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Black Water Sailing Club: Saturday 16th – Sunday 17th July

Thirteen Snipes descended for the first time on Blackwater Sailing Club for the 2011 Snipe South Eastern Championships, held over the 16th /17th July. The Snipes are renowned for being an exceptionally friendly class. A fact borne out by the local sailors (Marshall Family) welcoming the fleet to the club on Friday night with an ample menu of Lasagne and Shepherds Pie (accompanied with a tipple of Maldon Gold).

After a good evening catch up on the events since the last open meeting two weeks prior, the fleet headed to their tents to brave the elements. For once, the weather forecast was sadly correct; Saturday morning brought heavy rain. This did not seem to dampen spirits as the fleet rigged their boats after a hearty breakfast cooked by local chef and cheffette Ewan and Laura Harris.

The committee boat set off downriver to lay the course in a light drizzle with a good force 5 which promised some exciting if not wet racing. Race one got underway and from the off it was clear that the racing was going to be very tight. At the front, Andy and Carol Gibson, and Sue and Steve Roberts were having a close tussle however it was Andy and Carol that finally led over the line with Sue and Steve coming home second followed by Ian Knight and Liz Pike.

Race Two saw familiar faces at the front however on this occasion it was Sue and Steve that took the honours from Andy and Carol with Ian and Liz taking third.

In race three, the fleet got themselves carried away at the start and suffered a general recall and with the interests of tidal restrictions were immediately under black flag orders. At the second attempt, Andy and Carol suffered the fate of the flag and were duly judged to be OCS and were therefore removed from the proceedings. Sue and Steve were putting in a solid day one performance to give them a chance of taking the weekend title and despite a close battle, finished 2nd with Ian and Liz taking the final gun of the day. After a shaky start to day one, Iain Marshall and Ewan Harris had finally sorted themselves out and took third.

By the time the fleet headed back to the shore, the rain had come and gone, the sun had come out and gone back in and the fleet returned to the club in yet more rain. Every cloud has a silver lining: at least the rain helped wash the boats off at the end of the day.

Saturday night, the rain really went to town and the prospect of a BBQ seemed somewhat odd !! Ewan however was not deterred and after cooking a fantastic meal, encouraged the fleet upstairs to settle down to Reg and Debbies Quiz. This incorporated some interesting rounds, some of which saw people having to play charades to depict sporting activities (such as a triathlon), quite a sight it must be said.

Sunday brought more of the same weather with more rain and a good breeze, however despite a few sore heads, the fleet launched and set off into the tempete. Sadly Sue and Steve had to pull out of Sunday's racing due to an eye infection which meant that their hopes of taking the title were lost.

Race 4 started with Iain and Ewan picking up where they left off on Saturday improving upon their results further to take the first bullet of the day. Andy and Carol made up for their Black Flag in race three putting themselves in a solid position to take the overall win by securing second. Celebrating a Ruby Wedding Anniversary must have been a good omen for Brian Gregory, with his crew Luis Lostao he took third.

As the fleet waited for Race 5 to start, in addition to the torrential rain, they were treated to a terrifying series of thunderclaps, all a little too close for comfort! With a minute to go, the fleet were lining themselves up for the start unable to see the windward mark. As the start gun went, the fret lifted and the windward mark revealed itself. The wind had shifted slightly giving a heavy starboard bias. The new star pairing of the season, Richard and Debbie Marshall, pulled to the front and led the fleet round the first lap. The fleet followed closely on their heels and a number of place ensued, it was Andy and Carol who finally took the gun closely followed by Iain and Ewan with Richard and Debbie slipping back to third.

Going into the final race, Andy and Carol had almost secured the win, however they decided that they would finish in style and after taking the lead from Iain and Ewan, extended their lead to take the final gun of the weekend. Some extremely gentlemanly sailing, commentary and banter could be heard between Richard and Debbie and Brian and Luis, however in the end, the "Ladies First" rule prevailed and it was Richard and Debbie who that took third behind Iain and Ewan.

As the sailors dried themselves off, the cries of "that was some of the best racing I have ever had" could be heard, and for that thanks must go to the Race Officer Barry Foulds and his committee boat crew who despite the appalling weather organised 6 fantastic races in some very challenging conditions. We hope that 2012, the Olympic Year, will also produce another great event at Blackwater Sailing Club - attracting more Snipes to this great venue.

SailNo HelmName CrewName R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
GBR29374 Andy Gibson Carol Gibson 1.0 2.0 (13.0 BFD) 2.0 1.0 1.0 20.0 7.0
GBR29501 Iain Marshall Ewan Harris (6.0) 5.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 19.0 13.0
GBR29164 Ian Knight Liz Pike 3.0 3.0 1.0 (6.0) 4.0 6.0 23.0 17.0
GBR30315 Brian Gregory   5.0 4.0 (6.0) 3.0 5.0 4.0 27.0 21.0
GBR29970 Richard Marshall Debbie Marshall 4.0 (7.0) 5.0 7.0 3.0 3.0 29.0 22.0
GBR30834 Eric Paalman   (8.0) 6.0 4.0 5.0 8.0 5.0 36.0 28.0
GBR29611 Sue Roberts Steve Roberts 2.0 1.0 2.0 (13.0 DNS) 13.0 DNS 13.0 DNS 44.0 31.0
GBR28451 Ian Gregory Cecile Gregory 7.0 (9.0) 7.0 4.0 6.0 7.0 40.0 31.0
GBR30227 James Prestiwich   (9.0) 8.0 9.0 8.0 7.0 8.0 49.0 40.0
GBR29163 Pauline Penny Susan Robertson (10.0) 10.0 8.0 9.0 10.0 9.0 56.0 46.0
GBR30048 Ian Rumbold Peter Wibroe (13.0 DNF) 11.0 13.0 DNF 10.0 11.0 13.0 DNS 71.0 58.0
GBR27106 Guy Welch Alison Welch (13.0 DNS) 13.0 BFD 13.0 DNC 13.0 DNS 9.0 13.0 DNS 74.0 61.0

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