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A terrible weather forecast deterred some competitors so only 15 snipes signed on for the Belgian championships at Scharendijke, on the Grevelingermeer in Holland. Visitors included Eric Paalman sailing with his brother Hans , the current world champion, Brazilian sailor Alexandre Tinoco & us (Andy & Carol Gibson).

Sailing started promptly on Saturday morning in a steady 20 knots of wind with a very tightly packed fleet battling hard in small chop. Two Belgian crews battled for top placing..with Jo Voss recovering from a poor start to finish second behind Manu Hens. In race 2 in increasing winds Manu Hens led Ben Van Cauwenburg to the first mark and both managed to stay ahead of the Brazilians, with Jo Voss again coming rapidly from behind to take top spot. We had a memorable dual down the first reach with Alexandre- flat out planning with Carol astride the centreboard for the entire leg- but could not maintain our position for more than one lap..

Saturday night saw a traditional Zeeland meal of mussels & chips, in the excellent Scharendijke yacht club.

Sunday morning dawned with 30 knots of wind forecast for the entire day .. racing was abandoned at 1200 without enough races to make a formal championship & we went to watch ‘The Mission’ international windsurfing slalom event 2 miles across the water at Brouersdam where UK youth Stuart Hards (who Carol & I taught to windsurf 10 years ago) was leading a very exciting series in blistering windsurfing conditions.. Stuart recorded over 45 mph on his GPS that afternoon as winds stayed above 30 knots..

This was the first time we had driven to Scharendijke direct from Dunkerque .. we were pleasantly surprised that the journey is only just over 2 hours going through the tunnel under the river Schelde.. with the Benelux and Belgian snipe championships taking place there every year on consecutive weekend at the end of August this is a good option for UK snipe sailors looking for some good international competition. Eric and his family reported a great holiday there staying at the centreparks in Brouersdam.

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