!
Race4: With all drinking water bottles now completely drained, the fleet looked lively again ready for the final race of the day. The wind had gone even further right, so much so that the starboard end of the line was getting rather congested and this gave way to the first general recall of the day, the next attempt was rather more well behaved, proceeding as it did under the black flag and with a repositioned pin end. Sean and Annalise stamped their first day authority on the fleet with a second bullet, followed by Mike and Sam in second with the re-united pairing of Hamish Gledhill and Simon Dowse (West Riding SC) finally showing their well known form securing third.
Broken bodies pulled their boats up the beach, as we all looked forward to a well earned re-hydration session.
A great social evening was had courtesy of John Cunningham’s great Irish themed quiz and those who lasted a little later in the evening, were privileged to witness another round of classic Northern Tour “Table Walking” with a bit of “Chair Lifting” thrown in for good measure!
Race 5: After a very welcome cup of tea and bacon butty, we ventured on to the water to face a dull, rainy and practically windless lake. After a short postponement a fickle F1-2 filled in and the race team who were once again on their toes got the fleet away for a beat and the first half of a run, before the wind shut down and swung 90 degrees, forcing an abandonment.
After re-positioning the windward mark and start-line, the fleet got away for a second go and managed to complete a reasonably fair windward leeward in the difficult shifting conditions. This time it was Mike Sims with new stand-in crew Caroline Exley who mastered the conditions to lead all race, until Richard and Gary managed to magic their way past on the last one-sided run to take the victory moving them up to third overall. Mike and Caroline held onto second and Sean and Annalise proved their consistency in the light conditions by hanging on to third. Richard Ashwell and Trish Clancy (Starcross YC) sailed well to deliver a creditable fourth place.
Race 6: With the wind dying, race 6 got underway from a port bias line which favoured the brave, but once again the wind swung significantly as it got even lighter, forcing the Race team to finally abandon the race on the 2nd beat which by then had turned into a fetch. (A crippling bout of “what could have been” forces this author to point out that he was leading both abandoned races!)
So Sean and Annalise won the event on count back from Mike and Sam / Caroline. In his winners speech, Sean thanked the Race Team for their speedy turnaround and accuracy of course setting and to Carsington SC for being so welcoming to the 400 fleet, who must surely return for another go next year.
The £20 Rope4Boats voucher was won by Chris Pickles and the £10 voucher was won by Gerrard Barron from Carsington SC.
The fleet now looks forward to the final, re-scheduled Rope4Boats Northern Tour event at Notts County on 9/10th November. Come and join us at “probably the most friendly club in the world” for the showdown. See you there!