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15 Fireballs sail at Blackwater Club Week


Over 140 boats competed in Blackwater SC's annual club week in 11 different classes. The weather co-operated on the first 2 days with a perfect F4 however mid-week saw 3 days of frustratingly light winds which made getting back up river to the finish line against the tide somewhat challenging particularly for the slower Mirrors & Optimists and also meant that on those days there was little enthusiasm for a second race. The final Friday saw a return to a perfect F4 south-easterly to finish the week on a high.

Martin Scarth and Tony King were clear winners of the 15 strong Fireball fleet with 3 individual race wins. The 21 strong Laser fleet was a mix of different rig sizes. A 2nd place in the final race with his nearest rival, Andrew Field recording his worst performance of the week with a 6th was enough to give Ben Phipps the trophy by the narrowest of margins of half a point.

Paul Trueman crewed by Marc Griggs were unbeaten all week in the Wayfarer fleet to take the trophy where 9 boats raced at various stages in the week.

The club's classic Sprite dinghy class saw a turnout of 10 boats. This class always sees some very competitive racing. Alan Jackson & Chris Hutchinson in Djinn were consistently at or near the front of the fleet to take the class win from runners up Steve Ash & Derrick Cockerill in Flook who had a consistent run of 2nd & 3rd places.

The Topper result was a close battle between Billy Dyer & Ollie Grint with all depending on the last race where ultimately Billy Dyer won the Topper Salver. Ben Stewart and Jack Perkins were the winners of the Mirror Goblet after a close tussle all week with Charlie Harbott and Fred O'Reilly in the seven strong Mirror fleet. Kate Wisbey was victorious in the small Optimist fleet.

In the dinghy handicap classes, the fast handicap was won by Julian Wild & Ben Arnold in a 49er. The medium handicap class was the biggest fleet with strong competition evidenced by the 4 different individual race winners in this class. In spite of having 2 individual race wins Ben Fullalove in his Blaze had to ultimately settle for the runners up spot by having to count a 6th in the final race which gave the class win to Graham Hoy & Hannah Parker in their Kestrel who were very consistent and counted a 1st and three 2nds to secure victory.

The cruiser classes were racing under the RYA NHC system in Regatta mode this year. There was some scepticism beforehand how this would work in practice. The decisive race in this fleet was on Wednesday where only 2 yachts managed to round Ford Creek in very light winds before the tide turned causing the other 10 yachts to score DNF. This series was in effect decided before the final race as Dan Dixon's Diva had already reached the 110% of Base handicap limit and a race win on Thursday meant Mick Sargeant's handicap also suffered on Friday resulting in them finishing well down the fleet on the final day which ended up as their discard. These two yachts finished equal on points but Dan Dixon's Diva took the trophy with 2 race wins to F-Flat's 1 race win. Whilst there was consensus that the two best sailed yachts ultimately appeared in the podium positions the view from the bar was that the previous year's system of local handicaps was probably a fairer system and easier to understand than the NHC system for this type of club racing where with the latter identical yachts can end up with very different handicaps.

The 17 strong Club cruiser class were also using the NHC system which resulted in a different race winner each day. Paul Su's Sun 2000 won the class trophy from Jeremy Alhadeff's First 21.7 Aixa who's race win on the final day was enough to lift them to 2nd place.

The last race of the week saw the winners of each of the 11 classes all race each other in Toppers on a short multi-lap course in front of the clubhouse for the Cock of the River trophy which was this year awarded to Dan Dixon.

There were the usual social events after racing, particularly popular were the Commodore's supper on Tuesday and the Quiz night on Wednesday.



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